By MATT MATTKE
There are many components to successful marketing. Some of them are of a technical nature. How well can you read charts? How well can you interpret fundamental data? How well can you piece the information together and come up with a strategy?
Other components are a bit more personal in nature, and involve a person’s mental and personality characteristics. How well can you stick to a plan? How well can you stay focused on the bigger picture? How well can you keep your emotion and bias in check and execute rationally?
Successful marketing over the long haul is not an easy path down a straight and smooth road. It has bumps, potholes, hills and curves along the way, but if the focus can be kept on the final destination, it’s an extremely rewarding venture.
There are six key personal components to successful marketing. To be able to read charts and analyze fundamental data is only half the marketing battle. If these six personal attributes are missing, successful marketing will be tough to accomplish. They include:
1) Discipline. Stick to the plan. If a marketing target is hit, it is executed without hesitation and without second-guessing. In volatile and fast-moving markets, time can be of the essence and opportunities can disappear in the blink of an eye.
Stay focused on the bigger picture. Milk is a very cyclical commodity. With every bull market. there is a bear market lurking behind it. Remember, what goes up will eventually come down. It is critical to follow through on “sell” signals when they start to emerge.
2) Commitment. Make the decision that marketing is a long-term engagement. It is hard, if not impossible, to see a return to marketing when it is not taken seriously 100% of the time. In bull markets, when prices are moving higher, marketing tends to be abandoned and pushed to the back burner. Then, the bear market comes, the bottom falls out of prices, and marketing gets taken seriously again. This jumping in and out of the market is exactly why many producers have not seen returns to marketing. The entering and exiting tends to occur at exactly the wrong points in the cycle. Being 100% committed to marketing, 365 days a year, every year, does not mean that milk always has to be sold. There are times to have milk sold, and there are times to not have milk sold and be patient. But being 100% committed to marketing all the time means the markets are being watched very closely, and a strategy is ready and in place. That way, if “sell” signals start to develop, everything is ready to go.
3) Control of emotions. Keep emotions in check so knee-jerk marketing decisions are avoided. One way to manage emotions is to only take marketing actions that were previously planned. No marketing decisions should be made in the heat of the moment when the market is open. The direction of that day’s trade can cause sight of the bigger picture to be lost.
4) Consistency. There is no “holy grail” indicator out there, nothing that works 100% of the time. When good long-term indicators don’t work for a period of time, it can cause a person to lose faith in them and start to “cherry pick” which signals to follow and execute on. It is imperative that all signals be followed consistently. Otherwise, one can end up following the wrong signals and ignoring the right ones.
5) Acceptance. Accept that not every marketing decision will be a “right” one. It is impossible when doing marketing for every sale or hedge to be a big winner. Fear of being wrong can paralyze a person from taking the marketing actions that need to be taken.
6) Confidence. Truly believe that if marketing is approached in a disciplined, committed, unemotional and consistent fashion, it can be done successfully.