Episode 13 – Remember Got Milk? Where Are Dairy Ads Now?

Listen in with our dairy farmer hosts, Virginia’s Brittany Jones (@richlandsdairy) and New York’s Kathryn Bosley (@cow_nerd), as they talk with Suzanne Fanning, SVP from Dairy Farmers of Wisconsin, CMO for Wisconsin Cheese, and Jeff McCrory, Strategy for Mischief USA, about how traditional marketing and advertising has changed over recent years and what they are doing to reach our consumers through all the new channels like social media, streaming services, gaming and communities.

To learn more about the national dairy checkoff and your local dairy checkoffs, please visit www.usdairy.com.

Dairy Farmer Hosts:
Farmer Host – Brittany Jones – Viriginia Dairy Farmer
Farmer Host – Kathryn Bosley – New York Dairy Farmer

Industry Experts:
Guest – Suzanne Fanning – Senior Vice President, Dairy Farmers of Wisconsin and Chief Marketing Officer for Wisconsin Cheese
Guest – Jeff McCrory – Strategy for Mischief USA

Transcript (Machine generated – please ignore the typos)

Jeff McCrory  0:00 

I’ve heard this from a number of farmers. It’s just like we don’t see the stuff. So what’s going on? Which is a very, very human reaction, I’d say. And I’d have maybe a slightly provocative answer that and what I’d say to them is, if you see it, it’s inefficient. Like if you see it, it’s a mistake. Which is, which is weird. But but true, right? Like you’re not Gen Z. So, if we’re doing our job really, really well, you shouldn’t really be seeing that message, right? Because we’re we’re now close to the point where we can only target the people that need to see that message and we don’t have to blast it to everybody. Because that just means we’re wasting a lot of money.

Brittany Jones  0:51 

Hello, everyone and welcome to another episode of your Dairy Checkoff podcast. My name is Brittany Jones. I’m a dairy farmer from Virginia, and I’m joined by Katherine Mosley, who is a dairy farmer from New York. We will be the host for today’s discussion on Where are my advertising dollars going? Today, we’ll be talking to Suzanne Fanning, Senior Vice President of dairy farmers of Wisconsin, and Jeff McCory, head of strategy for miss shift USA, about how to best connect and engage with today’s Gen Z and Millennial consumers about dairy products in today’s marketplace. Jeff, could you please tell us about what you do at Miss Jeff,

Jeff McCrory  1:27 

I’m our head of strategy, which sounds like a really fancy title, the best way I could describe it is my job is to try to figure out why people think and act the way that they do kind of with a view to how do we get them to think and act the way we want them to? I’ve been in the business for over 25 years, and worked across pretty much every category you could possibly think of. And it’s pretty cool. Good.

Kathryn Bosley  1:53 

Thank you. So can you tell us about what you do at dairy farmers in Wisconsin?

Suzanne Fanning  1:57 

Absolutely. I’m a Senior Vice President for dairy farmers in Wisconsin, but I’m also the chief marketing officer for our consumer facing brand, which would be Wisconsin cheese.

Brittany Jones  2:05 

So in your everyday careers, have you seen advertising change,

Suzanne Fanning  2:11 

I think there was definitely a time when people sat in front of their televisions, and they watched the show from start until finish. And they took everything in, and they believed things. And the world has changed dramatically. And certainly marketing changes almost daily. But one thing that is for certain is that we’re living in a world where people will pay a premium to skip your advertising. So it’s much harder. If you have like Hulu, you can pay extra and then you can skip all those ads. Most people have DVRs. I know a lot of people who will just like start a show 15 minutes late, so they can skip through all of the commercials. So it’s a very different landscape in the world of advertising. Also, research indicates that Americans only believe about 50% of what they see on TV, there are many more effective ways to get to them to change their opinions and to encourage them to make purchase decisions.

