13 | Ali Cox: Agriculture Marketing

In this episode we speak with Ali Cox from Ali Cox & Company about Agriculture marketing, being an olympian, and parenthood.

About Ali Cox

  • Founder of Ali Cox & Company
  • Founder of Hey Turlock
  • Agriculture Marketing Expert
  • An Olympian

The most effective avenues for marketing agriculture clients, hands down, is a mobile website.

Ali Cox

Show Notes

Jeff Byer: Yes. Alright, so I hope you enjoy it. Here is our interview with Ali Cox.

Alright. Today, we have Ali Cox on the show. Ali Cox is the co-founder of Ali Cox & Co Marketing, co-founder of heyturlock.com. She is an Olympian, a super mom and fifth-generation farmer. Hi, Ali.

Ali Cox: Hi, there. I thought you were going to say “Supermodel.” I was about to love you even more, Jeff.

Jeff Byer: Oh, well, have you been? You probably were a supermodel.

Ali Cox: That’s right. That’s right.

Matt Ramage: Welcome to the show.

Ali Cox: Hi. Thanks for having me. This is exciting.

Jeff Byer: Yeah.

Matt Ramage: Yeah.

Jeff Byer: The first question we have is we would like to know about your experience at the Olympics.

Ali Cox: Sure, I’m happy to talk about the Olympics. The Olympics, I was in the 2004 Olympics, which happened in Athens, Greece, and I made the women’s eight rowing boat. That was after lots of hard work and years on the team. I raced in, I don’t know, about 12 different World Cup events and then world championships. I’m also a world champion.

The Olympics were very hard, obviously. Training is typically six and a half days a week. Requires an extraordinary amount of teamwork, but then, also, a lot of independent grit and just confidence in yourself because it’s… Making the boat is, honestly, almost harder than even racing at the Olympics. It was an amazing team experience, though, and that really has positioned me, I think, well for my career.

How I really run our business and our agency is with a team aspect, so most of our team members touch all of our work and work very collaboratively. Really, the best idea wins. We are there to support each other, and I think that really was cemented from the Olympics. Of course, winning a medal at the Olympics is special, but truly, I think that, through sports, I really learned how…

I liked to be managed, and I liked to be coached. I liked to be developed, as an athlete, and I’m trying to do that, as an employer, to be honest.

Jeff Byer: Very nice. Where’s the medal?

Ali Cox: Oh, hidden from my three-year-old.

Matt Ramage: I was going to ask if you’re actually wearing it, today.

Ali Cox: You know what? I actually forgot to wear it to work, today. Yeah.

Matt Ramage: Oh, okay.

Ali Cox: My medal, I think it’s in my husband’s sock drawer, to be honest. I should probably go check.

Jeff Byer: Nice.

Ali Cox: Yeah, I don’t put it on the wall. It’s not even locked up. Probably, it should be, but now that the world knows where my medal is, it really should…

Matt Ramage: Uh-oh.

Ali Cox: It’s going to be, starting today, because–

Matt Ramage: We can cut that part out.

Ali Cox: Yeah. No, it’s good. Yeah, but that medal really is… It’s very ratty-tatty. Probably, a couple thousand children have worn it. I did a lot of public speaking, right after the Olympics. For about eight years, I did a ton of public speaking in the public school system in New York City, where I lived, and also in my home area.

Matt Ramage: Oh, great. How did you get into marketing?

Ali Cox: How did I get into marketing? How did I not get into marketing is actually a better question.

Matt Ramage: Okay.

Ali Cox: As a child, one of my jobs was the neighbors would all hire me to serve at their dinner parties and — even in sixth grade — to be the waitress. I think I was always selling food or, kind of like the experience of marketing, an experience person. Then, in high school, I was the rally commissioner for our high school. It had about 3,000 students, so I actually did have to pull permits, and promote, and make posters, and run content and all that.

Those were my two very formative starts. Then, from there, I always knew what I wanted to do, starting my sophomore year of college. Then I just pursued it, relentlessly.

Matt Ramage: Wow, great.

