Craig M Dick

Agriculture | Marketing | Innovation

Author: Craig (page 1 of 7)

6 Tips to Improve Your Marketing in 2019

In 2008 blogging and social media was a great way to grow a business. Around 2013, I noticed it was becoming more difficult to be found by customers. The larger brands adopted these “new” marketing channels, they out produced and outspent our small company. As they dominated these channels it became harder to reach our customers.

Digital marketing is constantly advancing, sometimes almost to fast. It’s tempting to shout louder and louder, too be more intrusive in your digital approach. Here are six tips to make sure you reach your audience, without being annoying.

Embrace New Channels
As digital marketing channels mature, businesses must embrace new channels that are attracting your customers’ attention. Stop resisting change, and leverage these new opportunities to reach your audience before the big brands adopt them and outspend you.

Reach Them Where They Are
Seek mobile-first digital experiences, everyone is on their smartphone these days. Especially in Ag, where adoption rates are higher than the average consumer. If you are not actively engaging with your users with a mobile-friendly strategy and content then you are missing out on 90% of people in agriculture.

Agronomist using smart phone mobile app to communicate

Don’t Annoy Your Customer
Get your website mobile compliant now. Then stop with the full page pop-ups. If you really need notifications, use small notices that only take a little page room and let them easily click away. There is too much stuff out there. If you blast your customers with annoying pops, they’ll just go someplace else.

Content is Still King
Your customers want to see that you care about their success first. Which is why promotion-free content marketing is so successful. Create content that matters and is relevant to your audience that can be fed into your digital marketing strategies. If you are not seeing engagement, then you’re not addressing a real customer need.

Focus On Sharing Solutions
Show your customers that you are a problem solver who can make their lives easier. Design your content marketing strategy to provide value that helps them solve their issues. As customers recognize you as a trusted partner, they’ll be more open to buying your products and services.

Connect With The End User
Treat your digital interactions like a real-world meeting. In the real world, you wouldn’t throw an ad in someone’s face. That’s not at a compelling way to get them to actually care about what you do. Care about their success first, find unique ways to create value for them. This will create a lasting impression and lead to higher engagement and more sales.

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What Did Kevin’s Dad Do?

Happy Thanksgiving!What Kevin McAllister's dad did

Even before Thanksgiving people were posting the popular meme, What Kevin McAllister’s dad did.  It’s floated around for a few years and now that we are officially to the Holiday season, I am curious. I did a little research, discovered the value of the house, what the current owner does, how much it costs to maintain it, what you might have to make and backed into a couple of jobs. Here is the breakdown.

The House Today

For simplicity and not wanting to deal with inflation, let’s look at the house today.

Today the house has an estimated market value from the Cook County Assessors of $1.5 million. The median price of a home in the suburban Chicago town of Winnetka is $992,500. The median income in the neighborhood is $218,542. Oh, and in 2015, Winnetka was the second richest town in America.

The current owner works in Finance. He has been a CFO of a bank and is currently a partner at a financial advisory service. Dare I say a prominent businessman. Trust me on this, to maintain their privacy I have omitted the research links.

What it would take to own it today

If you bought that house for $1.5 Million and put $300K down, then your payment would be about $6,300 per month. Don’t forget another $1600 per month for taxes and insurance.

The house is 4,243 square feet and built in 1920. It’s really big and really old, close to 100 years old, so they’ll be plenty of upkeep. For maintenance, upkeep and cost of utilities, you’ll need to tack on another $3000 per month.

Oh, don’t forget lawn care, a gardener and exterior decorator to replicate those sweet Christmas lights from the movie.

Better plan on $11K per month just to own and properly maintain the McAllister’s House.

So how much did Kevin’s dad make?

Since Peter (Kevin’s dad) was able to take his whole extended family on vacations and was pretty chill throughout the movie, I am guessing he wasn’t house poor or worried about making ends meet.  Based on that, let’s say his mortgage and total cost of keeping the home was only 1/3 his take-home pay.

That would mean he is bringing in $33K per month after taxes or $396,000 per year. That’s $575,000 pretax, in today’s money.

So what did he do?

Today a CFO in Winnetka, IL could make $300,000 to $485,000 and a CEO would range from $625K to $1 million, according to Salary.com. Before doing any research, I would have guessed Peter was a CEO or CFO or perhaps a business owner. In fact, according to Todd Strasser who wrote the novel based on the movie, Peter is a prominent businessman and Kate (Kevin’s mom) is a fashion designer. Today a fashion desginer in Winnetka could make around $100K per year.