Jeff McCrory  3:06 

Yeah, I’d echo everything that Sue said. So again, over my 25 years, lots has changed and continues to change, quite frankly, it’s advertising and marketing is in constant evolution, I would say. And when we talk to clients about change, specifically, we try as best we can to talk about like intelligent change or focus change. And what we mean by that is a lot of the foundational forces that we use to create ideas actually haven’t changed. So I know it seems like Oh, my God, everything is different. And it’s chaos and constant, swirling, swirling, swirling, some of that’s true. But the kind of power of understanding the truth of your brand, the kind of clear definition of a problem to be solved, and the need to stand out. Like those are foundational elements that are more important. Now, they haven’t changed, they’re actually more important than they ever have been. But what has changed is the way that ideas need to manifest in the world. So the places that they need to kind of show up, and the ways that they need to be able to interact with people that absolutely has changed. So that to me, has been the biggest adjustment we’ve had to make for the last even 10 years, I’d say is the ideas that we create, now have to come to life and so so many more and different ways than they had even 10 years in the past.

Kathryn Bosley  4:22 

So why is there been such a shift away from traditional advertising towards more social media type influencing

Jeff McCrory  4:30 

basically everything has gone online. It’s less like less and less people are watching TV Gen Z, for instance, watches half as much TV as a generation before it, but they consume so much more content. So they’re on YouTube, they’re on Tik Tok. They’re on Instagram. So they’re more engaged with media, but it’s a very different kind of media. That easy answer your question is just follow the money. So traditional advertising is less valid. able than it used to be just because there are other ways to spend your money to get to the audiences, we’re still very much trying to figure out what the right balance of all that is. So it’s gone a little guardrail, the guardrail, let’s say like for a while, it’s like everybody left kind of traditional media and poured a ton of money into digital. And what I’ve seen at least over the last five years is many clients reorienting a little bit, just find the right balance. So yeah, some traditional media still absolutely makes sense. Balance with the right kind of investment in digital channels.

Suzanne Fanning  5:29 

People have options today. And also, everyone is an influencer. And I’m not talking in the traditional definition, which I think we’ll get to a little bit later. But literally, the average person has so much influence today, because anybody can say things online, even just think about reviews that you read, if you go onto Amazon to buy something, you don’t know who those people are, or anything about them. And yet, you’re still influenced on whether or not to buy that product based on what this average consumer said. So it’s just a different world in so many ways.

Brittany Jones  6:00 

So as we’ve kind of seen a shift in advertising, from traditional to more online. And back to finding that right balance, a lot of farmers and a lot of people really recognize that dot milk program that we used to see in print and on TV. Do you expect us to see any of that online? Or what do you think happened with got milk

Suzanne Fanning  6:24 

from the original got? No, that was a program that was done by milk pet, millions of dollars were invested in it over several years. But when it came down to it, when they did the study, it didn’t actually increase milk consumption at all. So a pause was put on the campaign. And that’s why we haven’t seen it. And I think it really is kind of a classic story about like, what happens with advertising? Is it really changing people’s minds is what really causing people to act. So I think the best thing that any marketer can do is just to make sure that whatever they do, they’re measuring the effectiveness of it. They’re determining what they want to happen, and that they’re going back and looking to make sure did it happen or did it not happen. And if it didn’t, the best thing that we can do for the farmers is to change course, and try something that is going to be more effective advertising has a place, but it is about awareness. And when it comes to really changing minds and moving hearts and things like that, there are so many different avenues that we can take that will be more effective than then simply advertising.

Kathryn Bosley  7:28 

How are we shifting, the change that we need to see, especially reaching the demographics that need to hear our messages?

Jeff McCrory  7:36 

Well, I can speak to the work that we have done on your guys behalf is the notion of resets yourself with dairy. And what we found really intriguing about that is, it’s kind of a new benefit to dairy products that we’re trying to unlock the sense of it kind of being calming and comforting. So I don’t know that that’s the default kind of benefit that people will think of when they think of dairy. But in all the research we did, it was really intriguing that it was like when you talk to them about it, they would be like, Yeah, you’re right, there is something kind of very calming and comforting and great about dairy in that. So that to me would be an example of so instead of just continuously trying to reinforce the same things, opening up a new benefit to people getting people to think about dairy maybe in a slightly different way. One that’s still relevant and kind of true to them, but maybe not the first thing they thought of. So that to me is an interesting shift, particularly for a new generation, right? So kind of getting them reintroducing dairy to them in ways that feel a little newer, a little fresher. And then hopefully in the way we delivered a little more, kind of like contemporary is a tough word. But I think it’s appropriate in this stage like a little bit more. Kind of modern would be the harsh way to put it. But I think the right way to put it.

Suzanne Fanning  8:54 

Definitely I would agree with that. There are so many ways that you can reach consumers today. Of course, the obvious choice is social media. Everybody thinks about that. Everybody knows that great content is really important. Great education is really important too. So there are a number of different ways that we can educate people. For us. It’s all about community as well. So we find those people who really want that inspiration, knowledge and storytelling, we connect with them and we give them what they are looking for. So when it comes to cheese, we’re looking for people who are food fanatics. So folks who really feel that food is core to their identity. They want to know how to entertain and they want to know how to cut cheese. So it’s beautiful, how to make a great recipe that’s cheesy, that’s going to delight their family, how to lay out an incredible cheese board that everybody in the neighborhood is gonna say, Wow, that person makes the most incredible cheese boards I’ve ever seen. In some cases, it might be an entire grazing table that they’re putting together. So we’re trying to really understand who our consumer is what they’re looking for, and meet them wherever they are. A lot of people do Talk about different platforms. And we’ve already talked about it today, you know, is it going to be Twitter? Is it going to be Facebook? Is it Instagram? Is it a tick tock? Like, what’s it going to be? And for me, I would focus less on a platform strategy and more on a people strategy. Because today content is fluid, and it can go anywhere. And it’s often not even being shared by you. In fact, it’s more relevant and more believable if you get other people to share your message for you.

Brittany Jones  10:26 

So you said that you’re focusing on people, and you’re focusing on platforms? Are you talking about influencers? And if you are talking about influencers? What makes somebody an influencer? What is an influencer?

Jeff McCrory  10:42 

I think like the easy way to define it influencers two things, I’d say one is someone with an audience and to someone that can literally influence perceptions, right. So usually, those two things go hand in hand, they don’t necessarily need to. But that would be the way that I would kind of describe them in general at this point in time, so someone with an audience, and that could be anyone from a celebrity to a newscaster to some kind of unknown Gen Z person to us, but still has 2 million followers on Tiktok. And because of that audience, they’re actually able to influence people’s perceptions. They become a trusted voice and a way to convey either entertainment or entertainment and information in a way that people really gravitate to, and that they trust and that they enjoy. And then the thing that I’d say as our perspective as mischief, as an agency would be we, we think I d is first influencer second. So for us, our job really is to create ideas that solve business problems. So we start there. And then we try to figure out okay, how can we use influencers to help elevate and kind of expand upon the idea that we’re trying to like, again, use reset yourself with dairy as an example. So we wouldn’t really hire influencers to pitch dairy products like to hold up, like, it’d be cool to have Kim Kardashian hold up a glass of milk and say, drink milk. But that’s not kind of how we think about it. It’s more like who are the right influencers, to help us bring that idea to life, in platforms across social media. So that’s kind of how we think about influencers maybe a little bit differently is we’re not just trying to find pitch people. We’re trying to find the right people to help us bring to life and idea because we think ideas are kind of what matter more than any individual person within it.