Jeff Byer: What are the top opportunities in ag marketing, today?

Matt Ramage: Or, wait, wait, maybe, can we back up and say just–

Jeff Byer: Yes.

Matt Ramage: How did you get into ag marketing?

Ali Cox: We should develop to ag marketing, yeah.

Matt Ramage: Yes.

Ali Cox: Okay. Okay, well, let’s start with this. I had a pretty extensive entertainment marketing background. In college, I had several marketing internships and several sports marketing internships. Then, while I was training, I also worked in sports marketing, at an agency. Then, after I competed at the Olympics, I moved to New York City, full time, and worked at IMG, which is a sports entertainment marketing agency. Then that transitioned into when I started by business.

I still did a lot of sports, and entertainment, and fashion, but I also started doing tech. I think I sold my soul a little bit, doing that, and it was about 12 years ago, I started my business. It was about 10 years ago, I think, that my dad put the idea in my head. Like, “Why don’t you think about coming in. We’re spending a lot of money on the tomato growers board and bean growers board,” and there was a lot going on in ag. Like, “Would you be interested in that,” and it planted the seed.

Then I started thinking about how I am a fifth-generation farmer of the same land in California, and it is important to me. I had spent about 10 years in New York and then was ready to move back to my hometown — which truly is the heart of California ag — and pursue it. That’s what we’re doing.

Matt Ramage: Hm, great, great. Yeah, so what would you… As far as ag marketing goes, what would you say would be the top challenges for just, yeah, I guess, for the farmers and just the overall industry?

Ali Cox: Well, first, I think we should talk about the opportunities.

Matt Ramage: Okay, yeah.

Ali Cox: The opportunities, so the California agriculture industry is a $54 billion agency. And so, there’s an unbelievable amount of opportunity, from a marketing perspective. Also, there are really no agencies… Or there’s only a handful of agencies who focus on ag marketing. We are relentlessly pursuing that, from an ag communications perspective, and just believe that there is an opportunity for growers, and processors, and for the industry to tell their stories, themselves. That’s why we’re focusing so much of our efforts on giving the industry the tools to do that, so we will help our clients develop strategies, help them with their tools, help them put a face out there and, also, not to be scared of the media.

I think what’s really… We’re finding a real switch and change in the industry, is that growers in the ag industry is understanding, now, that nobody is coming to save them. They’ve got to save themselves, and they’ve got to tell their own stories. They’ve got to develop strategies, in order to do that.

We are really… I think, quite frankly, millennials get a bad rap, which I’m always advocating for millennials because it’s 90% of my team, is millennial. Really, seeing an opportunity, with the younger farmer and the younger generation, to adapt, and to innovate, and really not fight the system, but embrace the system and take control of what… the messaging that they want to put out there.

Matt Ramage: Mm.

Jeff Byer: How is technology making a play, in that realm?

Ali Cox: Well, most… Ag technology is a fascinating niche technology industry, and it’s making a huge play, just in the whole landscape. Most farmers, now, carry a smartphone. There are electronic moisture sensors. There are a lot… Most farmers, like bigger farmers, have their own weather stations. Testing for… It’s just a smarter way to do ag, which I am happy to follow up on more.

The actual farming operations is changing, to be more technologically savvy. That is something that I want to make sure that consumers understand; that California ag, in particular, is innovating very rapidly. While, yes, we require a lot of resources to do our jobs, we, unapologetically, are moving, and adopting, and adapting. That’s a story that we tell.

From a marketing perspective, we use an enormous amount of video. We have an in-house video department. We do an enormous amount of copywriting and, also, website development and social media. Really, we work to help those growers tell those stories that are very authentic, based on whomever their audience is and understanding, right now, that audience is global.

We just really want those growers to feel comfortable telling their stories, which is something that is not… By nature, farmers are a very gritty, confident, quiet, hardworking industry, so it is not first nature for them to go and tell their story to the world. That is something that we are helping, slowly, slowly, slowly, adopt into their practices and their comfort level.

