The Jennie Effect… you ain’t seen nothin’ yet!


Thanks to Timber Ridge Cattle Company for permission to syndicate this post.

1.21.12 is a date that I was awakened to the power of creative marketing.  Here is how it went down, and it started with a magazine article.

The Journey

I’ve heard that gamblers can request to be put on a list that would bar them from entering a casino.  If there was such a list for Farm Show Magazine, I would put myself on it.  This candy store of on-farm inventions has often led me down the path of “wishful thinking” when I should have been sticking to my daily ”task at hand”.

But when I read an article  in the magazine about a pig farmer in NE Iowa by the name of Carl Blake, I began my journey to an event (which I’ll describe in a bit) that awakened me to the power of creative marketing.

Carl raises a rare breed of pig called Swabian Hall.  The meat from his pigs recently won a prestigious culinary award and is rapidly gaining national attention. When I read the article on Carl’s pigs, I began to ponder linking up with Carl to help with an idea.

My idea builds on the knowledge that pigs are much more efficient at retaining omega-3s in their tissue than cattle. If I could include flax-fed pork in our products, they would contain higher omega-3s, and our flax-fed beef would provide high levels ruminic and vaccenic acids (CLA’s).  If I could put these two ingredients together, we’d have a flax-fed beef/pork “miracle” snack stick product.

With my mission of creating a new product in mind, I  contacted Carl and thought “this could be a marriage made only in Iowa!” (or is this heaven?).

Carl and I agreed to meet at a Des Moines event a couple of Saturdays ago where Carl was to roast one of his amazing hogs.  When a 9″ snow storm halted Carl in his tracks, he asked if I would sub my beef for his pork at the event.  I agreed and was treated to one of the most memorable experiences of my life.

The Event

When local tomato growing phenom, Jennie Smith , decided to go to grad school in New Zealand, she asked a few of her foodie friends (around 150) to help her get there.

Jennie Smith of Butcher Crick Farms

Undoubtedly the most charismatic person I have ever met, Jennie managed to skillfully pull-off this unique fundraiser that included an auction of donated gifts, three local restaurants serving gourmet dishes, two wineries handing out samples, music by Dustin Smith, and one star-struck cattle farmer (me) serving smoked rib-eye.  The event was held in a really cool facility owned by Kirk Blunk Architecture in East Village.

Jennie’s Seed the Farm event was not only inspiring but marketing genius.  The lesson of the evening for me was that in a successful event, there is always more than one beneficiary.   From networking to socializing to the joy of helping out a friend, Jennie made sure that we were all rewarded by the experience.   Just watching Jennie “hold court” during the live auction was worth the price of admission!  I left the event wondering if I had done enough for the “cause”.

The Rub

The take-away is that I  will never again look at marketing a product,  an event, or myself quite the same.  Hopefully some of the “Jennie Effect” will rub off on Timber Ridge as we launch our new beef/pork miracle stick.  As Carl would say, “stay tuned, you ain’t seen nothin’ yet!”