Suzanne Fanning  12:30 

So definitely, that is what an influencer is. And that definitely is the way that most brands are using them today. For us, it’s slightly different. Because I am a strong believer in micro influencers. So not looking for the person that has millions of followers, and then having them make a post about you. We’re looking for people who truly are authentic dairy lovers, people who are authentic cheese lovers. And instead of paying them to make a post, we’re sort of bringing them into the fold, we’re treating them more like VIPs. We’re linking them to each other. We’re providing that knowledge, inspiration and storytelling that I talked about during the pandemic. In fact, I think the community that we had built helped us be a little more pandemic proof than some brands because this community that we have 1000s of micro influencers all over the country said, hey, you know what, we miss getting together with Wisconsin cheese, we still want to have cheese and like you said, like things that make you feel better. And during the pandemic. Certainly, that was like a really nice thing that people did. They said, I may be alone, but I’m going to have a cheese board for one. And I’m gonna have it online with all of my cheese friends from all over the country. So these people don’t necessarily have millions of followers. And there is a lot of research right now that shows that consumers do see through some of those, not all of them. I mean, I’m definitely not condemning it, but for some of the ones that seem like they are more fake and where it’s clear that it’s like this paid partnership that if the money stopped, that person would never mention that brand, again, like consumer see through that. So that’s why we’re looking for people that are these true authentic lovers of dairy and true authentic lovers of cheese. And we’ve had some great results with that. So our community is called cheese Landia. So hopefully some of you have heard about it. We have cheese, Landon’s in all 50 states and in some other countries. We just did like a big annual survey with them because we wanted to assess like I said, measure, measure measure, see if it’s having the right effect do doing what you want it to do. And in this latest survey, we discovered that 99% of cheese Landon’s make cheese a part of their daily meals. I mean, this isn’t something that’s going to change. And again, let me say we’re not paying these people were just we’re paying them with knowledge and inspiration like and telling them stuff and connecting them with cheesemakers and inviting them to virtual events. And in some cases when we travel, we invite any She’s landed in in that area to join us for like whatever a pizza night will sometimes we’ll have like a big pop up event. But it is a real genuine community of micro influencers. And because of their connection with our brand, they talk about us all the time, we know that they spend about three times as much on cheese every month as the average consumer since joining cheese Landia, they’re definitely more likely to purchase Wisconsin cheese. They share their cheeses with an average of 4.95 people whenever they get them. So in some cases, we’ll have like monthly parties, and these ambassadors can register to try to win a party. And through that program, oh, during the pandemic, our samples reached 50,000 people at a time when grocery stores weren’t doing any type of sampling. We also tried to measure the conversations because word of mouth is so important. And in some cases more important than than social media. Because what are what are neighbors saying over the fence to each other? What are families saying to each other? What is that person saying that person who you know, in your head is the ultimate entertainer like if you know somebody who’s a wine snob and you want to know the best wine, you’re gonna go to that if you know somebody who’s the ultimate coffee drinker and talks about it all the time, and you’re gonna buy a coffeemaker you’re gonna go to them, we feel it’s the same with cheese. And so those are the people that we’re connecting with. So we wanted to measure the conversations that were happening through our survey. And we found out that our Teasley, Indians collectively take part in about 10,000 conversations about Wisconsin cheese every single month. So it’s a very different take on on what’s seen as traditional influencers. But we’ve seen that it’s been very, very effective.

Kathryn Bosley  16:51 

Both of you have great points. And I think it’s interesting to hear the difference between how we think of traditional influencers with large platforms versus micro influencers, who are, you know, especially thinking more on the people side of things. So can a farmer be an influencer,

Suzanne Fanning  17:08 

farmers are 100% influencers. And in so many different ways, I think that it’s really important for us as an industry to make sure that we are like, just flooding those stories out there. Because if anything negative does come up, it almost ensures that we have like a layer of Teflon on us. So they might hear something very negative, but then they’ll say, oh, but I’ve heard like all of these positive stories. And if farmers can just get the word out that they are real people with real families, who were stewards of the land, who want to do the best things who are working tirelessly to nourish the world, like that is the most important thing, like real family stories are real human to human connection. That’s what we need more than anything, because we want to make sure that folks know the dairy industry is made up of people. And sometimes I think folks overlook that. So the more farmer stories that we can get out there, the more true authenticity that’s out there, the better off we’ll all be.

Jeff McCrory  18:11 

Yeah, 100%. Of course, farmers can be influencers. Because what Sue mentioned, like a lot of what drives really effective influence is like some of its fame, sure. But most of it is authenticity, this sense that people are connecting with someone in a real authentic way. They trust what they’re saying, or they enjoy what they’re saying, or it’s perspective that they hadn’t necessarily thought of that is really intriguing to them. And farmers can deliver all of that there’s a lot of love for farmers. I’m sure it does not show up much in your day to day lives from people. But we still kind of romanticize and are deeply proud culturally right of farming is this noble profession. So kind of unlocking that through social media and thinking of it as an influencer? 100% 100%

Brittany Jones  18:58 

as farmers are out there telling their stories, a lot of times, they go into information about their farms and the struggles that they’re facing. And it can boil down to the bottom line. In regards to advertising, what would you typically see as a return on investment for some of the different types of advertising?

