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Growing up in Sioux Falls, SD, Greg Guse served as the ad manager for his high school's newspaper. And, when he went on to Augustana College in Sioux Falls, he became ad manager for the college's newspaper.

"I guess the advertising industry was always in my blood," says Guse who is the National Agri-Marketing Association's (NAMA) 2012 Marketer of the Year, the industry's highest honor.

Guse currently serves as the President of Paulsen Marketing, Sioux Falls, where, surprisingly, he was an intern during his senior year at Augustana College. "I got the agency bug during that internship," Guse remembers. "I was able to sit in on client meetings, go on photo and TV shoots, and meet some of the industry's best people."

And while his career might indicate that he had his roots on the farm, "I grew up a city kid," says Guse. "I didn't know much about agriculture. Fortunately, I've had great mentors in the business."


Guse's first job in ag marketing was with GTA Feeds. "I knew I had a lot to learn about agriculture and the livestock industry," says Guse. "Still, Ron Claussen (currently President of Ag Media Research) took a leap of faith by hiring this young guy right out of college."

According to Claussen, "I first met Greg Guse in 1976 when I hired him to be an assistant in the Communications Department of GTA Feeds. Greg did not have an agricultural background. But, within one year he earned the respect and confidence of 50 grizzled, road-warrior feed salesmen. Greg had a great work ethic, a tenacity to learn, a desire to serve, and a conviction to treat others fairly and with respect. Thirty-five years later, he still does."

Guse also received a lot of support from Roger Olsen, then Director of GTA Corporate Communications, and Dr. Darwin Britzman who, at the time, was head of nutrition and research at GTA Feeds. Dr. Britzman offered the young Guse a constant flow of information about animal nutrition and the livestock market. Guse says he absorbed all the information he could find and credits Dr. Britzman with providing him one of the best educations on the feed industry.


Personal one-on-one experiences with livestock producers were also a big help for Guse. "On my first day at GTA, I was sent to Dickenson, ND, to assist with an open house and dedication of a new production plant," he says. "I spent a week there, meeting face-to-face with feed dealers and livestock producers. I was very fortunate to have had that opportunity."

Guse also spent weeks on the road with feed salesmen. "I thoroughly loved it. I made a concentrated effort to learn everywhere I went."


Guse's next career step put him in the agency business. "I went to Martin Williams in Minneapolis on the account side," Guse recalls. "We were working on Cargill Seeds and ADM Feeds where we were helping bring in different feed brands under the ADM banner. They were great accounts to work on."

Then, in 1986, Guse returned to Sioux Falls, joining Lawrence Schiller Advertising where he worked with such clients as Hubbard Milling Company and Citibank, South Dakota, N.A. "IBM, in partnership with Citibank, had developed an innovative process at the Sioux Falls credit card operation where you could actually scan documents to a disk--a very large disk," says Guse. "At the time, it was revolutionary. And I had responsibility for helping coordinate tours at Citibank for IBM's prospective clients for this new technology. It was another great learning experience and opportunity."

In 1992, Guse and partners Ron Claussen and Scott Swenson opened their own marketing communications agency, Gregory Scott Advertising. One of their early clients was Hubbard Feeds, a company that graces Paulsen Marketing's client list today.

Says d'use, "As with many agricultural companies, over the years Hubbard has seen its share of changes. One of those changes for Hubbard included being purchased by Ridley Corporation in 1996.

Fortunately, I've been able to maintain a long-standing relationship with Hubbard and Ridley. Bob Frost, Executive VP at Ridley is another important mentor. And it's fun to have worked for a client that long."

In fact, Guse has worked with Hubbard Feeds since 1986, a 26 year-long relationship that's rare in the agency business.


In 1995, Thane Paulsen approached Guse and Claussen. Paulsen was in need of marketing help; Gregory Scott needed creative support. "It was a terrific match for both companies," explains Guse. "Plus Paulsen had a great history of being a very stable, reputable agency with a long history. And actually, we've found that our clients like that."

At the time, though, Paulsen Marketing was somewhat of a generalist agency. Guse wanted the agency to focus more on agribusiness and the Rural Lifestyle markets. A big break came in 1999.

"Pat Carroll at Kubota Tractor was looking for a small to mid-sized agency for their work in the U.S.," explains Guse. "We were invited to pitch the account, mostly based on recommendations from various media representatives."

Guse and Paulsen Creative Director Mark Smither, made the trip to California for the pitch. "I thought it went OK," says Guse. "Then just a week later, we got the call."

"The Kubota account has opened up so many doors for us," he says. "They've helped us launch the agency into the Rural Lifestyle market."

Guse was named President of Paulsen Marketing in November 2008. During an all-staff retreat, he accepted a ceremonial tractor wheel symbolizing the trust placed in him to steer the agency. According to staff and clients alike, Guse has never steered them wrong.


In 2008, Guse challenged Paulsen's staff with the goal of growing the agency up the ranks of the largest agri-marketing agencies. So far, the agency has made steady progress, even through a recession. According to Paulsen, the success can be directly credited to Greg's leadership style: hire the right people, give them the right tools, then get out of their way.

Guse's leadership has steered Paulsen to move beyond traditional agency roles to create a consistent ag marketing research program. The result is a number of thought papers and articles released to the industry, including: interviews with producers, research in farm communities, and outreach to ag companies.

