Escape Cold – Attend NAMA Conf. in Florida

2014 Agri-Marketing ConferenceTired of winter? Tired of snow? How about a Fresh Perspective in the Florida Sunshine? That’s what you’ll get if you come on down to my home state in April.

The 2014 Agri-Marketing Conference is shaping up to be huge! In fact, our hotel room block is FULL. The NAMA staff is negotiating for some overflow already and we’re hoping that some more rooms will become open for the block.

You might want to plan your visit to come early. There is a farm tour put together by the Florida Chapter that’s filling up fast on Tuesday as well as the annual NAMA golf tournament. The hotel is only about a 15 minute drive from the beach too! If you can’t make it we hope someone from your company will be able to.

The program will offer you a lot for your investment and I think we have a larger number of exhibitors in the Connection Point trade show.

ZimmComm will be celebrating 10 Golden Years at the conference. Please plan to visit us in the Connection Point. More on that later.

Hartz Named 2014 NAMA Marketer of the Year

NAMAWyffels Hybrids’ director of marketing, Jeff Hartz, was named the 2014 NAMA Marketer of the Year. The NAMA Marketer award will be presented during the Second General Session of the 2014 Agri-Marketing Conference, on Thursday, April 10 in Jacksonville, FL and is sponsored by Agri Marketing magazine.

Jeff Hartz spent his first 6 to 12 months at Wyffels Hybrids just listening. He asked a lot of questions and attended a lot of meetings. Through this intense discovery period, he defined what Wyffels stood for, how they are different than competitors, what the marketing team needed to focus its efforts on and new strategic growth strategies.

Hartz was instrumental in improving customer retention year after year. As of today, Wyffels Hybrids has reached 67% retention rate of new customers and 78% continued customer retention, the highest in the business along with one of the industry leaders, according to market research.

As the marketing director, Hartz oversees all strategic marketing efforts including advertising and public relations and the development of the Wyffels brand. He works closely with growers, the sales force and the National Sales Director to develop programs and materials that meet their needs and reinforce Wyffels’ position as one of the leading independent seed corn companies in the industry.

With the brand document as his guide, Hartz directed awareness, retention and advertising campaigns that stood out from the pack. The new “black & gold” campaign is simple by design with bold, yet honest copy. All ad messages are based on a truth – something the company believes in, the way they do business, product performance, etc. But it’s stated in a clever way, reinforcing the company’s brand.

Hartz became active on a national scale with NAMA when he joined the Careers Committee in 2008 and provided value to that committee for three years, motivating future members of the ag marketing industry. His work as vice chair, then chair of the Best of NAMA Committee in 2012 ensured members received recognition for the outstanding work accomplished. He also served as a national awards judge in 2010.

Beck Named 2014 Agribusiness Leader of the Year

image002The National Agri-Marketing Association (NAMA) has named Sonny Beck, president of Beck’s Hybrids, as the 2014 Agribusiness Leader of the Year. This is NAMA’s highest honor and will be presented at the opening general session of the 2014 Agri-Marketing Conference, April 10, 2014 in Jacksonville, FL. The award honors outstanding leaders in agribusiness, education, government service or other agribusiness related areas who exemplify excellence in agribusiness by their significant contributions to the industry.

Sonny Beck, president of Beck’s Hybrids, has led the company to unprecedented growth. As the largest family-owned seed company in the United States, Beck’s Hybrids is now the sixth largest seed company in the U.S. Under Sonny’s leadership, Beck’s Hybrids has experienced a 20 percent increase in sales each year for the last 20 years, doubling in size every four years.

As soon as Beck joined the family operation in 1964, after graduating from Purdue University, he never let grass grow under his feet. Always aiming at building closer, stronger relationships with customers, Beck immediately launched a couple of customer events that are now long-standing traditions. Today, Beck’s Hybrids hosts one of the largest field shows in the agriculture industry, Becknology Days™, a three-day event in late August that hosts more than 10,000 farmers from across the Midwest.

In the same year Beck joined the operation he started what is now called the Practical Farm Research (PFR)® program. Still today, the PFR program is unlike any other in the seed industry. Focused on farmer’s needs, hundreds of studies are completed at five Beck’s locations in an effort to look at how different management practices perform in different environments. The information is delivered to farmers across the Midwest in a 280-page summary book, website and field shows.