Jeff McCrory  19:26 

I think that’s a fair question, the ability to really measure return on investment and advertising. It’s funny, it feels like it should be a pretty simple thing. It’s an intensely complicated thing. The short answer is more sales, right? So at the end of the day, if our efforts aren’t leading to more sales, I don’t know that any of the other metrics really matter. So that is kind of the preeminent one that has to happen. But how we generate more sales is a little complicated, right? So it’s, it’s a, it’s a matter of kind of calm. combination of Have we reached the right people? And are we driving awareness? Are we moving perceptions in the right way? Are we kind of influencing the right people to share our message in the right way? So, again, I would say the easy answers, we have to sell more dairy products across the board, it gets a little bit more complicated and would be dependent upon every kind of every program would have slightly different metrics within that. But again, if we aren’t selling more stuff, the conversation kind of starts and ends there.

Suzanne Fanning  20:30 

Absolutely true. It’s like we talked about earlier with the the Got Milk campaign, it was a lot of fun. But at the end of the day, it didn’t actually drive more milk sales. So, you know, depends on what you’re measuring sales certainly is a big thing. Also, we take a look at just people’s attitudes in general. So we do a lot of studies, I’m like, okay, you’ve seen this commercial? Is this changing your attitude, or you’ve seen this post? Is this changing your attitude? So just constantly making sure that that we’re measuring when it comes to ROI, and one thing that we have not talked about very much is public relations. So that’s something else that we’re huge into. And when it when when you talk about influence, I mean, there are all kinds of different influencers. And we’re thinking traditionally about people who are either telling their friends, people who are telling their social media followers, but there are also influencers, like, like editors, right? So if we can reach those type of influencers, and then they talk about our products, then that’s a huge win for us, too. And that’s something that we can very easily measure the ROI. For us, we always attempt to maintain a 50 to one ratio. So for every dollar that we spend, we get $50, back and media value. And that’s easy to calculate, because we’re saying, all right, the New York Times just talked about Wisconsin cheese, if we were to buy that inch, where they talked about Wisconsin cheese, here’s how much it would cost. So that’s a really easy one for us to measure. And we do maintain that that ratio every year, I’ve never

Brittany Jones  21:59 

really thought about editors, or there being other types of influencers. And when you’re using the influencers versus traditional advertising, is there a cost associated with those influencers? Is it equivalent more or less to those traditional advertising? Markets?

Jeff McCrory  22:19 

Again, it’s a it’s funny, they answer that questions a little bit, how long as a piece of string? Because like, all of those programs are so unique that like some influencers can cost absolutely as much as a traditional media buy. Some obviously will not. I mean, the way that I I’d counsel everybody to think about it, though, is just the opportunity costs and the trade offs. So instead of instead of doing one or the other, I think for dairy, it’s most likely the right way to think about it would be okay, how do we do them together in a way that they amplify each other versus doing one or the other. So again, you’re going to have traditional elements to how your ideas and how your campaign and how your marketing comes to life. You’re just going to need those right to help drive your business. But then how do we do that in combination with influencers? So that kind of our money is really, really efficient? I think that’s the way I encourage everybody to think about it. Not necessarily an either or, but how do we do them together so that they’re kind of integrated and really powerful.

Kathryn Bosley  23:26 

So how would a farmer know where we’re doing these different advertising or social media influencer campaigns? Well, if

Suzanne Fanning  23:33 

they want to know what’s going on with Wisconsin cheese, the best thing to do is to follow us on social and we have a few different accounts. We have America’s Dairyland, where we talk mainly about like farming, farming practices sustainability, we tell farmers stories and things like that. We also have Wisconsin cheese for the foodies out there. They can they can follow us on Wisconsin cheese, farmers can look and they can see everything that’s going on. And then we have a dairy farmers in Wisconsin, Facebook as well. That is totally about just telling farmers what’s happening with their checkoff dollars. So lots of ways and I’ll tell you, we love for farmers to know always reach out to us ask follow us on social we have great answers to your great questions. We want to stay connected as closely as we possibly can.

