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Marketing for oxymorons

Agriculture.com Staff 04/05/2007 @ 12:19pm

The Internet lists the definition of an oxymoron as a figure of speech that combines two normally contradictory terms. Some of my favorite oxymorons include: Jumbo shrimp, deafening silence, least favorite, larger half, government intelligence and marketing strategy.

Now add two together and you get a double oxymoron. The two I am thinking of are government intelligence and marketing strategy. It's true! Most of us form our marketing strategy based upon our market projections that are greatly affected by things such as USDA reports, which means that we rely on government intelligence.

I live in a world where even the word "marketing" has a distinctly different meaning. That is because I spend half of my time in the corporate world and the other half in the world of agriculture. The general concept is similar where both are trying to produce a product at the lowest cost of production and sell the product for the highest profit, however, the paths of marketing, production, and sales are distinctly different.

In the corporate world, there are dedicated marketing departments. A typical marketing department in the corporate world researches to first find out what customer segments they want to target. They then research what those customers are looking for in a product.

There are many facets to be considered in marketing a single product in the corporate world. Cost, quality, warranty, features and benefits, options, color, size. The list could go on an on forever, but you get the point. All of these things must be considered before the decision to manufacture a product is even made. Once this homework is done, if the numbers show a favorable market, only then does manufacturing begin.

Now comes phase two of the corporate marketing endeavor. Now there are other things to be considered such as price, advertising, promotions, and differentiations from competitors. Naturally, you want to present a product to the market that is unique, useful and appealing to the customer and something that will give them value or return from the dollar that they spend.

If you are successful in the market with a product, it is usually only a matter of time before a competitor will offer a similar product, most likely at a lower price. At that time, marketing decisions must be made to either lower your cost of production (cheapen up the product), to allow you to sell at a lower price to compete in the market, or find a way to differentiate your product from your competitors and most importantly prove this to the customers who buy the product and convince them to pay more for your product. It can quickly become a vicious cycle! Is that an oxymoron?

Now on to the world of agriculture and grain marketing. First of all, before I stick my foot in my mouth or say something inaccurate, I have got to remind you all that I am fairly new to grain marketing and I feel that I personally have a much greater understanding of the corporate marketing side of things rather than the grain markets. I feel much more helpless in this world of grain marketing, primarily because there is little that I or any of us can do to differentiate our grain from one another on an individual basis or on a national basis for that fact.

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