Of course, there’s a lot of challenges with that because it’s not normal. It doesn’t feel good. It doesn’t feel safe. At the same time, with this new generation of millennials now stepping in… Because, I mean, baby boomers are phasing out. There’s only five more years that they’re going to be the decision-makers, so there’s a lot of transition in the ag industry. That’s really where our agency is finding our niche and capitalizing on it.

Matt Ramage: Mm, wow, great. You know what I was thinking? As far as… You spoke about the audience as global. Can you talk more about that audience? I guess I’m trying to figure about who the actual ag is marketing to? Is it the consumer, or is it other businesses or manufacturers?

Ali Cox: It really depends.

Matt Ramage: It depends, okay.

Ali Cox: It totally depends. I can’t really blanket… I can’t give you an easy answer on that.

Matt Ramage: Okay.

Ali Cox: Each one of our clients, obviously, when we start to help them, that’s the first thing we figure out, is who are we talking to. Who is our audience? Some of our audience are processors, so we work with the processors. If you’re a processor, we look at who your sales targets are. If you are a domestic, if you really are focusing on domestic sales, so if you’re working with the Kraft, and the Nabiscos, and the big domestic, even, or the smaller brands, you’re probably looking at more of a consumer play by default because those marketing departments want to cross market. If you’re… the majority of your crop is going internationally, like to Korea, or Japan, or Europe, then there’s a different set of specifications. Really, it’s helping understand what those are and telling those stories in a way that is very meaningful. Then, oftentimes, then we follow-up with the sales collateral, and the messaging, and the videos, to all support that.

Matt Ramage: Mm-hm.

Ali Cox: It really depends.

Jeff Byer: Yeah. You have the unique opportunity of not only representing farmers and marketing their product, but representing the processors and marketing back to the farmers.

Ali Cox: Exactly.

Jeff Byer: Yeah.

Ali Cox: That is part of it. That’s definitely… We have almond processors that they have an inherent challenge in that they have two customers. They’ve got the customers they sell the crop to, and then they’ve got the growers that they’re looking to bring in to process their crop.

Jeff Byer: Yeah.

Ali Cox: Same with our rice clients. Same with our walnut client. All of our ag clients have that issue, and that’s something that we work closely with them to–

Jeff Byer: Is that different messaging, both ways?

Ali Cox: It’s different messaging. There’s 200 process… No, there’s 100 almond processors in California, so, basically, there’s 100 processors processing all of the crop in the entire world. Our job is to help each one of them differentiate.

Oftentimes, when they come to us, they say, “Our messaging is quality.” We’re like, “Okay, that’s great, but that’s not really a message.” That’s not unique. Everybody has that quality. “We’re family-owned.” “Okay, that’s great, but that’s really not unique.” Lots of people have family-owned businesses. We peel back the layers, to figure out what are the differentiating qualities.

There’s plenty of opportunity for everybody, and that’s what’s so amazing about the ag industry. There’s how do we help them understand that there is a packer for everybody, for every grower, and every grower just needs to find out what’s their comfort level. What are they looking for?

It’s like we all like a different running shoe. We all have a different reason why we like a specific running shoe, and so, that’s why we’re going to stick with that running shoe. It’s the same thing with your processor, wherever you feel comfortable.

Then, on the packer side, with their customer, then they develop relationships. It’s a relationship business, a commodity relationship business with a fluctuating price. That’s the other thing.

I could go on about this forever. I mean, really. Growers and farmers, the price change is minute by minute, so you really never know how much you’re going to make, year to year. That’s, again, why those farmers, their personalities are so tough. They have no idea how much they’re going to make, and they have an incredible amount of risk.

Matt Ramage: Hm.

Ali Cox: That’s why they need us.

Jeff Byer: Yeah.

Matt Ramage: Right, yes.

Jeff Byer: What have you found are the most–

Ali Cox: I love that.

Jeff Byer: –are the most effective avenues for marketing them?

Ali Cox: The most effective avenues for marketing them, hands down, is a mobile website. You’ve got to have a mobile-friendly website. You’ve got to invest in your content and continual development of content, so that your SEO rate can stay high; but, also, just so you can tell your story. That’s your home base, is your website.

