Farm labor is perhaps one of the biggest sources of stress for any agribusiness or farm operation today. Read any ag publication and headlines such as “Inability to attract workers continues to plague agriculture”(Western Producer, December 8, 2016) or “Agriculture labor crunch worsening – Over the past decade the number of unfilled jobs has nearly doubled” (Manitoba Co-operator, November 17, 2016) and a sense of the urgency and gravity of the ag labor situation becomes very obvious.
For producers and agribusinesses finding quality and experienced labor for their ag business operation is challenging and time consuming. We started with the question “what if it was easier?”.
We started with an idea from a need to simplify and meet the labor challenge agriculture faces. We had the idea, but no name and no branding early in 2016. Working with a large grain farmer from Saskatchewan, a human resource specialist and the AdFarm team of account services, creative services, and digital, we developed the name, the branding and the online platform.
WorkHorse is an online platform where prospective employees and farmers meet. At the core of this new business model is an online platform that allows the global matching of employees to farms and vice-versa. WorkHorse is the only labor-management company 100 percent invested in supporting modern agriculture by driving the connections between farms and labor.
Through innovative labor management solutions, we enable farms and agribusinesses to reach their highest potential by aligning them with the right human potential – from field to C-suite, for today and into the future – through a globally accessible, collaborative and innovative online hub.
Audiences – Farm Operators/Owners
This audience pays to use the WorkHorse, and while all farms have labor needs, the focus for launch is on those progressive producers that have big enough operations that require a labor force whether it be seasonal or year-round. We are targeting business farmers who manage the business of farming. The subscriber audience is primarily male; however, we cannot forget that farming is a family business and the female would have input into hiring decisions for the farm. Our target grower is a solution seeker and he wants questions answered and problems solved. WorkHorse is solving the producers’ business problem three ways: by finding quality labor by providing a database of searchable candidates, by simplifying the recruitment process and by changing the way traditional farm/labor relationships in agriculture work.
Audiences – Employees
As with the producer audience, the employee target audience for WorkHorse consists of different sub-groups. This audience is equally as important to the success of the platform as farm operators/owners; however, this audience does not pay to use the WorkHorse service.
- Pioneer / Innovator / Visionary / Trend-setter / Revolutionary / Radical /Modern
- Work / Career / Job / Profession / Vocation / Employ / Calling / Craft
- Endeavor / Purpose / Pursue / Aspiration / Pursuit
The WorkHorse logo combines two symbols synonymous with farming – the Belgian horse and weather vane. The weather vane is a symbol of direction and is seated at the highest point of a building. The horse is a historic symbol of strength and beauty. Together, they point farm owners and farm laborers in the right direction.
We launched WorkHorse in spring 2017 and in late summer 2017 began a targeted digital advertising campaign to both employer and employee audiences. To maximize the use of available budget in a start-up company we relied heavily on programmatic, paid search, paid social and display digital advertising.
Display Ad Results
- In two months, the campaign has delivered over 2.7M total impressions for the static digital display banner ads.
- 22,735 clicks have been generated with an overall click rate of 0.84 percent
which is well above consumer average of 0.08 – 0.20 percent for display advertising. Employer messaging has delivered a 0.92 percent click rate and employee is at
0.76 percent which proves our targeting efforts are accurate and messaging is resonating with audiences.
Paid Search & Social Response
- Average position held steady at 2.6 keep ads within the top three, which increases reach across the Google network. Being in the first position while ideal will be difficult for this campaign considering the heavy competition for job search terms.
- Our overall cost-per-click (CPC) has improved over the life of the
campaign with the ongoing optimizations the media team makes.
- Paid social is launching in October 2017.
Traffic to the WorkHorsehub.ca website continues to grow each month with over 20K users, well over 65K page views with an average 2.39 pages per session. Advertising efforts drive traffic directly to the sign up page.
As employers pay for the service, the number of paid subscribers has increased each month. The scope of employers has continued to broaden as well from primary producers to ag retailers such as Rocky Mountain Equipment. A sales manager was hired in September 2017 and the initial results of his efforts are being seen. WorkHorse will be attending several ag career fairs across the country in the 2017-18 tradeshow season.
To increase the employees on the site, we have a team of “WorkHorses” that attend career and college fairs promoting the service and encouraging on-site sign ups. This has proven to be very effective in reaching post-secondary students and building the talent pool within WorkHorse.