Jeff McCrory  24:17 

Yeah, I know the team tries really hard to kind of disseminate that information in a way that’s like, Okay, here’s, here’s how we’re using your money to help drive your business. Here’s all the programs that we’re putting in place. It’s funny, I think the root of this question, though, is like, and I’ve heard this from a number of farmers, it’s just like, we don’t see the stuff. So what’s going on? Which is a very, very human reaction, I’d say. And I’d have maybe a slightly provocative answer to that. And what I’d say to them is if you see it, it’s inefficient. Like if you see it, it’s a mistake. Which is, which is weird, but but true, right? Like you’re not lot Gen Z. So if we’re doing our job really, really well, you shouldn’t really be seeing that message, right? Because we’re, we’re now close to the point where we can only target the people that need to see that message. And we don’t have to blast it to everybody. Because that just means we’re wasting a lot of money. Now we’re not we’re not all the way there yet like that that promise isn’t completely right. But we’re close to it right. So sometimes not seeing the message is indication that we’re actually doing our job really well. Nobody likes hearing that. But it’s like it’s true.

Suzanne Fanning  25:34 

That’s absolutely a great point. And that’s something that we always tell farmers here in Wisconsin, we don’t focus on Wisconsin at all with any of our advertising dollars, because we know that people in Wisconsin already know how great our cheese is. So we’re focused on food fanatics who are in all the other states. So you’re right, it would be really hard for them to see a targeted ad that we’re putting out there.

Jeff McCrory  25:56 

I can tell you the YouTube channels to watch and the Tick, tick tick or the Tick Tock and I’m not sure you want to spend your time on those things. But God knows I don’t. But but if you can, if you do sure we can we can put you in those directions.

Brittany Jones  26:09 

We talked about social media platforms, we’ve talked about traditional advertising, versus social media. Are there any other types of advertising? Maybe we haven’t covered? Such as gaming? Are we in gaming? Are we advertising in gaming? Is that an appropriate avenue to look towards?

Jeff McCrory  26:29 

I know, as an organization, there’s a strong, strong desire to be more involved in that. I don’t want to call it a platform, I guess for lack of a better word, because it is a really effective way, or can be at least a really effective way to reach a young audience. super tough to crack, though, right? So it’s one of those I know, there’s a lot of work going on, to try to find the right ideas. Because, again, the amount of time that Gen Z spends gaming is close to equivalent to how much the time they spend watching television to put it in perspective for people. So I don’t know that there’s been the right idea cracked yet. But I know there’s a lot of people spending a lot of time and energy trying to figure out how to get in

Suzanne Fanning  27:11 

there. Yeah, for us some of the latest research that we looked out on cheese mongers, and so cheese mongers are the people who are behind the counters when you go into any retailers across the country, and if they’re slicing cheese for you, or if they’re giving their opinion, or if you’re asking for any type of advice. Those are the folks. So we’re embarking on a big education program to reach out to cheesemongers. So because of that, we’ve done a great deal of research on that particular group. And we have found that they are very into gaming. So it’s something that we’re going to take a look at and explore, but not something that we’re currently involved in.

Jeff McCrory  27:45 

Yeah, it’s so new. It’s funny because everything feels new. But that is particularly new in terms of like an advertising platform. So I think the best strategies, a lot of testing and learning, so kind of because it is so kind of fresh, try out a few things what I like blowing a ton of money to try to get a sense of what works really effectively. And what are kind of right ways to engage around that. I think that’ll be the next couple of years as people figure out what the best ways to approach it are. The other thing that’s worth mentioning around gaming is tWitch. So it’s funny, I’m personally I’m fascinated by how many people watch other people game, like, as an old person, it feels weird. But then my son is like, well, you watch baseball, that’s like, fair enough, right? So so like just a simple introduction is finding ways to kind of run our advertising units through Twitch platforms. Again, massive reach there. I feel like the real win, though, is a little bit bigger than that. So how do we actually find a way to show up on Minecraft? And how do we actually find partnerships and ways to show up in the actual games and entertaining and interesting ways beyond just using it as a media vehicle, I think that’s what the unlock will be as we move forward.

