How Digital Marketing Creates More Impactful Customer Engagement Opportunities



The following panel discussion happened during the 2022 AgVend Partner Summit, between our retail partners and AgVend team members. This discussion illustrates how retailers use AgVend’s digital enablement platform to create more impactful engagement opportunities through digital marketing campaigns and what decision-making criteria went into expanding services. 

Panel participants include:

  • Anna Cardoze, Head of Business Development at AgVend
  • Connor Lankford, Precision Ag Manager at Valley Ag
  • Amy Kinsler, Vice President of Sales and Marketing at Co-Alliance
  • Jennifer Kilber, Marketing Lead at Agtegra Cooperative

This transcript has been edited for readability.




What is your viewpoint on digital marketing and how do you approach that space?


Amy Kinsler, Vice President of Sales and Marketing at Co-Alliance

I’m Amy Kinsler, Vice President of Sales and Marketing with Co-Alliance and I’ve been in this role for just about two years now. What this represents is a real shift in the way Co-Alliance views marketing and is a real shift in the culture that we are building around marketing from an ag cooperative standpoint. We’ve invested deeply in a marketing team, and have a team of five. Those five members are focused every day on delivering the cooperative message linked to our mission to make sure that we are helping our customers realize our promise of delivering positive ROI and really amplifying their voices across not just our marketplace, but really all of the United States. That’s our guiding light from a marketing perspective. 

We’ve started utilizing a lot of different tools here the past several years. We’ve really leaned into a lot of traditional tools, like traditional billboards, radios, marketing, all those things that we’ve done. But we’ve really started leaning heavily into digital marketing.

We find that digital marketing is one of the most effective ways to meet our customers. It’s one of the most price effective ways to message our customers. And it gives us a clear indication of how we’re doing, right? When we send them a postcard, we have no idea if they saw it, if their kid drew on the back of it, or if it never made it out of the truck. 


When we send them a postcard, we have no idea if they saw it, if their kid drew on the back of it, or if it never made it out of the truck. But we know when we send them a digital campaign, when they open it, when they click on it, and what kind of an impact we’re getting with that.

But we know when we send them a digital campaign, when they open it, when they click on it, and what kind of an impact we’re getting with that. Our goal is to help use that information to lead our sales team to those customers and make sure that we’re providing more efficiency to our sales team.

It’s been a real culture shift for the organization. It’s something that we believe very passionately in that these tools and technologies are coming forward and the AgVend platform is a big piece of this. We need a full team to be able to execute highly on that and to make the most of the marketing opportunities that come with it.


Jennifer Kilber, Marketing Lead at Agtegra Cooperative

I’m Jennifer Kilber, Marketing Lead with Agtegra Cooperative. We haven’t quite implemented AgVend yet. We’re close, but we haven’t used the digital marketing tools that AgVend provides and we are very much looking forward to them. Generally speaking, Agtegra’s marketing has been a little bit more traditional. Think statement stuffers, direct mailers, just some of the more traditional things. We’re looking forward to being able to track and monitor our progress and our success rates on some of the more digital marketing aspects with text messaging and email. 

But I’m actually going to take that question a little bit differently. We have started the AgVend process on the sales hub side – we haven’t implemented the customer portal yet. We focus with our sales team on analytics and reports and giving them insights into their customers and which customers they should go see. 

Our mantra is to help our salespeople when they get up in the morning and drive down their driveway to know whether or not they should be turning left or turning right. That’s where our focus has been, on the sales team side. Enabling them and giving them the insights into which opportunities are best to go after that particular day week. And that’s how we’ve been traditionally using digital marketing.


Our mantra is to help our salespeople when they get up in the morning and drive down their driveway to know whether or not they should be turning left or turning right.


Connor Lankford, Precision Ag Manager at Valley Ag

I’m Connor Lankford, the Precision Ag Manager at Valley Agronomics, which is located out in the Pacific Northwest. We’ve got locations in Washington, Oregon, Idaho and Utah. I came into the marketing world because I had a problem. I built a precision ag program that I thought was really awesome and I felt like every grower out there needed to know about it. And I would get frustrated because I would meet with customers and they’d say, “Well, I didn’t even know you guys had a precision ag program.”

