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FALL CAMPAIGNS PROMOTE MORE THAN PRODUCTS
You may have noticed new advertisements running in farm magazines and on TV and radio, which support the efforts of seed dealers, display a seed company's new corporate look or pay tribute to the one and only farmer. Agri Marketing went behind the scenes to learn why these marketing campaigns were developed and how the messages are cracking the clutter. Read on to see how each stacks up ...

GARST SEED COMPANY

When you look at a new print ad from Garst Seed Co. this fall, you can't help but read the copy. That's because there aren't photos or distracting graphics to look at, and that's exactly how Garst's marketing team and creative agency planned it.

Garst's "Big Blue Plan" captures the reader's attention in print and carries the theme through all aspects of the marketing campaign.
The "Big Blue Plan," the marketing plan launched in July with Garst's field sales team, uses the color blue to create interest in and draw attention to the Garst brand. Steve Klein, director of sales and marketing, says the concept of the blue with white lettering was created to stop readers in their tracks.

"The importance of having visual stopping power with our ads was to increase the likelihood that the reader would read the text of our message," Klein explains. "As an advertiser in print media, we want our customers and prospects to read our message of Commitment ... Performance ... Technology."

This campaign, created by Solutions Inc., Des Moines, Iowa, doesn't stop with just print ads. The blue theme is carried through all of Garst's collateral materials, such as seed guides, sales programs and notebooks, and is playing a big role in radio spots. To express this color without visuals, Klein says customers will "hear" the blue campaign with references to bluegrass music, the Blue Angels precision flying team and a blue-ribbon performance at the county fair.

Garst and its public relations agency, The Integer Group, Des Moines, Iowa, are also leveraging the power of blue in the PR campaign to create a consistent message. The "What's New With Blue" press kits were developed by the agency and have the same look and message as the other product literature. The agency is also aiding the local, regional and national media with a media kit titled "Who's Who With Blue."

In addition to the campaign, Garst is introducing its new "True Blue Customer Reward Program," which rewards growers for committing early to their 2004 Garst purchases. This program was recently introduced through advertising, direct mail and one-on-one through the sales network.

Speaking of the sales network, Klein says the level of excitement the blue advertising campaign generated within the marketing and field sales teams was surprising. "One of the things we stress with our district sales managers is to put on their 'marketing hats' and do things unique to their district. They have definitely run with the blue campaign and are generating excellent district promotions," he says.

It's impressive that Garst was able to not only pull together a great team of sales professionals but also a marketing team and two agencies to successfully launch the campaign.

Klein says that both agencies have worked closely with the Garst marketing team to integrate the blue campaign into all of the company's messages. "To achieve our goals with brand identity and brand value, it's critical that Solutions Inc., The Integer Group and our internal marketing team are all on the same page."

The goal of all three groups was to create a message that over time will cause the target audience to make an automatic connection between the color blue and Garst Seed Company. The only group that Garst might have a problem with is the St. Louis Blues fan club.

MYCOGEN SEEDS

The Mycogen Seeds ad campaign covers grain corn hybrids, Silage-Specific(TM) corn and sunflowers. It allows producers to "walk in" on the conversations.
This fall, Mycogen Seeds, an Indianapolis-based affiliate of Dow AgroSciences LLC, launched a new campaign that focuses on its most important asset - people. Specifically, the campaign highlights the important role of dealers and their relationship with the customer.

The theme of the campaign is that Mycogen Seeds and its dealers are taking time to talk and listen to growers on their terms and on their farms. The target audience is 250+ acre growers of grain corn, silage corn and sunflowers.

"Producers should see themselves in the campaign," says Greg Cannon, communications manager for Mycogen Seeds. "The ads feel like you're walking in on a conversation between a producer and a dealer."

He says the company and its agency, Bader Rutter & Associates, Brookfield, Wis., wanted to create a realistic environment that reinforces the crucial producer and dealer relationship, such as a dealer's casual conversation with a corn grower or a dairy nutritionist advising a dairy producer. The campaign is designed to show producers that there is a lot to talk about at Mycogen Seeds and the customer is at the heart of the conversation. It hopes the campaign will help to maintain growth and awareness of the company and its dealer network.

