New Federation Chairman with Jennifer Houston
Jennifer Houston, a livestock market operator from Sweetwater, Tenn., was named new chairman of the Federation of State Beef Councils at the recent Cattle Industry Convention in San Antonio, Texas. Houston has been involved with beef checkoff programs in her home state and nationally for about 30 years, and says high checkoff approval rates by producers through the years have demonstrated a confidence in producer leaders, who have made a point of finding the best ways of spending checkoff funds and reaching target audiences.
“I think people at home really think we’re doing a good job, but our methods have certainly changed. TV when we started out, research was a little less. Now we really realize that research is the bedrock of everything we do. We went from TV to more radio and print, but as we’ve learned and as we evolved we realized we’ve got to be very focused on who our target audience is.” (23 seconds)
According to Houston, the beef checkoff focus today is on the millennial consumer, many of whom are more apt to get their information from their digital devices than from magazines.
“It was really tough for some of us to give up our really beautiful print ads that we could see in color and give up our radio and some of the equity that we had in that. Because a lot of our producers when we started all this were not on digital media. So they didn’t see these ads. So it’s been an education process for both the people on the committees to understand this process and for our producers to learn to be on the digital spectrum so they can see some of these. But we’re finding wonderful results .” (30 seconds)
Houston says it’s all about getting the most out of each checkoff dollar by zeroing in on the right audience at the right time.
“We’re being very focused. I call it from the shotgun, to the rifle, to the laser: we’re getting our target audience. And it’s doing it in such interesting ways. I was sitting on the couch the other night with my phone in my hand – I’m not a millennial, but I like to pretend – so I had my phone in my hand and watching TV, and it came across Twitter, it said “They’re having beef short ribs on The Chew. How about these from ‘Beef. It’s What’s For Dinner.” So that’s the syncronisity we can have. If I’m watching that show I’m obviously interested in that as a consumer, so here’s another chance to use it another way, or to put another message about beef out .” (35 seconds)
According to Houston, one of the strengths of the Beef Checkoff Program is in the way it gives producers who pay into it a key voice in how the funds will be used.
“The Federation is all the state beef councils working together, just like the concept in 1963, that we can do way more working together than we could ever do working apart. And the take-home message is that people who are making the decisions are just like you. They’re just like the producer at home, they’re just at the meeting.” (18 seconds)
The Federation is a division of the National Cattlemen’s Beef Association, which is a contractor to the Beef Checkoff Program. Projects conducted by the beef checkoff must be approved by the Cattlemen’s Beef Board and the U.S. Department of Agriculture.