Marketing member working on the computer

Marketing

The AgFirst Marketing team serves as an extension of the Associations’ local business development and marketing efforts. While strategic foresight for business development initiatives remains a primary focus for individual Associations, the power to bring these plans to life is a function of the AgFirst Creative Services, Communications, Website Development, Legislative, Corporate Events and Market Research groups.

Business woman utilizing a white board to draw a graph

Market Research

The foundation for every strong campaign starts with detailed territory and environmental research to ensure a deep understanding of the local market. AgFirst Market Research analysts provide each Association a portfolio of reports, updated quarterly, to better understand their local territory. Some examples of the reports provided include:

  • County Penetration Reports.
  • Competition Reports.
  • Young, Beginning and Small Farmer Demographics.
  • Association Member Analytics.
  • Product Usage Reports (i.e. AccountAccess Users by Branch).

In addition, Market Research analysts work with each Association to support ad-hoc reporting initiatives, such as customer mapping requests, detailed analysis on AgCensus data and website analytics for improving usability.

Woman using AgSource

AgSource

To ensure Farm Credit is viewed as the most knowledgeable ag lender and to complement the portfolio of static reports, AgFirst developed a common content platform to further enhance Associations’ business development efforts, credit risk management and knowledge center initiatives. AgSource, an Intranet-based tool, was introduced to all District employees in 2015.

AgSource is designed to be a dynamic and easy-to-navigate website resource for the most relevant and critical ag information available. It helps District employees keep up with market conditions, have access to commodity research and analysis from IHS Global, get the latest economic analysis from professors at major land grant universities, find background information and tools for preparing presentations, and have access to the latest political news affecting Farm Credit. Accessible from each Association’s Intranet page, AgSource has quickly become the top choice among employees for weekly ag updates and business planning and development activities.

Pile of marketing materials

Creative Services and Communications

The Creative Services and Communications team at AgFirst partners with Association marketing and business development teams to create campaign collateral. Last year, this team completed more than 4,000 job requests consisting of graphic design support for:

  • Local Advertising Initiatives.
  • Brochures.
  • Direct Mailing Pieces.
  • Email Marketing Initiatives.
  • Exhibit Displays.
  • Greeting Cards/Post Cards.
  • Infographics.
  • Prospect Proposals.
  • Posters/Banners.
  • And more.

In addition, this team supports the development, writing efforts, layout, publication, printing and mailing efforts of borrower-focused magazines and publications, such as the Leader magazines published by most AgFirst Associations. The team also writes press releases and public relations collateral and provides Associations with editing support for white papers or formal business communications.

Commercial printer

Print Shop

Associations frequently utilize AgFirst’s professional in-house print shop. Accessing print options through an easy-to-use electronic storefront, Associations can print, sort and mail collateral at cost (meaning AgFirst does not charge Associations a markup on printed materials). The high quality work of the AgFirst print shop is complemented by a variety of paper choices, folding and finishing options, as well as binding, to give printed materials a polished, professional look. Once a job is complete, the print shop can coordinate drop shipments of materials to Associations and their branches or customers.

Web developer drawing out website frame

Website Development

The AgFirst Website Development team has created more than 20 Association-specific customer facing websites. These websites are built with the following key features:

  • Scalability: a robust feature that allows the site to automatically adjust its format and size based on the type of device being used for access. Some people refer to this as being “mobile-friendly.”
  • Content Management: The power to manage the content of the site now resides with local administrative users. Because Kentico (the system on which the sites are built) is a Content Management System (CMS), Associations have the ability to make content changes, graphics changes, calendar updates, etc., quickly. There is also a tiered approval process that can be enabled to ensure a second person reviews and approves changes before they go live. This is in place as both a security measure and as a means to edit content prior to publication.
  • Reusable Modules: Instead of creating multiple solutions for commonly used features like photo calendar contests and location finders, Kentico allows the ability to create one solution and deploy it across multiple sites. This improves time to market, helps ensure someone can support the feature if there is a local resource issue, takes advantage of economies of scale, and allows each Association to leverage winning ideas from across the District.
James Clyburn speaking

Legislative Support

The Bank also provides Associations with the support of a Legislative Services department. This team partners with Associations to educate members of Congress on the mission and value of Farm Credit. The Legislative Services department also provides Associations with the following types of training and education:

  • Political Advocacy Training: This in-person training focuses on why advocacy is important to the Farm Credit System, how to be politically active, proper protocol and etiquette when meeting with members of Congress, how to tell the Farm Credit story effectively, utilizing political action committee funds properly, and the importance of reputation management from a political standpoint.
  • Washington Experience Program: This event is intended for new hires, interns and seasoned employees from throughout the District and is hosted in Washington, D.C., to further educate employees on the legislative and regulatory aspects of the Farm Credit System. Participating employees interact with staff from other ag groups, USDA officials or White House Rural Council staff, House and Senate Agricultural Committee staff, as well as the Farm Credit Administration (FCA) staff. In addition, the national Farm Credit Council staff provides updates on legislative efforts. Participants also learn how to tell the Farm Credit story.
  • New Director Legislative Orientation: A condensed version of the Washington Experience, designed to educate new Association and Bank directors about the legislative aspect of the Farm Credit System and efforts within the District.
  • New Employee Legislative Orientation: Training to educate new employees about the importance of Congress to the Farm Credit System and legislative efforts of the District.

The Legislative Services department also assists Associations with better understanding congressional member profiles, scheduling visits with members of Congress, developing talking points for presentations, assembling pertinent fact sheets, and developing issue papers. The team publishes monthly updates on legislative issues and provides interim updates when issues arise that have a significant impact on or may be of interest to Associations.

Woman filling in her calendar

Meetings and Events

The Bank’s Corporate Events group can assist with or manage any part of the development, coordination and execution of Bank or Association meetings and events, regardless of size. This includes logistics, such as coordinating registration, scheduling speakers, choosing an event location, contracting with hotels or other vendors, developing supporting print collateral, vendor management, etc. The team works closely with a meeting sponsor to understand the purpose and vision for the event and will then develop a meeting plan, budget and schedule to ensure all parties are aligned on expectations.