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Agrimarketing : October 2008
ADFARM’S “FARM DAZE” TOURS E by Dan Danford, AdFarm arly this August, the Kansas City office of AdFarm closed its doors for two full days. During those days, no creative was pre- sented, no invoices were sent and no hours were billed. The time was an investment into agricultural insights. The agency rented a charter bus and took every AdFarm employee on a two-day tour of area farms, ag retailers and agribusinesses across Missouri. As a practice, every two years the various offices of AdFarm head out on these tours. Called “Farm Daze” because of the in-depth information to which the employees are exposed, the outings give every employee the opportunity to live farming, to see the products and services they promote in action and to talk with the cus- tomers they are trying to reach. With offices in Kansas City, MO; Fargo, ND; Guelph, ON; and Calgary, AB, implementing the expeditions can be daunting, but agency leaders say the trips pay out 100-fold. Because AdFarm is the only com- munications agency that is completely focused on agriculture, most of their employees already have a strong back- ground in agribusiness and farming. But Bob Wilhelm, Managing Director of AdFarm’s U.S. Operations, says the farm tours are deeper than just an introduction to agriculture. (Above) AdFarm Fargo employees in front of the crops in which they invested their own money. (At right) AdFarmers learn about the value of modified cattle feed at an ethanol plant in Malta Bend, MO. “We’re laying the groundwork for marketing insights,” says Wilhelm. “We provide a premium service to our clients not because every employee simply thinks about agriculture every day. It’s because they’ve all lived it. Our Farm Daze tours are about contin- uing to live agriculture: meeting the people, asking in-depth questions, see- ing the operations and building on our considerable foundation of industry knowledge.” Because that foundation has Some of the Kansas City group posed in an “A” for AdFarm at AGRIServices of Brunswick. 58 AgriMarketing ¦ October 2008 served AdFarm well, the company has grown significantly over the past several years. Wilhelm says special attention to activities like Farm Daze has not changed, although the focus of the tours has shifted. “When we began these tours some years ago, they were more focused on visiting production agriculture operations — farms, ranches, and feedlots,” explains Wilhelm. “The original Farm Daze events were really general ag field trips. But as we grow our business, we’re responding to the growth and develop- ment of agribusiness in how we structure our agency and our Farm Daze tours. Now we seek more specialized and deeper understanding of the markets, of the economics and inputs, of the distribution, of the commodities and their processing as they move toward their end use.” Those specialties were subtle, but evident to Jamie Johnson, a Team Lead in the Kansas City office. He was part of a small group who were asked to attend both the Kansas City and the Fargo office Farm Daze tours. He says while every U.S. AdFarmer would definitely benefit from both programs, he appreciated how each was tailored to the unique client and business focus of each office. “As someone who is fairly new to the organization, I was blown away by how far each tour drilled down into specific topics on individ- ual ag disciplines and markets,” explains Johnson. “While I was up in Fargo, I learned more than I ever expected to about sugar beets, sugar production, barley and pulse crops. “But on the Kansas City tour, the focus was definitely different. We learned about ethanol produc- tion, crop protection product distri-
November December 2008