When we first start working with a lot of our clients, we go and we visit them at their plant. Their plants are… I mean, you could eat off the floor. They are so clean. They are impeccable. There is no dust. They have 10 different certifications that are USDA, and Japan specs, USDA specs, Korean specs, European specs, very… I mean, tons of these specifications.

Then you go to their website, and it just looks like they don’t care. And so, that is where we often start. It’s like, “Okay. The experience I’m having in your plant is like the opposite on your…” It’s messy. It’s like a cluttered mess. It is hard to navigate, so that, we typically will be like, “Okay, we don’t have a consistent story here. Your front door is your website, and your website is a disaster.” It’s not a good representation.

Jeff Byer: Yeah. And so, now that farmers are now going online and have the smartphones, they are looking to that as a first step to relationship because it really is about relationships, at the end of the day.

Ali Cox: Yeah, exactly, and so, five years ago, that didn’t matter. We didn’t have… Everybody didn’t have a smartphone. Or maybe 10 years ago, it didn’t matter. Really, just that personal relationship mattered.

Now, we’ve got son and daughter coming along, who are saying, “Great. I really value that personal relationship. That’s wonderful, but I’m still going to do my homework. I’m going to do my due diligence. I’m going to get on that website, and I’m going to make sure that these people are speaking a language that resonates with me and that makes sense to me, from a professional standpoint.” That’s why the millennial farmer and the millennial person working in ag is actually the least lazy generation because they do the most homework. They do the most due diligence. They do copious amounts of due diligence. That’s where we find our job is to go and help those clients navigate. Our clients that have adopted this processes over the last five years, they are reaping the benefits now.

Jeff Byer: Mm.

Matt Ramage: Ali, can you maybe walk us through one of… a case study that you were proud of and that we can get the sense of the overall… I guess, the success and how, what happened?

Ali Cox: A case study. Jeff, this was not in the original questions.

Matt Ramage: I’m sorry.

Jeff Byer: I told you it was conversational.

Matt Ramage: Or just, you know, a client you’re–

Ali Cox: I’m looking at the logo wall.

Matt Ramage: Okay, a client you’re proud of and that you’re just telling their story.

Ali Cox: Yeah. Well, I mean, I’m proud of all of our clients because, otherwise, we wouldn’t still be working with them. I am proud of Monte Vista Farming Company, so Monte Vista is one of those 100 almond processors. They decided…

The CEO is very innovative. He’s younger, but he is a steadfast advocate of ag, and his family’s been farming for years and years. Jonathan, the CEO, just decided, “Listen. We’re not going to just… We’re not just going to say we’re a family-owned business and we have high quality. That’s not okay. I’m not okay with that. I want to be the industry leader in tech and innovation,” and he was.

I am so proud of that website. We did it a couple years ago, so it’s time for a refresh now. He decided, “Yeah, I’m happy to invest in video. I want our story told. I want… I know, when I talk to growers and when I talk to customers, I know what I’m saying, but I want to make sure that everybody knows that.”

He was the first that basically put a line in the sand and said, “Listen. This company stands for transparency and traceability, and that’s what we’re going to stand for.” That emanates across their website, throughout their entire plant process, so much that they’re the go-to for KIND bar, for example. KIND bar does a lot of their advertising with Monte Vista Farming growers. Why they developed that relationship is because of that transparency and traceability, and so, it affects every aspect of their business, including the consumer experience.

That’s a case study that I am super proud of, and that was one of our first. I think that was one of our first ways of doing processes, and Jeff was really, really, really instrumental in making that happen. They love our website that we’ve made, and it is time for a refresh. They also develop… They also invest in content.

Jeff Byer: Yeah. The website that’s up now is version two. Version one was very innovative. It was the full screen, with the hamburger menu and the full screen navigation. It was really fun. Then SEO took over, and we had to scrap all of that.

Ali Cox: Yeah. Yeah, that was a great first project though. Not first project, but that was a great first almond processor project.