So selfishly, I started looking into ways to get that message out in front of our customers. Over time that’s evolved to how do we make sure that our message is getting all the way to the end of the road? We might have a great program or a great offer or something important that we think growers need to be aware of, but we know that if we try to just push that through traditional channels, that may not always get to the end of the road or it might be slow. And by the time the information gets there, it’s out of date. 

As we’ve adopted the AgVend platform and looked at what’s available there, we’ve been impressed with the tools they offer, like being able to send an email, being able to segment the customers of that email, to easily being able to send a text or an in-app notification. And we feel like we’ve arrived at a point where we can confidently get information out in front of our customers and we know that it gets to the end of the road. We know who’s seeing that. And likewise, we’ve recognized that there’s an opportunity to use that tool internally as well. 


As we’ve adopted the AgVend platform and looked at what’s available there, we’ve been impressed with the tools that they offer, like being able to send an email, being able to segment the customers of that email, to easily being able to send a text or an in-app notification. 

But it’s not just about messaging to our customers, it’s also about messaging internally. And that’s been an interesting journey because I’m sure, like many of you, you’ve had this experience where you’ve talked about a program, and then you get that phone call from somebody who says, “Hey, I didn’t know that. How come you didn’t tell me about that?” It’s interesting to be able to go back in and look and see – I did send you an email, but you didn’t open it, right? So there’s some really valuable tools there that we’ve found that have helped both on the external and internal communication challenges that we face every day.




What are the Challenges that You Face with Traditional Marketing Avenues or Adopting Digital Marketing?


Jennifer Kilber, Marketing Lead at Agtegra Cooperative

Statement stuffers are one of our most hot commodity pieces of marketing. I send out an email every month and I say to our business leaders, we’ve got a statement stuffer coming up and I’ve got to get it printed. What content do you want on it or in it? 

And it’s like wolves descending upon a piece of meat, everybody wants a piece of it. There’s only so much real estate on that statement stuffer. And to the segmentation comment, there’s only one statement that goes out and there’s no ability to segment which customer gets which statements to offer.

So I’ve got to cover all the bases to customers that may not be doing business with us in every area or it’s not even applicable to them. To be able to personalize that marketing message to help soften the lead for our sales teams is going to be huge with AgVend, because that statement stuffer is so generic and there’s no ability to do any segmentation whatsoever and it’s once a month. It’s not very timely and it is traditional. And I think half of our customers like yours, probably don’t even open up that statement folder envelope. They just chuck it in the garbage – it’s not a very effective means.


To be able to personalize that marketing message to help soften the lead for our sales teams is going to be huge with AgVend, because (our) statement stuffer is so generic and there’s no ability to do any segmentation whatsoever and it’s once a month. It’s not very timely and it is traditional.


Amy Kinsler, Vice President of Sales and Marketing at Co-Alliance

One of the things that we’ve seen challenges with traditional marketing is it can’t be personalized. And we know that in marketing today, customers want a personal experience. Even from a marketing standpoint, they want to feel like that was developed specifically for them. 

We’ve seen a tremendous amount of uptake from our sales team to utilize a lot of new tools. We’ve seen our sales team send text messages with videos of themselves in it, more than I would have ever guessed. If you had asked me sixteen months ago, would they buy into this? Will they use it? We’ve got them comfortable using a selfie stick or setting up a tripod and video themself out in the field, walking through an issue or just updating their customer on the marketplace.

I think that really we’re all about efficiency. We’re about getting our good people across more customers as effectively as possible. And that’s just very hard to do. First of all, you can’t personalize traditional marketing to the customer and you can’t personalize it to the seller. So for us, that’s been an Achilles heel that I feel like we’ve really overcome with some of the digital tools.


I think that really we’re all about efficiency. We’re about getting our good people across more customers as effectively as possible. And that’s just very hard to do. First of all, you can’t personalize traditional marketing to the customer and you can’t personalize it to the seller. So for us, that’s been an Achilles heel that I feel like we’ve really overcome with some of the digital tools.


Connor Lankford, Precision Ag Manager at Valley Ag

We struggled with being able to segment our customers, and making sure that we had relevant timely information in front of the customer. The AgVend marketing package has really helped us to be able to do that. Being in the Pacific Northwest, we work with customers in multiple states and those who raise a variety of crops. 


