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Milk Marketing Board's new CEO excited about promoting state dairy industry

December 5, 2016

As the marketing guru for a Wisconsin cheese manufacturer, Chad Vincent became so impressed with the work ethic and professionalism of the milk and cheese producers he met around the state that he wanted to help them professionally if he ever got the chance.

That opportunity began last Thursday when the personable and energetic Vincent, 55, started his new job as the chief executive officer of the Wisconsin Milk Marketing Board. This is an interesting and cool opportunity that you dont run across every day, Vincent said.

Directors from the Milk Marketing Board, a Madison-based nonprofit group funded by the states farmers to increase the sale and consumption of the states milk and dairy products, are saying the same thing about Vincent. Companies he helped grow because of his expertise pitching their products in national and international markets include Sartori, Miller Brewing, Fiskars and H.J. Heinz.

We are excited to see how he will improve upon the fantastic work our team has been doing, said Connie Seefeldt, the chairwoman of the organizations board of directors.

After joining Sartori in 2008, Vincent quickly changed the Plymouth-based cheese operations image as a food-service company by building a brand around its award-winning artisan cheeses.

The new brand included a radical label design change to the black-and-gold Sartori family crest that catches consumers eyes in the grocery store. Today, Sartori is known as a world-class cheese organization that has caught the attention of more than 40 countries that import its cheeses.

Jim Sartori, the CEO and third-generation owner of Sartori, called Vincent a great marketer and strategist and predicted that hell boost the Milk Marketing Board promotional efforts of the state dairy industry that accounts for $43.3 billion of Wisconsins $88.3 agricultural industry. Hell use his experience especially on the cheese side and be a good fit, Sartori said. Its a win-win.

Improvinga quality product

Vincent replaces former CEO James Robson, who resigned last April after the 25 dairy farmers who make up the organizations board of directors came out of a two-hour closed session and told him that they believed different leadership was needed to take the Milk Marketing Board in the direction they wanted it to go.

It came as quite a shock after 15 years, considering the progress weve made in terms of making WMMB relevant in dairy promotion, Robson told The Country Today.

His resignation occurred as milk prices were tumbling from record highs in 2014. Historically, when prices fall, the Milk Marketing Board has been a lightning rod for criticism by some farmers because 10 cents from every 100 pounds of milk sold is used for its promotional budget, which was $31 million in 2016.

But most of the news for the state dairy industry has been good news. For instance, while fluid milk and ice cream consumption is down among U.S. citizens, cheese, yogurt and butter consumption continues to rise and all dairy consumption is trending upward, according to the U.S. Department of Agriculture.

The Milk Marketing Board backs up the USDA data with statistics showing the dominance of Wisconsin in U.S. cheese production and results from a survey that showed that cheese is the No. 1 food craving among Americans, even beating out chocolate.

Vincent agreed with board of director chairwoman Seefeldt that the Milk Marketing Board, which includes 55 full-time employees, has been doing quality work. He then said his task is to take it to the next level.

Robson made some bold decisions, such as turning away from generic advertising aimed at TV and radio that would have eaten up most of the organizations budget and toward hands-on promotions that focused on employees at grocery stores, schools and food-service businesses.

For instance, the Milk Marketing Board employs regional program managers across the state who arrange presentations for kids in schools about the importance of not only milk and dairy products in their diets, but to have an overall strong diet that includes fruits and vegetables. Green Bay Packers safety Morgan Burnett sometimes makes the presentations.

Additionally, it employs regional marketing system managers in all corners of the country who work with grocery store and food-service managers and employees. They arrange for groups of them to meet the states well-educated and passionate milk and cheese producers and tour the state-of-the-art production, research and educational facilities in Wisconsin.

Vincent lauded the grass-roots strategy because statistics are showing those grocery store managers and employees are returning home and spreading the word about the quality of Wisconsins dairy products. The next level is, getting everybody in the country to get that same feeling so they can spread the word, too, he said.

It can be done because Vincent believes Wisconsins dairy industry, and its cheese industry in particular, have an abundance of quality subjects for the Milk Marketing Board to choose from to help sell their products.

Marketing is all about stories and weve got great stories to tell here, he said. There are so many good things about dairy. People want good, wholesome, real food and they want to know where it comes from. The path milk takes is on track for what consumers are looking for. Theres a lot going on here.

So when you say Wisconsin, people should not be thinking of anything but the best cheese and dairy in the world.

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The timing was perfect for Vincent to take the job. He lives in Waunakee with his wife, Wendy, and they became empty-nesters in August when their youngest of four children left for school.