Jeff Byer: Yeah. Yeah. I had a lot of fun with it.

Ali Cox: We’ve gotten a lot of business off of that website because, I think, people learned. Like, “Oh, it can be done like this,” and really, that was Jonathan, the CEO, saying, “Let’s just go for it. Let’s just do something different. I don’t want to be the same. I want to be different. Now, they are so successful and growing their tonnage, and have really deep relationships and, with their customers in Japan and abroad, are just fantastic. Now, we do a lot of their marketing for their Chinese trade shows and everything else, so it just has evolved. It’s evolved really well.

Jeff Byer: Alright. You ready to transition over to Hey Turlock, another project I helped you with?

Ali Cox: I love Hey Turlock. Hey Turlock was started out of necessity, like all good projects are. Hey Turlock, well, let’s see. We launched that almost three years ago, and it’s in my hometown, which is Turlock.

When I came back from New York, I just was like, “Well, what’s up? How do I even know what’s going on around here?” And so, with a business partner, we created a local social media-based company. Jeff helped with the website, and another… It’s time for an app. We need to get that. We need to evolve that, too. I’m a perfectionist, so I just need to do everything.

We developed Hey Turlock, which has just grown, and grown, and grown. We’ve developed processes and systems, and really, it has turned out to be a thriving local… a local go-to for our area. I think it’s pretty scalable, too.

Jeff Byer: Yeah. What Matt and I usually have, when we have projects like this come up, is that the client asks for something like this, and we’re like, “Sure. We’re going to build it for you and everything.” Then, it mostly goes unused and falls by the wayside. Pretty much, 90% of the times that we build blogs or content management systems for our clients, it doesn’t get used.

Matt Ramage: We use it.

Jeff Byer: This was an amazing–

Ali Cox: Let’s stay positive.

Jeff Byer: Yeah, we end up using it for ourselves. Yeah, but this one was the process of building it and then watching them just jump on it; fill it with content; make relationships with all the local businesses; fill the calendar with events, a year in advance. You guys just took it and exploded it, so I’m really proud of you and proud of what you did with what we had created initially. It was really nice to see you guys took over.

Ali Cox: Yeah. There’s been some transition. I bought my partner out, and so, now my agency owns it, 100%. Even in the last two months, just the internal operational changes, I’m seeing just the… I’m seeing that happening externally, also.

Yeah, it’s really exciting. We’re growing. We added two more people to the team. I see that… I see Hey Turlock doing nothing but growing.

It also provided a really great base for us to launch Turlock Restaurant Week, which is another local baby of mine. And so, we finished our second year of Turlock Restaurant Week in January, and we are part of California Restaurant Month and have about 25+ businesses participate. That’s a really fantastic property that I’m proud of, also.

We do it like… The first time I launched the first Turlock Restaurant Week, I was like, “This would be a nice team project” and also one that wouldn’t get… For the other small businesses out there, it wouldn’t be… I mean, I’m the final approval. Quite frankly, I was like, “Everybody out here is going to be approving their own stuff” because it’s nice not to have everything you do changed by the client. And so, we got to be the client, and that was a good bonding experience for us.

It was also, I think, a confidence booster because our stuff looked so cool, and we loved it. It was fresh and innovative. Again, no client was changing anything, and so, we could really guess that would maybe be a suggestion for other businesses out there, is find a passion project, and do it because it will… even if you’re just doing it as a confidence booster because it’s nice not to be edited.

Jeff Byer: Yeah.

Matt Ramage: Yep.

Jeff Byer: Yeah, definitely. That’s where you and I get along well, is in the creative and in the… and seeing eye to eye on that stuff. Usually, when stuff gets changed for the worst, we both agree that it’s the wrong–

Ali Cox: It’s the fit.

Jeff Byer: –way to go.

Ali Cox: Lame.

Jeff Byer: Yeah.

Ali Cox: I know. I think that I’m going to start… In new business presentations, I think I’m going to start showing version one of everything. I don’t want the to see what’s out there. I want them to see version one because that, always the best.

Jeff Byer: Yeah.

