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We Mean Business – More Than a Brand Position
A small, regional seed company came to us over 20 years ago with a small brand project. That project grew more than either party could have envisioned and evolved into a true partnership. Over the course of that 20+ year relationship, we have grown as an agency, and they have grown into a nationally recognized name in agriculture. We’re proud to say LG Seeds is one of our longest-standing client relationships. To understand how they’ve transformed into an industry leader, let’s start by going back to 1998.
In the Beginning: A Traditional Approach
LG Seeds came to us with a need for branding and marketing materials. This was in response to a recent brand merger with Shissler Seeds. As a result of building our relationship through that project, we have had the opportunity to expand our work into:
- Annual advertising campaigns
- Direct mail programs
- Brochures and sales materials
- Media placements
- Digital marketing (website, emails, newsletters)
The most impactful example of our early work with LG Seeds was the creation of a multi-part, direct mail “first list” campaign. In this, we set out to assist with conversions when it came to farmers who were top prospects for dealers but had never purchased before, or had rejected approaches from their LG dealers in the past. You’ll see that this campaign really took into account the farmer, as a person and a family man, as more than “just” a farmer.
The effort looked a bit like this:
- Each dealer sent us a list of their top prospects for inclusion in the campaign.
- The first touchpoint, a gift of a soy candle, would be sent to the wife of the prospect family, acknowledging that she was the leader of the family, as well as an accountant, administrator and more for the farm.
- Second, a grill apron was sent to the farmer with a note regarding how the right partner understands that family is the heart of the farm, and the right partner should help him spend more time with his loved ones.
- The third gift, a selection of packaged steaks, would arrive a few days later, with a note that highlighted that the right ingredients make all the difference. It also let the farmer know to look out for a call soon from their local LG Seeds representative.
After showing the farmer that LG Seeds cared about him and his family, the rep would then call the farmer asking if they liked the gifts and requesting a meeting where they would receive their final gift – a set of steak knives. While there was no purchase necessary to keep any of the gifts, this campaign made a great impression on farmers. Over 90 percent of those from the “first list” that we mailed to ended up agreeing to a meeting with their representative. And what’s even more impressive is of those who met with their rep, over 50 percent made a purchase.
This campaign is where Simantel really made our mark and showed what we were capable of. This was an effort that was very unique at the time, and a large amount of strategy and planning was involved in its creation. This campaign had a much higher upfront investment than LG had previously spent but had a much higher return as well. The “first list” ran for over eight years, and eventually dealers had to be capped at the number of prospects they could submit.
The Big Change: From Underdog to Industry Leader
In 2017 AgReliant, LG Seeds’ parent company, made the decision to bring together five of their regional brands, covering 14 states, under one name. The brands involved were LG Seeds, Great Lakes Seeds, Producer’s Hybrids, Golden Acres and Wensman Seeds. Due in part to their brand recognition, proven performance and robust marketing program, LG Seeds was selected to be the umbrella all the brands would fall under.
As we worked to bring five brands and five brand positions together under LG Seeds, we found that the roots ran even deeper than marketing. Many of the legacy brands were decades old and had both loyal employees and customers. To make the appropriate recommendations, we did both primary and secondary research to conclude better decisions. This included in-depth interviews with dealers and employees in order to better understand their relationships with LG and the different mindsets of each audience.
Other key research topics included:
- Seed dealership history and background
- Current brand position
- Dealer/brand interactions
- Digital ag technology
- Size of dealer
- Competitive analysis
- Classification of farmer dealer, independent or retailer
- Define MQL and “ideal candidate”
The go-to-market strategy was determined collaboratively through extensive research and insights delivered to LG Seeds. It was broken down in three phases to gain alignment and buy-in at each step — which saved time and budget in the long term.
We recommended that internal training was critical and that there was a need to create unique messaging for each segment of their internal market. Our team helped put together updated and in-depth brand guidelines as well as other brand and sales materials into a package that would encourage buy-in. Additionally, LG brand team leaders met with key stakeholders to walk them through the unification and rebrand process. As opposed to just customer facing marketing, it was critical to include dealers and other employees to make sure no one was in the dark or unable to communicate to the external audience what was happening.
Prior to launch, a message was placed on all affected websites informing visitors of the coming changes. Visitors were asked for their email address so notifications could be sent to them regarding changes. After launch, sites for the merging companies were set up to redirect to the updated LG Seeds website after launch so there was no disconnection or lag in service for any visitors. All these efforts were to make sure there weren’t any missteps, and nearly all audience members were informed of the merger and coming changes before they took place.
Simantel helped to bring numerous integration and launch efforts to life, and we’re happy to say the brand launch went off very smoothly in mid-2018.
A New Brand Position: We Mean Business
The “We Mean Business” positioning statement forms the basis of the LG Seeds messaging platform. It is able to be adapted for each audience — grower, dealer and employee — as needed. This adaptability means the statement feels personal and is able to be embraced across all aspects of LG Seeds communications. In 2019, key messaging pillars were developed as a part of the expanding brand position. These pillars, “Confidence, Innovation, Teamwork and Success” will provide the framework for all future content.
Today, ”We Mean Business” is more than a brand position for LG Seeds. It’s a mantra. It defines their work philosophy with growers, dealers and employees. They continue to work towards and add to their marketing team, and we look forward to continuing our partnership. While the fact that LG Seeds means business is a constant for the brand, it leaves room for definition and growth — their secret formula for getting ahead.