In July 2013, Indiana Governor, Mike Pence, appointed Beck as a trustee on the Purdue University Board of Trustees. In addition, Beck currently serves on the Indiana Chamber of Commerce Board of Directors, is vice president of the Purdue Ag Alumni Seed Improvement Association and is a founding member of the Purdue FarmHouse Fraternity Foundation board.

Austin Eats Food Tour

Freedman'sThis is is an example of having a little meat with your meat for supper. This particularly delicious brisket, ribs and sausage is courtesy of Freedmen’s in Austin, TX. So why am I bringing it to your attention? Because these things are important.

Austin Eats Food ToursAfter the NAMA Executive Committee completed its quarterly meeting work this week we did supper as a food tour conducted by Austin Eats Food Tours. Our guide drove us around to four stops. These were South Congress Cafe (calimari, crab cakes); Mettle (fried chicken, burgers); Rio’s Brazilian Cafe (traditional Brazilian chicken stroganoff) and Freedmen’s (brisket, sausage, ribs, smoked banana pudding & more). Wow! I’m still full. They were all good but I give Freedmen’s my top choice. The smoked banana pudding was excellent but I could also have just eaten another slice of brisket for dessert too!

If you’re ever in Austin give Austin Eats a try or look around for a company like them in whatever city you have to visit. This was an awesome foodie adventure.

NAMA Executive Committee Meets

NAMA Executive CommitteeThe Executive Committee of the National Agri-Marketing Association met yesterday in Austin, TX. Here’s our group hard at work.

A big part of our meeting was reviewing the NAMA Strategic Plan to see how we’re doing and consider any tweaks or changes. We’re in year three of the three year plan and according to our calculations NAMA gets a high grade for accomplishing the goals set out by the plan. Helping us work through the process was Kevin Oschner, Adayana, who did a great job keeping us focused and on track to accomplish something that is well thought out and with measurables so we can see how we’re doing at the end of this first three year process.

There was a lot of other mundane “business of NAMA” we went through like reviewing the budget and getting a report from Jenny Pickett, our Executive Director. NAMA is in good shape and primed for another good year.

Get Registered for 2014 Agri-Marketing Conference

2014 Agri-Marketing ConferenceHave you registered for the 2014 Agri-Marketing Conference? Come down to the Sunshine State, relax, network and learn. Sounding pretty good right now, eh?

I’m on my way to Austin, TX for our quarterly Executive Committee Mtg. of the National Agri-Marketing Association. I’m sure we’ll get an update on what’s being planned for Jacksonville, FL in April.

Let me know if you’ve got questions about NAMA or the Conference. I’ll do my best to answer and if I can’t I know someone who can!

GROWMARK Becomes NAMA Sustaining Sponsor

GrowmarkWe welcome GROWMARK as a fellow Sustaining Partner of the National Agri-Marketing Association!

GROWMARK is one of the cooperatives in agri-marketing,” said Jenny Pickett, NAMA Executive Vice President/CEO, in announcing the partnership. “Their support is not only an endorsement of the industry and the Association today, but also a pledge to help us, and our members, continue to be at the forefront of agricultural marketing in the years to come. We are delighted with this statement of support.”

As a Sustaining Partner, GROWMARK will receive additional exposure at upcoming NAMA events and on the Association’s website, Pickett explained.

“GROWMARK has supported NAMA in a variety of ways for more than 15 years,” according to Amy Bradford, GROWMARK corporate relations manager. “To be able to expand this support with a Sustaining Partnership is an opportunity we couldn’t pass up. NAMA conferences and leader opportunities play a direct role in the professional and personal development of GROWMARK staff.”

Thanks Amy and GROWMARK. ZimmComm also thanks you for your support of our work!

Regional Best of NAMA Judging & Banquets

Best of NAMA JudgesIt looks like the Best of NAMA judging is in full swing. Here’s a photo of the regional judges in Kansas City from the NAMA Facebook page.

