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Agrimarketing : January-Febuary 2010
28 Agri Marketing January/February 2010 DIRECT/RELATIONSHIP MARKETING STANDING OUT IN THE CROWD by Sally Behringer, Nicholson Kovac It's a classic marketing dilemma --- you offer a wide portfolio of products to help a targeted group of prospective customers, but awareness is very low. How do you overcome that challenge? FMC Corporation met and conquered that challenge with a highly successful inte- grated direct mail approach that also captured a 2008 National Best of NAMA award. Over the course of 2006 and 2007, FMC expanded its portfolio of crop protection products for the U.S. potato market, dramatically --- the portfolio of products grew from two to eight in just 18 months' time. In fact, the potato market is one of two crop segments where FMC offers a complete portfolio including herbicides, insecticides and a fungicide. SMALL POTATOES Despite this broad product offering, the company was dogged by the perception among key audiences that it remained a "small potato" in that market segment. The company's primary competitors offer larger product portfolios, more profitable sales promotions and more constant contact between the sales force and the key decision makers. In contrast, FMC was significantly more limited in its relationships at the grower level and in the breadth of its product offerings. The company needed to make an authoritative statement to these key players in the potato crop protection market --- something unique and creative that would make it clear that they were a major player in the segment. And they needed to do it on a very slim budget --- one a fraction of its competitors. "One of the ways we have con- tinued to achieve greater and greater sales success each year is by our aggressive expansion of our product portfolio," says Paul Redhage, FMC Communications Manager. "But to simply add products to the portfolio is not enough --- you have to be creative and aggressive with your marketing communications as well. "So the emphasis must be on creativity and relevancy --- we aren't afraid to try something unusual if we feel that's the most effective approach. That's a key reason why our partnership with Nicholson Kovac works so well --- both organizations share that commitment to creativity and relevancy." The U.S. potato market is a highly competitive and potentially, lucrative crop protection market segment. The U.S. is the world's fifth-largest producer of potatoes --- churning out 5.5% of all potatoes produced annually around the world. UNIQUE MARKET However, certain unique aspects of the U.S. potato market make it possible for a company such as FMC to reach its core grower audience with striking results. The U.S. potato marketplace is dominated by a small number of large growers who rely on staff agronomists, not retailers or consultants, to make crop protection recommendations and purchases. (more on page 30) The mega-grower mailing also included a "spyfolder" themed insert that directed growers to a personalized .url (called PURL) web site. By visiting their PURL site, they could get the code that would give them access to their safe. This insert evoked the look and feel of a spy dossier, right down to the "film noire" style photos of local FMC sales representatives.
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