Suzanne Fanning  29:00 

The other thing worth mentioning too, is search engine optimization and search engine marketing. So it’s not nearly as sexy or as glamorous as some of the other things. It’s a very behind the scenes type of thing. I know that DMI is very involved in it, we certainly are very involved in it. But we’re building a lot of momentum behind our key words. In some cases, we’re bidding on keywords, we’re using the right words on our site. And that means that when people then Google your product that it’s going to come up on the first page. And so for us over the last few years, through all of our efforts in SEO, search engine optimization, we have gone from number 96 on Google when you google cheese to page one. And so those efforts are definitely not to be discounted and think because it is kind of a form of advertising because who doesn’t Google stuff and who wants to scroll back 96 pages that everybody wants to look at like what’s right there when you Google it. So that’s another important piece that I don’t know that farmers always have visibility. Due to that’s kind of happening on their behalf in the background as far

Kathryn Bosley  30:03 

as different types of advertising. Where’s the biggest focus then like private brands versus generic advertising? Is there one more effective than the other? And why do we not really see a whole lot of branded product advertising really

Suzanne Fanning  30:16 

well, for us, just by our charter, we’re not allowed to advertise for a specific brand. And also for us, we in Wisconsin, we have over 600, typestyles, and varieties of cheeses, so it would kind of be difficult to advertise for all of them. We put a lot of stock in the proudly Wisconsin cheese badge that we have developed. And so we asked all of the cheese makers who use milk that is produced in Wisconsin to put that badge on their product, then what we do is we put out advertising, we put out social media, everything that we do, is telling people to look for the proudly Wisconsin cheese batch. So we think that by doing that by telling everybody just how great it is that we are actually creating Halo for all of the Wisconsin cheese brands. In what’s the saying that a rising tide floats all boats, right. And so that’s exactly what we’re trying to do is make sure that we are rising the tide for all of the cheesemakers and and we find out that it really does work. It’s pretty cool because somebody had posted on social media that they had found this cheese and it had this badge, and they bought it because it said proudly Wisconsin cheese. And they knew it would be good, even though they had never heard of the cheese or the cheese maker. So it’s fantastic that we’ve now got consumers who are going out there, and they are seeking that Wisconsin cheese. So in fact, our latest research showed us that nearly six in 10 consumers who are aware of Wisconsin cheese are extremely likely to purchase just based on origin. So that kind of generic advertising, although you might think oh, wow, how’s that gonna work? It really is working? Yeah,

Jeff McCrory  31:59 

I think so is exactly right. And some of its scale, too, right. So by combining kind of investment, it allows you to kind of have a bit more presence in market for dairy holistically, right. And then our job is to get people to perceive and think about dairy across the board in the right ways and positive ways. So that when they go into whatever their local market is to make their purchase decisions, everybody benefits to it. So I think that’s why you kind of see it advertised as, as an industry as a category, more so than specific brands. Because the each specific brand on their own display would be very tough for them to compete, given the kind of size that they’d have. But when everybody comes together, then you can really make impact.

Brittany Jones  32:45 

As a dairy farmer, I find it very, very, very interesting what you said about Google and having an the opportunity to bid to get your key words higher in the list. Could you tell us any more about that particular process is something I’ve never heard of before,

Jeff McCrory  33:05 

what Google does is fold the auctions. So you by word. And if you kind of pay more for that word, you show up higher in the search. So when you search anything, right, if you search a good mattress, the rankings that come up, you pay to be at the top of those rankings because they’re valuable, right? Because as you said, Nobody goes past page one. Nobody, like I’ll do it when I’m researching something, but people don’t. Right. So that’s actually how Google makes money. Right? That’s always fascinated me. So how does Google make the money, every time you search something, they make money from the people that are paying to ensure that you show up at the top of that search list. And again, as as marketing has evolved, the value of being at the top of those search lists is really, really important, right? So to get it’s, it’s valuable spending, it’s not just money being kind of flushed away, it’s really, really important part of the almost all brands kind of marketing strategies right now is what words we want to own so that we show up in the right searches and get at the top of those searches. And there

