Facebook for Farmers & Producers: Producers Market
Creating the Greatest Digital Marketing Tool the Agricultural Industry Has Seen
Small and mid-sized independent agricultural producers are poised to completely shift supply chain power in their favor in the next decade.
The rapid global distribution of digital technology to rural areas, combined with the evolving consumer preference for sustainable food products, has placed the power into their hands. Local, regional and global post-harvest connectivity opens the door for producers to aggregate, reach more buyers more directly, acquire lower-cost financial resources, and obtain better options for logistics. Intermediary dominance will bow to a new era of free market service provider models and will lay to rest the buy-low, sell-high profit maximization system.
Creating a “Facebook for Farmers and Producers” will accelerate this process.
What do I mean by Facebook for Farmers?
Facebook revolutionized the way we profile ourselves and connect with each other. With access to a standardized, well-designed page, we were suddenly able to present ourselves to the world in a compelling way. It all seems so obvious now, but a simple online profile consisting of words, photos and videos fulfilled our natural inclination to connect with other people in our community, and around the world.
I was a freshman in college when Facebook hit the scene. Suddenly, it was really easy to “see” our friends and meet new people in our community. MySpace was always chaotic, but Facebook hit the core of what we didn’t even know we desired.
Of course, it isn’t 2004 anymore. Producers have many tools that they are using globally to connect with people and market their farms and products.
There is Alibaba, LinkedIn, Facebook, Instagram, Amazon and WhatsApp, along with many lesser-known startups. Many millions of producers flock to these platforms with the intention of connecting. However, none of these tools has truly materialized into the leading network for producers to connect with buyers, consumers, service providers, and other producers.
The Current Tools Available to Producers & Farmers
Let’s take a look at each one of these platforms and analyze their strengths, weaknesses, and ultimately limitations for becoming the leading global network for small and mid-size producers.
Alibaba is the leading B2B marketplace globally. Indeed, one can find a vast array of agricultural products on this platform. Alibaba has an impressive user base and breadth of products and services. However, Alibaba lacks sourcing legitimacy. The users marketing speciality agricultural products tend to be traders, brokers, wholesalers, and perhaps packers and processors. It’s hard to determine where the products are sourced from and who the producer is. It simply doesn’t feel like a celebration of farmers and producers.
The king of commerce, Amazon works with brands and brand stores. Few brands in the grocery space are telling the story of their farmers. It is a D2C commerce market, and it does not facilitate building of profiles or stores for farmers (at least not yet!).
Instagram has become a must for farmers and producers looking to scale their connectivity to consumers, brands, and buyers. Many farmers and producers are uploading their photos and stories to Instagram and slowly building niche communities. However, this is not an information source for most value chain buyers. It is essentially a consumer-facing tool, and from our perspective with the farmers and producers in our network, it is not being used to its fullest potential for impact. While Instagram is a great way to share a story, it doesn’t provide the key information a buyer or partner would require.
Facebook hosts billions of people on one network. It provides a great one-page summary of a producer business and has an incredible targeted advertisement system. However, the Facebook page interface is not specifically designed for farmers, and Facebook pages are promoted almost entirely to consumers.
As a professional network, LinkedIn allows individuals and businesses to connect with other professionals in a global network. It is a tremendous tool for organized farmers, cooperatives, associations, packers, processors and artisanal entrepreneurs to build networks with potential buyers and service providers. Unfortunately, LinkedIn does not have the communication tools for producers to really share their stories, demonstrate credibility, or connect to end consumers.
Taking a step back, none of these corporations serve a mission to support farmers and producers. These platforms do not share equity nor the revenue streams from rich data capture and advertising platforms with their users. Many producers have benefitted and will continue to benefit tremendously from these platforms; however I’d be hard-pressed to find a farmer or producer who feels like it is truly their digital home.
What Producers Really Need
Producers need a voice digitally. This voice needs to be seen and heard, and it must have trust and integrity. Farmers and producers are cautious when it comes to new people, new technologies, and new promises. Small and mid sized producers have been let down too many times before, and so adoption of new systems is a non-linear exhibition.
Yet, these producers are often plagued by poorly-designed websites, profiles, and social media handles that send the message that their operations and products are not professional. Furthermore, the energy to manage a fast-evolving social media page and website is simply too much to ask. Most producers want to focus on farming, harvesting, packing, and selling. And most packers and processors want to focus on adding value to raw materials and connecting these products and services to downstream buyers.
Navigating the choppy waters of social media and digital presence is simply not in the budget, bandwidth, or interest of most producers. Many take a “set it and forget it” approach to digital media, whereby an organized and funded producer will build a website that doesn’t get updated for years.
While it is logical to connect to sales digitally, most producers still don’t rely on social media or their website to generate sales leads. Individual producers often encounter sales leads through their local and personal networks, while organized groups have access to regional, national and international trade shows.
Who Will be Crowned as the Facebook for Farmers?
While we don’t know the answer to this question, the team at Producers Market is committed to building a network that values the dignity and unique identity of every producer.
Producers Market is a producer-centric digital network. Everything we do follows the North Star vision of supporting agricultural producers, agricultural producer groups and added-value producers by providing them with the greatest digital marketing profile tool the industry has seen. To demonstrate our commitment to producers, we’ve set aside 20% of our corporate equity for future distribution to small farmers. When we say we ‘work for our farmers’ we mean it literally.
We understand producers’ greatest pain point: marketing. Most producers are looking for consistent access to markets that pay fair prices, and on time. At Producers Market, we are committed to solving this problem through the building of marketing technology solutions that allow producers to easily share their story and connect directly with downstream markets, without the need for intermediaries brokering and trading their goods.
Storytelling brings humanity to products. This is the humanity that people are craving. People are ready to vote with their dollars. A great story combined with visibility for its authenticity and validation is a revolutionary step toward shifting how supply chains function.
Consumers will soon know who grew, processed and distributed their goods—without visiting a farmers market or ordering a CSA box. The information will arrive directly to their smartphone, and it will be informed through data capture.
And all of it will connect humans together through a producer network built on integrity and trust.
This is the Producers Market vision. Discover our Facebook for farmers and producers: