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Speaker advises clear strategy

Published on November 21, 2012 3:01AM

Last changed on December 19, 2012 8:51AM

Marketing consultant lays out plan for farmers to 'break through the noise'


Capital Press

EVERETT, Wash. -- The average American is bombarded by 1 million marketing messages every year, and farmers and others need a plan to break through that clutter with their messages, a marketing expert says.

Whitney Keyes, author and professor at Seattle University's Center for Strategic Communications, listed five steps to build and strengthen marketing efforts:

* A clear strategy clarifies the vision of where the business owner wants to go and how to get there.

"Do you want to be retail, or wholesale, or to sell out to a big company?" she asked. Narrowing the target market, instead of just "everybody," makes it easier to design a campaign for each segment, she said.

* The product's story is more than just the brand or the logo. A business succeeds by becoming an experience. That experience should be reflected with a website with distinctive visual elements.

* Every business has its strengths. "Leverage your assets," Keyes suggested. Teaming up with other businesses can deepen the pool of available resources. She also suggested including testimonials on websites, newsletters and fliers, emphasizing key words to make them compelling.

A company can also get its name and product in the public eye through media exposure. "Let's put our farmers in the news," she said. "Get your 15 minutes of fame for free."

* A simplified action plan clarifies what needs to be done, why it's important, when and where it needs to happen, who is doing the work, how success will be measured and how much it will cost.

* Speed is important. Putting a deadline on email messages gives them a sense of immediacy. Customers can be asked to review a product or a service through Yelp, which provides local, online search capabilities. Keyes also suggested a business not discount the effectiveness of low-tech messages such as sandwich signs.

The American marketplace has changed, she said, and businesses need to change with it.

She spoke at the recent Focus on Farming conference.


Whitney Keyes: www.whitneykeyes.com


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