Define Your Competitive Advantage

September 3, 2015 10:44 PM

What differentiates your farm from the one down the road? Why should a company do business with you?

“When people see you or hear your name, they recall the image they have of you,” says Bret Oelke, farm management coach with Innovus Agra. What they recall is your farm’s brand and reputation.

“You have a brand whether you like it or not, so it’s to your advantage to manage it,” he says.

A good farm brand will deliver your message clearly, confirm your credibility, concrete customer loyalty and motivate customers as well as prospects, Oelke explains.

Start With Vision. Although your brand should be attention-getting, above all it should connect to values.

“Your brand should emanate from the vision for the farm that has evolved from the original founder and the values deeply held by the farm’s owners,” advises Bob Milligan, a business consultant with the firm Dairy Strategies, LLC.

Before tackling a farm brand, build out your mission, vision and business philosophy. “These are important because they provide direction, meaning and a basis for decision-making,” Milligan says.
Kick off this process by describing your farming operation, Oelke says. Focus on just three words that describe your business and build your brand from there. Don’t worry about crafting a long and eloquent phrase. Most farms have a vision, as in an idea of the business’ aspiration, but few have it written down.

“Today, osmosis doesn’t work in conveying the vision of a farm,” Milligan points out. “Farms include many busy people. You must articulate and share it with everyone in the business.”

Once you have a farm brand you’re proud of, communicate it constantly with your internal and external customers. This includes your employees, family members, landowners and farm managers. “Put your brand on your farm’s clothing, newsletter and signage,” Oelke says.

Also use your brand to create ambassadors for your operation. “A brand will serve as a source of engagement and pride for your workforce,” Milligan explains.  

A clearly defined mission, vision and brand will allow your farm to be top-of-mind for current and potential partners. “Make brand management part of your overall business plan,” Oelke advises.


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