Archive for May, 2009|Monthly archive page

Products I’d like to see farmers produce and brand themselves

In Agribusiness, Agricultural Entrepreneurship, Agricultural Marketing, Innovation on May 29, 2009 at 10:19 pm

For years, farmers have abdicated food processing, packaging, branding and promotion to the big packers, millers and bakers.

Now, consumers are begging farmers to wrest control of a portion of the food supply from big corporations and shorten the supply chain.

Here are a few products I’d like to see brought to market by farmers:

  • Kosher and halal meats and other food products
  • BBQ pork and beef
  • Hot dogs
  • All-natural canned fruits and vegetables
  • Sweet potato chips and fries
  • Potting soil
  • Compost
  • Mexican cheese
  • Certified humanely-slaughtered leather accessories

I know some of these things are being done. But there is room for what is being done in one region of the country to be done in another.

Let’s put our heads together and make some of these happen.


74 percent of clients are happy with consultants

In Agribusiness on May 21, 2009 at 10:04 pm

Maverick Creative Group recently commissioned a survey to determine clients’ attitudes about consultants. The survey was developed by Maverick Creative Group and administered by in conjunction with Clear Voice.

We talked to 100 businesses with less than $10 million in revenue that have been in business less than 10 years. We asked them about consultants who do everything from marketing to operations.

We found that 74 percent of companies that have used a consultant have had what they would call a successful experience. Nearly a third of them said their experience was very successful.

What they want most from a consultant is a solution that comes from a results-oriented approach.

This sounds like basic stuff, but what I hear clients saying, loud and clear, is that they recognize they need help from consultants (about half the companies surveyed have used a consultant before). They just want someone who tries to understand their needs and does more doing than talking. This flies in the face of what many consultants are all about.

If you would like more details from the Maverick Creative Group survey please call 316-733-1002 or e-mail us at

So you think you can innovate?

In Agribusiness, Agricultural Entrepreneurship, Agricultural Marketing on May 17, 2009 at 7:48 pm

As you think about which business into which to expand your agricultural operation, consider this: Sometimes, imitation is the best way to innovate. One of my mentors, Vincent Amanor-Boadu, taught me two important axioms about innovation:

1. Think about creating a sub-category, not just a product.

2. You don’t always have to be the best, just good enough.

Let’s talk about how these two axioms apply to expanding your agribusiness.

Let’s start with an example. I hold up reality TV contest shows. It seems like it all started with American Idol, but even that groundbreaking show was an imitation of a similar show called Britain’s Got Talent. Now reality TV aficionadoes will tell you the imitation has never been as good as the original, but Fox executives are perfectly happy with the results of Idol, I’m sure. In the years since Idol’s debut, other shows, such as Dancing with the Stars and So You Think You Can Dance? have enjoyed a great deal of success. Again, nothing terribly original, just riding the wave.

In the example above, we see both axioms lived out. Idol didn’t have to be as good as the original, just good enough to excite American audiences into a frenzy. So You Think You Can Dance? created a new sub-category that combined a dancing theme with the Idol format.

What will your innovation imitation be? Remember that old cliche: You don’t have to reinvent the wheel, just build a “good-enough” mousetrap!

Bull ridin’ keeps the natives happy

In Agribusiness on May 11, 2009 at 5:07 pm

It should come as no surprise that spending on leisure pursuits is off this year. Obviously, the horrific economic events of the past year have a lot to do with that.

But in these tough times, it’s nice to see that rodeo events are still an affordable entertainment option for the lower middle class and well-to-do, alike. How do I know? Well, I was at a bull ride and concert that spanned two nights this weekend, and I saw the classes, the races and the political leanings together in a mixed bag of fun that rivaled most events I’ve attended.

This event, called FestiBull-Kickin’ it at RiverFest, was a choice-grade hunk of All-American entertainment, complete with a kids’ cowboy camp, cute girls hawking energy drinks, funnel cakes, beer, and of course, 30 of the meanest, ill-behaved specimens of bovine bravado ever to kick up a hoof. And then there were the riders: 15 brave souls from near (Mulvane and Rose Hill) and far (Nebraska), including championship rider Jesse Schellhamer.

The fans-several thousand of them-cheered the victories, groaned over the spills and sat in rapt silence with breath held tight as they waited for the eight-second horn. Afterward, they enjoyed concerts by Randy Houser and Hattrick.

All of this cost less than $15 including tax. What a value!

A baseball fan like me can’t go to the Royals game that cheap, and the on-field performance is rarely as good, anyway. I think I might switch sports. I am so glad I live in America…Middle America, that is!

Rain is a great metaphor for agribusiness

In Agribusiness on May 10, 2009 at 9:01 pm

You know, it’s easy to complain about the rain when it seems we’ve had too much of it. Here in South Central Kansas, we’ve had so much rain that even a few sprinkles seems to cause flash flooding in some places. But what are you going to do? Complain?

Well, we try not to complain, but it seems like the timing, if not the quantity of the rain could be a bit more opportune. But that’s not up to us, just as so much of what happens to us in business isn’t up to us.

It takes the combination of growing-degree days under the warm sun, moisture from the rain and the addition of nutrients to produce an abundant crop. But the wrong combination of those elements, that is having too much or too little of them, can mean a devastating loss.

But I think rain presents the most interesting and delicate of inputs. I’m guessing you’ve heard or said, “Man, it sure has been raining a lot, but I guess we can’t complain.”

Excessive rain, like many of the business challenges we face, must be thoughtfully managed. That’s because most of these types of challenges are not just problems to be dealt with but resources, reservoirs of knowledge from which we can learn.

A volatile commodity market, for example, creates more numerous opportunities for pricing and trading grain. But it also presents its own set of challenges. It takes a resilient, flexible and open-minded attitude to see opportunity where others see only restriction, just as it takes an opportunity-minded person to be happy when it’s raining for days on end.