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Agrimarketing : May 2008 Supplement
8 AgriMarketing ¦ May 2008 of paper is available at the time,” he says. “I guess I’m best known for napkins. I’ll write the idea on it, then give it to the person I was with as a reminder of the conversation. “If a scientist is creative enough to come up with a gene that allows for Roundup applications over the crop,” he continues, “then my job in marketing is to be creative enough to get the scientist’s ‘dream product’ to the customer so they understand how to use it and what the value of this product is on his farm. If I don’t do my part, I let both the scientist down and the customer.” When evaluating new hires, Rhylander says he is looking for peo- ple who have a sincere desire to work in the ag industry and to learn. Great communication skills are a must. “One thing young people need to do is make their points quickly,” he says. “Too many have fallen into the trap of what I call ‘Death by Power Point’. That is, they tend to overdo it. They need to be able to make their point in 10 to 12 slides. If they can’t, they need to re-do their message.” He also encourages his staff to get involved in other groups and associations outside of the company. “That involvement sharpens their leadership skills immensely and helps them grow and develop.” One to take his own advice, Rhylander recently completed a term as President of the Southern Crop Protection Association , serving on its Board and as an officer for the past 14 years. COMMUNICATIONS Rhylander believes effective commu- nication was one of the major keys of the company’s success in achieving the rapid adoption of its biotech traits. “We had quite a challenge ahead of us,” he says. “We were asking our customers to literally change the way they had farmed for decades.” The company invested heavily in all forms of communication, includ- ing print, radio, TV, direct mail, and events. One activity he thinks was highly effective is the company’s Word of Mouth Marketing (WOMM) efforts. “Each time we launch a new prod- uct,” he reports, “we want satisfied customers to share their experiences with others. So, we hire a firm to facilitate that exchange, primarily via telephone conference calls. “Monsanto can tell its story over and over, but nothing is as effective as a farmer telling another farmer,” he explains. OUTLOOK “I’ve been in the ag business for over 30 years and it has never been this great, nor has its future,” Rhy- lander says. “The growing popula- tion, upgrading diets by including more protein and the increasing use of biofuels will continue to drive up demand for ag products. With the new biotech traits we will be introducing over the next decade, the industry will be even more exciting. “The use of biotech literally changes the rural landscape,” he contends. “Today it is difficult to find labor to accomplish many of the tasks required. Irrigating, spraying, tillage, they all take time. Because the products bring such time and labor saving benefits, producers can farm significantly more acres.” Additionally, the benefit of biotech products will need to be communicated to the public and other shareholders in new ways and messages. “For example, with all of the concern about the availability of water,” he says, “the new drought tolerant gene brings an innovative solution to that dilemma, because the goal is to provide the same yields with less irrigation or higher yields with the same level of water. “Since most people will not have the opportunity to see how the ag industry is helping shape their lives and make it better, it is our responsi- bility to explain that to them and paint the picture,” he says. Spoken like a true Marketer of the Year. AM DAVE RHYLANDER’S CAREER 1977 After being raised in Plattsmouth, NE, and graduating with a Business degree from Wayne State University , he’s hired by Monsanto as a Field Sales Rep to help in the launch of Roundup. 1980 Transfers to Monsanto’s headquarters in St. Louis, MO, to work in its Market Research department. 1981 Named District Sales Mgr. for Southern Illinois. 1986 Transfers to Indianapolis, IN, as Reg’l Marketing Mgr. 1988 Moves back to St. Louis as Product Mgr. on Lasso (soybeans), Bronco, Freedom, Partner and Lasso Micro-tech. 1991 Transfers to Atlanta, GA, to become Southern Reg’l Mgr. 1994 Assists in the launch of Bt Cotton. 1997 Because of the company’s increased cotton focus, its Atlanta office is moved to Memphis, TN. 1998 Named Business Mgr. for all cotton traits. 2003 Named Head of all U.S. traits. 2007 Named Marketing Lead, Delta & Pine Land Business. A sample mailing demonstrating the difference between a triple stack hybrid (r) and conventional hybrids. The ears of corn were allowed to roll freely in the package, creating increased curiosity among the packages’ recipients. 2008 NAMA MARKETER OF THE YEAR /Marketing Success continued from page 6