Matt Ramage: Oh, well, great. Well, you had talked about, I guess, at your company, you’ve got 90% millennials. Jeff told me that you recently spoke at a conference, working with millennials, so can you talk about how that went?

Ali Cox: Sure. I spoke at the AgTech Summit. I spoke on the transition of decision power, of decision-making powers and, really, what is happening in the world, right now, with baby boomers terming out in the next five years. It’s already started, quite frankly.

Now, grandpa, dad or mom, and grandson, or granddaughter, they’re all at the table. Grandfather, grandmother is probably getting a little confused by anything or just tired, quite frankly. There’s been so much change in the last 15 years of doing business. They’re just all exhausted, quite frankly. Now, just how do we make sure that we put our best foot forward, and understanding that everything’s changed.

Jeff Byer: Right

Ali Cox: It’s not just about, again, it’s not just about going and working with a local source we’ve had a relationship for three decades, or three generations with. Now, you’re working with people, like my brother, who are in their mid-30s and are perfectly capable of having remote relationships and perfectly capable of doing deals with banks, anywhere. They don’t have to just be here, so the whole landscape is changing.

Matt Ramage: Mm.

Jeff Byer: Yeah, changing for the better, using more information that’s readily available, using the technologies and… Yeah.

Ali Cox: I mean, from our experience, I mean, from our perspective, it’s changing for the better. Talk to somebody who’s 65 and over, they might not believe that.

Matt Ramage: Uh.

Jeff Byer: It’s probably swallowing up the people that refuse to change. Yeah, I understand that, as well.

Ali Cox: Yeah. That’s okay. I mean, that’s… Our job is to help bridge that, and that’s where we’ve really found a sweet spot because I think it helps that I have grown up in this. I respect tradition. I respect history, but I also love innovation. I love knowing what’s next. We just approach it very tactfully and very respectfully.

There’s a reason why we have a successful agriculture ecosystem in California, and that’s because people worked really hard for a couple hundred years. We need to respect that; right? They’ve done a great… They’ve been stewards of their land. Clearly, it’s been a sustainable process. We’re still farming. And so, I respect that, and I also respect that times are changing, and we don’t want to get lost in the dust.

Jeff Byer: Yeah.

Matt Ramage: Oh, yep.

Jeff: Understood. It’s, yeah, paying homage to where you came from, but also having the courage to forge on in a new direction, new path, new technology,` with the younger generation taking over.

Ali Cox: Right.

Matt Ramage: I’ve got to ask a question that’s unrelated to everything we’ve talked about. We have had a drought in California, and the drought, I think, is over. How is it, up there? Are people happier, now that we had some rain this year?

Ali Cox: Um.

Matt Ramage: Or are we still in it?

Ali Cox: How political should we get?

Matt Ramage: Right, because every time I drive up to San Francisco, I see the signs about water. Yeah, I guess we could get pretty political. Let’s not get too political.

Ali Cox: Okay, so are we happy it’s rained? Yes. We’ve had two wet winters, which is great. It actually needs to stop raining because, right now, we are getting into some really dangerous territory of too much rain; too much rain too late in the season because it’s time for blossoms to start coming out, and planting to happen and all of that. So that is good.

Matt Ramage: Mm-hm.

Ali Cox: We have some severe political issues, right now, that are affecting California agriculture, that are very sensitive. The California water board has made quite a few decisions that are… adversely affect California ag. Water is definitely a hot topic. Even though it’s rained and we have our snowpack, and that’s fantastic, that doesn’t mean that we’re going to see all that water.

It’s very touchy, but I’m going to play both sides. The pro is that we have water. There’s water to fight over. The con is… Another pro is, by having stricter regulations and all that, it’s forcing innovation. It’s forcing people to do things a little differently, and it’s forcing technology adoption.

In the almond orchards, right now, where we are in the heart of almond country, most large growers have dual-line drip systems. That means they have paid to have drip throughout all of their orchards, in every single… Every tree is getting drip from two lines. Guess what? To install 100 acres of drip, it’s over $1 million, just to install it. That’s not even to pay for the water.

