• Shane Thomas

The Opportunities in Virtual Tours

I tweeted this and received a lot of feedback around it - many are skeptical of virtual tours, many value tours for the social aspect and many in the industry are concerned there won’t be the uptake they are hoping for specifically when considering the amount of effort required.

I’m bullish on digital crop tours and think they will lead to a further integrated physical and digital tour in 2021 and beyond - which is better for everyone. In my experience, most physical tours generally end up being 30 people standing around a fancy sign with a sales rep talking about the product and in some rare instances, you can see a visual difference and create some discussion. They are definitely heavy on the networking aspect.

What gets me excited about the virtual tours are a number of things:

Data points

Being able to see engagement levels for marketing and sales groups is significant. For example, what grabbed attention of agronomists vs. farmers? You can also utilize other digital marketing tools to potentially do a better job of lead generation, attribution, and build out the funnel further with re-targeting initiatives to emphasize newly launched brands.

Tell a Complete Story

Instead of standing at the field on July 5th when it’s hot and humid and individuals are attempting to talk about seed treatment benefits, you can actually show specific images taken all season in conjunction with with information like NDVI, drone based stand count maps showing right on the screen and address things like fertility/soil tests and more - the potential to tell a more complete story that conveys the real value and impact I see as the biggest opportunity. This could also include more unique views, such as drone images in real time or camera views from within the canopy or even unique views of insects or disease.

Create a Buzz

Tours often have hashtags associated with them for social media. But what if you could encourage engagement and feedback as the tour is going on and then attract even more to participate and join? There are challenges when doing this because of geographic specific messaging and positioning, however I believe that is managable.

With tools like Instagram and Twitter Live functions, you could get more real time reach and conversation started.

The tour can be recorded and repurposed for weeks afterwards - something that wasn’t possible before. Tours are notoriously inefficient and aren’t scalable. Now they can be significantly improved. Farmers can be at the lake and view the launch of the newest fungicide or be in their sprayer listening to the overview of a new seed variety.

These tours have also traditionally been looked at as a one time 1 hour event - digital tools and creativity I think will enable a more thorough engagement and experience for individuals interested - starting virtually at seeding and going through to harvest on a weekly or bi weekly basis.

I think the best tools will be integrated into physical tours in the future. Even though there has been a need to enhance the tour experience for years now, they still hold a lot of value for farmers, agronomists and organizations.

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