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Fertilizer company PotashCorp had a problem: convince farmers they shouldn't stop using its product, even when times were tough.
"Unfortunately, fertilizer application -- particularly potash -- can be viewed by some farmers as expendable in the short term," said Tom Pasztor, senior director-stakeholder communications at PotashCorp. "Our challenge was to change this mindset and build a business case for increasing potash applications."
But telling customers they needed potash -- a soil nutrient made of potassium -- wasn't enough; the company need to show them.
"We realized that farmers had started to hold back on using potash and fertilizer when times were tight or prices got too high, and advertising could only do so much," said Doug Kamp, executive creative director at gyro Chicago, PotashCorp's agency of record. "We found out from looking at data and research that if we could take price out of the equation and look at it exclusively as a business case -- if you use this fertilizer, you will get this yield -- we could immediately have engagement and start a conversation with farmers."
The result was eKonomics (K is the symbol for potassium on the periodic table of elements), a website and mobile app that uses ROI calculators, infographics, videos and other data to help farmers see the benefits of buying potash.
"It's much more than just a message -- it's a tool that can improve a farmer's bottom line," Mr. Pasztor said.
Here's what made the campaign successful:
1. Use responsive design
"Building it using responsive design was very important," said Mr. Kamp, noting that eKonomics works across desktop, tablet and smartphone devices. "You might not think of farming as being leading-edge technology, but farmers are investing in the latest technology and they are out in the field, having conversations on the go."
The tool is designed not only for farmers, but also for salespeople, who can download local data and show it to farmers during sales calls.
2. Incorporate real-time data
Because soil and weather conditions vary by geography, having the ability to make the app customizable with real-time data was important to its success, Mr. Kamp said.
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"It is an incredibly robust app," he said. "In real-time, on-the-spot, it can give growers a sense of what their ROI would be if they purchased potash."
eKonomics features several online calculators, from a nutrient ROI calculator to a growing days calculator, that aggregate data such as crop type, local weather patterns, soil conditions and growing days to calculate yield and prices, all of which ultimately impact the farmer's bottom line.
3. Utilize experts
PotashCorp drew on experts, such as its own agronomist and a board of contributors -- including university researchers and leading agronomists -- to provide research, articles and expertise for the website.
"These experts tackle questions directly from the fields and provide answers and research to support proper nutrient management," Mr. Pasztor said.
PotashCorp promoted eKonomics with online and offline ads in farming publications such as AgProfessional, AgWeb and CropLife. It also used social media and PR to drive traffic to the site.
"We've hit our goals for site traffic and are thrilled with the positive feedback we're hearing from customers," Mr. Pasztor said. "Requests for customized tools are coming in and we look forward to further refining and updating the program to reach out and help even more people."
The site has had nearly 250,000 visits and the calculators have had close to 100,000 views.