Craig M Dick

My slanted perspective on agricultural marketing

Why Farmers Should Play More

Disclaimer: This is not medical advice and I am not a doctor. If you think you may be suffering from anxiety, depression or other mental health issue, please seek professional help. This article is for informational purposes only.

The opposite of play isn’t work, it’s depression.

Or another way to look at it is, excessive workloads could be a major cause of anxiety and depression in the farming community. As a marketer I want to understand my customer. How they think, what motivates them and why they make the decision they do.

One thing that has always puzzled me is when people ask for help, then they struggle to make a decision. Is it fear of the unknown or something else? While listening to the James Altucher Show episode 234, it hit me when Charlie said “The opposite of play isn’t work, its depression” I immediately thought of the farmers I know that have struggled with real depression, those with severe anxiety and many I have encountered that struggle to make decisions. Is there a link?

Farmers work more than any group I have ever known. My experience growing up on the farm is there is more work to do than one person could do in a lifetime.  Farming isn’t just a job. It’s a person’s complete life. Its 24/7. You live at the office, at the factory. Its always there. And there is always more to do. This can lead to bouts of anxiety.

The workload, the financial pressures, poor weather, sick livestock, and poor harvest can compound, leading to real depression. Farming has not been this difficult since the 1980’s, clear thinking, sound judgement and calculated risks could be the difference of making a profit or a loss.

Studies show that depression erodes confidence, hope and clear thinking of persons dealing with depression.  That reduces motivation and the capacity to work effectively, and drags people down. Depressed persons tend to be negative, unable to move ahead with tasks, withdrawn and sometimes unpredictably volatile.

Farming is also a socially isolated career with small, close knit communities of neighbors, co-workers, and families. Imagine a farmer that was going to a shrink, what would his neighbors say, his family, or worse, his land lord. On top of that, famers are typically raised to be tough, self-reliant and not complain about problems. How would it look to seek help?

Unfortunately it’s this lack of support that causes those that suffer to close down even more.   When you feel you can’t talk about or show depression, its just a step deeper into the darkness. So most farmers ignore the symptoms. If asked if everything is ok, he might say, I am just tired, of self-medicate with alcohol or other substances.

This downward spiral, the self-medication coupled with a feeling of having nowhere to turn for help leads to the idea of suicide as the only way out.

Studies have shown that compared with non-farmers, farmers have a higher prevalence of depression, particularly the male farmers, who also had higher anxiety levels. This is related to longer work hours, lower income, higher psychological job demands and less decision latitude compared with non-farmers. In the U.S. the rate of farmer suicides is just under two times that of the general population.

Could less work and more play be the answer?

Growing up on the farm I was taught to do your chores first, then play. Luckily even though we worked hard, there was always time for friends and sports. Now that I am older I find there is always more to accomplish. I find personally less time for play.

What if the secret to getting more done, being more successful was strategic play

From James Altucher:

Charlie was overworked. He was working 22 hours a day to keep up with his boss.

Feeling burnt out, he took a week off to recover. That week turned into a year.

He sought medical help. He refused the drugs they prescribed. He tried deep breathing exercises, therapy, journaling, all different supplements, exercise, psychedelic drugs, volunteering, prayer. He even took a course on “How to Overcome Anxiety.”

But none of it stuck… “Every day he felt like he was going to die.”

Then he read , “The opposite of play isn’t work, it’s depression.”

“The research is pretty clear,” Charlie said. “They have done experiments. They’ve deprive animals of play—they give them love, nurturing, food, shelter, all the things they need to survive— but they deprive them of play, the animal inevitably grows up to be socially and emotionally crippled.”

Charlie calls it “chronic-play deprivation.” And I think many people suffer from that.

Sound like any fathers, uncles, or brothers who farm that you know?

Charlie said he was approaching life “so seriously and joylessly. And very much in terms of what’s the output, what’s the income, what’s the money pay-off.”

There never was a pay-off.

James asked, “How did you learn to play again?”

Charlie said playing every day IMMEDIATELY had an effect. “Not just on how I felt but in how people responded to me.”

Check out the James Altucher Podcast to hear the full story.

If you have any friends or family you think may be dealing with anxiety or depression, please encourage them to seek medical help.

Sources:

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/terezia-farkas/why-farmer-suicide-rates-_1_b_5610279.html http://www.farmandranchguide.com/entertainment/country_living/farm_and_ranch_life/understanding-managing-depression-critical-for-farmers/article_916c7af4-9684-11e4-af93-33ef37fbca72.html http://www.farmerhealth.org.au/page/depression/depression-the-facts http://www.heysigmund.com/anxiety-interferes-decision-making-stop-intruding/ https://www.psychologytoday.com/blog/the-athletes-way/201603/how-does-anxiety-short-circuit-the-decision-making-process https://neuroscience.stanford.edu/news/opposite-play-not-work-%E2%80%94-it-depression

 

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Ideal Sale Rep


No matter what you do in life, selling is an important skill. Want a better table at restaurant or an upgrade on a rental car. How about making a return without a receipt or maybe you need to get your new marketing strategy approved by management, well you better know how to sell.

