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PRINT PERSPECTIVES
AGRILIANCE RELIES ON PRINT

by Debby Hartke, Contributing Editor

A
little-known company set out to tackle a well-known problem with a brand-new product . . . and chose print to lead the charge.

Agriliance, based in Inver Grove Heights, Minn., was formed early last year as the agronomy marketing business of regional cooperatives Land O’Lakes Inc., Farmland Industries and CHS Cooperatives. The new product, Barrier, was being marketed as an aid to reduce odor in pork production facilities.

And why print? Agriliance’s director of advertising and communications, Annette Degnan, lists many reasons, but emphasizes three main ones.

"Our customers - dealers and farmers - are heavy print users," Degnan says. "I like to have our message presented in a package of news and information that our customers use."

Degnan says she likes that print is "tangible. You have to touch and hold a magazine. The reader decides when and where, so they’re in the right frame of mind to seek information."

And, from an internal perspective, print advertising allows Agriliance more opportunity for merchandising to its sales force than broadcast, Degnan says.

"You can send a salesperson reprints of an ad," she says. "Sure, you can send tapes, too, but I don’t think they get played.

"When you run ads full circulation, the entire sales force sees them. If I’m running a southern regional radio program, the guy in Ohio may not hear it," she says.

Magazines offer a cost-effective way for Agriliance to reach its audiences repeatedly throughout the year.

"Print advertising is not a cure-all," Degnan says. "It’s one little piece of a marketing program. What we try to do with print is support the field sales effort. With print, we can get into our customer’s office at least eight times a year."

Readers, whether they are farmers, dealers or salespeople, can refer back to a print ad weeks after a publication arrives.

"I have to think that some people are like me and have magazines stacked all over," Degnan says. "There’s a little bit longer shelf life with print."

While Agriliance’s communications efforts to tell pork producers, soybean growers and dealers about itself and Barrier also included radio, the focus was on print. Minneapolis agency, Colle+McVoy, worked with Degnan to create product ads, company positioning ads, radio spots, brochures, news releases and other materials.

The resulting programs recently won national Best of NAMA Awards, sponsored by the National Agri-Marketing Association, in three categories: new product introduction, black & white or color spread - single, and trade publication ad - series. The new product package for Barrier won the overall Best of Show - Advertising award.

The series that won the trade ad category was created to let dealers know that Agriliance had been formed. Large photos of sand dunes, a glacier and ocean waves dominated the two-page spread ads, which ran in Ag Retailer, Dealer and Applicator and Crop Life.

"The series was created to show the collective strength of the cooperative system," Degnan says. "Colle+McVoy used compelling, powerful images to provide stopping power on the page. We wanted to stand out in those books as a leader with a lot of resources that retailers could draw on."

Agriliance ran another series of company-positioning ads in an internally produced publication, Cooperative Partners, which is sent to 330,000 farmers and ranchers in 23 states. These ads celebrated farmers’ role as caretakers of the soil.

"Colle+McVoy presented those two campaigns as either/or options," Degnan says. "I knew we had just one shot at this new-company announcement and the opportunity to put a big message out there. I liked the ‘resources’ campaign for the trade publications and I felt the ‘caretaker’ campaign was perfect for Partners magazine. So we produced both campaigns."

The "caretaker" ads struck a chord with readers, according to Degnan.

"We’ve gotten a couple of requests for reprints for the ads that ran in Partners," she says. "How often do you get reprint requests for ads?"

While she concedes that good broadcast ads also can be powerful, Degnan says she jumps at any chance to work on a print ad.

"There’s something about having a powerful photograph, a really good selling promise and great writing," she says. "That combination in a print ad is pretty hard to beat." AM

Debby Hartke is a writer and communications consultant based in St. Louis, Mo.


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