Net up are the regional award banquets. Here’s information from the NAMA calendar:

January 16, 2014
Region 2 Best Of NAMA Awards Banquet
Boulevard Brewing Co., Kansas City, MO

January 21, 2014
Carolinas/Virginia Best of NAMA Awards Ceremony
Hamner Conference Center, Research Triangle Pk, NC

January 23, 2014 (tentative)
Region 4 Best of NAMA Awards Banquet
Harley Davidson Museum Center, Milwaukee, WI

January 30, 2014 (tentative)
Region 3 Best of NAMA Awards Banquet
Target Field, Minneapolis, MN

Check with the NAMA office for updates and details. And remember that you will be registered to win an iPad mini if you recruit a new member before Dec. 9.

Register for 2014 Agri-Marketing Conference

2014 Agri-Marketing ConferenceCome on down to my territory next April. You’ll be glad you did. The Sunshine State will be waiting for you. It’s registration time for the 2014 Agri-Marketing Conference.

Shed some new light on your agri-marketing career. NAMA is taking the conference to Jacksonville, Florida in 2014. Soak up the rays as well as the latest trends in ag communications, social media, and industry news. The location may be new, but the forecast for making new connections and chances to rub elbows with leaders in the ag industry is as sunny as ever. You bring the sunscreen — we’ll bring the fresh ideas.

Registration is open so get it done early. You’ve only got until March 20!

Next NAMA Webinar

NAMA WebinarsIt’s time to register for the National Agri-Marketing Association’s next webinar.

How are Ag Marketers Different Than Those in Other Industries?

Presented by Jan Johnson, Millennium Research

Ag marketers use print ads more than other industries. And, they rely on repeat customers more than any other industry. When you are talking to people you already know, what’s the best thing to say? What is the best way to communicate, connect and motivate prospective customers? Join Millennium Research as it presents 10 keys to capture attention and increase advertising effectiveness.

Register to attend NAMA’s next webinar on Thursday, October 24, 2013, at 1:00 pm central time.

NAMA’s Membership Campaign

iPad miniInterested in winning an iPad Mini? Recruit someone you know to become a member of the National Agri-Marketing Association (NAMA) and be entered into a drawing for an iPad Mini.

The professional organization just announced the member-get-a-member campaign will run from October 3 to December 9. The official drawing will take place on December 10.

The more you recruit, the more your name will be entered into the drawing. So talk with colleagues and other agriculture professionals and explain all the fun NAMA members experience. But don’t forget the networking opportunities and professional education available.

Leading NAMA into a New Year

nama-fall-13-kenna-paulLeadership within an organization is key to it’s success and the National Agri-Marketing Association has gone above and beyond to ensure their leadership is a cut above. During NAMA Fall Conference business was carried out, professional development sessions took place and the gavel was passed down the ranks to the upcoming president.

Paul Redhage with FMC and outgoing NAMA President, talked with Chuck about changes that were made during the recent board meeting and then looked back on his term as president of the national organization.

“Well, there are about four or five. Number one is that we are in good financial shape. Part of that is the economy of agriculture, but part of it is from some things we have done as an organization to be prepared. The second area is when it comes to the strategic plan and membership development has been a key effort there. One thing I am personally proud of is I helped establish the young professionals membership.”

Listen to Chuck’s interview with Paul here: Interview with Paul Redhage

Coming up the ranks as the new NAMA President is Kenna Rathai. The passing of the gavel took place during the fall conference in St. Louis, but Kenna will officially take the title as president in January.

“First, I am very excited to lead an amazing group of ag marketers at an incredible time in agriculture. One thing that we will continue to do is move our strategic plan forward. That includes communication with members, strategic alliances within the industry and also reaching out to non-traditional audiences. But another challenge I would like to throw out to members is to get engaged with the organization. We want more members to be active, whether that is at the chapter or national levels. We want to see new volunteers on committees and more attendance at programs.”

Listen to Chuck’s interview with Kenna here: Interview with Kenna Rathai

2013 NAMA Fall Conference Photo Album

Does Big Data Have a Role in Agri-Marketing?

nama-fall-13-harrisonAnother breakout session during the recent NAMA Fall Conference focused on “Big Data’s Effect on Marketing.” Discussion led to how data can influence messaging, new markets, media strategy and customer relationships.

Jay Harrison, Data Mining Innovations Director at Maritz, sat on the panel and later chatted with Chuck about how social and content-based data can guide strategies for marketers.

