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HOW TO MAKE A GRAND CHAMPION.

For the first time in the Best of National Agri-Marketing Association's (NAMA) 62-year history, the same company has received the Grand Champion award in 2 of the past 5 years. That company is Wyffels Hybrids, headquartered in Geneseo, IL.

It operates with the catchy theme of "For 73 years, and counting, Wyffels Hybrids has been a Wholly-Owned Subsidiary of Nobody."

"We are a seed company," reports Mitch Heisler, Wyffels Marketing Manager, "committed to bringing corn growers in Illinois, Iowa, southern Wisconsin, southwest Minnesota and southeast South Dakota industry-leading hybrids and to help them move their farming operations forward.

"Wyffels Hybrids remains independent and driven by the same core values; focus on the customer, treat others with respect, never sacrifice quality, and a commitment to helping corn growers be more successful. It might not be the easiest or most popular path in the seed industry, especially among our multinational conglomerate competitors, but we are committed to ensuring it remains that way.

Wyffels focuses solely on corn. The company believes focusing on one thing makes them a better seed partner. This focus allows their Corn Breeding and Research team the opportunity to develop hybrids that meet the specific needs of corn growers in the Central Corn Belt.

Heisler continues, "Our independence is rooted not just in an independence of ownership, but also on an independence in decision making. We're able to take a long view and make decisions that are in the best interest of our customers, because we know that will lead to success for us in the long run.

"Our independent corn breeding and research allows us to evaluate technologies from all providers, unencumbered by a parent company. We can be objective and only bring forward the best technologies to protect the outstanding yield potential of our genetics."

Wyffels leadership has transitioned to the 3rd generation with John Wyffels now serving as President, Jacob Wyffels as V.P. of Production and Blake Wyffels working in the Research department. Bob and Bill Wyffels, the 2nd generation of family managers, are still involved in the ownership and business activities, and still have the same passion they've brought for the last 40+ years.

ABOUT THE CAMPAIGN

"The planning process for this campaign began in December of 2017, when our marketing team met to discuss the 2018-2019 campaign, Heisler explains. "We discuss critical issues and opportunities in the marketplace for Wyffels, and start to formulate our objectives for the campaign.

"Wyffels has experienced significant growth over the last five years," Trista Thompson, Media & Digital Strategy Manager says, "but we know that there is still tremendous opportunity to spread our message to more farmers who require top-quality performance, but are looking for a like-minded seed partner.

"Our primary objective is always to convince farmers to give Wyffels Hybrids a shot on their farm. We have industry leading retention and a track record of growing our share on the farm once we are able to earn their business, so we need to do everything we can to gain that initial interest and get into a corn growers consideration set because we're confident our products and people will deliver once they're on the farm."

GOALS

Building awareness is still their primary objective, but to go even further Wyffels managers know they need to build credibility and interest in the minds of corn growers. With so many options for corn growers to choose from, some of which hold the market leader position, Wyffels believes it needs to do everything it can to differentiate themselves and stand out.

Heisler says, "We believe the best way to do that is to talk a lot about ourselves, who we are, what we believe in, and how we're different.

ELEMENTS

The campaign is a completely integrated campaign that features print, radio, digital and online video, direct mail, farm shows and sales literature. Everything is aligned to the same objectives and key messages to make sure a unified campaign is built that is consistent in its message and personality.

Thompson explains, "We still find print and broadcast to be some of the strongest ways to build awareness among our target market, but we're also finding strategic ways to utilize and supplement traditional media with digital, utilizing data to reach segments of our target audience we might not reach as effectively or measurable through traditional media.

"Strategic direct mail campaign elements help us reach a target group of first year customers and prospective customers with unique, personalized messages that would no be cost effective on a broader scale, but provide great ROI when they are targeted to the right people."

THE ORGANIZATION

"We do a lot of work in marketing to make sure we raise awareness and interest in our brand," Heisler says. "We feel like if we do our jobs well it will allow our sales team a chance to talk to a prospective customer that they otherwise might not have, or earn increased loyalty with current customers."

Wyffels has a team of district sales managers that interface directly with customers, as well as manage a team of professional seed representatives that call on customers in their local area. Thompson says, "Our team does a great job of digging in and understand the needs and challenges our customers have, and then bring them personalized hybrid and management recommendations to meet those needs.

"We attract people who believe in the power of independence and entrepreneurship, and take pride in providing high-touch service to their customers to earn their business."

MARKETING COMMUNICATIONS

Wyffels marketing communication team is a small and nimble team made up of seasoned professionals who are passionate about Wyffels and about marketing. The team is led by, Marketing Director, Tim Birkel, previously of Nufarm; Heisler, who brings both Wyffels sales and agronomy knowledge to the team; Thompson, most recently with Osborn & Barr; Jill Loehr, Communications Manager, most recently with Farm Progress Group, and Ashley Davis, PR & Content Manager, formerly a news reporter at KWQC, Davenport, IA. Gloria Shoemaker and Jana Williams, two seasoned veterans of art production and design round out the internal group.

Heisler says, "We combine and support this internal team with key partners that have been with the Wyffels brand for multiple years. These key organizations truly understand and have helped develop the Wyffels brand personality and message, and they bring creative ideas to the table year after year to help us stand out in a crowded market.

"We partner with O&H Brand Design, Dallas, TX, as well as freelance copywriter Jim Melzer,

Colorado Springs, CO, and advertising creative Tim Musta of St. Paul, MN. This combination has truly been instrumental in our success and allow us to maintain our focus while also staying fresh and nimble."

WYFFELS' FUTURE

Wyffels feels there is no better time to be an independent, U.S. farm-family owned seed company. They know corn growers are looking for a partner that will put the needs of corn growers first, and that is focused on doing everything they can to make them more successful.

"Being an independent company that focuses on one crop, means we have to be the best at what we do in order to succeed," Heisler says. "We look forward to that challenge every day.

"We see great opportunity to grow and intensify in the central Corn Belt. We want more corn growers to experience the value of working with a free-thinking seed partner."

Thompson concludes, "We are wrapping up our sixth consecutive year of significant growth, and have more than doubled in size in that time. More corn growers are planting Wyffels Hybrids than ever before, and we're now one of the top three seed brands in the Central Corn Belt."

by the Agri Marketing Editors

Caption: Wyffels' Marketing and Communications staff show off their awards for their campaign being named Best of NAMA Grand Champion. (L to R) Mktg Dir Tim Birkel, Media & Digital Mgr Trista Thompson, Comms Mgr Jill Loehr and Mktg Mgr Mitch Heisler.

Caption: "Corn, Corn, Corn" is memorable print execution within the campaign highlighting Wyffels focus on Corn and nothing else but the bare essentials.
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Title Annotation:BEST OF NAMA--GRAND CHAMPION
Publication:Agri Marketing
Date:Jun 1, 2019
Words:1350
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