This project sought to develop a marketing kit that could be used to promote the products and services of the Southern Utah Forest Products Association Cooperative (SUFPA). The organization, formed in 1994, is a cooperative of loggers, mill owners and wood craftsmen in south central Utah.
The Southern Utah Forest Products Association operates on the premise that rather than just cutting, milling then selling rough-sawn timber, its members can add value by manufacturing finished wood products. The members believe they can operate in a global market not by offering a cheaper alternative but by marketing quality products crafted with workmanship and integrity.
To help it achieve those goals, SUFPA has harnessed SARE grant funds to produce a marketing kit for use in promoting the forest products and services of its cooperative members. The kit was used extensively at home and garden shows in Las Vegas and Salt Lake City and has been mailed to a wide range of architects and designers in the region.
Consultation time with cooperative members has served to strengthen the organization. And while the budget limited the number of inserts that could be included in the marketing kit, member interest remains high and more inserts will be produced in the future.
All SUFPA members were given the opportunity to participate in the project to create a new marketing kit. Ten members created product and service information sheets to include in the kit. The 10 are able to fulfill large orders that might come from a successful marketing campaign.
The kit is now a vessel to carry the messages of other budding entrepreneurs who need help with additional marketing.
“It is already evident that the use of these newly created materials has increased the sales of some products,” says project coordinator Brian Cottam in the project’s final report. “We will continue to distribute the kit to architects, designers and our business partners.”
The kit has produced other benefits, including providing SUFPA with a “handsome and professional” way to package the stories of its member businesses.
SUFPA states as its first priority to restore the health of surrounding forests, and the kit has helped the organization keeps its focus on that priority.
“The use of the kit has resulted in an increased awareness of SUFPA’s other major goal, which is to promote local, community-based sustainable forestry,” says project coordinator.
The Southern Utah Forest Products Association contends that its members’ services and products help to provide sustainable forests and sustainable communities. It promotes the ideals of community-based, sustainable harvest of timber and non-timber forest products on National Forest lands and it endorses the idea of smaller timber sales geared toward local, small-scale operators.
“SUFPA advocates an approach to timber harvesting that looks first at the health of the forest and then makes available stewardship contracts that encourage timber harvesters to act as forest stewards,” says the project final report. “Our position promotes healthier ecosystems and creates sustainability in the forests and nearby communities.”
FARMER ADOPTION AND DIRECT IMPACT
The report says that time will tell whether the marketing materials have a direct impact on sales. SUFPA has hired a part-time marketing director, who is developing an overall marketing plan that will include the marketing kit. The director will also be able to help with follow-up contact from potential customers seeking more information based on initial stimulation from the kit.
“The creation of the kit did have a direct and positive impact on the members who participated,” the report said. “Each member was challenged to find words to describe and explain his work. This was an opportunity to focus on the vision and meaning of our work.”
Project coordinator Brian Cottam says the marketing kit itself provides the evidence of the project’s success.
“Our producers’ words, describing their work, are the most poignant comment on their reactions to this project.”
FUTURE RECOMMENDATIONS OR NEW HYPOTHESES
None were offered in the final report.
DISSEMINATION OF FINDINGS
In addition to being used as a sales tool, the marketing kit has been widely distributed at regional and national forestry meetings. Among these are:
· The Forest Trust, Southwest Community Forestry Research Center, Bio-regional Advisory Committee, Albuquerque, NM, 18 participants.
· Four Corners Sustainable Forestry Partnership, Steering Committee Meeting, Cortez, Colo., 35 participants.
· Southwest Regional Team, report on USDA Forest Service Stewardship Contracting pilot programs, Denver, Colo., 16 participants.
· Four Corners Sustainable Forestry Partnership, Pilot Project Workshop, Flagstaff, Ariz., 90 participants.
· National Network of Forest Practitioners, National Advisory Committee meeting, Lexington, Ky., 40 participants.
· Communities Committee of the Seventh Annual Forest Congress, Advisory Committee meeting, Santa Fe, N.M., 30 participants.
Producers involved in the marketing kit are listed at the top of the report as major participants.