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Agrimarketing : January February 2008
58 AgriMarketing January/February 2008 from soybean acres to corn acres nationally was confirmed by the USDA's National Agricultural Statis- tics Service (NASS). According to NASS, corn acres planted increased an estimated 19% over reported acres from 2006. While Dairyland Seed had seen a larger increase than the national average, the challenge was to hold and grow market share. The postcard series also gave Dairyland Seed a chance to highlight localized plot results on a county by county or even township by town- ship basis. Additionally, key traits could be highlighted in areas of greater demand and interest. Also, Dairyland Seed's commitment to research --- it's the only family- owned seed company with breeding programs in corn, soybeans and alfalfa --- could be highlighted. The multiple touches of the direct mail series reinforced topics Dairyland Seed's customers could relate to and understand, and the local research backed up the claims being made. For example, each post- card discussed YieldGuard VT Triple, a trait that is being co-mar- keted with Monsanto. Not only were we able to discuss the importance of triple-stacked traits, but we could also point out through the localized trials the yield capabilities of our hybrids versus others on the market. To reinforce Dairyland Seed's yield performance, local test plot results were included specific to each area as well as on-farm plots where available. Developing localized information that was as specific to the area as pos- sible, rather than highlighting only a few locations in each state, made the communication much closer to home for growers,. Each mailer shared and summarized over 25 different sets of test-plot yield results. HOW IT WAS DONE As with any direct mail program the key is the quality of the database. Dairyland maintains its own data files on customers and prospects, and keeps data current through a variety of mailings and on-farm calls. Each year the file is supplemented with records from one of the direct mail services on a rotating basis to make sure the message is getting to prospects beyond Dairyland cus- tomers and the prospects added to its files by their direct sales team. For this mailing we used an internal Dairyland Seed list as well as a list provided by one of Dairyland Seed's trait partners. Working with an on-demand printer, we are able to update both the address files as well as the test plot results for every mailing through variable data production. As informa- tion from the various universities and test plots came in throughout the fall and early winter, Dairyland Seed could promote and use the most cur- rent data for each mailing as well as varying the test results depending on inventory or individual sales team member preferences. The mailings are pulsed to go every 2 to 3 weeks and complement the advertising messages to gain the most visibility during the corn grower 's decision-making times. WHAT WE'VE LEARNED From our experiences with this direct marketing program, we've learned that growers prefer information deliv- ered as locally and as quickly as pos- sible. They want to compare how var- ious hybrids performed on their farm, on their neighbor 's farm or in their local area, but also how they perform state-wide and even regionally. They understand that conditions change every time you cross a county road, and the best hybrids are ones that perform well across the region and not just in one particular county. We also know that direct market- ing is just one tool in the tool box. And like any other tool, it works bet- ter when working in concert with other tools in the box. This direct marketing initiative was very effec- tive at implementing a specific, defined strategy. Ultimate success was achieved when other elements in the campaign --- advertising, pub- lic relations, radio, outdoor media, co-op marketing efforts and face-to- face selling --- delivered a consistent, timely and influential message. The crucial judgment is what hap- pens at the cash register. In this instance, corn bookings are already tracking ahead of last year 's pace. The trick in the seed industry is to keep them there through planting time. AM USING DIRECT MAIL/continued from page 56 To order, go to www.AgriMarketing.com for bulk orders, e-mail: JudyK@AgriMarketing.com Chapters include: • Is Organic Food Safer? Think Again • Hormone Hype and Antiobiotic Argst • A Few Bushels Shy • The Benefits of Biotechnology • Many More! NOW AVAILABLE! by the Hudson Institute's Alex Avery
2008 Marketing Services Guide
Crop Life America