By having an outside mail order business handle its orders for promotional materials, the Wisconsin Milk Marketing Board (WMMB) is saving about $300,000 per year, leaders of county dairy promotion groups learned at their 2013 regional conference.
The WMMB still covers the shipping costs but a warehouse in New Berlin processes the orders for materials that are placed through the www.cheeseanddairygear.com and www.WMMBcatalog.com websites, WMMB local market communications director Liz Fitzsimmons pointed out.
By having an independent vendor handle the orders, service has proven to be very prompt via UPS delivery, credit card payments are taken through a secure system, better flexibility is possible in the product lineup, and the WMMB does not stock any inventory while also avoiding concerns pertaining to the federal consumer products safety act, Fitzsimmons explained.
She estimated that about 70 percent of the items are made in the United States while 30 percent are imported.
Items available through the catalog sales are designed to promote the Wisconsin identity of dairy products, particularly cheese and fluid milk, Fitzsimmons stated. They are offered in several price categories and are grouped under such titles as clothing and accessories, kitchen and home, novelty and toys, and writing and office.
In the under $1 per item category are erasers, coloring books, pens, coasters, straws, wristbands, magnet clips, dairy logo keychains, and glowing flyer disks. Items for under $5 include cheese beads, pouches, shoulder packs, cooler/lunch bags, cow sticker packs, balloons, and dart rockets. T-shirts, caps, beanie hats, tote bags, umbrellas, inflatable cows, sports bottles, tumblers, and America's Dairyland ribbons account for most of the items in the $5-$10 category.
Tray servers, cheese knife sets, spatula tongs, aprons, gift boxes, stadium cups, cheery cheek cows, and a local foods journal are choices in the $10-$20 price range. The above $20 group includes a pizza board, blankets, stainless steel cheese set, cheese print decals, and bluetooth speakers.
A two-tier pricing system is in place, Fitzsimmons noted. In addition to the county and other dairy promotion groups, the lower price is offered to 4-H clubs, FFA chapters, dairy farmers, cheese companies, dairy product retailers, foodservice firms, and schools.
Three other promotional vehicles on which Fitzsimmons relies to promote the Wisconsin dairy identity are weekly "Discover Wisconsin" television on which there have been 37 dairy sector episodes in the past 10 years, the Wisconsin Dairy News release that is picked up for broadcast by some television and radio stations, and the youth-oriented "Into the Outdoors" television program, which has won 12 Emmy awards.
Fitzsimmons invited the county dairy promotion group leaders and others in the dairy sector to provide program ideas, especially for "Discover Wisconsin." She suggested a minimum lead time of one week to allow for scheduling of the crew and noted that requests should be placed for times other than the summer because that is already a busy season for the "Discover Wisconsin" team.