The marketing triangle
According to a recent survey, 91% of farmers indicated that making marketing decisions was stressful. We dug a little deeper and tried to find out why. We found it generally falls into one of three categories. Farmers feel they don't have either enough knowledge, time, or discipline to be comfortable when making marketing decisions. We will explore each of these.
In regards to knowledge, there is an old saying, "A known fundamental is a useless fundamental". Often making marketing decisions have to be completed without enough information to feel comfortable. When looking ahead, you are trying to guess the weather, crop size, or many other variables that could dictate price movement. Often if you wait for enough information to make an informed or knowledgeable decision, the market move is already over. Knowledge of marketing tools is critical when implementing strategy and making marketing decisions. From our perspective, knowledge is not trying to have enough information or guess where prices are going, but the ability to strategically implement strategy (that is the right tool for the right time to take advantage of the market and manage opportunities or risk).
Time if often an illusive element during the busy seasons for farmers. Time falls into two categories. Category one suggests that farmers just do not have enough time to keep an eye on everything as well as make informed decisions and then make revisions to their decisions. Marketing requires consistent time dedication, and for many this just cannot occur due to the great number of demands that require full attention. Another time constraint is when farmers who have enough time to follow the markets, but are not receiving the desired results they hope for through their marketing. In either case, we have found that time needs to not only be scheduled on a consistent basis but needs to be utilized in a constructive manner.
Discipline, or the ability to execute strategy without the emotional baggage that comes with it, is an element that many farmers lack. Often we talk to producers who are up on the news and feel knowledgeable. They understand what marketing tools can be used and how to use them, but they do not execute. When push comes to shove, their answer generally suggests that they know they should be selling or executing a strategy, but they just don't. For many it is a lack of discipline.
If you were to draw a triangle and label each point with one of these key elements, you would find that you would have what we call the marketing triangle. How is your triangle? Are you missing any of the key elements to successful marketing? If so, take time to reevaluate what you are doing and see if change is necessary. If it a matter of lack of time, either find the time or hire someone to do marketing for you. If you are not getting the desired results, despite your time, it may be that your knowledge or ability to execute strategy (discipline) is lacking. If your knowledge is weak, strive to improve it. If discipline is a problem, ask yourself why this is the case. Often we have found that farmers who lack the discipline to execute are better off having it done by someone else who can pull the trigger.