Califonia Bountiful

It's a bountiful life: Tips and inspiration

September/October 2020 California Bountiful magazine

Marketer reaches out to farm community facing new challenges

Ali Cox's agricultural heritage played a key role in the niche she chose for her business and is reflected in her office environment: One wall is reclaimed wood from her family farm. Photo: © 2020 Azucena Zamora

When Gov. Gavin Newsom issued California's stay-at-home order in the early days of the coronavirus pandemic, Ali Cox took to her computer and began sharing daily marketing tips with businesses suddenly faced with the challenges of operating under new mandates. Cox, the founder and CEO of AC&C Marketing, a creative agency in Turlock that specializes in marketing for agricultural and food businesses, committed to writing weekday posts for what she initially thought would be about two weeks. As the stay-at-home order in Turlock continued through May, those 10 anticipated posts turned into 43.

Why did you decide to compose and share marketing tips with your readers? I wanted to provide value in a really shaken world. The value I could add was inspiration and free tactical marketing tips.

What topics did you cover in your posts? We covered content ranging from tactical tips on social media management, communication, website development, search engine optimization and digital advertising. From an inspirational point of view, I tried my best to share processes and practices that I found helpful while sheltering in place.

Could you provide an excerpt from a post? The secret sauce during this time is honesty plus empathy…. If you can show (your customers) through your messaging and your tone that you care about their safety, their communities, and that you truly value them as customers, you're well on your way to weathering this pandemic.

What do you feel was the impact of these posts? I feel as if I helped provide a little bit of happiness in a quick snippet of an email. The posts were intended to provide a marketing roadmap while businesses—and their owners—were hurting. It was a wonderful way to think through what ag companies were going through and provide inspiration and help during a time of need.

You and your rowing team won a silver medal at the 2004 Summer Olympics. How did that experience shape you as a business owner? For me, sports and business are a direct correlation. The more effort you put in, the more you get out. It takes tenacity, grit, ability to perform under pressure and teamwork. None of these are easy tasks, and I'm really thankful for my years as a competitive athlete because I feel they prepared me for the challenges in business.

Both sides of your family have been farming for generations. How does that affect you? I'm fortunate enough to say that the only occupation my parents, grandparents and great-grandparents had were either farmers or teachers. It's a blessing and a heritage that I am very proud of. Now, I have the additional sweetness of being married to a farmer. My family farms walnuts, almonds, tomatoes and beans, and we raise cattle. We live and breathe ag, and couldn't be prouder.

Cox's family farms walnuts, almonds, tomatoes and beans, and raises cattle. Photo: © 2020 Azucena Zamora

Who were these tips written for? Since our audiences were food and agricultural brands, the content was often tailored to their needs.

What are some of the lessons that businesses have learned while dealing with stay-at-home orders? I hope businesses have learned it's imperative to have your ducks in a row from a marketing and communications standpoint. The brands that had already invested in their email lists, websites and social media processes were able to quickly pivot their content because the processes were already in place.

How can someone access your marketing tips? We've compiled the posts into an e-book that's available on our website.

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