Suzanne Fanning  34:09 

are other things that you can do besides buying those words as well. So just to be clear, you can if you’re using those words consistently on your website, if you’re putting together what Google considers, like a really valuable educational snippet, they will sometimes feature that at the top of Google. So for instance, we have oh my gosh, I think the last time I checked over 30 different snippets that were free just because we put together information on how to cut cheese, how to weigh cheese, how to do all of these different things. And because Google saw that as really important and relevant content, they put that at the very top of the search. So there are a lot of different things that you can do to impact it. But, you know, again, I just wanted to make sure that dairy farmers know that there are folks who are experts in this who are constantly finding those ways to bring dairy to the top George and to bring that positive news forward and to talk about cheese and other products. So I just figured it might be something that that people weren’t aware of. So thanks for talking about it.

Kathryn Bosley  35:10 

Is there anything else that we haven’t covered that you guys would like to add?

Jeff McCrory  35:13 

I mean, the the one thing I say to clients often for want to be provocative and get them to think about kind of marketing and 2020 tos, I’ll hold up my phone and say, This is by far the most important device in your business, like it’s not a computer screen, it’s not a television screen, it’s not a newspaper. If we can’t find a way to reach people through their phone, chances are, we will never reach them. So that’s one thought I kind of put in people’s brains is it’s just a way to reframe kind of how we spend our dollars and the way that ideas kind of show up in the world. It has to be mobile first, because that’s the only way you kind of win, particularly with a younger target. But I’d say not even with a younger target anymore. Our entire lives are oriented around our phone. It’s consensually important to marketing. So we think about it a lot. Like how does the idea how do they how do we engineer ideas that can show up on your phone and really interesting

Suzanne Fanning  36:14 

with? Yeah, and I would say that everything really comes down to knowing your target consumer, it’s really important to consistently look at who you are trying to target, look at their behaviors, look at how they want to receive information, look at what’s relevant to them. It’s not always about what we want to do, or what we want to say it’s really about understanding how they’re going to receive that information. So it’s important for us to keep looking at it and keep evolving so that we can stay relevant. I will say that our tactics are certainly working our website, hit a record last year and had over 3 million visits, which has never happened in the history of our organization. We also achieved a record breaking $50 million in PR. So the stuff that we’re doing is interesting, the stuff that consumers are interested in, it’s the same thing that editors are interested in, they want to tell our story for us. So $50 million in major publications, and actually in all 50 states because we’re on local TV in all 50 states talking about like recipes and things like that. In that recent brand study that we did, we found out that unaided awareness of Wisconsin cheese is double that of other origins. And actually, we’re a significantly outpacing France on awareness, consideration and purchase. So we’ve had some amazing results in the last few years with a lot of the strategies and tactics that we’ve been putting in place. So I know farmers would want to know that it’s working. And those are some of the ways that we know that it is

Jeff McCrory  37:45 

I just added. So it’s a real privilege to work on your business. Like, again, I’ve done this for a long time across all categories. And I just really enjoy working on on this business. I think it’s a fascinating problem. It kind of feels like dairy doesn’t get its fair share. And so we’re working real hard to correct for that. I grew up on working on a dairy farm on my uncle’s dairy farm. So it’s not just it’s not just a job, it’s a little bit in the blood.

Suzanne Fanning  38:16 

I 100% agree this is not a job. This is truly an honor. It’s a privilege to serve the dairy farmers. Absolutely. And it’s just it’s a real mission and something that I’m really honored to be a part of. So I do want to take the opportunity to say thank you to all the dairy farmers

Brittany Jones  38:33 

and as a dairy farmer, we really appreciate what you guys are doing.

Kathryn Bosley  38:38 

And thank you both Sue and Jeff for this discussion today. It’s been really interesting to hear about the marketplace and how to best reach consumers. In closing, this is Catherine Beausoleil and Brittany Jones hosting your Dairy Checkoff podcast. Thanks for joining us today. If you guys want to hear more about various issues affecting the dairy community, subscribe to this podcast on your favorite podcast platforms including Stitcher, Spotify and iTunes. Or you can check out our website Dairy Checkoff. podcast.com for future episodes. Until next time, have a great day.

Transcribed by https://otter.ai

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