Relationships Important In Direct Marketing

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Successful direct marketing from farm gate to plate involves creating a successful team and recognizing the value of your own product, say two Galloway producers who have found a market for their beef.

Russell Horvey and Darcy Goodrich outlined some of the basics for success in the direct marketing business to a group of young agricultural enthusiasts at the Rock the Farm conference held here in February.

“In direct marketing, you are not in a market, you are the market. That’s what I love about it. You’re in control and you build it as you want. It encompasses who you are and what you do,” said Goodrich.

Horvey and Goodrich use holistic management to run their businesses and believe in the power of using networks and partnerships to create successful business. “You want to involve everyone, from the cow-calf producer to the consumer, in an alliance,” said Horvey, who farms near Delburne.

He said strong direct marketers need to be aware of what they can bring to an alliance and develop an awareness of their strengths and weaknesses. Successful producers find their own markets and build them one client at a time. The best alliances include a variety of actors, who each bring their own strengths to the table.

Goodrich, who farms near Hardisty with his wife and four children, says he firmly believes in learning from experience and mistakes. He supports the idea that direct marketers can learn from both the positive and negative interactions they have with their customers.

Goodrich says forming good relationships with the community is key to the success of his business and family. His direct marketing objectives tie directly into his family’s and farm’s mission statement, which emphasizes raising healthy grass, cattle and children.

Horvey says that the hardest thing for a small producer to do is deliver a consistent product without fail. Differentiating your beef from others is crucial in a successful business.

Ways to differentiate your product may include genetics or management, said Goodrich.

“If you’re going to do direct marketing, know what you’re marketing. You’re feeding people’s children, so know what you have before you sell it.” Pride and belief in the product can help a producer to price accordingly, he said. Producers need to command payment when they deliver, rather than billing customers. “Food is a perishable product. There’s none of this waiting 30 days. I know people who have lost a lot of money, because when the food is gone, you have nothing to go back for,” said Horvey.

“Remember that profit is not a dirty word, you have to get paid for what you’re doing.”

About the author

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Alexis Kienlen

Alexis Kienlen lives in Edmonton and has been writing for Alberta Farmer since 2008. Originally from Saskatoon, Alexis is also the author of two collections of poetry, a biography, and a novel called "Mad Cow."

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