Build a Virtual Farm Show Strategy

by Jeff Caldwell

Historically, working farm shows has meant, among other things, sipping motel coffee, pacing that oddly springy conference center carpet, donning the company polo shirts, and sharing company swag bags.

But, we’ve been writing a new chapter of farm show history, and it doesn’t include the coffee, the carpet, or the swag. We need to think differently.

At the heart of every show is putting the agribusiness world within reach for farmers. Farm shows—in-person or virtual—give visibility to marketers and create opportunities for sales in a community environment.

That community matters, and by missing it, marketers may stall in their pursuit of sustaining show-goers’ interest and farm show ROI. This is especially true with virtual trade shows being a relatively new part of the business. Prepare for virtual shows by answering these questions:

Do I need to hit every virtual show?

Many years—especially when the ag markets are bullish and farmers feel confident in spending—you see the same companies at major shows. But maybe it’s better to invest more in your presence at a smaller number of virtual shows instead of being everywhere. That may save money you can use to produce follow-up materials that extend the resonance of your message to potential customers. Regardless, keep ROI top-of-mind.

What do I want my customers to think and do?

Years ago, it was more common to see a farmer walking a trade show floor with checkbook in hand. Today, farmers are more likely to attend shows to conduct product research.

So, what do you want your customers to do at the show? Target the most common objective, then align that objective with the answer to your first question. Build your virtual farm show strategy from there. Think in terms of the most frequently asked questions from show attendees. Focus on answering those first.

How can I replicate the community aspect of trade shows?

Creating an environment that successfully replicates the community component of a farm show is a challenge. You can potentially improve the ROI of virtual shows by providing a mechanism that can enable attendees to interact in ways that bolster word-of-mouth product promotion through follow-up conversations.

How does the farm show fit into my other marketing plans?

If you’re introducing new products or services, the trade show is a great way to make a splash and generate interest. Consider plans for new product introductions and other parts of your marketing plan for the year in determining how to best build your virtual trade show participation.

Can I still make it personal and fun?

The more a farmer enjoys interacting with your company virtually, the more likely they are to remember the experience and, as a result, consider your brand when buying.

The virtual farm show is not ideal. It’s tough to replicate the experience of climbing into a showroom-new tractor cab on an electronic platform. And, different platforms make it difficult to standardize your virtual presence at shows.

Instead of getting caught up in the technology, go back to basics. What do you need from your farm show attendance? What ROI do you need to achieve, and how do you want to interact with your customers? Start there, then determine the best way forward.

Jeff Caldwell is content marketing manager at Lessing-Flynn. This article was originally posted on