If you don’t believe cows can talk, you’re not listening.
Last week, in recognition of June Dairy Month, I told the story of how cows led me to a career in advertising. Today, I want to share five things all marketers can learn from a dairy cow. Not all of these lessons are new, but they are all proven to work. For both species.
1. Get up early.
Cows need their first milking before most alarm clocks go off. They start their days highly productive. Starting early helps make for a more organized, productive and intentional day. Marketers can use this time for reading, meditation, competitive research, exercise or even simple calendar management. When I wake up early, I am more efficient and focused. I’m also usually in a better mood. The days I hit snooze are never good days.
2. Be curious but work hard, too.
Cows — particularly my favorite, Jersey cows — are curious by nature. They will try anything you introduce to them: new feed, new grass, new surroundings. The most profitable cows also forage while others nap. There’s a lesson here for resisting complacency and continually learning. It’s important to try new channels, tactics and platforms. And to keep working while your competition rests. If business is good, think about how it could be better: Build your pipeline, strengthen your reserves, and invest in your people and equipment.
3. Stay focused.
Healthy, productive cows really only care about three things: finding comfy stalls to lay down in, eating enough to fuel their production and getting milked every single day. Similarly, marketers should set key priorities on a regular basis for their own productivity and their brand’s ongoing health.
4. Continually collect data.
Dairy farms collect data from literally everywhere. Feed consumption, milk output and quality, animal activity and rumination; the constant flow of data helps dairy producers make critical business decisions. Many track their herd’s steps and movement with what’s basically a fitness tracker for cows to identify sick or injured animals. But as all marketers know, data without interpretation is just numbers on a page. Data doesn’t tell a complete story or dictate answers; it requires conversion into information and insights. Collecting data from multiple sources can improve management in the moment or guide pivots for long-term growth.
5. Make a diverse product.
This is perhaps the greatest lesson cows have taught me. Yes, dairy cows make milk; but along with being a perfect beverage by itself, milk is the key ingredient for other delicious foods like cheese, yogurt and ice cream. And its byproduct, whey, is one of the most powerful proteins available. Forgive me for mixing my animal husbandry metaphors, but marketers should never be a one-trick pony. Try to diversify uses and appeal of your product. Protect your brand or product by investing time in imagining future markets and opportunities.
This June Dairy Month,
I salute all the cows I’ve met and managed that have taught me so many lessons for business and marketing. Thank you.
About the Author
A member of the Bader Rutter Executive Leadership Team, David Jordan leads the BR Business Consultancy Group. His eclectic group includes MBAs, a former CMO from an entrepreneurial investment group, a veterinarian and the former commercial operations leader for a multi-billion-dollar business unit of a Fortune 500 company. The BR Business Consultancy Group consults with both inline and specialty clients ranging from Fortune 500 companies to innovative startups in food & beverage, agribusiness and pet care.