Guest blogger Jacquie Voeks is a senior market advisor with Stewart-Peterson. She grew up on a family grain and dairy farm in southeastern Wisconsin. As some grain farmers will tell you, Jacquie offers a unique perspective on commodity marketing.
I’ve had the privilege of speaking to thousands of producers over the years, whether facilitating marketing education, helping clients or simply sharing stories about our families and farms. Understandably, I get a lot of questions about marketing. For me, none quite compares to “why is it so hard to sell my crop?”
Eleven years ago, at a Missouri Corn Growers Association meeting, a producer asked me this question. I’ve been giving the same answer ever since.
First, let me say that I grew up on a farm. I’m also a mom, which means I understand a thing or two about emotional attachment. For me, the reason it’s so hard to sell a crop is obvious: Your crop is your baby.
Does that sound crazy? If so, consider that you plant a seed and watch it grow. You nurture it. If it doesn’t feel well, you take care of it. You look at it with pride. So far, it sounds a lot like a baby to me.
Some days while pregnant with your crop, you wake up with morning sickness. Onset usually coincides with the market open, when prices do the opposite of what you expect. You curse ever having gotten pregnant with the crop in the first place.
Next year, you’re pregnant with another one. Again, you nurture it. You keep a close eye on it. If your crop ever gets in trouble, you get upset (but, you still love it).
When harvest rolls around, you’re anxious, because if something can go wrong, it will. Last year, many of you couldn’t get the crop out and ended up carrying it well past its due date.
Each year, you harvest your crop, put it in the bin and give it a pat. Good crop. Then comes the day your crop has to be delivered. It’s not unlike the first day your baby gets on the bus for kindergarten. It’s so hard to let go, isn’t it?
I understand the emotional attachment. Your crop is a reflection of your expertise and hard work. You invest significant time into growing it. I’d be proud, too. Unfortunately, emotion and great marketing do not mix. When it comes time to sell your crop, you’ve got to be emotionally detached. You’ve got to be cognizant of why you’re making certain decisions . . . or not making decisions.
The best way to keep emotion out of your marketing is to think strategically and plan ahead. Consider all possible price scenarios and decide ahead of time what you will do if those scenarios come to pass. This way, you can execute without getting caught up in the moment.
It’s hard to do, I know. But, then, no one ever said taking care of a baby was easy.
Jacquie Voeks is a senior market advisor with Stewart-Peterson, a commodity marketing consulting firm based in West Bend, Wis. You may reach Jacquie at 800-334-9779, email her at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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