A little Billy Mays with our agvocacy?

I recently started a new job in the marketing and communication industry. I’m by no stretch of the imagination a sales person but I have caught myself, on more than one occasion, “selling” my company’s products and services to potential clients. It’s not a hard, in-your-face Billy Mays-style pitch but I do use my most convincing facts and reasoning to get others to see why we’re the best in our industry. Business owners are a frugal bunch and they want to ensure they are spending their dollars on a worth-while products that will prove beneficial to their bottom line.

The other day, as I stood there giving someone my best “elevator speech” on the reasons every company should drug test their employees – the main service of one of the companies I work for – I realized I was putting into practice the skills I learned through my American Farm Bureau Young Farmers and Ranchers media and communications training. I don’t remember signing up for sales classes, or did I? Was all of our “agvocacy” training just sales training disguised as a wholesome approach to “telling our story” and promoting agriculture?

Are the thousands of other farmers, farmers’ wives and friends of agriculture really just sales people operating under the guise of advocacy or are we really doing a little of both?

If we consider ourselves sales people then haven’t we accomplished our goal? Everyday millions of people eat three square meals a day, a few snacks and a dessert or two. They are purchasing our products, buying our pitches to “eat beef” and support California’s dairy industry.  Mission accomplished and sales awards earned! We can cases with our blogs, Twitter accounts and YouTube videos, they get it!

But do they? Are consumers purchasing that source of protein because of a great blog post or because we’ve convinced them it’s easy to prepare and will go over with the kids and adults? I think the cold, hard truth is every advocate needs a pinch of HSN in their advocacy.

We are, after all, selling our beef, corn and almonds. But we also have to sell our industry too, and that’s where the advocacy part comes in. We must remember as part of our push to buy bacon to tell our story, promote our industry and give consumers the whole story about that steak they purchased or the peaches they are considering. We have to get the consumers on our side so in – and likely when – they hear a less-than-appealing comment about an agriculture or animal feeding practice, they won’t turn against us and will instead remember our stories and cleaver blog posts.

So are we really a little Billy Mays mixed with a lot of Will Gilmer? Yes, and that’s not a bad thing. We have to be proactive in our promotion of our product and if that means a quick sales pitch, go for it. Just keep the special deals and call-in-promotions to a minimum – those are reserved for the big boys of infomercials.


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