It’s completely plausible that Peter and Kate could have a combined income of $575K or more, live in that huge house, the whole reason Harry and Marv started working the block, and a Paris vacation for everyone.

Keep the change ya filthy animal.

 

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Agricultural Uses for Blockchain

Blockchain is out of beta testing and has reached Agriculture.

A recent soybean shipment from the US to China has become “the first full agricultural commodity transaction using a Blockchain platform,” –Business Insider

If you want to stay relevant in the future you need to stay on top of the technologies that will shape it. While still in its early phase, Blockchain is a topic that you should understand some of the basics and how it’s being incorporated into agriculture.

Note: This is a basic overview for those in agriculture, I am not a Blockchain builder or expert.

“Blockchain can do to value transfer what the internet did to information sharing.” – Fobes

Block Chain aims to provide transparency and widescale trust via unalterable record keeping. This will transform supply chains of industries like precious metals to food and agriculture. It has the power to change the way we manage leasing and payment collection,  supply chain management, and quality assurance securing the provenance of goods and commodities.

decentralized network - Blockchain

Example of a decentralized network

The dream for agriculture is that the use of this technology will help commodity producers move up the value chain.

The world is moving from analog to digital and from digital to decentralized.

In the simplest terms Blockchain is a distributed/decentralized ledger that maintains transaction records on many computers simultaneously. Because of this mathematical relationship, the information in a particular block cannot be altered without changing all subsequent blocks in the chain and creating a discrepancy that other record-keepers in the network would immediately notice. In this way, blockchain technology produces a dependable ledger without requiring record-keepers to know or trust one another, which eliminates the dangers that come with data being kept in a central location by a single owner.

Most businesses keep a log of transactions within their business. You buy a product, enter it into your inventory. You sell it, you mark it off. Now imagine that when you buy a product you get a copy of all the transactions that product has ever had going back to the ingredients used to make it. When you sell that product, the ledger follows with the product. This is saved to the cloud on a decentralized computer system. Because everyone has a copy of this ledger, it makes it extremely difficult to forge a product. This process enables clarity across the supply chain and ensures quality standards are met along the way.

Blockchain company Abrosus is working on meeting these supply chain and quality standard needs.

“The state of technology today allows a bold rethinking of how the global food supply chains and markets could operate. A system of interconnected quality assurance sensors can reliably record the entire history of food, from farm to fork. Blockchain can protect the integrity and verifiability of sensor data. And smart contracts can enable automatic governance of food supply chains and manage commercial relationships between actors along those supply chains”. – Abrosus

Thier technology combines Blockchain with hardware devices (sensors and readers, cameras, container locks) to provide a platform to automate the input of data into a system and create a trusted basis of data input to meet the needs of manufacturers, consumers and government regulations.

US agriculture is a global marketplace and much of our product is exported. With our customers stretched all over the world, we need to be aware of the laws of those countries. One example is a law published in 2013 by The European Commission for the Good Distribution Practice of medicinal products for human use (GDP 2013/C 343/01). Chapter nine of this regulation requires proof that shipped medicines have not been exposed to conditions, particularly temperatures, that may compromise their quality. These regulations are now enforceable across Europe. Blockchain logs the data from monitoring systems in the pharmaceutical industry ensuring requirements for frozen vaccine storage are met such as:

  • Temperature [-25°C to -10°C],
  • Humidity [2 to 3%],
  • No direct sunlight or fluorescent light.

This ensures the viability of medicines and reduces the risk of loss of life.

Is this really needed for food? Between 1993 and 2006, the consumption of non-pasteurized cheeses caused 121 outbreaks, leading to 3,000 people falling sick, 140 hospitalizations, and more than 50 deaths. Since these outbreaks, the Swiss Federal Regulation has changed. For food products, Blockchain companies like Ambrosus can go further and define the various levels of quality for a particular product like this illustrative list of requirements for a batch of milk:

  • Temperature [4°C to 7°C]
  • Fat [3.18% to 3.22%
  • Lactose [2% to 4%].

While food safety is of utmost importance, a close second is quality. As consumer demands evolve, the term ‘quality’ has broadened to include ethical and environmental aspects. Consumers today have expanded the term quality of a food product to also include using eco-friendly procedures, good employee working conditions, and the welfare of the animals involved in the manufacturing process.

Blockchain technology gives agriculture the opportunity to provide supply chain efficiency, cost reduction, proof of positive environmental impact, improved customer service, quality assurance and regulatory compliance. These improvements are what our customers are demanding and will help ensure future profitability for farmers.