 

Incorporate these top traits of an ideal sales rep into your day to day to start improving your performance.

 

Think abundantly – Not everyone gets to be your customer, not everyone needs your service find the ones that would love to work with you and afford to pay your price.

Dress for success – Appearance matters, your customer’s will judge how successful you can make them by your appearance, dress a level above your customer.

Make appointments – Your time is limited, so is your customer’s, make appointments.

Be on time – Show your customer you respect them and you can be trusted by honoring the first thing you said you would do.

Keep meetings short but effective – You are there to help them be successful, not to spend time with them.

Know your Customer – You customer’s business is your business, anything that could affect your customers business you should know about.

Know your Market – Who buys your products and why, everyone is not your customer.

Know your product – You are the expert, know every detail of your product.

Know your competition – How does your product compare in all aspects.

Be intentionally helpful – Your job is to make your customer successful, in some cases you should recommend they use the competition, if it truly is better for them.

Ask lots of questions – How do you know what is best for your customer without really knowing what they need.

Take good notes – How else can you make sure you are serving your customer if you don’t write down what you discussed.

Put action items on your calendar – As soon as you are done with your meeting, set action item due dates in your calendar.

Don’t wait, make things happen, do it anyway – Get your action items done as soon as possible, not for your customer, not for your boss, for you.

 

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The Customer Is Always An Asshole

 

This classic clip from Mall Rats, is all to prevalent. Today it seems businesses view their customers as problems, not the key to their success (It might be why retail stores are struggling). If you need to convince customer to work with you or you have “asshole” customers, it’s your fault. You have set the wrong expectations and you need to scrap your marketing plan and start over from scratch.

Your business exists to meet the needs of your customer. Do you know what problem you are trying to solve for your  customer? It’s not to sell them stuff. More importantly do you know who your customer is? Here’s a hint, it’s not everyone. It’s a specific type of person with specific problem.

You need to clearly define who and what that is, then spend all your time doing everything you can to recruit that customer. Your marketing should be so clear that customers self-select themselves to your door, begging to work with you and paying the sticker price.

It starts with doing an “ideal customer” exercise. In detail list out what the perfect customer would look like. This will give you clarity in creating a position statement. Once you have a clear position statement all of your marketing efforts should align with that.

Now when customers can clearly understand what you do, they will self-select in or out of your sales pipeline. You will be greeted by people excited to work with you, not looking for extras or discounts. When your ideal customer comes to you, you must be entirely focused on solving their problems.

The saying “you get what you give” applies here. If you want all their business, you must give them your all first.

Finding the right customer is how to keep asshole customers away. Solely focusing on your ideal customers success is the path to your success.

 

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Plants Have Feelings Too!

plants have feelings too!

Via https://www.reddit.com/user/Randyotter

Is eating plants less cruel than eating meat? I am not so sure.

After all science shows us that the simple act of mowing your lawn, a past-time many Americans take pride in, is downright barbaric dismemberment. That lovely fresh cut grass smell is your lawn, aromatically shrieking to its brethren that it’s being attacked and needs first aid.

You are causing plants serious anguish and they are changing their behavior because of it.

Yes plant behavior is now a thing

Plants can make decisions based on the perceived level of risk

They communicate with each other in 5 ways:

Plants call for help, they eavesdrop, they defend their territory, they recognize siblings, and can communicate with mammals.

Plants care for offspring

Orchids are downright liars

Since plants have the ability to suffer, they feel pain, pleasure, fear, frustration, and motherly love. Whenever we consider doing something that would interfere with their needs, we are morally obligated to take them into account.

Let’s face it, eating fruits and vegetables supports cruelty to plants. Those idyllic verdant fields are really concentration camps crammed with flora that will never know what it’s like to care for its offspring. Eating vegetarian supports the killing of billions and billions of plants each year.

Ok, yes I am kidding, I don’t care what you eat (provided you are properly and humanly caring for your food source, animal and now vegetable). This was really just an exercise on taking a unique perspective on a topic to allow a shift in mindset.

Is your current product, idea or message not taking root with your customer? Perhaps looking at your problem from a different mindset can provide the innovative answer you need for growth.

 

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Innovation

You can do things better, that isn’t innovation, it’s improvementInnovation

Imitators improve, giving a temporary advantage or to play catch-up, hardly breakthrough

Doing things differently leads to innovation

Innovation happens by doing, typically in chaos, not in planning

Risk-taking is the father and mistakes the mother of innovation

Fear kills the creativity and passion that leads to innovation.

