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Selling Pork in the Age of Swine Flu

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The MarketingProfs customer service team received an interesting message recently from a pork producer in Mexico. "At this moment we are suffering the worst crisis ever in the national pork industry... [and] we have no further blood to let out," wrote Carlos, who said he was a pork processor and retailer. Could marketing help the industry combat misinformation and unfounded claims about pork?

Here's the note from Carlos, in full:

"I am a pork producer from Mexico. At this moment we are suffering the worst crisis ever in the national pork industry. We need to react immediately because we are coming from a 3 year economic crisis in the pork sector due to record high feedstuff prices, and economic losses, so we have no further blood to bleed out. I think that one of the options we have is 'email marketing' to reinforce pork's image among the public, telling the truth with short and impacting evidence responding to this H1N1 virus uncertainty, and others bugs as cysticercosis, triquinosis, etc, unfounded taboos that lead to a misconception and mis-value of our production. Could you help?"

What would you advise Carlos, and other pork producers, about selling pork in the age of Swine Flu?

See the suggestions of others here. And please weigh in!


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  • by john blue Mon May 4, 2009 via web

    First action is damage control right now. Unfortunately, the name of the flu got labeled "Swine flu" and that has made perception greater than reality.

    As I posted on Twitter (@TruffleMedia) "swine industry getting hit with FUD (fear, uncertainty, doubt) articles, countered with fact, data, and analysis. FUD usually wins."

    Train your pork production team. Provide them the tools to respond and support the people looking for answers. Some resources to help are at SwineCast.com
    * http://www.swinecast.com/swinecast-0412-swine-flu-what-you-need-to-know-and...

    Additional information at the National Pork Producers Council site
    * http://nppc.org/News/DocumentSingle.aspx?DocumentID=24689

    Second, as Carlos suggested, build trust along the entire value chain with information and conversation. This is basic public relations and community building. However, this will take time. Take some lessons from the BSE (Bovine Spongiform Encephalopathy ) press that hit the beef industry; http://www.ers.usda.gov/Publications/ERR34/ has some information on how BSE announcements effected beef purchases.

    Third, look for opportunity to leverage economic information to help strengthen production / management processes for the long term. See Ag Economist Dennis DiPietre blog for more info http://www.swinecast.com/DennisDiPietreBlog.

    Again, there is no quick fix to marketing against a steady stream of FUD. This is a great case of building trust and community _before_ issues arrive. That way, when FUD does hit, you can help educate and reduce FUD within your community / value chain (Now there's an article: "Turn Your Value Chain into a Community!").

    Quick comment on what Carlos said about email "I think that one of the options we have is 'email marketing' to reinforce pork's image among the public": Email marketing is only one tool among many. You have a message to convey and email can help deliver it. However, some of the people that need information may not be in your email lists but in your partner's email lists. Provide those partners with a set of informational tools they can share. Also, look where your audience gets their information. Web sites, social networks, regular media; develop a plan that will carry your message through those channels to your audience.


    Hope this helps,
    John Blue
    TruffleMedia.com

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