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Agrimarketing : November December 2007
November/December 2007 AgriMarketing 17 When doing the weekly shop- ping, it's impossible to miss the new products lining the shelves. Customers are often like kids --- they get bored with current toys and are always looking for newer, better, super toys. As an agri-manager, you are fac- ing the same dilemma: how to serve your customer base by offering them better and more innovative products and services. In the spirit of innova- tion, this discussion provides some tips to better service your customers and maintain a loyal customer-base. A recent book by Tom Kelley, "The Ten Faces of Innovation," high- lights some great concepts to make a firm more innovative. The roles can be organized into three categories as shown in the table. Different people in the organiza- tion can play different roles based on their skills and interests. In some cases, the key managers may play more than one role or wear more than one hat. As an agri-marketer, you have many opportunities to apply your anthropologist skills. For example, precision agriculture and site specific production is discussed a lot today. Understanding the problems farmers have using the equipment, under- standing the results, or determining whether they have a need for the product is critical to selling this new technology. Search out clues on how to market these products better. Communicate with manufacturers on which parts of the technology could be improved, how the user manual could be more explanatory, or how results could be better pre- sented. Seed companies are developing new traits to make ethanol plants more efficient in their use of corn. As an agri-marketer, this new avenue is a great opportunity for a hurdler. Right now, ethanol plants are not paying farmers based on the extractable starch content of corn. As a hurdler, it's an occasion to assist ethanol plants in understanding the value of higher extractable starch corn, the need to change their pay- ment procedure, communicate the changes to the farmers, and sell farmers the new trait. Selling horse feed to a high- income ruralpolitan is a great oppor- tunity to use your storytelling and caregiving skills. Try to understand the needs of the customer, and then explain in plain English the advan- tages and drawbacks of each of your available product. There are a few basic principles to keep in mind when trying to stim- ulate innovation within your organi- zation. Hire people with different backgrounds (culture, religion, coun- try, education), as it will spur more innovative ideas. Tap into the resources of interns and young employees, as they are not con- strained by historical choices or the blinders others within the firm may have. Loyal customers are tired of getting gifts that gather dust; they want an experience --- take them on a fishing trip or buy them a few tick- ets to a Purdue football game. AM Maud Roucan-Kane (mroucan@purdue. edu) is a research associate with the Center for Food and Agricultural Business at Purdue. Mike Boehlje (boehlje@ purdue.edu) is a professor of Agricultural Economics at Purdue. ALWAYS INNOVATING by Maud Roucan-Kane and Dr. Michael Boehlje Sales and Marketing Insights from Purdue University Category Role Definition Illustrative Activities Learner Anthropologist Watches and analyzes customers. Watches customers in many different ways; talks to customers; looks at what competitors are doing; watches the trends in the market. Experimenter Experiments, prototypes new Experiments with solutions ideas and products. and prototypes; looks for new materials and methods; evaluates new delivery formats. Cross-pollinator Applies concepts from one Leverages innovation from one area to another. department/industry into another; reads trade press, books and magazines; trav- els and meets different people with different backgrounds. Organizer Hurdler Overcomes hurdles when he/ Solves problems; finds innovative she believes in a project. solutions. Collaborator Knows how to deal, lead and Leads focus groups, organizes teams motivate people. and uses brainstorming sessions; listens to criticisms; communicates information to employees; hosts clients. Director Makes strategic decisions; Promotes people to jobs to capitalize inspires and directs people. on their abilities to innovate; compiles a list of "problems worth solving." Builder Experience Figures out ways to make the Trains employees to be extremely Architect customer experience extraordinary. courteous and helpful; recognizes and rewards loyal customers. Set designer Designs sets (offices, stores) that Creates environments that are welcoming and enjoyable to are conductive to productivity and work in. innovation; arranges pleasant welcom- ing areas or stores for customers. Caregiver Helps customers. Makes customers feel comfortable; answers questions; communicates with customers. Storyteller Tells stories Transforms facts into stories; shares experiences with others.
2008 Marketing Services Guide