We struggled with being able to segment our customers, and making sure that we had relevant timely information in front of the customer. The AgVend marketing package has really helped us to be able to do that. 

We recognize that a mint grower, for example, isn’t going to want information about potatoes. And so being able to go in and segment and create customer lists based on commodities that are grown or even regions where those customers are located, helps make that relevant information. 

We feel like we’ve seen better open rates and better interaction because it is relevant and timely.  We’re able to get into some specifics and personalize it. And that’s made a difference in our efforts.




How Do You Use Digital Marketing as a Sales Enablement Tool?


Connor Lankford, Precision Ag Manager Valley Agronomics

We tell our internal team that our marketing efforts aren’t designed to replace them or get out in front of them. With everything that we do, we try to send the information to them first so that they know what’s coming and what their growers are going to be seeing so they can get prepared for any questions that they might have. It’s been interesting, as we’ve done that we’ve seen how these marketing efforts soften the target. So when the sales guy goes in there to have a conversation about a new product or something that he wants to put into a program, the grower already has some basis of understanding about that product and it’s a different conversation than if it’s a whole new concept.

One of my favorite stories is where a crop advisor had pulled some tissue samples. He showed up at a weekly, regularly scheduled meeting with the grower. The grower had printed the email and printed the flier that came with the email. And the first question that he had was, should we be putting this in the tank? I think the conditions are such that this product probably makes sense. What do you think? 

And it was a lot more of a conversation than a sales pitch. They were able to talk about the agronomics of the product, what they were facing, what they were dealing with. And so the grower ended up putting that product on. Now that’s part of their standard program. So their second and third blight spray every year gets that product. 


And it was a lot more of a conversation than a sales pitch. They were able to talk about the agronomics of the product, what they were facing, what they were dealing with. And so the grower ended up putting that product on. Now that’s part of their standard program.

We’ve tried to highlight with our sales team that it’s about setting the stage for them to come in and continue that conversation, really get into the personalization of it. This is how much product you’re going to need. This is where it fits on your operation and it’s led to a better conversation than just having to come in and start cold.



Jennifer Kilber, Marketing Lead at Agtegra Cooperative

Two years ago we launched an internal program called triple play. And the whole goal of it was to try to go at our customers with a consistent, holistic, whole farm, whole company approach. It involves all four of our main core business divisions; grain, agronomy, energy and feed. And we thought it was just a customer program. Customers would be stoked that they get a nickel discount or a nickel premium on their grain and some discounts on fuel. 

But what we learned was that we have energy sales people, grain originators, sales agronomists, and feed salespeople that are all having individual siloed conversations with our customers. And they’re an Agtegra customer so they should be getting a holistic, consistent Agtegra experience. But they weren’t. 


But what we learned was that we have energy sales people, grain originators, sales agronomists, and feed salespeople that are all having individual siloed conversations with our customers. And they’re an Agtegra customer so they should be getting a holistic, consistent Agtegra experience. But they weren’t.

One of the main things we were looking for with AgVend was help with cross collaboration and cross divisional selling and bringing that whole Agtegra experience together into one platform.  Because even though these salespeople sit across the hallway from each other, they are out visiting customers or they’re busy and communicating with eachother sometimes doesn’t happen. 

AgVend’s going to help them cross the bridge, cross the hallway, so to speak. It will help in the morning as they’re deciding which direction should I pull out of the driveway? Should I go left? Should I go right? Which customers have had a conversation with the energy and the grain side that I need to go follow up on the agronomy side or vice versa. We’re hoping the AgVend team is going to help us with that cross collaboration between the four sales departments and create a more consistent experience at Agtegra.




How do you anticipate digital marketing to continue playing a role in bringing that whole customer together?


Amy Kinsler, Vice President of Sales and Marketing at Co-Alliance

We have four divisions. We have an energy division, agronomy division, grain, and swine and animal nutrition. When we talked about this product we talked about bringing in what we call Co-Alliance Connect. When we talked about bringing Connect forward, we looked for the low hanging fruit. Where is a quick win? Where’s the one that we can go out and we can step into and quickly show value with this platform? Because there’s been a lot of starting and stopping on the digital journey for Co-Alliance and we couldn’t afford to fail again. Simply couldn’t. 

