Right Makes Might
DENVER - For the past 20 years, the Washington State Beef Commission (WSBC) has measured its beef checkoff efforts by a nine-word mission statement: “To increase demand for beef by exceeding consumer expectations."
While the WSBC accomplishes this through a hearty focus on in-state promotions, it also supports group marketing efficiency by sending voluntary checkoff dollars to the Federation of State Beef Councils.
“The mission statement guides our state efforts and underpins our belief that there is marketing strength in numbers,” said Patti Brumbach, who has been WSBC executive director for 22 years. “Nationally, we pool resources with other states because it’s an efficient and effective way to reach our shared objectives.”
While Washington isn’t considered a large beef-producing state, it has unique characteristics that guide the state’s $543million beef industry and its emphasis on consumer marketing.
“We’re a microcosm of the beef industry,” Brumbach said. “Every industry sector is represented in Washington, and on our board. As for marketing, we have a large, mostly affluent population and we’re also geographically well-positioned for Pacific Rim exports.”
To capitalize on these advantages and set an efficient and effective annual checkoff program, WSBC board relies on significant assistance from Federation-funded strategic planning and market research teams. These high-level services are available through Washington’s Federation investment, Brumbach said.
To further maximize resources, the WSBC uses Federation-funded business services such as human resources, IT and design services support. The state can also tap into expertise of national checkoff program staff, for specific professional guidance in areas like nutrition and market research.
“As a beef council, we’re generalists – jacks-of-all-trades,” Brumbach said. “Having national support in these areas is a tremendous advantage in freeing commission funds for other marketing efforts at the state level.”
Partnerships are another hallmark of many WSBC projects. One example is an annual tailgating promotion surrounding a popular college football rivalry. Partners include a retailer with 67 local outlets – who enjoyed an 8 percent increase in beef sales during 2011’s four-week promotion, Brumbach said. Certified Angus Beef is another partner, providing beef for the 8,000 cups of chili beef producers serve to fans on game day.
The WSBC also places a high priority on its Trust Initiative, designed to tell the modern beef production story and build consumer trust in the state’s beef industry. The initiative includes support for food banks, vital community service projects (like feeding those displaced by last summer’s wildfires), on-farm tours and beef sampling events. A key component of these efforts is that real Washington farmers and ranchers are at every event.
Brumbach noted that the state-national checkoff relationship has always been important to WSBC’s vigorous marketing efforts. The partnership delivers the efficiencies and expertise needed to execute the mission-specific programs that are important to the WSBC board.
WSBC at a Glance
Founded: In 1969, via state legislation.
Checkoff: State collects $1.50; 50 cents goes to Cattlemen’s Beef Board. WSBC determines how to allocate the remaining $1.
Famous For: WSBC launched the Holiday Roast promotion 20 years ago. It’s still used each year by many state beef councils and has delivered an estimated 6 million holiday roast brochures to consumers.
Issues Milestones: As the state hit by both the 1993 E. coli 0157:H7 outbreak at Jack in the Box and the first U.S. case of BSE, the WSBC has walked the walk on groundbreaking issues management cases.