The Joy of Farm Marketing

Published on: 12:00PM May 04, 2010
"Faced with the choice between changing one’s mind and proving that there is no need to do so, almost everyone gets started on the proof." So said the late economist John Kenneth Galbraith.
Fortunately, I’m not on a mission to convince you that farm marketing is wonderful. It is, but as Galbraith said, changing a person’s mind is very difficult. I have a different goal—more on that in a moment.
How do you feel about Deere and Case or Pioneer and DeKalb or Chevy and Ford? If you’re passionate about green tractors, a person would have a hard time convincing you that red is better simply by telling you so. Even if your favorite tractor leaves you stranded in the field, there’s a very good chance you’ll tell yourself there’s no need to buy a different brand next time.
I searched the phrase "Chevy versus Ford" online and got more than 39 million results. There are hordes of passionately opinionated truck people. You see their preferences displayed in decals on the back windows of pickups. You hear it from friends. Maybe you’ve debated online with people. Does anyone think it’s easy to change a truck owner’s mind? Tell a Ford man that Chevy is better—or vice versa—and give actual facts for why he should own one. You’ll hear six ways from Sunday why you’re wrong.
Let’s apply this to your marketing. Do you manage opportunities and risks, get a better-than-average price per bushel over the long term, and feel very satisfied with your approach? Or, do you think marketing is fraught with frustration and can’t be done well? Regardless of which group you fall into, hearing people tell you their way is better isn’t going to change your mind.
Usually, when it comes to changing your mind about something, you’ve got to commit to some sort of action first—taking that other truck for a test drive or deciding to never make marketing decisions during trading hours. That’s because doing is believing.
Are you willing to do something to consider a different point of view? I’ve listed three initial steps among the many you could take. Doing just one could very well give you a different perspective about marketing and, most importantly, lead to improvement:
·         Learn how to use options well! What could happen? You might see the benefit in learning advanced options strategies.
·         Relinquish marketing duties to your spouse. What could happen? You might see something in your spouse’s approach that was missing in yours.
·         Try to ignore the outlook and focus on planning for whatever happens. What could happen? You might become an expert. Or you might decide it’s more productive—and relaxing—to hire an expert.
As I said earlier, changing your mind is not my goal. I want to use decades of experience, failures and successes to show you that you can do marketing well. The proof is there. You’ve got to want to take the first step.
Scott Stewart is president and CEO of Stewart-Peterson, a commodity marketing consulting firm based in West Bend, Wis. You may reach Scott at 800-334-9779, email him at [email protected].
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