What needs to happen is… We have all these demands on growers to innovate and to evolve, which is… Again, I’m for it. That’s contentious, for a lot of people. What needs to happen, then, is we need consumers to realize, “Listen. Growers are changing, and that means that you need to understand that they’re spending more money. You need to be prepared to spend more money in the grocery store.”

Matt Ramage: Mm-hm.

Ali Cox: “We need you to support California agriculture. If you’re only shopping the cheapest and the bottom of the barrel, and you’re fine eating food that you have no idea what kind of requirements they’ve been grown under, internationally, because there is no international process or law, then that’s the risk you’re putting on you and your family. You’re also not supporting your local ecosystem, and also, then you should probably stop putting those demands on the local ag community.”

Matt Ramage: Mm.

Ali Cox: It goes both sides, and that’s why growers have to tell our story. Because you wouldn’t know that, unless you talked to a grower. You would not know that their bottom line has grown by about 30%, in the last five years, because of a whole host of reasons.

Matt Ramage: Wow.

Ali Cox: Employment wages, too. Environmental requirements went up.

Matt Ramage: Mm.

Ali Cox: Your food should cost about a third more.

Matt Ramage: Wow.

Jeff Byer: Yeah, way to go, Matt.

Matt Ramage: Oh.

Jeff Byer: No, but that… I’m not playing around. That is a very important issue.

Matt Ramage: Yeah.

Jeff Byer: As living in southern California, we receive way more water than we deserve. There is not enough water, just to say, in southern California, and we know that we’re stealing from central California ag, as consumers. There’s only so much that we can do. We can vote, but Ali is front line, seeing exactly the damage that it’s causing, not having the water go to where it’s supposed to go.  

Ali Cox: Yeah. It’s heartbreaking. It’s heartbreaking because the… It’s just heartbreaking to see what happens to the economy, to be one, and also to drive by and see dead orchards, number two. They’re getting pulled out and then, potentially, developed into homes, which then require water. It’s just a cycle. `

It’s just a cycle. Again, from a marketing perspective, my whole job is to tell the story, so everybody has the opportunity to make their decisions in a balanced way. At least, now, growers and farmers can have more of a presence at the table and be part of the conversation.

Matt Ramage: Yeah.

Jeff Byer: What we like to end our interviews with is tools.

Ali Cox: Okay.

Jeff Byer: What tools do you use, on the daily basis, to help you keep productive and keep things flowing properly?

Ali Cox: I’m surprised you’re not laughing at me, right now, Jeff.

Jeff Byer: Emailing Jeff is not a tool.

Ali Cox: No.

Matt Ramage: Jeff’s on that tool list.

Ali Cox: Our agency is… We are in the middle of a… We’re, basically, growing 100%, every year. We have grown 100%, every year for the last five years, so we are scaling. I would say our tools are scaling with us.

It’s something that I’m constantly thinking about, but I was just thinking through what we do now. We do a lot of digital advertising and buying for our clients. Obviously, we’re on Facebook, Instagram, Google, all the time, buying advertising.

We use Hootsuite for social media management. That’s going to be changing, though, in the next… That’s going to be changing, really quickly. We use Mailchimp, every single day, for our clients. I would say Google is our home base, so we use the Google Drive for everything. Also, Dropbox, I’m happy to pay the Enterprise Dropbox fee, every year. Everything is housed through Dropbox. Everybody has a Mac. Everybody has an iPhone. That’s all paid for.

One tool that I have, that has just blown the cover off the ball for me, lately… About nine months ago, I started using Gusto, and that is an HR payroll resource, I think, primarily targeted towards small-/medium-size businesses. From an administrative perspective, running payroll, that has been a game changer for me. I’m happy to advocate for it, and I have. I’ve recommended it to several other friends who have people to pay.

Jeff Byer: Yeah.

Matt Ramage: They have great customer service, too. I used them, a couple of years ago, and they were just a fun company to work with.

Ali Cox: Yeah.

Matt Ramage: The interface is great, and yeah.

