Thoughts on the FFA CDE: Ag. Marketing Plan -- 5 of 5 "Budget, Evaluation, Technical & Business Writing Skills, and the Presentation"

January 31, 2018


For the budget you need to know where you are. What is the current Income statement for the business. The income statement shows all the money that was made plus all the expenses you paid out to make that money. If you can access last year and a year or two before that is great. The rule of thumb is: 1 year of data shows where you are, 2 years of data shows a conspiracy, and 3 years of data shows a trend.

Now, your marketing strategy should alter that trend. If the 3 year trend shows a downward tilt in sales then your strategy should turn that trend upward. If it's already trending up, then conceivably your strategy should tilt it up more. Reflect this trend in the budget for next year. Expenses should include costs you know will be incurred for your marketing strategy: billboard costs, new signage, radio ads, convention booth costs, fake snow, and inflatable woodland creatures. Add them up and put them in the budget as expenses above and beyond what the normal budget would look like.

Then there's revenue. How much money will this marketing strategy produce? Called Return on Investment (ROI). $1,000,, no it won't return that much. That will come down to how you read the market. If you discover that the tree farm is largely unknown, then odds are you can expect a 3:1 or 4:1 ROI for the investment of $500 to $2,500. If more money than that in put into marketing expect closer to 2:1 or 1.5:1 in dollars made compared to dollars invested in marketing.

So, find the current income statement, figure your marketing costs, calculate the increased revenue based on the ratios above and make a new budget for next year. Make sure your discussion on budgets and marketing costs reflect what you put in the income statement. I always look when I judge and sometimes they don't match. Part 4 said you expected an additional $3,300 per week. So that's about an extra $13,000 for the season. So, now find out how much it'll cost you to make that additional money. The devil is in the details.


Here you are evaluating the marketing plan once it is implemented. You can plan some benchmark tests to see how the plan impacts sales. From part 4  you know that on average 100 trees are cut per day and 250 per weekend day during the holiday season. So your benchmarks would be maybe + 25 per week day and +150 per weekend day also based on part 4. You may discover other benchmarks: rides taken, pictures taken, visitors per day, number of trash bags used (more people, more trash) need data to evaluate whether the marketing is working or not. Get creative. The tools you use to measure these benchmarks would be money collected, new stumps counted by staff, daily car counts...Just identify some tools and the people who are responsible for making sure those tools are used correctly to provide the benchmark data you need.

But then the question remains, what if the benchmark data shows sales remain flat? You better have a plan to figure out why and steps to take to pivot the strategy to get things on the right track. Facebook might not let you tag people as you hoped, you might get two weeks of rain (or to stinking hot), the city might've decided to start paving the road in December. Have a plan to start surveying people again and figure out why they aren't coming to get a fresh tree. Talk to the civic clubs who came and decorated trees and see what they have to say. Pivot your strategy based on what you find out. Whatever it is, have a plan in case sales do not pick up.

Technical & Business Writing Skills

This looks to be more based on the format your state wants. Outline the paper the way they want including roman numerals for their outline format or whatever setup they want. Do your best to create an exact replica of the format they provide if possible.

Be professional with your writing. Avoid word like: dumb, stupid, awesome and similar. This is a business pitch to a client and I know you want them to get excited. But what gets business owners excited is a more profitable business, not buzzwords and name calling.

Nailing the presentation

After all this, you have 15 minutes to present a concise summary of the paper. I suspect if you do the work there's no way you'll have enough time to cover everything. So I'll say it again, a concise summary. You (your team) is the marketing consultant and the judge is the client. You are selling them on your marketing idea, not the business. Believe it or not I've worked with judges who gave high marks because the team had a great business idea. And I agreed but I gave terrible marks because the marketing plan was garbage. You want to do the marketing for the Christmas tree farm. So you are trying to persuade them to use you and your marketing strategy to make the more money.

Be organized, spread the talking among the entire group, be professional. Judges notice when you use visual aids just to fill up space but have no relevance to the presentation. You only have 15 minutes to cover everything so you must be efficient and communicate as much as you can in a way that will stick with the judges and show that you know what you are talking about AND that you did the work and can prove it.


I think that just about covers it. Ask questions below and I'll be glad to answer. If you have a specific question about your team or something has you stuck, then email me at and I'll be glad to help. Good luck!