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Farmers encouraged to develop brand


'Having a good story is important,' expert tells farmers


By CAROL RYAN DUMAS


Capital Press


Alltech's North American Lecture Tour is on the road again with its annual talks on cattle nutrition to better meet the food needs of a growing population.


But it will also focus on branding in the beef and dairy industries to gain trust and loyalty among consumers.


Most operations with business-to-business relationships think they don't need branding, but it's not just about the product, it's about the story and an emotional connection with consumers, said Amy Shutte, Alltech territory marketing coordinator located in Jerome, Idaho.


"We're all a part of the chain to feed the world, and having a good story is important," she said.


Every point of contact has to give customers a sense of trust, she said.


Shutte will be discussing branding and how to obtain it at Alltech's tours in the West, with stops in Twin Falls, Idaho, and Visalia, Calif. at the end of February.


First, farmers need to know their purpose and give a positive message about their products and how they are produced. They need to be more open to letting the media onto their operations and holding tours.


"Educating people is probably the biggest thing you can do," she said.


Branding helps farmers and food companies differentiate themselves and their products from others and make that important emotional connection with consumers.


At every turn, agriculture needs to surprise and delight people, whether it's through an event or customer service. Research shows that people who have had a good experience share it with 16 other people and those who have had a "wow" experience share it with 21, she said.


That good experience needs to be consistent so both customers and employees get the same message every time. Employees are the face of the company and can be great ambassadors, she said.


That positive message and good experience needs to happen over and over. Agriculture needs to continually tell its story and put out its message, and that message might need to change to make an emotional connection with consumers, she said.


For instance, consumers don't relate to the word "producer" but they relate strongly to the word "farmer." Agriculture needs to be aware of how it says things, she said.


Agriculture also needs to relentlessly seek opportunities to get its message out, and some segments do that very well. Partnering with something else, such as an event or community service organization is a great way to get the industry's name and message in front of consumers, she said.


An example of such beneficial partnerships is Idaho beef industry's partnership with the Idaho Foodbank through Beef Counts and its sponsorship of the Ironman Triathlon, she said.


In addition to face-to-face contact, agriculture needs to embrace social media. News and information is not just print anymore. Social media gives agriculture the opportunity to engage consumers in conversation. It's also a way to monitor what's being said and add positive, accurate information to the discussion, she said.


Brand from within the operation is also crucial. Agriculture should be employing and engaging passionate people who support the mission and putting those people where the best opportunities exist to engage the public, she said.


Producers in Capital Press' coverage area can attend the tour in Twin Falls on Feb. 26, at the Red Lion Inn, and in Visalia at the Marriott Convention Center. Both events will begin at 7:30 a.m. with breakfast. To RSVP, contact Shutte at achutte@alltech.com




For more information: www.alltech.com.






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