Ali Cox: Yeah. I mean, if you’re using it a couple years ago, it’s probably a different company now because even six months ago, there’s been things that have… they’ve iterated that are just even better. I mean, they’re really, I think, investing, so that’s been a game changer for me. Right now, we’re looking to move into a better content management system and for social media, quite frankly, and for measurement for social media. We use Google Analytics, every day.

We work in an open floor plan. My rule really is that you’re not allowed to email your neighbor unless you have an attachment, or you’re following up with an actual strategy or a document. There’s no internal questions, so you have to actually talk to your neighbor. We really… That’s a rule that I enforce, too. As soon as I get this long email about how somebody feels, then I know that we’re doing a bad job. We’re not working as a team. I work to really enforce that. Really, it’s our contractors that we work with. They get the brunt of the emails.

Matt Ramage: Okay.

Jeff Byer: Those important people.

Ali Cox: Those poor, poor, humble souls. Yeah, and obviously, we’re on email, constantly.

Jeff Byer: Yeah.

Matt Ramage: Do you guys do any chat? Do you guys do any internal chat?

Ali Cox: Yeah, we… We just use the Google.

Matt Ramage: Google chat.

Ali Cox: Google email chat function.

Matt Ramage:  Yep. Yeah.

Ali Cox: Yeah.

Matt Ramage: Alright.

Ali Cox: We have production schedules. I guess that’s the only thing. I should, actually, drill in on that. We have 30 clients; 30, give or take, clients at any time. Each client has a production schedule that we use Google.

I know that we could innovate. I know that we could look into more of a management software system, and we have. I don’t know. It always just seems to come back to that, from a point of ease.

Jeff Byer: Alright.

Matt Ramage: Yep.

Jeff Byer: Well, where can people find you? Who do you want to promote? What are your plugs? Let’s get those out there.

Ali Cox: My plugs is to go to our beautiful website, designed by Byer Inc. That’s alicox.com, and then, if you want to see us in the day-to-day, you should go to alicoxandco_marketing on Instagram. A fact that you will probably always find, if you look in the stories, you’ll find a team out on a photo shoot. I think that we’ve been on… This is our seventh photo shoot this week, and so, they’re all in the stories.

This week, we have been videoing beans, garbanzo beans, garlic, pistachios, and right now, pistachios. It is mid-April. Pistachios are pollinating, right now, which is really interesting. We’ve been on an almond shoot, and we’ve been to Chico State, UC Davis, part of the rice shoot, right now. We’re going to go video a winery, this afternoon.

Matt Ramage: Oh, sounds fun.

Ali Cox: Yeah.

Jeff Byer: Nothing going on, today.

Ali Cox: Another day.

Matt Ramage: It looks like you got a busy day.

Ali Cox: Another day.

Matt Ramage: Great. Well, thank you so much for being on this show. I mean, we could definitely have you back or turn this into another hour of talking. Thank you so much.

Ali Cox: I could talk. That’s for sure.

Jeff Byer: Yes, thank you very much, Ali.

Ali Cox: Okay. Thanks, guys. I’m going to hold on. I’m going to take a picture, so I can put this on our–

Matt Ramage: Oh, yeah.

Ali Cox: I’m going to put this on our stories.

Matt Ramage: Yeah.

Ali Cox: Smile

Jeff Byer: For show notes and information, go to digitalrage.fm. Follow us on Twitter and Instagram at digitalragefm, and please, give us a rate and review. We’d sincerely appreciate it.

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About the Author
Jeff Byer has been designing identities and building websites since 1995. He is the CEO and co-founder of Print Fellas LLC, and the President at Byer Company, a division of Jeff Byer Inc, a web design company in Los Angeles. Jeff has a Bachelor of Arts Degree from the Annenberg School for Communication at the University of Southern California. He is a certified Project Manager by Franklin-Covey and has qualifications in Photoshop, Illustrator, HTML, PHP, JavaScript, MySQL, SEO, Bing Ads, and Google Ads. Jeff Byer is a co-author on 5 US Patents related to content management systems he has created on the internet.

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