It was the right thing to do, said Vincent, who added that he took a cut in pay to move from Sartori to the Milk Marketing Board. When you get a chance to stay here and really help the state and make a mark it was an easy choice to make.

Vincent grew up in East Lansing and earned an undergraduate degree in finance and an MBA in marketing and finance from Michigan State. His father, Warren, who grew up on a farm in Michigan, was an ag economics professor at the school.

Vincent proudly flies a Spartans flag in front of his home but he also speaks with pride about how his love for the state of Wisconsin that developed while working for some of its most successful companies.

He joined Miller Brewing in 1989 and directed its $2 billion Premium Brands portfolio.

When he wasnt working on campaigns with the National Football League, National Hockey League and NASCAR, he was flying overseas for campaigns in the Asia/Pacific marketing region. Vincent says he was gone from home about 225 days a year over a five-year period.

At Fiskars, which he joined in 2001, he initially worked out of its Portland office where he was the chief branding offer and president of the Outdoor Recreation Division at Gerber Outdoor Gear. He eventually was promoted and moved to Fiskars Madison office.

Between Miller and Fiskars, Vincent marketed A.J. Heinzs $500 million frozen food portfolio and has taught marketing classes at Marquette University.

Whatever the product, theres a message out there that can help the business, he said.

Even though Vincent was often traveling for his job, his four children saw how much fun he was having and chose to follow in his footsteps. His two oldest children already have careers in marketing and his two youngest children are planning to earn degrees in marketing.

When his oldest daughter, Sara, was asked why she chose marketing for a career, Vincent said her reply was, Ive been listening to this stuff my whole life.

SolarCity Aims to Cut Marketing Costs as Competition Heats Up - Wall Street Journal

September 25, 2016
By Cassandra Sweet Updated Sept. 22, 2016 3:05 p.m. ET

Cash-strapped SolarCity Corp. SCTY 2.83 % istryingto cut marketing costs amid competition from smallerupstarts using cheapersales tacticssuch as paying Uber drivers to pitch solar panels to passengers.

Big solar companies such as SolarCity and Vivint Solar Inc. VSLR 2.03 % have been engaged in a fierce battle to amass market share, analysts say, and have spent heavilyon old-fashionedadvertising, telephone and door-to-door canvassing, and booths at retail outlets to acquire new customers.But the companies are spending more than they are taking in, and the costs are proving hard to sustain.

SolarCity spent $751 million in 2015 on sales, administrativeand researchcosts, 88% more than its annual revenueof $400 millionand the $399 millionit spent the previous year. Through June, it had spent $438 million this year, 42% more than its revenue of$308 million.Its cash declinedto $146 million onJune 30from $421 million a year earlier.

Seeking to survive as a stand-alone company until its proposed merger with Tesla Motors Inc., TSLA 0.49 % SolarCityhas begun selling more solar panelsto homeowners for cash, rather than its traditional business of leasing the panels and retaining ownership. It is also planning to sell outside investors more shares in the panels that it owns.

Earlier this month, SolarCityraised $305 million through one such cash equity transactionwith Quantum Strategic Partners Ltd., the hedge fund of billionaire investor George Soros.Last month, it sold $100 million of bonds to its chairman, Elon Musk, who is also Teslas chief executive, and SolarCitys two top executives.

Cutting costs is also a crucial part of its plan.SolarCity has stopped buying television ads but is still advertising on the internet, selling door to door and setting up booths at Home DepotInc. HD -0.75 % and Best BuyCo. BBY -1.25 % stores. Its sales and marketing costs should drop further after its planned merger with Tesla Motors, when the combined companywouldsell panels at Teslas auto showrooms, said Chief Executive Lyndon Rive.

We had a lot of headwinds that hit us this year, Mr. Rive said, noting that Nevada regulators last December terminated lucrative state incentives for rooftop solar, dealing a major blow to home solar companies.

Another challenge: Competition from smaller solar installers, who are using lower-cost methods to reach people.Online marketplaces such as Project Sunroof, a unit of Alphabet Inc. GOOGL -0.12 % s Google, connect homeowners with installers and other online networks, such as Pick My Solar and PowerScout, which solicit bids from local installers to help consumers get the best local deal.

Regional and smaller firms supplied about 48% of the home solar market earlier this year, up from 47% at the end of 2015, according to GTM Research.

One such online network, Geostellar, is testing an unusual sales tactic:using Uber and Lyft drivers to sell panels to riders.

The privately held company has enlisted about 50 drivers inNew York, Boston, San Francisco, Los Angeles, Washington, Dallas and Miami, who can snag commissions that start at about $1,000 per sale of solar systems.Home solar systems averageabout $18,840 per six-kilowatt array, according to GTM.

