Wednesday, February 29, 2012

Dale Carnegie: More important than John Deere

Right now, there seems to be a lot of debate, some quite heated, within the ag community as to how we should or should not be connecting with consumers. We've started hearing words like "agtivist", which would imply that we have left the relm of rational discussion, and moved into the world of extremism.

I would disagree with that.

In nearly ten years on the road in sales, I becase a deciple of the teaching of Dale Carnegie. The Carnegie teachings of how to Win Friends, and Infulance People literally changed my life and the way I interact with people. That said, I belive strongly that we can't use a one-way approach to talk with consumers about what we do; they don't want to be told, they want to have a dialouge. However, we need to recognize that there are people who will confront us, question us, and villify us who have zero interest in polite conversation.

I think back a couple of weeks ago to the Chipotle commercial issue; now, if a person saw that ad, had questions, and is truely interested in a conversation about what they saw and didn't understand, I'm all in. I'll spend hours trying to explain what we do, and how we do it, as long as your willing to listen. However, when you come out swinging with the typical "factory farm" and "corperate ag" remarks, I'm going to get defensive. At that point, you've pretty much shown me your not interested in a discussion, your interested in causing trouble.

Now, there are those among us that believe we can win everyone to our way of thinking by holding hands and singing a little song; but I'm more of a realist. When you really cut down to it, 20% are for us, 20% are against us, and 60% are in the middle looking for real answers; and it's that 60% I'm after.

Conversation with consumers is valuable, and it's a necessary part of what we do now as farmers; just make sure that when you're talking, your audience is listening.