Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Surrounding Yourself With Excellence

To be a successful entrepreneur, you need a strong team behind you. But who should be on this team exactly? You need to surround yourself with people better than you. What do I mean by that? I mean you need to be able to identify excellence and immerse yourself in it!

Here are a few things to think about when your trying to find the right team members:

- Get educated on what you need. If you need a maintenance person to fix your farm equipment for example, learn a little maintenance yourself. With this knowledge, you can ask better interview questions and therefore weed out some of the applicants that actually don't know much about the topic.

- Come to terms with that fact that at times, things will go wrong. A great team member will be able to admit to mistakes and shake it off. Don't dwell on the negative (not you or the team member)!

- "Safe" leaves no opportunity for exploration. Excellent team members bring about change. You have to be OK with getting out of your comfort zone!

As an ag entrepreneur, what are some qualities you see in your most extraordinary team members? How have these team members helped your business grow?

Friday, September 16, 2011

Do Consumers Recognize Their State's Promotional Branding Program?

Earlier this month, I wrote a post about state promotional branding programs. Researchers at Penn State surveyed mid-Atlantic consumers on their awareness of their state's promotional branding program and how (or if) that influenced their purchases. This study has provided a lot of great info that can't be covered in just one post!

Participants were asked to indicate if they were aware that their state had a promotional program. Participants who responded “Yes” (20% on average; 34.6% of New Jersey residents, 18.2% of New York residents, 15% of Pennsylvania residents, and 21% of Virginia residents) were then asked to select the correct name of their state’s promotional program or select the “don’t know” option. The programs featured in the survey included a) PA Preferred, b) Pride of NY, c) New Jersey Fresh, and d) Virginia Grown.

Figure 1.

Figure 2.

Figure 3.

Figure 4.

In Figure 1, 50.8% of New Jersey residents selected the correct name for their state’s program (Jersey Fresh). In Figures 2,3, and 4, the correct promotional program for their state of residence was selected by 73.3% of Pennsylvania residents, 23.4% of New York residents, and 59.2% of Virginia residents.

Overall, New York residents who responded that they were aware that their states had a promotional program were the least likely to select the actual name for their program compared to residents of the other states. Additionally, slightly less than half of New Jersey residents, 42.3%, selected the incorrect name for their promotional program. Regarding the “don’t know” option presented, close to a quarter of participants residing in Pennsylvania (23.3%) and 37.5% of New York participants selected this option.

To read more about this topic, please see the press release.

As an ag business owner, do you use your state's branding program on your products? As a consumer, are you aware of your state's branding program? If so, does it affect your purchases?

Friday, September 9, 2011

Small Investments, Big Returns

In the article "10 Examples Of Great (Small) Investments For Small Business" by Annie Mueller, she describes some relatively cheap ways to help your business from staffing to marketing.

*Administrative help- "One of the most important investments that I've made was setting a budget to have office help. Although it was challenging to spend resources on hiring an administrator, the move turned out to be vital to the company's functioning. We have been more organized, more productive and I have had the time to think beyond the daily operations."

– Alexandra Mayler, founder of Thinking Caps Tutoring and author of "Tutor in a Book"

*Smart sponsorships- "I agreed to sponsor the state-wide gathering of the MCEEA (Michigan Career Educators and Employer Alliance). The price was right—only $300 for a Silver Sponsorship plus attendance and one year membership in the organization. It was a great investment! Not only was my name on the literature and all the PowerPoint presentations, but also I met great employers and candidate referrers at the conference."

– Adam Kaplan, Big Tent Jobs, LLC

*Tailor-made training- "We decided to invest in a more streamlined training program for our new employees. We created twenty 10-minute videos describing the different parts of our company, our procedures, and our history. The videos have been a big hit— our new hires love them, they save us time, and they guarantee that nothing slips through the cracks in our training program."

– Sander Daniels, Co-Founder of website,

*Buzz-worthy giveaways- "I've conducted giveaways of all sorts of products from T-shirts to electronics and have realized that I get the most bang for my buck through these sweepstakes...The better the prize, the more exposure. I've also given away an Xbox 360 and that received over 11,000 views and thousands of entries."

– Ismail Humet, Co-Founder of MyFreebeez

These are just of a few of the suggestions given in the article. As an ag entrepreneur, what kind of small investments have you made that have netted large returns? Have you or will you consider some of the above ideas?

Friday, September 2, 2011

Do State Promotional Programs Actually Get Consumers to Buy?

More great research from the Penn State consumer purchasing behaviors study I talked about in multiple past posts. Mid-Atlantic consumers were surveyed on what factors may have affected their purchasing behaviors. One factor that may affect purchasing is state promotional plan branding. (The overall goals of these programs are to identify and promote the sale of fruits and vegetables and produce-based products within the corresponding state of the program. The programs featured in the survey included PA Preferred, Pride of NY, So Maryland, So Good, New Jersey Fresh, and Virginia Grown.)

Figure 1.

Figure 2.

Overall, only 20% of survey participants indicated that they were aware that their state of residence had a promotional program. However, of those 62.8% (or 12.5% of all respondents) indicated that they had intentionally purchased fresh produce items that were branded according to their state’s promotional program. Figures 1 and 2 (above) show participant response to state program awareness and corresponding fresh produce purchasing behavior according to participant state of residence. Concerning state promotional program awareness, a significantly lower percentage of Maryland residents indicated that there were aware of their state promotional program compared to residents of all other states, while a significantly higher percentage of New Jersey residents indicated awareness of their state’s promotional program compared to residents of all other states (Figure 1).

Concerning the percentage of “state brand aware” participants who purchased produce banded under the guise of that state’s promotional program, a significantly higher percentage of New Jersey residents indicated they purchased these items compared to New York and Virginia residents, as well as a significantly higher percentage of Pennsylvania residents indicated they purchased these items compared to New York residents (Figure 2).

To read more about this study, please read the press release.

As an ag entrepreneur, are your products marked with your state's promotional brand? As a consumer, do you seek out products with your state's promotional brand?