Center for Dairy Excellence
Whether you’re comfortable admitting it or not, you and I make most of our purchasing decisions based on the brand that’s plastered on a products’ packaging. Clothes for us and our children, food in the grocery store, and even products for our cattle are chosen by reviewing the reputation of the brand. Consumers make a direct correlation between brand and quality.
In a 24-hour period, we see approximately 13,000 marketing messages. Our consumers can associate any product on the market with a specific brand. So, what do they think about when the dairy industry comes to mind?
Is our image positive in the eyes of our consumers? There are many aspects of our industry that contribute to our brand. We have something great here in the dairy industry, something that other products and brands can’t incorporate into their message — passion. The passion that our farmers have for the land, the environment and their cattle is astonishing. It’s time we start harnessing this passion and use it to establish a brand.
A Native American proverb states: “Tell me a fact and I’ll learn. Tell me a truth and I’ll believe. But tell me a story and it will live in my heart forever.”
Facts don’t resonate with the general public. Going back to our roots and sharing our stories is how we are going to make this connection between a positive brand and our products. Give them the opportunity to step into our lives and visit our families and our farms, and truly experience the passion that drives us to care for the land and our cattle.
A farmer’s job is to farm. Their days are filled to the brim with field work and chores. It isn’t always realistic to expect farmers to take time off from farm work to go out and promote the industry and speak with the public. However, it is important to recognize that the farm and the farmer is the physical aspect of the dairy industry’s brand, and it’s what the public recognizes.
That being said, it is important that farmers take advantage of the times that they are immersed in the general public at community events, church gatherings and county fairs. These times present great opportunities to share your story and find a way to connect with our consumer demographic. If we can use our passion to show them how much we care, we can establish a positive image in the minds of our consumers.
Our brand may be different to different consumers. By truly listening to the consumer’s questions and concerns, you can determine what they are most interested in within our industry. Whether it is cow care, milk safety or environmental stewardship, you can share a story with them that addresses these issues.
In order to keep up with the population growth, more food will have to be produced in the next 50 years than in the past 10,000 years combined. If we can establish a positive brand that consumers can relate to and believe in, our brand will be around for the entirety of existence.
By reaching out to organizations such as the Center for Dairy Excellence, Mid-Atlantic Dairy Association and the Pennsylvania Dairy Princess and Promotion Service, you can become acquainted with materials that can prepare you to effectively relate to our consumers and promote the dairy industry when the time arises. Making those true connections is the only way that we can make a positive impact in the public eye.
We need to start today and work hard every day to make a positive impact on the public, establish a popular brand and use our resources to make our passion known in the hearts of the public.
To learn more about resources to help share your story, visit the Mid-Atlantic Dairy Association’s website at www.dairyspot.org or visit www.discoverdairy.com and click on “For Farmers.” To learn more about the Center for Dairy Excellence, visit www.centerfordairyexcellence.org or call 717-346-0849.
Editor’s Note: Sara Kitchen is the communications intern at the Center for Dairy Excellence. She is a junior at Penn State studying animal science with a minor in communications. She grew up on a farm in Montour County, Pa.