So we picked the energy division and the reason we picked the energy division is because that is the most segmented division we have. We have customers for which it is purely a transactional buy. We have home heat customers that never see a salesperson walk in their door. All they get is a propane truck, it pulls up, fills a propane tank, and drives off. Well, how do we market to them? This is the system to help us do that. And the majority of those home heat customers are used to doing business online as well. 

We often talk about agriculture and the different segments in agriculture – there are older generations that don’t like to do business online and younger generations that do and the stereotypes that come there. The same applies to this home heat customer, right? We’ve got grandmas that are coming onto Co-Alliance connect and they are paying their bills online and they love it. And so for us to go launch into that division was really critical. And we’ve had tremendous uptake from that division and our leads in that. 

And we knew that making it effective is purely driven from a marketing standpoint. Those customers see what marketing puts out. That’s their engagement with clients. And so our marketing team had to make sure we were engaging via social media, direct mailing and statement suffers at any chance we could put Co-Alliance Connect in front of them we did. 

Our admins also played a tremendous role. I’ve heard a lot about salespeople during this conversation today, but one of your front lines of defense are your admins. They handle the money every month and when they give confidence to the customer that you can go online, you can pay this bill online, you can access your account, and that question you just asked me, just go online. It’s right here. When they give that voice of confidence to the customer, those customers move quickly. And we’ve seen that. 

We’ve seen over 7,500 customers move in the past two months to Co-Alliance Connect. Our goal is to get to 30,000 customers by the end of the year(2022). And we feel pretty confident that this path is going to take us there. And it’s an exceptional customer experience that really delivers that.


We’ve seen over 7,500 customers move in the past two months to Co-Alliance Connect. Our goal is to get to 30,000 customers by the end of the year(2022). And we feel pretty confident that this path is going to take us there. And it’s an exceptional customer experience that really delivers that.




How has your sales team responded to their leads being softened and to the reporting opportunity to gain insights?


Connor Lankford, Precision Ag Manager at Valley Ag

The marketing package that we’ve had has the ability to attribute sales dollars back to our marketing efforts. That’s been exciting from the perspective of being able to turn the headlights on and see what we’re doing. Is what we’re investing in and this effort we’re making paying off? We’ve seen over and over again that it does. Our crop advisors don’t necessarily see or know all the ways that maybe that sale is attributable back to that marketing effort. But they do have the ability to go in and see who’s opened those emails and who’s maybe a good lead or somebody that they should follow up with to have a conversation with.

I’ll use an example from this summer that I think is an interesting one. In Oregon, we work with wine grape growers and there was a new product that was coming out and just had received its MRLs. The manufacturer was excited about it, our viticulturist was excited about it. Not very many growers had heard about it. So we created a really segmented customer list that didn’t actually have very many customers on it. And then we put the campaign together and we sent it out. 

And the feedback that I’ve gotten from the viticulture list is that it worked. Growers read that email. They started asking questions about it. And it’s been exciting to follow that through and to be able to see the sales come through and to be able to see the new customers that are attributable back to that campaign.


Growers read that email. They started asking questions about it. And it’s been exciting to follow that through and to be able to see the sales come through and to be able to see the new customers that are attributable back to that campaign.

So then as that has happened we have more and more people that are saying, I’ve got this thing that I want to send out. Can we do something around this product that I need my customers to know about? Our sales teams are realizing that truly this can translate to dollars for them. It’s something that they can follow up on – the sales enablement component makes that easy. They’re getting excited about it.




What is a True Campaign and How Do You Utilize the Different Elements?


Amy Kinsler, Vice President of Sales and Marketing at Co-Alliance

We’re just a couple of months into the Co-Alliance Connect portal. So we’re young in the journey of bringing it through Connect. But historically when we look at a campaign we’re looking at how we build out a message to a customer that is leading the customer. We don’t want to get too far in front of ourselves, but it helps create priority for our sellers. They understand the guiding light, the key vision, and the key conversations that need to take place when we’re out positioning marketing around that.

Since we’re coming into fall, we’ll use our seed campaigns as an example. Traditionally, they’re 3-to-4 pronged campaigns where we’re engaging weekly around different messages that are around that product or that service proposition. We’re trying to engage multiple levels. 

