Article first appeared in the AgriKultuur/AgriCulture Magazine.

For many farmers, having a digital presence simply isn’t a priority. It takes enough time just running a farming business. Who still has time to post something on Facebook or Twitter; and to what end?

That’s fair enough – especially if you’re selling your product to a secured buyer. But if you’re hosting auctions to sell livestock or wool; or have a cottage on your farm that you rent out to visitors; or you want to connect with international buyers and network within your niche market, then it may make sense to make use of technology to communicate.

Here’s a case study of a major Dohne-Merino farmer, who recently took to the digital space.

Wynand du Toit, owner of the Suidplaas Dohne stud in the Overberg, has a fantastic story to tell. He has the largest Dohne-Merino stud in South Africa. He has attained the world record price for his Dohnes in previous years. And every year he hosts a major ram sale on his property.

To advertise the annual auction, Suidplaas would design a flyer, print it and post it to potential clients. While printed material still holds huge value, there was an opportunity to work a bit more cost-effectively and reach a wider audience.

The first step for Wynand?

To design a brand that captures the heart of the business – and that works online, as well as offline. Remember, a brand is not a logo. Rather, it’s a feeling. How do you feel about the product when you see it? (World-class? Reputable? Quality? Led by experts?)

With the brand developed and in place, it was time to start rolling it out.

But there were a couple of important rules to follow.

First, the brand had to be used consistently across different platforms – and by different team members. Consistency helps reinforce that feeling with customers. If not used properly, messages to clients could lose their power.

For Wynand, one of the first places to capture that brand was a website; followed by a presence on the main social media platforms relevant to his farming operation (in his case, Facebook, Twitter and Instagram). All of this was helped by the fact that he had taken a series of professional photos of his stud over the years. Photos are vital in the online space, especially when you only have a few seconds to capture the attention of a potential client online (and are competing with thousands of other messages).

A cost-effective alternative for Wynand

Making the transition to a digital presence also allowed Wynand to reach customers via email regarding his upcoming auctions. This not only saved him money, but also allowed him to reinforce his message – especially to those who may have missed the email the first time.

Going forward, Suidplaas will continue to make use of technology to communicate its
messages and keep adapting as online trends change. For example, Facebook serves as a great platform to allow people (especially Dohne breeders across the world) to engage with his brand. Twitter is the ideal business networking space for a brand like Suidplaas. And with his array of wonderful photos, Suidplaas can get creative on Instagram to showcase the Dohne-Merino offering with lifestyle-orientated imagery. Videos and 360 photos will also form part of the Suidplaas digital strategy.

There’s one final tip from Suidplaas.

The Dohne business is anything but boring. So, the messages should replicate that, through engaging and meaningful content that speaks directly to the audience. The aim is to stand out amongst the noise, through real stories, told by passionate people.

LoveGreen Communications: LoveGreen is a creative communications team with a difference – we truly love green. We work in the agricultural, conservation and responsible tourism sectors, to help businesses and individuals share their messages; and reach their potential clients.

“Ek was ongelooflik beïndruk met die professionele wyse waarop LoveGreen my stoetery op digitale platforms geplaas het en sal hulle aanbeveel vir enige persoon of besigheid.”

– Wynand du Toit

Heather is our content writer. She enjoys helping our clients formulate their message and loves to run her way across beautiful mountains, to explore new places and is always ready for an adventure.

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