A long-time National Association of Farm Broadcasters (NAFB) Allied Industry member, Guse helped implement a Rural Lifestyle study for NAFB in 2007, and led a panel discussing this potential growth area. He was an early advocate of the Rural Lifestyle as a marketing category, working to identify and introduce it to the industry.

Paulsen has also placed an emphasis on the digital world. Explains Guse, "We've been making a concerted effort to be a leader in ag in the digital and interactive arena." Headed up by Sara Steever, VP Interactive Services, the eight-person Paulsen digital team has been busy and thriving.


For Kubota, Paulsen Marketing handles everything from new product and category launches to national media buys and dealer support packages. Guse is proud of the fact that, in the past 12 years, Kubota sales have grown very substantially. Today, Kubota leads the U.S. market for sub-compact and compact tractors.


In 2008, Guse led the Paulsen team to create a complete transformation of the WildBlue satellite high-speed internet brand. The campaign resulted in nearly doubling the total number of subscribers over two and a half years.

Walters Gardens, a producer of some of the hottest--and hardiest--wholesale perennials in the country, turned to Guse and Paulsen, hoping to improve their e-commerce and online branding efforts. The agency created a new corporate web site with a one-of-a-kind back-end updating tool for real-time information on availability pricing, and status of thousands of plants. The e-commerce results vastly exceeded expectations. New sales topped the site redesign investment several times over, within the first two months.

Guse attributes all this success to Paulsen's people. "We have some of the best, most creative people right here," he says, "and they stay. We have some people who have been here for more than 22 years. They know the market. They know how and when to reach out to customers. And they know what to say and how to say it. That kind of experience and consistency is very attractive to our clients."

In fact, Guse is quick to mention that there have been only two different Creative Directors and two different Account Executives working on the Kubota account over the last 13 years.

The industry has taken notice. Besides being named NAMA's 2012 Marketer of the Year, Guse, along with the agency he leads, were honored by the South Dakota Corn Growers Association with their "Excellence in Agriculture" Award. The award is given annually for " ... exceptional leadership contributions to the agricultural industry"

This year, Paulsen Marketing also received NAMA's Best in Show--Advertising for their work on the South Dakota Corn Growers "Ag Rules" campaign. Featuring the Amazing Corn Adventure interactive trailer, the campaign was directed at children in urban and rural schools throughout the entire state of South Dakota.


Guse says he believes in the power of youth and innovation to keep agri-marketing fresh and relevant. He also believes in giving opportunities to and nurturing people. And he believes in the promise of NAMA to identify and empower tomorrow's agri-marketing leaders--not just through seminars, but through real-world, hands-on examples.

Over the years, Guse has taken action on these beliefs. For the regional NAMA awards show in 2011, Guse chartered a bus to take over half of the Paulsen staff to the awards ceremony in Des Moines.

And he's encouraged Paulsen's attainment of NAMA's Sustaining Partner for the first time in its 60-year history.

"One of the biggest issues in the coming years for Paulsen--and for all of agriculture--will be attracting talented, capable people to the business," explains Guse. "This is a relationship business. And we have to find people with the right fit and desire for what we do and, of course, where we're located."

Guse's participation in and support of NAMA has helped. One example is Paulsen's new digital developer, Ricardo Rego.

Paulsen Vice-President Sara Steever met Rego at a NAMA function in 2010. A student from Brazil, Ricardo was looking for his first job in agri-marketing--a task made even tougher by the recession. Steever put him in touch with Guse.

After talking twice on the phone, Guse convinced Rego to move to Sioux Falls to intern with Paulsen. Rego even lived with the Guse family for three months before accepting a full-time position with the agency.


"The challenge of finding qualified employees is just one of the issues facing us and agriculture," says Guse. "There are also environmental issues, food safety, humane treatment of livestock, water and soil conservation." He notes that while these are issues, they are also opportunities.

"We live in a golden age of agriculture," he says. "But with the current prosperity and technological advances in the industry comes greater responsibility for agri-marketers."

"We as ag marketers and ag communicators have a responsibility to tell the story of these exciting advances; a story based on truth, accuracy and integrity. Because, as we've discovered, if we're not telling the story of agriculture, it will be told for us by others not always with the truth, accuracy and integrity that we ascribe to. How we handle the responsibilities before us now will certainly determine our future success."


In addition to leading a thriving marketing agency and working with top-flight clients in a vibrant industry, Greg Guse has served as President of the South Dakota Advertising Federation and on the Board of Directors for the Sioux Falls Area Chamber of Commerce. Currently he is a board member for the Sioux Falls Humane Society. (Guse was quick to point out that they have no affiliation with the infamous HSUS.)

Still, with all the business success and awards, Guse says his biggest joy comes from his family. "I am most proud of my daughters, Kylene and Melanie," he says. "They're my life's greatest success story." AM


by Mike Gustafson, Deer's Landing
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Title Annotation:2012 NAMA MARKETER OF THE YEAR
Comment:Always keep learning.(2012 NAMA MARKETER OF THE YEAR)
Author:Gustafson, Mike
Publication:Agri Marketing
Article Type:Company overview
Geographic Code:1U4SD
Date:May 1, 2012
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