Tuesday, March 24, 2009

Aphids, Farmers and Mobile Marketing

One of our Marketing Themes for 2009 is Testing the Real World (here). In some regards, there is not a more testable proposition than the one that claims farmers use/do not use mobile technology.

In fact, the last 7 years have seen our discussions and questions about farmers and information technology move miles...often in the same direction as the rest of the world: 

In 2002: Do any farmers use the internet?
In 2009: Do all farmers have mobile broadband?

Our experience in the field tells us anecdotally (and unequivocally!) that farmers--like other ordinary people--are using mobile devices. Surveys by USDA and various Ag Media outlets paint broad strokes of a rural picture that is increasingly connected and active online. Network coverage and unfortunate stereotypes about people based on age, education and occupation notwithstanding, the digitally connected farm future is here: it's just unevenly distributed.

And so our involvement in an experiment of sorts. One of our more forward-thinking clients has agreed to pursue a mobile marketing experiment...an Aphid Alert program. You can see it for yourself here.

The informal objectives are two-fold:

  1. Support brand marketing by associating it with useful added-value information in the context of the customer's world...information of real value that requires neither being hit over the head with brand messaging nor overcoming advertising obstacles along the way to use.
  2. Test the viability of, and interest in, the use of mobile devices for receiving near-realtime, in-field reporting about pest conditions in a subscriber's geography in a variety of formats (email, text message, voicemail).

And while future visions of the service include the use of crowdsourcing techniques to obtain realtime data from the participants themselves, for now the offering has been focussed on ensuring that the experience is first and foremost useful, usable, and desirable to the end users.

We're using legacy media to generate awareness for the program (which enables participants to receive alerts via text message, email or voice mail) and we're also enabling word of mouse. 

Farmers, like any other group of people, are certainly more diverse than the stereotypes applied to them. We hope to learn something meaningful about a few of the those who are actively participating in the always-on world, mobile world...it's not big science...we're just using the small, barely visible aphid as a catalyst for exploring engagement. 

1 comment:

  1. Way to go R and K. AgWired loves seeing an agency use these great new tools.