Chuck asked, “How do we deal with all the metrics we receive and what can we do with it once we’ve got it?” Jay advices to look at many different sources of information. Things said on Facebook may be different then on Twitter or mainstream news. He added to go beyond likes, retweets and shares. Look at what people are actually saying and try to measure the emotions expressed.

“One big takeaway is for people to realize the importance of reputation and social media to the agricultural industry. There may be a perception out there that social media is just for kids or it’s just for following celebrities, fashion and TV shows. But in fact, agriculture is one of the hot beds of communications and social media. People are very passionate about knowing things like where their food comes from and how sustainable it is. It is one of the most vibrant, controversial of the industries we track.”

“Another one we discussed today was what topics are being discussed most in social media. Farmers among themselves may discuss things like the weather, seed prices, conditions overseas that effect markets. But in social media we see something different. We see that the main topic of concern is food safety. We also noticed some new evolving issues that come up with legislative and regulatory oversight.”

Listen to Chuck’s interview with Jay here: Interview with Jay Harrison

2013 NAMA Fall Conference Photo Album

What Does Climate Change Mean to Agriculture

nama-fall-13-goetzThe NAMA Fall Conference held breakout sessions to help educate agri-marketers from across the country about the ever changing world of agriculture. Presenter for one of the breakout sessions, Rodger Getz, AWIS Weather Services, Inc., spoke with Chuck following his presentation on, “Climate Change and Agriculture – What it Means to Agri-Marketers.”

“Agriculture like many industries is affected by weather and I think climate change is something that’s been in the news for the last 10-15 years. Significantly in the news the last couple of years and something that can be a source of confusion. Has there been climate change? If there has been, to what extent and what do we do about it? The purpose of my talk was to try and wade through some of that. Maybe not provide the answer, but provide some details so folks could make up their own mind.”

He later explained what the agricultural industry should be concerned with when it comes to change in weather patterns. Rodger also stated that meteorologists can’t scientifically predict weather 30 years out and forecasting the weather is still a challenge even with all the technology we have today.

“I think farmers and agriculture in general need to be more concerned about the day to day changes. And within a growing season be able to adapt things like a late frost that delays planting. What’s it going to look like potentially for the rest of the season and weather wise, how can we adapt to that. That’s where the biggest impact economically can take place in my opinion.”

Rodger’s take home message for NAMA members was simple. Do your own weather homework, look at the broad issue and it’s okay to question what you hear.

Listen to Chuck’s interview with Rodger here: Interview with Rodger Getz

2013 NAMA Fall Conference Photo Album

GROWMARK Updates Member Resource Platform

nama-amy-chuckKeeping all of the different divisions and the 35 FS member cooperatives of the GROWMARK system connected is a constantly evolving process, according to Amy Bradford, corporate communications manager – pictured here with NAMA CEO Jenny Pickett and Chuck at the NAMA fall conference.

“My IT likes to call it an evolution because it’s never over,” she told Chuck during an interview at the conference. They are now on a new version of SharePoint for the company’s eResource area that provides better navigation, new functionality and a more cohesive look.

“Each of our major divisions – energy, agronomy, logistics, facility planning – they have their own sites so they have specialized information on products and services that they offer our members,” Amy says. “So, it really is everything a member company would need GROWMARK expertise for or a product or a service, they would go to eResource to find it.”

Basically, eResource gives GROWMARK member companies a centralized resource to order products and get important information. Of course, eResource is password protected for member companies only and it helps those companies serve their members better.

Listen to Chuck’s interview with Amy here: Interview with Amy Bradford, GROWMARK

2013 NAMA Fall Conference Photo Album

Policy Panel at NAMA Fall Conference

nama-panelThe NAMA Fall Conference featured a policy panel moderated by Sara “Legs” Wyant of Agri-Pulse, and featuring Mike Deering with the Missouri Cattlemen’s Association, Garrett Hawkins with Missouri Farm Bureau, and Steve Censky with the American Soybean Association.

