Undisciplined Players Don't Make the Playoffs

Published on: 15:08PM Dec 11, 2009
The Green Bay Packers rolled to victory over the Baltimore Ravens this week in Monday Night Football. It was a good game for the Packers, but the team racked up tons of penalties. In the post-game talk, those who analyze the game will likely call the team “undisciplined.” Undisciplined teams usually do not last long in the playoffs.
Because I’m passionate about marketing, you know I’m going to find an analogy to marketing here. OK, here it is: Even the best marketing strategies require discipline to be successful long-term.
There are many producers who post wins now and then with their marketing, but many lack the discipline necessary to be successful long term. Consistency over time moves the ball ahead in football, and in marketing. Consistency carries a team through 16+ games of a football season, and likewise it can carry you through many years of farming.  
About a year ago, Top Producer editor Greg Vincent also used a football analogy to describe marketing. “The key is to be ahead at the end of the game—not to win only the first quarter,” he wrote. (You can still find the article in the Top Producer archives. “Playing for Field Positions,” November 2008. Here's the link-- http://www.agweb.com/TopProducer/Article.aspx?id=146863 .)
What does consistency in marketing for the long haul look like? We characterize it as follows:
Your marketing objective should be to…
  • maximize the separation between the average price you receive for your crop and the final market price in a bear market, and
  • minimize the separation between the average price you receive and the final market price in a bull market. 
Consistent marketers may not hit the tops every time. Consistent marketers are disciplined and can make good decisions, even in the heat of the game, when markets are volatile.

Why is this so important? Because in the commodity business, prices offered by the market over the years tend to average near the average producer’s breakeven. If you consistently take out of the market as much return as you possibly can within a reasonable risk parameter, you’ll do better than average. And that will ensure your success long-term.
Here’s the kicker: Either you have that discipline internally or it needs to come from an external source like a marketing consultant. A consultant can assist you from the sidelines, coaching, guiding and encouraging good decision-making in the heat of the game.
Sure, games can be won without discipline, but it isn’t pretty. You pay a price in the form of missed opportunity or stress or frustration. Sooner or later, those things catch up with you.
I want you to be in the game as long as you wish to play it. That’s why I will continue to encourage readers to develop or find discipline in their marketing.
Thanks for reading.
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].