Marketing Communications in Agriculture, Between Theory and Practice

By: Isabelle Thibout

The AdvancingAg Future Leaders Program is a great way to bridge the gap between theory and practice. It allowed me to answer five key objectives in Marketing Communications.

My first objective was to participate in the creation and implementation of a marketing communication plan within AdFarm. My mentor, Ben Graham, connected me to Megan Morozoff, Account Manager within AdFarm. With the authorization of the Alberta Wheat

Commission, Megan and I covered the

consumer campaign “Life’s Simple Ingredient”. It was so helpful to learn the organization and deployment of this campaign in terms of overall strategy, tactics and value creation. Moreover, consumer campaigns are not common in the agriculture industry and I really appreciated participating in this project.

As a second objective, I wanted to be introduced to the marketing of a specific product within my company. To do this, I connected with Mark Alberts, Product Manager within Corteva Agriscience. We covered the different aspects that came into play to market the product Rezuvant in terms of Product, Placement, Promotion and Price. It was very interested to view the planning cycle and learn about all the partnerships and negotiations that take place.

My third goal was to observe communications and marketing tactics at an agriculture trade show to understand how companies differentiate themselves. Ben and I met at Agri-Trade, in Red Deer, and reviewed different booths and exhibits. We looked at location, impact and engagement. A well-located booth with relevant visuals that catch the eyes are the basics to attract people. Demo items, contests and good promotional material are the key to engage customers and prospects. It was very interesting to see that we attract more customers by focusing on one specific message rather than providing too much information.

As a fourth objective, Ben and I covered the different Key Performance Indicators (KPI) required in a communication campaign, and their benchmarks. Each channel has its own KPI, some more tangible than others. For instance, KPI for print is not always easy to obtain compared to digital, where web metrics are easy to pull out. Social media is categorized by impressions, likes, shares, engagement rate and general reporting tools. The success of Direct Mails can be analyzed by its specific call of action and a contest, by its number of entries, votes or conversion rate. I enjoyed learning more about KPI and the way to examine them.

My last objective was focused on career growth, more precisely understanding the different paths leading to a Product Manager position. Thanks to Ben, we covered both career growth paths within an ag company, such as Corteva Agriscience and an ag marketing communication agency, like AdFarm. Understanding the path to follow is half the way. One important thing I learnt was to have clear communication with my direct supervisor about my professional goals. It helped me established my goals, while keeping myself accountable for them. After having this discussion with my supervisor, I was able to access an add-on role as a Marketing Communications Specialist for the Nitrogen Stabilizer business. I am very excited about this role, the learning opportunities and where it could lead me a couple years from now.

Isabelle and her mentor, Ben Graham

An aspect of the AdvancingAg program I really enjoyed was my public speaking opportunity. As a winner of the AdvancingAg essay contest, I had the chance to present my essay “Regulation of atrazine in corn” during the Cereals Prairie Summit in Banff, on December 12th. It was a great experience to share a subject I am passionate about to a group of agricultural professionals. I am looking forward to my next public speaking event.

Thanks to this mentorship program, I also had the opportunity to attend FarmTech, in Edmonton and the Advancing Women in Agriculture conference, in Calgary. This was a great experience; excellent events to attend and a great opportunity to network with professionals throughout industry. The Advancing Women in Agriculture conference taught me to recognizing my value within the company and how it should be celebrated, rather than being too humble.

Sadly, the AdvancingAg Future Leaders Program is coming to an end. It was a tremendous experience to be part of. The key elements I appreciated were the establishment of personal goals and being paired with the most appropriate mentor to achieve them. I benefited from the essay contest, public speaking, events and different opportunities to network. I wish the future mentees to enjoy their experience and explore all the aspects of this mentorship program: you are in for a real treat!