We might have a business manager in a video, we might have an agronomist in a video.  We’ll use an email version that will go out. Then we like to create information for our sales team and our sales team then would text that information out. So there would be a personalized text from our sales people that complement the email campaign. We try to overlap with a lot of customer events that we might have during that time frame or maybe even a traditional postcard mailing (I’m renowned for throwing QR codes on those postcards). Anything we can do to personalize it and get them a face and a bigger piece of information coming to them. We do try to use multiple tactics to reach these customers.



Jennifer Kilber, Marketing Lead at Agtegra Cooperative

We actually did some research recently with customers and we asked them “how did you hear about X, Y, Z?” and we had 15 different options they could select. By and large, they always selected their seller, their seller was the one that told them about it.  

But in reality, they probably also heard it on the radio. They probably saw it in the farm forum or saw it on their statement stuffer. And so I keep coming back to this, but it’s about softening that lead for that salesperson. It was probably the salesperson who closed the deal. But we do focus on the seller and that’s back to where we started with the sales hub implementation versus the portal implementation. 

It’s why we focus so much on giving our salespeople the analytics and the insights around their customers and which direction to drive in the morning, because we really think our sellers are the ones who have the biggest influence. They’re the trusted advisers on the farm. They’re the ones that are going to help bring home that sale. So we focus on the seller, but we also do the direct mailers and the supplemental material. We give our sellers a lot of fliers and things like that that they can leave behind.

But I am looking forward to giving the seller a tool that says we sent this email campaign out and here’s your customers that clicked on it. Go have a conversation with them because they’re probably interested. I think that’s the piece that we’ve been missing and that we’re just looking forward to.




Were There Any Surprising Metrics that You Found from Digital Marketing?


Connor Lankford, Precision Ag Manager at Valley Ag

We see a lot of similarities across age or operation size or geography – there’s a lot of customers that are looking for this information. We are not nearly as sophisticated in our marketing efforts. So typically what we do is we send a monthly email to each of our regions. We try to make that relevant and segment into the customers that it makes sense to go to. In addition, we send a weekly agronomy update or supply insight. I have been really pleasantly surprised and a little bit blown away at the number of customers that we have that open those weekly emails and open that monthly email and click on the links and take a look at the information.

Prior to coming on to the AgVend system, we were told, if you get 13% to 20% open rate, you’re killing it, you’re crushing it. Today I think our average open rate is somewhere probably around 47% open rate. So I feel like the message to me is that these customers are hungry for information. They’re looking for information. And they’re excited when they get it, they’re willing to open those emails. We don’t have very many unsubscribes from our lists, very few. 


Prior to coming on to the AgVend system, we were told, if you get 13% to 20% open rate, you’re killing it, you’re crushing it. Today I think our average open rate is somewhere probably around 47% open rate. These customers are hungry for information and they’re excited when they get it, they’re willing to open those emails. 



How do we help those individuals who are thinking about getting started in digital marketing to take that first step?


Amy Kinsler, Vice President of Sales and Marketing at Co-Alliance

That’s a really tough question because I think we all have to look at and question the power of marketing and what marketing truly does for our organizations. We talk about how the ag cooperative has the best story to tell. We know we’re the best business model out there. We just don’t tell it well enough and we don’t tell it often enough. I think that there’s a lot of value in an elevated marketing position in a lot of our cooperative businesses here. 

At the same time, what digital market will bring us, what AgVend will bring you, is an ability to have a direct line of communication to your customer. It’s an ability for you to be more sophisticated in how you talk to them. In that same line is the added responsibility and how you do it. To get an open rate of 47%, you’ve got to be spending some time thinking about the content you’re going to share, what’s the message that is going to go out? If you waste their time, they’re going to ignore it. They’re going to ignore the emails, they’re going to ignore the text messages. 


What digital market will bring us, what AgVend will bring you, is an ability to have a direct line of communication to your customer. It’s an ability for you to be more sophisticated in how you talk to them. 

I think of this new avenue of marketing as a lot of responsibility to those folks who are determining what that message is so that it stays fresh, so that it stays relevant, so it doesn’t go the direction of a postcard mailing, that we are still able to really impact the customer’s buying decision, impact the customers management style and the customer’s loyalty by using these paths to them. 



