A bird’s-eye view to marketing | TSLN.com

A bird’s-eye view to marketing

More than 250 women met in Faulkton, S.D., on June 4, for the 5th Annual Agricultural Women's Day, where topics ranged from health and wellness, to current issues in the beef and pork industries, to how best to market your crops.

Annie Oakley-Huber, a marketing consultant for Hurley & Associates Agri-Marketing Centers, offered some advice on the topic of marketing, giving suggestions for the women to keep in mind as they market their agricultural products.

She opened her speech by reading a poem called, "So God Made A Farmer's Wife," a parody on the original poem, "So God Made A Farmer."

A line or two from the poem reads, "On the 9th day God looked down on his creation and said 'this is good, but Farmer needs a helper." So God created a farm wife.

She needs to be able to rise before dawn to feed the farmer to start his day. To care for the kids, make her house a home, run the farm office, teach Sunday School and VBS during summer vacation. She will make a meal for 10 extra field hands out of leftovers from Sunday dinner. She can plan, cook and deliver meals to the field during harvest without spilling a drop. The back of the pick-up doubles as her dining room on wheels."

The poem endeared Oakley-Huber to the crowd of farm and ranch women, and from that point on, she was able to tackle a topic that many don't particularly enjoy doing – marketing.

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First, she offered a global perspective on growth in the current year.

"For three years back-to-back, we've been experiencing a decline in production of corn and soybeans," said Oakley-Huber. "High prices typically encourage increased supply. Just one-year of average production equates to lower prices. In 2012, we experienced a drought. If it continues, corn prices could be sub-$4, and if it's a total disaster, hang onto your hats. There's going to be things shaking up in the crop markets."

Oakley-Huber stressed the take-home message for producers to keep in mind. Again, "high prices encourage increased supply."

"Farmers do an excellent job of raising their crops. They can easily take us from an adequate supply to a surplus. Farmers are doing everything they can to maximize their investment and get the most out of their ground. Just look at the increased efforts in tiling and equipment. Think about the current market and what might change in the year to come. What is the impact of a drought or crash? Can your operation handle it?"

One of the biggest challenges for a producer is knowing when to retain and when to sell their products.

"If you are the person making the marketing decisions, sometimes choices can be made based on emotions or stress," she explained. "Essentially, you're shooting for a moving target; you're somewhat shooting at it blindly since you don't know if you hit the high until it's all said and done."

Oakley-Huber shared a visual called "The Greed-Hope-Fear School Of Marketing," which read, "Emotions are one reason many people are not successful in marketing. If soybeans are at $8, they wait for $9. When soybeans are at $7, they hope prices get back to $8. By the time prices are at $6, they sell for fear prices will go lower. Decisions must be made using fundamental and technical analysis to develop a strategy that fulfills your marketing goals."

She offered three things that make up a successful marketing plan.

"First, know what you need," she advised. "What are your input costs? Do you have storage, and how long can you hold it? What are your production risks? These individual elements can influence your marketing decisions."

Second, have a plan.

"If you don't know where you're going, how will you know when you get there?" she asked.

Finally, the third point is to execute that plan.

"Execute! A plan is only as good as those who see it through. Have a goal and a plan – whether it's in farming or in life," she concluded.