Red Meat Value+d Program 1
5 Sept 2022
John and Sam Stokes operate a family lamb business based at Duri, south of Tamworth, in New South Wales. John joined the program with some early stage experience in direct to consumer marketing of boxed lamb in his local area, under the Dirt Crazy brand.
The Dirt Crazy brand is derived from John’s passion driving a purpose to restore health to our soils, our bodies and our communities through sustainable, ethical and profitable farming systems. “Dirt Crazy lamb is ethically and sustainably produced in the north-western slopes of New South Wales. Bringing highly nutritional, chemical free and great tasting red meat products direct to our customers’ door.”
Whilst John came into the Stage 2 program with some limited experience in direct-to-consumer boxed lamb production, he had not adopted much of a structured process of customer discovery, branding and marketing or go to market strategy in a supported environment with the benefit of 1:1 coaching. This program has been highly beneficial in John gaining the skills and knowledge he needs to apply to his Dirty Crazy business in order to take it forward and realise the vision he is so driven and passionate about. During difficult seasonal conditions, it has also been a good opportunity for John to seek support on the entrepreneurial journey from like-minded people, realising the “tribe factor” that the VALUE+D brings to agricultural innovators like John.
John’s main areas of focus to work on in the program were around getting clear on his customer segment and validating assumptions around his customers as well as working on exploring options around business models, processing and packing and cold chain logistics as well as value adding opportunities beyond boxed lamb such as marinades. John was able to do a deep dive into the value adding opportunities through the face-to-face component in Sydney. In the course of the program, John was able to identify and articulate his customer segment as health conscious, environmentally aware families who require consistency, quality and provenance in the New England and the north west slopes and plains region. He was able to identify and address business structure and governance risks and take steps to address.
A key achievement for John has been to determine that his business, Alveston Pastoral has multiple streams of which Dirt Crazy is one of them. This has enabled him to make some core decisions around separating the identity of the Dirty Crazy product business from his broader Alveston Pastoral farming and consulting operations, particularly from a branding point of view. Like many producers wanting to create a paddock to plate business, John is constrained by his access to reliable, quality processing and packing services in his geographic region. To this end he is also exploring taking greater control of his quality standards through in-housing packing and distribution in the medium-term. He is also investigating investment and revenue options that support this initiative and how that might also be expanded to on-farm value adding initiatives such as education and agri-tourism integrated with his broader Alverston Pastoral business operations.
Farmers2Founders has been pivotal to helping me understand what is involved in marketing and selling our product and achieving success.
John’s main learnings in the program were around the critical importance of the customer discovery process, the opportunity to value add beyond boxed lamb into rubs and marinades for more consumer driven solutions, and a substantial gain in the development of skills and knowledge for the marketing component of his business and subsequent go to market strategy. John will focus on the following key steps over the next six-month of the Dirty Crazy journey:
• Carry out more comprehensive customer discovery leveraging existing customer base and others to validate assumptions around business growth strategy including participation in farmers markets as well as direct to consumer channels.
• With the help of the F2F team, John will further refine his brand identity and brand strategy to review and update existing digital assets such as website and establish relevant social media channels. which will help to better target consumers and create consistency in his brand messaging
• Utilise the project management tools to plan and manage actions and drive the development of short to medium term budget forecasting and management.
• Evaluate on farm processing and packing options with a view to in-housing to establish reliable processes to a high standard, consistent with brand values.
• Revise and update the planning roadmap for short and medium-term growth and commercial returns.