Mobile marketing

THE ADVANTAGE OF SELLSMART AND AGBIDS AT HARVEST

how times have changed. Fifteen years ago, when I started writing management articles, the message to farmers was that they needed to think of themselves as the CEO of the company. And like CEOs of big companies, they needed to log sufficient office time to ensure that they were doing a good job marketing, record keeping, managing finances, making phone calls, and staying on top of new information. In other words, the office was the nerve center of the farm business enterprise and you needed to be in that room on a regular basis.  Today, I have a completely different message: GET OUT OF THE OFFICE!

Mobile technology has made it possible to avoid the office – if you want to. Some farmers like to work in the office away from distractions; but if you will do almost any task to avoid the office, then take heart. The reason for going into the office was to access phone, internet, email, record keeping and financial management software, read trade publications, and gather the information needed to make sound decisions.

Today, almost all of these tasks and functions can be done via a smartphone and/or tablet computer – making office time optional rather than mandatory. And agriculture specific application software (referred to as an app) takes it to the next level. Grain Farmers of Ontario has been very progressive in adopting mobile technology for their membership.

With over 14,000 users and more than 30,000 monthly use sessions, Grain Farmers of Ontario’s SellSmart app has been hugely successful with Ontario grain producers. The app provides users with new and old crop futures prices, basis values at specific elevators and cash grain bids. The uptake has been exceptional. The support from the grain industry is still evolving. There are still many elevators that are not participating, despite the clear signal from grain farmers that convenient, accurate, mobile price discovery is not a perk – it is a necessity for effective grain marketing.

In March, Grain Farmers of Ontario, in partnership with AgNition Inc., released another mobile marketing app called AgBids. This app makes it very easy for growers to request an actual price bid for grain and also for fertilizer products. AgBids allows the user to contact one or multiple grain buyers or fertilizer sellers simultaneously from their smartphone. AgBids is currently available for BlackBerry, and will be available this fall for iPhone and Android devices. More information is available at www.agbids.com.

There are currently 100 elevators participating in SellSmart, displaying 380 separate bids. AgBids has 77 elevators and 214 fertilizer retailers enrolled.

Grain Farmers of Ontario and AgNition share the vision that mobile apps and web resources will be very valuable for Ontario grain producers. For this reason, Grain Farmers of Ontario has built a mobile portal or “gateway”, called FarmCentral, which is available at www.gfo.ca/SellSmart. FarmCentral is a one-stop mobile entry point to access SellSmart, AgBids, and the Grain Farmers of Ontario mobile website.

“We know that it often takes time for new technologies and processes to become established, but farmers have adopted mobile tools very quickly and in growing numbers. SellSmart, AgBids and other mobile resources in development bring powerful management tools to smartphones and tablets,” says John Cowan, VP of Strategic Development for Grain Farmers of Ontario.

In a world where anyone can post grain and fertilizer prices on Twitter and Facebook, SellSmart and AgBids allow Ontario grain and fertilizer companies to communicate with their customers using free, stable and reputable platforms.

buying grain??selling fertilizer?
Grain buyers and fertilizer retailers can take advantage of Grain Farmers of Ontario’s mobile apps and connect with progressive producers across Ontario.

Old habits die hard. Adapting to increasingly mobile farm clients requires a shift in thinking, but there is no doubt that many producers want mobile services. The convenience and efficiency that mobile devices and apps provide is just too significant to ignore.

Grain Farmers of Ontario’s SellSmart app provides a credible and free platform for Ontario elevators to communicate prices to producers. Grain buyers can register and participate in SellSmart by going to www.gfo.ca/SellSmart.

When grain producers are ready to make a grain sale or fertilizer purchase decision, the AgBids app lets them request an actual price bid from one or more companies. It maintains a one-on-one process between buyer and seller. AgBids simply lets a producer indicate to their elevator or fertilizer vendor that they are ready to do business. The app indicates what and how much the producer wants to sell or buy and invites the company to contact them to work out a price. Prices are NOT posted on AgBids – the app just makes it easier for farmers to contact and do business with grain elevators and fertilizer retailers across Ontario. Grain buyers and fertilizer retailers can sign-up at www.agbids.com. •