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AG communications and the small-town Wal-Mart business cycle: Mike Gustafson, 2003-2004 NAMA president, talks about how this cycle presents opportunities.

A real revival. Agricultural marketing communications is in a real revival. I'm basing this on my premise of the 'Small-Town Wal-Mart Business Cycle.'

No, I haven't lost my mind, although some might debate that point. Actually, the 'Small-Town Wal-Mart Business Cycle' comes from basic observations in my hometown of Marshall, Illinois. And it's uncanny how this cycle mirrors the ag communications business.

Stage 1: About 10 years ago or so, Wal-Mart made it known that they wanted to open a store in Marshall. You might imagine how the business people in Marshall reacted. They were in an uproar. Fought it all the way. Because, as everyone knew, big and bad Wal-Mart would drive out all the local retailers. Of course, it was inevitable. After all, people wanted Wal-Mart in their town. Love it or hate it, everyone seemed to agree that Wal-Mart selection and prices were pretty darn good.

Stage 2: Some local retailers really did go out of business. They tried their best to compete with Wal-Mart. Some sold out to other local businesses. Some just left town. In the end, Marshall had a lot of empty downtown storefronts, while Marshall residents and those from surrounding areas went to the Wal-Mart. (Wait a minute, people were coming to Marshall, or staying in Marshall, to shop? Sounds like an opportunity here ... and so to Stage 3.)

Stage 3: Big and as efficient as they are, Wal-Mart just can't provide everything everyone wants or needs. And, frankly, some folks enjoy a little different 'shopping experience.' So the Marshall storefronts started to transform, offering products and services from homemade crafts to antiques to art classes to computer repair. All with the personal touch of real, local proprietors. Now only time will tell if Stage 3 will see a successful revival of the Marshall community.

The same goes for us. Of course, similar scenarios exist with other businesses and industries. Ours is no different. And while we continue to see mergers, and down- or 'right-sizing,' the opportunities for entrepreneurs continue to exist. After all, bigger is better. Not only for a bigger ag company, agency, or media company, but also for those who wish to thrive with smaller, niche markets. It's a revival that's ongoing, always changing, and always under pressure to offer a new, valuable 'shopping' experience for customers.

I'm happy to say that NAMA recognizes this. We're taking steps to offer a fresh experience to NAMA members ... current and future. And, we're working to include marketing and communications professionals in those ag businesses, traditional and non-traditional, large and small, who can benefit most from this NAMA experience.
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Title Annotation:NAMA Leader's message
Comment:AG communications and the small-town Wal-Mart business cycle: Mike Gustafson, 2003-2004 NAMA president, talks about how this cycle presents opportunities.(NAMA Leader's message)
Publication:Agri Marketing
Geographic Code:1USA
Date:Sep 1, 2003
Previous Article:New NAMA members.
Next Article:Making perception reality.

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