Geostellar Chief Executive David Levine said the method is showing promise: drivers have generated about 220 salessince June.

I dont feel like Im selling something. Im giving them information and showing them the savings potential with solar,said Quin Yowell, 51,who drives part-time for Uber and Lyft to supplement his income at Whole Foods WFM -0.52 % in the Washington, D.C., area.

Mr. Yowell,who has soldthreesystemsso far,said he doesn't bother passengers who are talking or texting on mobile phones, or otherwise seem occupied.

Uber and Lyft declined to comment.

Big marketing spending is unusual for a consumer technology that most customers buy after hearing about from a friend, neighbor or family member, said Hugh Bromley, an analyst at research firm Bloomberg New Energy Finance.

Home solar companies with a high-cost business model could face a death spiral of rising costs and lower sales as growth slows, he added.

Bloomberg New Energy Finance is predicting 0.3% growth in the homesolarmarket in 2017, due to a nationwide drop in conventional power prices and reductions in statesolarincentives.

GTM Research and theSolarEnergy Industries Associationpredict 19% growth next year, down from an expected 23% increase in residential installations this year and a 66% jump in 2015.

Were not yet hitting the point where growth stops entirely, but the curve is undeniably slowing down, said Shayle Kann, senior vice president at GTM.

SolarCityhas lowered its forecast for the volume of panels it plans to install this year to 900 to 1,000 megawatts, down from 1,250 megawatts earlier this year.

Corrections & Amplifications:

Geostellar is using Uber and Lyft drivers to sell solar panels to riders. An earlier version of this article misspelled Geostellars name. (Sept. 22, 2016)

Write to Cassandra Sweet at

Video: Google Penguin Status, Mobile Page Speed Factor, Facebook SEO & More - Search Engine Roundtable

June 20, 2016
This week in search, Google has finally given us an update on the status of the Penguin 4.0 update - it is closer and hopefully not too far away. Google said mobile page speed is coming to the mobile friendly algorithm in months. Google launched a new tool to combine page speed scores and mobile friendly scores in one. Google rich snippets are updated as soon as Google crawls your structured markup. Google doesnt care if you use underscores or hyphens. Google says faceted navigation SEO advice is tricky. Google explained the info command gives you the canonical version of your site in Google. Google is showing promotional schema markup in the snippets? Google Now on Tap gets way cooler with camera and photo integrations. Google Now can show you indoor maps and local inventory when you enter a store. Google is sending free Chromebooks to some businesses? Facebook is looking to hire a top notch SEO. Zineb from Google won a SEMY award at SMX France and also has left the Webmaster Trends Analyst team to work with the conversation search team. That was this past week in search at the Search Engine Roundtable.

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Facebook Live Video Sets Eyes On YouTube, Twitter And Advertising $$$ - Tech Times

April 10, 2016
Facebook Live VIdeoThe updates coming to Facebook's Live Video feature will make the battle for advertising dollars even more intense. The changes coming to Live Video look to foster engagement with users, which would increase the company's advertising revenue.

(Photo : Facebook Newsroom)

Facebook has released a slew of updates to its Live Video feature, including live streams within events and groups, real-time reactions, invitations for friends to watch a live video and the Facebook Live Map that collates all live videos being shown in the countries where the feature is supported.

The features will launch on April 6, Facebook said, and will make the battle for advertising dollars with Alphabet's YouTube, Twitter and other social media platforms even more intense.

The Live Video feature of Facebook started out as exclusively for celebrities to stream videos of themselves, but it has since been rolled out to all users in the United States. The company has also recently tweaked its News Feed algorithm so that ongoing Live Video streams will be ranked higher, a change which revealed that Facebook is treating live videos as a new type of content apart from the traditional videos hosted on the social network.

In addition, Facebook Product Management Director for video Fidji Simo said that a small group of news outlets will be directly paid by the company to cover the costs of broadcasting reports through Live Video, instead of through their own websites where the news outlets can receive advertising revenue.

The goal of all these changes, including the most recent updates to Live Video, is to foster engagement with users, which would lead to advertising revenue. There are currently no advertisements yet on Live Video, but a spokesperson for Facebook revealed that while the company is focused on improving the user experience, it would help its partners to make money out of the feature as soon as possible.

The combination of the changes and the partners that Facebook is drawing in for Live Video is expected to create high-quality content for the feature, which would attract more users to access it. It would seem that Live Video will expand Facebook's share of advertising revenue, with brands spending even more on social media as advertising channels more than ever.