Jennifer Kilber, Marketing Lead at Agtegra Cooperative

Just get started. Look at your personal life or even look at how a farmer interacts in other ways besides their business. We’re on our phones. We’re interacting and doing business online as it is today. So why not be in digital marketing for agriculture? They always say that agriculture falls behind or is a little bit behind the times. So I think we all need to meet our customers where they’re at and that’s on their phone. Dive in and just get going on it, the sooner the better. We don’t have the tools quite in place yet to be able to do digital marketing, and I’m literally sitting here just tapping my toe waiting to get my hands on this side of the business. Just dive in because you’ve got to meet your customers where they’re at, especially the next generation.



Connor Lankford, Precision Ag Manager at Valley Ag

My advice would be to start with what you know. Probably the hardest thing, at least for me anyways, is coming up with content or gathering up the content. So when we started, we started with precision ag, which is what I knew and I thought we had a great program. We did some experimentation and thought, “Hey, this is going to work”. And then from there, I think it’s important that you look at programs and opportunities that you have that you know are important to your customers and don’t just assume that the message is getting distributed as far and as wide as you’re hoping. 

One of the things we did right out of the gate the first year we had access to this tool was some marketing around our prepay program. We had a large customer who came to us and said, “I didn’t know you guys had a prepay program.”

 We were on a little bit of a different fiscal year than this customer, and just never had this conversation. It wasn’t something that their crop advisor or their agronomists had thought about in the middle of the year when they (the customer) were at their fiscal year end. So now this customer prepays a significant sum of money with us and has continued to do that.

Just look at some of those things that you know are important messages for your customers and start there and then you can build out.




Audience question – We’ve invited this section of customers, their account status is “pending.” We have their email and cell phone number. Should we be pushing any campaigns or marketing collateral to those individuals or are you waiting until they’ve decided to activate their account?


Connor Lankford, Precision Ag Manager at Valley Ag

We do market to those individuals. If they’ve been sent an invitation to the portal, we market to them. The only group that we don’t market to today is the group that has not been invited to the portal. So we have some customers that today we have not yet invited at all. So we don’t market to them, but we market to active customers and pending invitations. 

We don’t do a lot of marketing about the portal itself, but we continue to see customers every month come on to the portal and those invitations become active customers. We try to always link our campaigns, our email campaigns back to the portal. So there’s a link back to a product or to something. And we see eventually over time, those buttons get clicked and that account gets activated.



Amy Kinsler, Vice President of Sales and Marketing at Co-Alliance

That’s been an “aha” for me actually as we’ve been here at this retreat. We initially started with just really, really honed in on our energy team. And so we spent a lot of time and effort on the energy customer, which was a little cross collaboration with your agronomy and grain and swine, depending on if you had business in all those other divisions. 

We’ve kind of had a slow burn on agronomy, but we’re getting ready to turn it up here as we head into the fall season. I didn’t realize that you could market directly from Connect to those customers if they weren’t on Connect. That was kind of a roadblock in my brain. We’re still using Constant Contact and hit them up from a texting perspective and are doing a heavy lift on the engagement and metrics and serving that back out to our sales team. That’s been a real learning for me today. I think that we definitely should look at our communication efforts, how we drive those through Connect and drive the customer back to Connect. 

But we have aggressively marketed Connect as a service that we bring and as a differentiated customer experience. We’ve spent a lot of time and effort around that message to try to get the customer to sign up and come on board. And the reason why we’ve done that is because we have been down that path a few times before. So we needed to make sure the customer knew that this was a clear priority and we expected a positive result.




Audience question – How do you prioritize the business units? You guys all have at least more than one business unit that you’re working with, how do you prioritize those messages and that content? What’s the most creative or fun campaign that you’ve run? 


Jennifer Kilber, Marketing Lead at Agtegra Cooperative

It’s tough, but we start with the customer. It’s whichever one meets the most needs of the customers. So a lot of times I agree that Grain and Agronomy win out because they’ve got the largest group of customers and it impacts the majority of the customers, which is why segmenting and being able to do digital marketing to different segments is so important so that you can do multiple things at once to each segment. Whichever one impacts the biggest amount of customers and probably at the end of the day brings the most ROI either for the customer or for us.