The need for a new farm bill was the major topic of discussion. “We’re all kind of waiting to see what happens with this,” said Deering. “It’s like the cartoon ‘Peanuts’ where Lucy’s holding that football and Charlie Brown’s running as hard as he can to kick it and ends up falling flat on his butt and that’s the same thing we’re dealing with right now as an industry, working together and trying to kick that ball over the finish line but it keeps getting pulled back.”

Deering says they have been busy on the state level fighting against the Humane Society of the United States with the Missouri Right to Farm amendment that passed the state legislature this year and will go to the voters next fall. “It just gives farmers and ranchers in the state the right to farm,” he said. “It’s absolutely vital that we have some protection in our state to keep these wackos out of here.”

Listen to Chuck’s interview with Mike here: Interview with Mike Deering, Missouri Cattlemen's Association

2013 NAMA Fall Conference Photo Album

2013 NAMA PDA Winners

Gary SakinDuring our concluding lunch to the 2013 NAMA Fall Conference we celebrated with our new Professional Development Awards of Excellence. Let’s start with Gary Sakin, Monsanto, for Marketing Communications.

Gary joined Monsanto in November of 2006, and has made impactful changes to how Monsanto approaches branding, measures marcom impact, and engages with its audiences. Currently, Gary is a key member of Monsanto’s U.S. Marketing Leadership Team, serving as Director of Advertising, and is involved in providing strategic recommendations and counsel that includes Monsanto’s seed, biotechnology, prescriptive agriculture and chemistry brands. He manages multi-agency relationships, oversees tradeshow contracts and participation, identifies and monitors industry trends and their impact on Monsanto marketing objectives, drives overall brand planning, and helps guide Monsanto’s significant overall advertising presence.

Listen to remarks from Gary here: Gary Sakin Remarks

Linda RomanderNext up we have Linda Romander, Broadhead, for Public Relations.

A senior public relations manager at leading agribusiness marketing agency broadhead., Linda has achieved a great deal since her arrival in 2005. Since day one, she has fast become the go to resource for clients seeking sound PR strategy and vision, as well as a mentor for her firm’s younger staff and teams.

Listen to remarks from Linda here: Linda Romander Remarks

Zach HetterickThe Product Management award was presented to Zach Hetterick, Case IH.

Zach has distinguished himself in the past two years, leading the charge at Case IH for the Livestock/Hay/Forage business as Livestock Marketing Manager. While in this role, he has successfully spearheaded several new product launches, including the Case IH LB4 large square baler, and current launches for the WD3 series windrower, DC3 series disc mower conditioner, and RB565 round baler.

Listen to remarks from Zach here: Zach Hetterick Remarks

Jay CarlsonFor Sales the award was received by Jay Carlson.

As regional sales manager for BEEF magazine and its digital communications properties, Jay is arguably the nation’s top marketer on a volume basis of print and online livestock advertising. He has been a key innovator in U.S. livestock publishing, developing a number of key instruments and programs that continue to meet the needs of both U.S. livestock producers and U.S. product marketers.

Listen to remarks from Jay here: Jay Carlson Remarks

2013 NAMA Fall Conference Photo Album

Students at NAMA Fall Conference

Students at NAMA Fall ConferenceThe NAMA Fall Conference is a great place for professional improvement for agrimarketers who want to take their career to the next level. It’s also a good place for students to achieve the same thing.

At this conference I visited with three students from the University of Illinois, (L-R) Kelley Fornoff, Ben Rakes and Ellen Reeder. I asked them why they are attending and what they hope to get out of this conference. They told me that they are here to get professional experience, learn what’s new in the agrimarketing world and to network with professionals. Good reasons!

Listen to my interview with the students here: Interview with Students

2013 NAMA Fall Conference Photo Album

Coach Billick on Elements for Success

Brian BillickA former NFL head coach had no problem waking us up as our morning keynote speaker at the 2013 NAMA Fall Conference. Brian Billick, Super Bowl winning coach for the Baltimore Ravens and now an analyst for Fox Sports, talked to us about “The Essential Elements for Success.” He has lots of sports stories to go along with it.

I spoke to him before his remarks and he shares a few words of wisdom for leadership that includes “connecting the dots” and how important your interconnectivity with the team or the work force is. He says it’s particularly important in today’s world of social media.

Listen to my interview with Brian here: Interview with Brian Billick

2013 NAMA Fall Conference Photo Album