The Secret To Improving Your Grain Marketing… and Everything Else!

As I travel around the country speaking to producers and ag professionals, I’m constantly being asked by individuals how they can improve their overall marketing skills? I’ve thought about this question for years and my conclusion remains the same… Simply think of the successes of great sports teams or businesses. In most all cases, consistency in planning and execution is the most common thread. In other words championship football teams don’t just block and tackle well sometimes, they block and tackle well all the time. A business like FedEx or UPS doesn’t just deliver on time here and there, they actually hit their time targets consistently. The difference between a true “professional golfer” and and “good golfer” is the severity of their “bad shots” and the consistency of their “good shots.” Think about it like this – there are some horrible golfers who have hit a “hole in one”. Generally speaking, when a professional golfer miss hits a shot, it’s barely out of the fairway. When the rest of us miss-hit a shot its often found outside the boundaries of the entire course. Meaning the bad shots are much worse and the good shots come a lot less frequently for those of us who are not considered “professionals.” The “real” question becomes how can those who are trying to be “ag professionals” achieve higher levels of consistency? It’s not about waving a magic wand or finding some get-rich-quick formula. As I’ve learned, success in business and in life is most often about the “process”. Are you doing what other top professionals are doing, is your process as good as theirs and can you execute? Are you getting out of your comfort zone and attending networking events? Are you constantly and consistently trying to improve your marketing skills? Remember, the best in the world, the true professionals, are constantly pushing themselves beyond their comfort zone, practicing relentlessly and sharpening their skills on a daily basis. You certainly don’t think you will be a top professional golfer by going out and playing in a few four-man scrambles each year? So why would you think you would be a good “marketer” when you simply go to a few conferences here and there? The only real solution or advice I can give is that you need to turn your current marketing “practices” or current habits into more structured marketing “rules.” I’ve learned that structured rules, followed by a strong commitment to execution are what generally tends to lead to better “consistency”. Remember, we can not control the direction of the market or the outside world. All that’s ultimately in our control is how we react or respond to “perceived” events and actions occurring in the market. Therefore, we have to have “rules” in place that best fit our emotions, personalities and cash flow needs, so we can better “execute” on a more consistent basis. Most often I’ve found the best rules and marketing programs are very simple, yet specific. Meaning they are easy to understand and navigate, in fact often boring. They work in most all types of environments and tend to make the complex appear much more simple. There is no one strategy or technique that I would deem better than the other. I have friends and partners who are extremely successful, each with wide varying degrees of “strategy.” Some are pre-marketers, selling their entire crop before it’s ever planted, while some are post-marketers, never selling a bushel until after it’s harvested. Some are only sellers of cash bushels and some like to use the board. Similar to a professional baseball hitter, each has their own preferred stance, hand positioning, length of stride, waggle of the bat, etc. But each individual understands his particular tendencies and where the bat needs to be at contact when the ball crosses the plate. How they get to contact is what I call an “art”… It’s not until the bat strikes the ball that observers try to turn it into a “science”. There’s no question that “repetition” becomes the mother of all habits. Habits then become the backbone of discipline. I’ve found turning successful habits and discipline into defined rules is the best way to become more consistent. It’s then when the “consistency” of being successful makes you the top in your field. In other words, it’s NOT a part-time thing, it’s an all the time thing! One of my good friends, Jason Grimsley, two time World Series Champion pitcher with the NY Yankees, once told me the key to success in the Big Leagues was how you performed on your bad days. He said in 10 appearances… 2 times you would be unstoppable, the stars would all line-up and you would the best you could be; in 6 of those 10 outings you would have to work hard and battle to be at your best; and during 2 out of those 10 outings you would be horrible, not feeling good, not having your best stuff, etc… It’s how you performed during those bad times that separated the men from the boys. I personally remember Michael Jordan beating the Utah Jazz in game 5 of the Championship series while being extremely sick and barely able to walk off the court. The questions are, “Have you been doing everything necessary to become the best in your field? When the winds are against you and times are tough, which we all know at some point will occur, do you have the tools to execute and be “professionally consistent” as when the winds were at your back?” Remember, anyone can play a winning hand, and any fool can hit a “hole in one.” More importantly do have the tools, discipline, rules, and process in place to constantly execute at the highest level when the winds are against you? Best advice, stop looking for the magic-wand or crystal-ball because they don’t exist. Start putting the “rules” in place that will challenge and push you to become the best in your field… It takes extreme dedication, discipline and commitment. It’s certainly not going to be easy… but then again what is in life?

 

  • Identify your personal traits and emotional tendencies. Compare these traits with what you believe the top professionals in your field are doing each day.
  • Turn your current practices and habits into hard-line written rules that fit your marketing model.
  • Execute your rules without emotional attachment so you can become more consistent.
  • Improved consistency is what allows you to reduce your downside risk and become a true professional.

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