The most fun campaign I would say is back to our triple play one. It’s just been fun because it involves all four divisions of our organization and it leaves nobody out. It’s a holistic, whole farm offer. And it’s fun, right? Because it involves the whole entire business and it gets them to come and do the full acre with us. Just from that perspective, it’s been fun.



Connor Lankford, Precision Ag Manager at Valley Ag

The way we approach setting up our marketing calendar, is essentially we will meet yearly with the regional managers in each of those states. We discuss products and some of the things that are important to them. We also talk about other topics that make sense to the market to talk about during that time of the year. 

Then we come up with a plan that looks out for a year, and then we review that quarterly and talk about if there are any changes, does it still make sense, timing-wise does this need to shift. 

Then as we get into the month where we just run one monthly product campaign, we’ll actually talk about whether it makes sense to do this early in the month or late in the month and establish the timing that makes the most sense and when is this going to be the most relevant to the customer. 

That’s the way that we approach it, priority-wise. I probably have a little bit of an advantage – we’re just working with our agronomy team. So we do talk a lot about how we don’t want to bombard our customers with messages. We want to make sure that we’re not spamming their inbox, but because we’re just working with one division, we have plenty of time in the month to get done the things that we need to do.

As far as the most fun campaign that we’ve ever done, probably any of them that have to do with our precision program, I find that really fascinating. I usually know when they go out and usually 20 minutes after it’s been sent, I’m popping in there to see who’s opened it and who clicked on the links and it usually doesn’t show yet. And so I’m anxiously awaiting to see who I can go talk to about precision ag. So for me, those are the ones that I always have a good time with.



Amy Kinsler, Vice President of Sales and Marketing at Co-Alliance

On our end, how we determine content is we have folks from the marketing team that meet with our leads in each division. They’re meeting regularly with the division to understand the needs and the opportunities in those divisions and how we can market the division but still have a cohesive voice as the organization. 

Priority wise, our energy team thinks they are top priority. I can say that because no one here is with Co-Alliance energy. They have a very large audience and an audience that can be marketed to in a different buying behavior than what we see in agronomy. So we do spend a lot of time and energy and marketing towards energy, but to our agronomy team as well. There’s a lot of priority around that business partner message and how we get that message across to a broader customer base.

We are just like everyone else, finding good salespeople, equipping salespeople to be powerful on the farm. We know we’ve got some real rock stars out there. And our goal is to spread them across as many customers as we can. And this platform and our digital marketing tools allow us to do that a lot more effectively and allow them to touch more customers more often from a creative standpoint. 


We are just like everyone else, finding good salespeople, equipping salespeople to be powerful on the farm. We know we’ve got some real rock stars out there. And our goal is to spread them across as many customers as we can. And this platform and our digital marketing tools allow us to do that a lot more effectively and allow them to touch more customers more often from a creative standpoint. 

We merged with another cooperative almost two years ago now at this point. So we just came through a really creative phase where we took the time to really understand who we were as an organization, what our values were, and our mission as a new cooperative. What do we want people to think about when they think of Co-Alliance Cooperative. And so we just launched this past winter, our “We Deliver” campaign. It is not product focused, right? It’s about our people. It’s about our mission, it’s about our values. But I think for our team, that was a lot of fun and it really helped us build culture in our organization. There was no question that has been our pride and joy here for the past several months.




Audience Question – Two part question. First part, can you add any quantifiable growth in sales from a marketing campaign that was done and then second part of that is how is social incorporated into campaigns in general or those campaigns specifically that resulted in growth? 


Connor Lankford, Precision Ag Manager at Valley Ag

The one that probably sticks out and probably the one that I’m most proud of is going back to that prepay email that we sent out about the prepay program. The first year we did that, our prepay grew from 20 million to 50 million. 


The one that probably sticks out and probably the one that I’m most proud of is going back to that prepay email that we sent out about the prepay program. The first year we did that, our prepay grew from 20 million to 50 million. 

I know that’s not all attributable just to the information. The growers that had a good year, they had money, they were looking for something to do with it. It happened to be at a time when buying paint and equipment was a little bit difficult, so there was this kind of a confluence of different factors there. But the fact that we had that information out and in front of those customers in a consistent way, I think definitely helped.