Be fearless, do something different, risky, and untested

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Marketing

The customer doesn’t care about you, your product, what it can do, or how its betterGodin marketing quote

The customer only cares about themselves

Marketing is simply thinking about what you do from the customers perspective

Emotionally connecting what you do with the beliefs and wants of your customer is key

Be generous, take risks, connect with people

The post Marketing first appeared on CraigMDick.com

Agriculture

Agriculture is the art and science of sustaining lifeAgriculture

The original tech is Agriculture

Agriculture is complex; applying every scientific discipline

What you grow and how you grow it is a market and still agriculture

Agriculture’s future is ecologically restorative and life advancing

The post Agriculture first appeared on CraigMDick.com

Its not what you ask, its how you ask it

Its not what you ask, its how you ask it

What drives adoption of a new practice?

Most answer with the following:

  • Cost savings
  • Increase in revenue
  • Improved efficiency

These are outcomes of a new practice, they are not the cause.  What would cause the adoption of a new practice? How do you persuade a farmer to make a change?

In Robert Cialdini’s first book Influence, he lays out the 6 principles of persuasion:

  • Reciprocation
  • Social proof
  • Consistency
  • Liking
  • Authority
  • Scarcity

You’re a savvy marketer (you must be if you’re reading this) so you know the power of these principles. Sometimes, though, even the best messaging and implementation of these persuasion principles leads to mixed results.

Now after 30 years of studying social psychology, Cialdini’s new book Pre-Suasion  shows that the moment leading up to an important message is more important than the message itself. The highest sales achievers spent more time crafting what they do and say in the moments before the request than the actual request. In essence they work to make a customer receptive to their message.

Many marketers spend hours creating the perfect sales message. However what happens right before the message has a bigger impact. Would you consider that a scary movie would impact the receptiveness of a message?

Imagine the classic farm inputs commercial of a farmer standing in a field, saying “Brawndo sets me apart from the average farmer”. According to Cialdini’s research, if your customer was watching a scary movie when they saw this commercial, they would be unlikely to adopt your solution. This is because the “set yourself apart” message is in conflict with the fear induced need to seek safety. The scary movie primed the grower to seek comfort in a crowd. The messaging that would have worked in this case would have been, Like most successful farmers I use Brawndo“.

Would you believe that the background image on your website could be sabotaging your sales? That those cheesy “Success” motivational posters actually do lead to increased sales? Or that the things that really shape our decisions are often below our conscious radar.

In Pre-Suasion, Cialdini slays sacred sales cows with an army of research. Proof that pulling up your sales boots and kicking in doors will only get you tuned out. Instead, slip on kid gloves, choose your words, your timing and the context of your pitch. Prepare your customer for the message. Then watch your close rate climb.

The first step to being more influential is reading both these books.

 

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Venn Marketing

No I am not talking about Zen, the Buddhist act of mediation. Though a little more reflection and considered thoughts on a subject would help a lot of marketers out.

I am talking about Venn, or specially, Venn diagrams. A Venn diagram is a diagram that shows all possible logical relations between a finite collection of different sets. Typically overlapping shapes, usually circles, are used.

venn marketing

Venn Marketing is then only talking about the logical relations between what you do and what your customer cares about. Everything else is a distraction.

Your customer is self-absorbed with their own set of problems.  They don’t want to, need to or deserve to know everything you know.

Until you have built trust, found out what their problems are, only talk about what you can do to solve those problems. If you can’t help them, tell them. Then refer them to someone who can.

Too many rookie marketing and sales people verbally vomit the whole load all over a prospect at the first meeting. DO NOT DO THIS.

Working with a client is just like meeting a new friend. Take it slow, find commonality, decide if you like each other, find out what they care about. Only talk about that.

Once you have proven you have their best interest in mind, they will ask you what else you can do for them. They will solicit you to know how else you can improve their business. It so much easier to sell somebody when they are compelled to know more about you.

 

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Stop knee-jerking after targets

What is your purpose as a business?knee-jerking after targets like you are a professional stank-leg dancer

To make money? No, that is an outcome. An important one for sure. You won’t be in business long without profit.

But that is not why your business exists.

You started your business to solve a problem, to fill a need. In solving that problem, you made money.

At some point, the money got better, you focused more on the money then solving the problem. Caring more about hitting the next financial target than helping your customers.

Now you knee-jerk after targets like a professional “Stanky-leg” dancer, chasing after the money. Which is always elusive since you are trying to solve a problem that you can’t remember.

This money chasing, knee-jerking mentality is borne from a fear of loss. This fear is keeping you from a relationship with your customer. It’s only through a trusting relationship with the customer that they believe you can solve their problem and happily give you their money.

Without this trust, your business success (or lack of) is based on a purely transactional basis. The customer isn’t sure if you are the right solution, you just happen to show up at the right time. Have a price that isn’t too risky if your solution doesn’t work. The problem is, someone will always be faster or cheaper, or both. So you scurry around trying to be “Mister Right Now” while doing the financial “Stanky-Leg” to close the deal and hit your numbers.

Why is this easier than building trust and working to compel customers to work with you?

To get back on track, remember what your purpose was and work with that in mind. Work to develop a relationship of trust with your customer. Be very clear with your customers about why you are in business and what problems you help with.

If it is a big enough problem to solve and you are clear enough on how to solve it, the money will flow.

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