All of the marketing applications are built around the dealer/customer relationship, and many components are designed to support the individual dealer's efforts. Other than the traditional media tactics, such as print, radio, PR and direct marketing, Mycogen is using a variety of dealer communication vehicles to deliver both internal and external messages.

For example, dealers can utilize a Web site to create customized sell sheets. The dealer chooses between different templates, featuring information about various products, articles and visuals, which can be selected to create a unique sell sheet in a PDF format that is e-mailed or printed for the customer.

The company's direct marketing approach is geared to the customer and dealer. Cannon says he hopes the direct marketing efforts achieve customer retention by allowing them to work one-on-one with dealers. "When it comes to direct efforts, we are completely focused on customer retention and further penetration."

The targeted mailings are synchronized with peak times that dealers are making calls upon their customers, which is just one example of the company's focused efforts in direct/relationship marketing.

What do the dealers think of the campaign and support efforts? Clearly, they are excited to be recognized for the integral part that they play in the company. "The campaign has brought a lot of pride to the dealer force and helped to instill a sense of professionalism," Cannon says. "We really want to showcase a level of respect for our dealers."

Mycogen introduced the campaign to its dealers through a series of kick-off meetings and via its e-newsletter, which provided an electronic preview of the ads and other dealer support tools.

On the other side, customers have also taken notice and shown great understanding of the campaign concept. In post-testing, Cannon says producers recalled the key messages of the campaign word for word without being prompted.

"Those tested remembered the messages of excitement and people talking, which were major points represented in the ad campaign," Cannon says. "This shows an excellent level of understanding from our audience."

The move to featuring Mycogen people fits in nicely with the company's strong emphasis on new products. "All the information about our new products must be shared by our dealers, so establishing those dealer/customer relationships is really critical," says Cannon. "With 41 new products, it is an exciting challenge but also a great opportunity for the company."

There is so much changing technology and product information in the industry to talk about, that every company is faced with how to convey this best. "We are proud of our extensive new product offering and our people. That combination will differentiate us from the competition," Cannon concludes.

SYNGENTA SEEDS

Many agrimarketers know that modern farming is a tough job, and there are plenty of hardships in the business, especially in today's agricultural marketing environment. Syngenta Seeds, Golden Valley, Minn., also knows the realities of agriculture and is positioning itself as the company who appreciates the farmer.

The "Born To Farm" campaign, launched in August by Syngenta Seeds, created by Wernimont & Paullus, Cedar Rapids, Iowa, , celebrates the farmer, says Bev Larson, manager of advertising and public relations for Syngenta Seeds. It highlights what it means to be a farmer, both good and bad - the work ethic, the family values, the knowledge, the successes, the pride, and the trials and tribulations.

"The campaign goes back to the basics and recognizes what today's farmer goes through day to day and how hard they work to produce our food," Larson says. "It intent is to raise awareness of the NK Brand of seeds, and I believe the ads will answer the question, 'Why would I buy NK Brand seeds?' It's an awareness campaign in the truest sense."

The company believes producers will associate the NK brand with its positive, supportive message. "We want the farmer to know that we are the company who understands what it means to be a farmer today," she explains.

With slice-of-life photos showing several scenes in agriculture, such as a farmer working well into the night, sunset over a cornfield and working hard to finish up as a storm approaches, there is no doubt that the company is catching the attention of farmers. According to Larson, producers who have seen the ads say, "That's my story." She adds that the campaign seems to resonate well both internally and externally.

Along with the print advertisements, the "Born To Farm" tagline carries over into radio spots, which echo the print messages, and trade show materials and sales presentations. And although this campaign would be an excellent vehicle to spread the word about the "real" life of a farmer to the general public, it is geared to the company's farmer-customers.

Those customers will also see product campaigns being layered on top of this branding initiative, says Larson. The product materials will carry the tagline, "For The Way You Farm." This flows out of the branding campaign in that Syngenta Seeds wants the customer to realize that it understands the uniqueness of each grower, and the company offers choices and product options to support the way he farms. AM


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