We have a social media director that works for Valley Wide Co-op, which is one of the owners of Valley Agronomics. We will look at the campaigns that we’re doing, and if there’s products that make sense across all of the geographies she will also put together a social media post about those and those typically go out on Instagram and Facebook.



Jennifer Kilber, Marketing Lead at Agtegra Cooperative

It always seems like year two things pick up for us. During year 1 of a new launch, the sales team will take it to their core group of customers, and we do get some traction there. But then it’s always year two where we get the majority attraction because that’s when all the other customers start to hear about it. So that just tells us honestly that we don’t do a good job of communicating to all of our customers about the offer or the product or whatever it is we’re trying to talk about. I think we can do a better job of trying to reach all of our customers that it affects versus just the ones that our sales team is comfortable going out and having that conversation with. 

Hopefully once we start using some more digital campaigns we can help soften that lead and get that information out to all of our customers so they know about it.



Amy Kinsler, Vice President of Sales and Marketing at Co-Alliance

That question is really similar to one my CEO asks me every month when we sit down and talk about the marketing spend. It’s something that we really look forward to having Co-Alliance Connect with AgVend to really more directly correlate.

Right now it’s not been directly quantitative where we know that this campaign drove this result by grower. We have always struggled with that and are really looking forward to AgVend helping us make that connection. 

But we have definitely seen the movement – we ran a fungicide campaign, and this past year we ran it earlier because we wanted to get movement on fungicide earlier because of supply concerns. We saw movement on purchases of fungicide much, much earlier. That tied along to the campaign. Was it the campaign? Was it because our sales team were focused on it because there was a campaign? Was it just because that message of supply was out there? All those factors probably all added together to make that movement happen. 

On our propane side of the business. We have a little more of a quantitative view of that because we use a third party when we’re out prospecting propane – we’re not able to get access to those third party customers as prospect customers. So we use a third party to help us identify them. They help us quantify it a little bit. But still, there’s work to be done to make sure that we are effectively driving results with our marketing campaigns. So I look forward to that from the AgVend side of things.

Every campaign we run, we try to echo socially. Lauren is really the expert again on this. That’s a really powerful tool to engage customers and prospects alike and stakeholders in general – engaging the population around what we do as a cooperative.




Audience Comment


There’s an opportunity here around digital marketing besides just connecting with our customers and doing these campaigns. I know when we sit down and talk to manufacturers and they all have budgets for advertising and marketing and you were to sit down with these manufacturers and promote this product through our portal; we can touch 1,900 customer, we can tell you how many are going to open it, we can track how many actually purchased the product, and how many have never purchased it before. 

There are some really cool conversations that you can start having about – you can be apart of this campaign or this marketing initiative to our customers. What is that worth to a Bayer, Syngenta, or BASF to do really good things not to just get the right information out there about the product, but to create some revenue that we have not looked at or thought of before. 

It could be another opportunity for a rebate program. Let’s find the real money out there to help pay for the marketing team to create revenue to get that great content to our growers that will fit right into this. It will benefit the portal relevance with some of those larger organizations.



Anna Cardoze, Head of Business Development at AgVend

I’m taking that one step further. You guys all talked about it. You’re not sending out ten messages a month. You’re not doing 15 campaigns every quarter. There is only a certain amount of campaigns that are product-focused that you’re going to run.

What is some of that information or sponsorship opportunity worth to a manufacturer? What information would you be willing to share back that they may not have access to in real time? Is it some of that kind of aggregated information that they then can take? And so instead of making their marketing plans two years out, now they know that this product really isn’t performing that well in Idaho. Maybe we should rethink that. 

And so kind of taking that first party data that you guys have really great, great control over and seeing what kind of opportunities there are to make that a really great revenue stream, to give that CEO the answer of look at what marketing is making us and not just overhead there are some tangible dollars and getting those manufacturers from their standpoint to also have that consistent message. 

The consistent branding that they want out there when it comes to their products. But putting it in the voice of the trusted advisor and the trusted retailer that they’ll just never be able to replicate without your portal or without your digital marketing capabilities.

I want to thank our panelists so much for joining me up here today. Thank you guys for participating.

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