Farm co-op uses publication to connect with customers

March 9, 2018 By    

Southern FS uses a print publication to provide its members with relevant industry information. Photo courtesy of Southern FS

Searching for innovative and creative ways to market to prospective customers while maintaining open lines of communication with current customers can be a headache for some operations.

For Southern FS, a farming cooperative in southern Illinois, sticking with the basics has proven to be a successful marketing and communications method.

Among other services, Southern FS has a propane division that provides crop drying and residential propane and fills cylinders for its mainly agricultural customer base. To keep customers up to date on important information and reach new customers, the company provides an insert for the Southern Illinois Farm Bureau News – a monthly publication covering the southern Illinois agricultural industry.

Each department at Southern FS produces a page that is included in the insert. For the propane side of the cooperative, Guy Kuhn, a propane marketing manager for the company, helps put together material he thinks is important to customers.

“We try to put important information that we know our owners in our territory need to know,” Kuhn says. “It’s a marketing service so we make sure our customers know what’s going on.”

The insert reaches a couple thousand people in the 12 counties in southern Illinois that are a part of the company’s service area, Kuhn says. With this outreach, Kuhn and Southern FS are hoping to stay in touch with their members as well as stick in the minds of potential customers.

“We are trying to stay relevant and personal with them,” Kuhn says. “It also keeps our name in front of prospective customers.”

To fill the page space, Southern FS reminds customers about upcoming events and/or services. According to Kuhn, the company also writes about payment programs or, as winter approaches, adding quick switches. The company will also use the insert to remind potential customers about Southern FS’ services, if they are unhappy with their current supplier.

Admittedly, Kuhn says it can be a struggle to find new material every month to keep the page fresh. Like other marketing efforts, providing new information can be a challenge.

“A lot of times with propane, we run out of things to write about because there are times there isn’t much change,” Kuhn says. “I am always looking to put something new in there so there is something different to read about.”

In an attempt to keep content fresh, Kuhn will add articles about propane from other publications that he feels are important to the company’s customers. To Kuhn, keeping something in front of the customers is what’s most important.

“We think any publicity isn’t bad publicity,” Kuhn says. “We want to keep our name out in front of everybody. It is never going to hurt to do that.”

Founded: 1920s
Founders: The Farm Bureau System
Owners: Patrons of Southern FS
Headquarters: Marion, Illinois
Areas Serviced: Southern Illinois, western Kentucky and southeast Missouri
Number of Customers: 5,000 LP gas customers
Propane Sales: 3 million annual gallons

This article is tagged with and posted in Current Issue, Featured
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About the Author:

Joe McCarthy was an associate editor at LP Gas Magazine.

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