As the Chinese proverb goes “Give a man a fish and you feed him for a day. Teach a man to fish and you feed him for a lifetime”? This holds true in the meat and livestock industry in relation to our consumers. When we agriculturalists feed our consumers we satisfy the industry for a day, when we agriculturalists educate our consumers we satisfy our industry for a lifetime.
When one degrades our industry, many times our natural reaction is to become very defensive in order to preserve what we stand for. If we stop and evaluate this approach we’ll discover that this method is a poor way to communicate with consumers. When we compare our consumers to teenagers it obvious they operate similar fashion. Such as a 16-year-old wanting to stay out late, in turn the parent becomes defensive and immediately voices a negative opinion without compromise. The first thing the 16-year-old does is close up and stop listening. Most consumers tend to operate in the same manner. When they start portraying myths about our industry that are off the wall and we try to relay the truths in a defensive manner they tend to cling tighter to their beliefs and close up. However if we communicate with them in a cordial manner, the chances of them listening and retaining the knowledge we share with them is much higher.
As industry leaders it is vital for us to understand that our consumers are not like us, just as we are not a typical consumer. The typical urban consumer isn’t able to relate to life on the ranch or farm as we do. When consumers interests peak in a certain area producers and industry leaders alike must cater to these interests. For example, you’re at a livestock show busy fitting your stock when a group of inner city kids walk by, and are asking questions that you may consider to be stupid. Rather than rolling your eyes and giving snide looks, take the time to answer their questions. Remember, the basic questions we take for granted aren’t all that basic to the consumer. The education that you are providing is vital,as these individuals are the consumer. Every time consumers are “blown off”,we portray a negative influence on the industry. It’s crucial for us to remember these consumers are basis of the agricultural industrys existence. Inevitably, we are all working toward the same goal, which is meeting the needs of our consumers.
What steps do you take to educate consumers?