Additional Information:

 

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We Get It, You Are The Best, Now Go Away!

Most people hate listening to someone tell everyone how great they are. Yet many companies marketing material is just them bragging about how great they are.talking about yourself

Customers don’t care about you, your company or how great you are. They care about themselves and their problems. What matters is that you can solve those problems. That is what your marketing should focus on.

Nobody wants to buy your products. They want a problem to go away. Can you clearly articulate the results you offer? Do you have proof that you can do what you say you can do?

If your marketing has the following words in it; we, us, and our, then you are not focused on the needs of your customer.

Make your marketing like real life. In real life when you meet someone new, show that you have an interesting personality, that you care about us, that we can trust you and when we have a problem and you can help us solve it. That is how a friend and a customer are won.

 

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Organic Farming is Opportunity

I am not here to debate whether conventional or organic farming better. That is like debating whether a Ford F-150 or a Mercedes E Class is better. What makes one car better than another? Most units sold, price, resell, fuel mileage, reliability, size, safety, its intended use. All of them? None of them? Because it makes you feel good. Or do you decide what is best for you based on a lot of intangibles?

In fact, that is how most consumer decisions are made, People decide they like something then rationalize it. And a lot of people have decided they like organic food, with sales increasing 200% since 2003. Gallup reports that in 2014, 45% of Americans actively tried to include organic foods in their diets.

Organic is just another sector of the food market, a profitable growing sector. There are premium markets in every sector, be it cars or clothes, why not food? The people have decided they want organic food and they are willing to pay a premium for it. So why would you not want to take advantage of that?

You can find organic foods in every major U.S. retail chain, including Walmart and Costco, who eclipsed Whole Foods in the sale of organic foods last year. The world’s largest consumer packaged food companies, General Mills, Kellogg’s, Danone, Coca-Cola, and Pepsi are all players in the organic market with billions spent on acquiring organic brands.

There is a problem though

Organic food sales grew over 200% since 2003, yet the amount of land used for organic production has only grown by about 0.10% since 2008. Domestic suppliers of organic crops cannot meet current demands.

Imports of organic food sources have grown at over 35% per year since 2012, to almost $2 billion. Imports of organic soybeans have grown at an average rate of 29.1% per year while imports of feed corn have grown 63.6% per year. This is a crazy amount considering that the U.S in the largest producer of these two grains.

The primary driver for this demand has been double-digit growth in organic poultry production as well as a need for other organic livestock feed. With companies such as Perdue Farms, Tyson Foods and Pilgrim’s Pride committed to meeting consumer demand. They have a big need for organic soybeans and corn for feed and this market is expected to grow sharply.

This problem means opportunity for agriculture

Organic food sales make up almost 5% of food sales, yet acres certified for organics is the less than 1%.

These organic acres account for only 0.75% of total acres while organic farm sales were 2% of total farm sales. Mercedes Benz has about 2% market share of cars in the US.  I doubt anyone would say that Mercedes Benz is not a real car company or just expensive cars for millennials.

It’s never been a better time than now to get into organic farming or the business of supporting organic farmers. There are tons of great management products for organic crop production out there. Many manufacturers of organic products have years of documented product performance. This makes growing organic less risky than just a few years ago.

If an ag retailer is looking for opportunity in the next 10 years, supporting the organic farmers would be a great place to start. When done right organic crops can meet or exceed conventional yields. With those yields, organic farming can be very profitable and the numbers show it’s a growing sector of agriculture. Conventional crop receipts dropped in 2015 by 11% while organic receipts grew 13%.

With no end in sight to this down Ag Economy, you have two choices. Continue to fight for scraps with the rest of the sharks or evolve your thinking and adopt a Blue Ocean Strategy. Organic farming is here to stay and a segment ripe for big growth.

Sources:

  • https://www.ers.usda.gov/amber-waves/2017/januaryfebruary/growing-organic-demand-provides-high-value-opportunities-for-many-types-of-producers
  • https://www.ota.com/resources/market-analysis
  • http://www.oilseedandgrain.com/single-post/2017/06/13/Organic-Production-Shortfall-in-US-Encourages-Imports-Creates-Risk
  • https://www.ers.usda.gov/amber-waves/2017/januaryfebruary/growing-organic-demand-provides-high-value-opportunities-for-many-types-of-producers/
  • http://www.wsj.com/mdc/public/page/2_3022-autosales.html

 

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