2016 Tech Times, All rights reserved. Do not reproduce without permission.

How To Rank Higher In Search Engine Results

December 5, 2015
dallas seo expert

Improving the ability of your website or blog to be found is what search engine optimization is all about, but it can still be a pretty confusing concept for many people out there. Knowing how to correctly optimize pages is an acquired skill, and here are a few tips you can use to develop it.

Knowing the value of different domain endings is a good way to help with search engine optimization. For instance, focus your efforts on trying to get links from .edu websites, by writing content tailored to them or making them aware of your site, as search engines give them more weight than other endings, like .com or .org.

To expand your customer base and bring more traffic to your site, use a product feed to boost your presence online. Such feeds provide detailed information about your offerings, such as pictures, prices and descriptions. Submit them to major search shopping and engines comparison sites. Your customers can receive each feed as it arrives, by using a feed reader.

Take care when using your social media presence to boost your main site's PageRank. The data you provide on your social media pages (e.g. Twitter and Facebook bios) should dovetail with the main keywords of your website. This establishes a relationship between the two that can help improve the positioning of both your social media presence and your main site.

Writing unique and great content must be your first priority for your page to get to the top of the rankings. If you have badly written or uninteresting repetitive information people will quickly click away from your page and eventually you will slide back down the rankings to obscurity.

Include the most important keywords for your site in the left-hand navigation bar and title of your homepage. These texts will be searched before the main text on your website, so you should include the keywords with which you would like your site to be most closely associated with..

To get the best SEO ranking, it's important to write quality copy. Excellent copywriting is at the core of search engine optimization. It typically generates more visitors and attracts more inbound linking. Plus, the search engines, especially Google, have ways of determining how well a story is written and how useful it is, both of which are weighed in search engine ranking.

You can bring in new traffic to your web site by posting on forums in your chosen niche. Most forums allow links in, either your signature area or on your profile, but read the rules first. When you comment on the forums, make sure your comments are helpful. Answer questions, ask pertinent questions, be friendly and have fun.

Consider enabling comments if you are trying to search engine optimize a blog. Some people turn off comments for fear of spam, but by allowing visitors to comment on articles within your blog, you can get free, unique content for your blog. Search engines love unique content, so comments can help your blog rank higher in search engine results pages.

Use off-site linking to reputable, quality content whenever possible, to give your SEO the best boost. This is best way to use linking. Search engines pay more attention to links to other sites as opposed to links to other pages on your own site. Search out opportunities that will also link back to your site this will help you increase your traffic as well.

A very simple strategy for SEO is to use your own site to boost traffic. Use the integration of internal links to your site. Create back links to your archives often, but be sure that the links that you are providing are appropriate to the information that the readers are seeking.

If you are creating pages in languages other than English, include the language meta tag in your page. The tag allows search engines to know what language your site is written in and including it can help boost your rankings for searches for your keyword that are in your chosen language.

Make sure that your site is written in accessible HTML. This will make sure that both the spiders of a search engine crawl and readers can find and read your site. A site that is designed for one or the other is never going to rank in the top search results.

No matter the steps you take to work on search engine optimization, it will be difficult for you to see the fruits of your labor without keeping close tabs on your search rankings. A wide variety of online tools allow you to regularly check how you stand in the page rankings. Similarly, maintaining a watchful eye on your referrer log will help you keep track of precisely which search terms visitors are using to arrive at your site, allowing you to further customize your website to boost traffic.

Taking the traditional route and using their submission form isn't the quickest way to get your site visited if you've just put your website online and want it indexed by Google. Instead, have a website that ranks highly and is updated often to link to your site. Google spiders these types of sites daily or even hourly, so you will pop up on their search engine results very quickly!

Make sure that people visiting your website can get a hold of you. People don't trust websites where they have nothing but a contact form, so allow people to contact you directly by email, phone and even mail. The more people trust your website, the more likely they are to link to you, which is an important part of SEO.

By placing a limit on the number of outbound links that stem from the site itself, you can optimize your content. Even the largest page on your site should have no more than 40 to 50 outbound links your top page should be limited to only 10 outbound links. Too many outbound links compromises the overall integrity of the page, which can affect site ranking.

Don't ignore long-tail keywords. when optimizing your content, long-tail keywords could grab you traffic faster than your primary keywords because they have far less competition. Do your research and find keyword combinations that are related to your main keywords in any of a number of ways. Brainstorm all the different reasons why people would be typing your keywords and research related ideas, issues and problems to find new long-tail keywords to use.

Search engine optimization is something every website owner should be knowledgeable about. Thanks to this article, you now have the information you need to ensure your own site is search engine friendly. You should see new visitors finding your site through search engines in no time if you follow our advice.

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