I was driving through the San Joaquin Valley of California last September, and I went past a small ranch that I really admired. Whoever owned this place was devoted to raising cattle. They were surrounded by almond and walnut orchards which would pay them thousands of dollars more per acre than cattle, but they were determined to raise cattle.
On this ranch the fences were perfect. There were brand new corrals and a separate area for the working chute. Both had a pole barn structure covering them for those hot summer days that you get down there. There was a shop/barn structure that was brand new, well built and sized well to take care of the owner’s cattle. Then there was the house. About 50 yards off of the road, down a short driveway, there was an unassuming, manufactured home with a very small footprint.
Looking at this property you could see the dichotomy. All the equipment for handling, securing or working the cattle were luxury level (in ranching terms). The house, although well kept up was unassuming and just beyond being a bunkhouse. You could almost hear the rancher saying “oh yeah, I need somewhere to sleep at night.” Obviously, the person who developed this ranch put their time, effort and money into where they were (and their livestock) were going to be spending the majority of their time.
Agricultural people spend their time outside, period! This is where they want to be. They are one with the dirt, the weather and the hot or the cold. They are not up to date on the latest season of The Walking Dead, and they do not have a blog reader on their computer so they can sit down to read for 2 hours each day. They all are forced to sit in front of the computer from time to time, but they do what they must and then they are back outside.
Until podcasting came around if you wanted to share your message with these folks you had to be a master strategist. You had to catch them at the right place and the right time, or you were not going to be able to get their attention. It was an expensive and ineffective process. If you wanted to have the time to get your point across to agricultural people you needed to be leaning on a pickup bed speaking with them out in the open air or paying for a radio commercial on a channel you were hoping they listened to.
Commercials were expensive and only for companies with a significant advertising budget. Agriculturists live in rural areas. There are only so many pickup beds you can lean on in one day. After you factor in the driving time from ranch to ranch or farm to farm, this number gets pretty small.
But now that we have podcasting and smartphones this has all changed. Agricultural people are still not staring at computer screens and reading blogs for hours on end. But they are carrying smart phones and listening to podcasts.
The reason that podcasts work for us in agriculture is because in one way or another we are all alike. We are out the door in the morning and back in the door as the sun is going down. The time in between is all spent in activities that require our hands and eyes: feeding, opening gates, driving tractors, driving pickups, pulling calves, etc.
The only way to communicate your message with these folks to give them a way to hear it while their hands and eyes are busy.
Who is the person you are trying to share your agricultural message with? Are they farming or ranching? If they are, are you still hoping they will change the way they go about their day and read your blog? Or, will you change the way you deliver your message so they can really hear you?
Matt Brechwald is an agricultural broadcaster who creates custom podcasts for and consults with companies that have a story to tell. Matt is the host of “Off-Farm Income”, a 3X weekly podcast that focuses on agriculture and entrepreneurship; the host of the D&B Supply Show, a weekly podcast and radio show airing in Eastern Oregon and Southwest Idaho; and a contributor to “FFA Today”, a weekly national radio program that airs on Rural Radio, SiriusXM Channel 147.