Marketing Doesn’t Discriminate On the Basis of Size

Published on: 15:02PM Feb 12, 2010
To anonymous 12:23 p.m. on February 7, who suggested there’s a strategy among marketing consultants to work with only large-acreage producers: I was intrigued. At first I wondered, what constitutes a large-acreage producer? I’ve met producers who have 1,500 acres who think they’re small. Those with 25,000 acres think 5,000 acres is small. However size is defined, it doesn’t really matter in marketing.
Let’s look at the people behind the acres. It seems that just about every producer I meet, big or small operation, works on a family farm. If a guy’s farming 3 or 4 thousand acres, very often it’s him and his brother or son or daughters or cousins . . . it’s a family. For the most part, big acres are supporting big families. When multinational corporations start buying farms and hiring low-priced labor from overseas to farm it, we all will have something to complain about.
If you keep your machinery costs in line and do a good job of marketing and you have good profit margins, you can compete. Different people maintain different cost structures. There are large farms that make very little money per acre and large ones making a lot of money per acre. The same is true for small farms. When people don’t maximize their opportunities, they’ll be at a competitive disadvantage and eventually go out of business. Marketing should be the relentless pursuit of opportunities (and, of course, an ongoing effort to minimize risks).
All professional businesspeople have a responsibility— and opportunity—to either thrive or not. This is the same on Main Street and Madison Avenue. You have to manage your cost structure and manage your margins, regardless if you’re big or small. Some day it may come to “small” acreage producers losing their land. It’s not that way today.
Interestingly, I saw a news release this week from an equipment manufacturer titled “Farmers’ Top 10 Questions.” It referenced two South Dakota farmers, both Ph.D.s, who were answering what they said were the ten questions most frequently asked by growers. The third one: “Do you have to farm big to compete in the future?” And the first two words of their answer were “absolutely not.” You can read their entire comment here