What Does a Marketing Intern DO at a Sod Farm Anyhow?

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021I really didn’t know what to expect of a marketing internship at a turf farm. I also didn’t come into this with any specific expectations other than to harness some concrete skills that would set me apart from the competition as I entered the work force. I took the Red Hen internship because I knew I would be working with quality people, within a community I am passionate about and farming/ small business is in my roots. My intuition was — this would be fantastic place to learn and grow.

In the beginning, I spent time touring the farm, shadowing staff, taking a lot of notes, listening to a few stories (some fact, some fiction) and really taking it all in. Before long, I was getting my feet wet.

Five Tower Lane

Some of the projects I ended up working on were designing new business cards (utilizing photographs I took), postcard advertising mailers, Facebook cover art, hats, as well as dabbling in website design. I enjoyed the design projects; they allotted me independent creativity while teaching me those concrete skills I was hoping for.

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Organization is the key to success.

I also researched and wrote up social media policy for employees as well as researched social media management tools and their effectiveness for this particular small business. Along the lines of social media, I also worked diligently to beef up the farm’s Instagram, Twitter and Facebook accounts. My goal was to utilize Twitter to update cutting status, Instagram to entertain and thus gain followers and Facebook to inform and entertain, all of which would ultimately lead to followers and thus sales.

A cluttered desk just means you’re working diligently on many projects, right?

Writing up articles for submission to Turf Producers International (TPI) newsletter and magazine, the farm blog and other newsletters, was another big undertaking.  When writing about Red Hen’s involvement in the SB 150 birthday party, I had the privilege to speak with planning committee members Johnathon Geels, Landscape architect with the Troyer Group and Drew Elegante, owner of South Bend Brew Werks. Both were a pleasure to interview and gave notable insight and quotes that ultimately helped me deliver a great article.

I sat in on an irrigation event the farm hosted, presented by Purdue and MSU county extension offices. Attending, writing a blog about that event, and taking pictures for it was a definite highlight.

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Lyndon Kelley of MSU and Purdue extension offices speaks on irrigation tactics.

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Irrigation event field trip.

I went out on a limb when researching the TPI media packet. I noticed an upcoming issue would be touching on product diversification, which is significant to the Red Hen operation. I quickly jumped on the opportunity to write about this and got it approved by management.

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A substantial amount of time was also spent working one-on-one with customers. I would place their orders, talk to them about their lawns and more often than not, listen to the solutions Jeremy Cooper (Turf Operations Manager), the sod expert of the office, had for them. It was refreshing to work with a business that understands how to treat customers well and works hard at it every single day.

Customer service 101: You never know what you’re gonna get!

Among all these projects, my favorite was shooting video and pictures. I was able to
deliver a bank of quality pictures to the farm in thousands. Getting up at the crack of dawn to capture the sunrise on the farm, laying on the sod and venturing through 10 foot tall corn, all in the name of unique shots, contributed to an overall amazing experience.

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Lisa Courtney, my internship manager, was a wealth of information. She is a google extraordinaire and at times, I feel she is a living and walking encyclopedia.  If you need answers, she’s got them and if she doesn’t, give her 10 minutes and search engine and she will!  She has taught me so much in terms of technology, I.T. tips, website knowledge, design strategy, etc…  I can’t begin to explain all the nuggets she’s thrown at me during the course of the internship, but I can say I’m very thankful to her and I’m so honored to have had the opportunity to work next to her.

All the staff at Red Hen has been pleasant to work with. I appreciate the laid back yet professional atmosphere. There is a real sense of community and common sense work ethic within the organization which I think greatly adds to their effectiveness and overall success.

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Sod crew inked

Red Hen Sod Crew

I must say this internship was a wonderful experience.  It was a goal of mine to “wow” them.  Well, I’m not  sure I can say I’ve met my goal but they have definitely “wow’d” me!

Tomatoes inked

Leslie signature

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4 thoughts on “What Does a Marketing Intern DO at a Sod Farm Anyhow?

  1. Great blog. Sweet writing style. Personal.
    Beautiful photos. You can’t get those photos without suffering a little. I’ve met a lot of lazy photographers with fancy equipment who take modest shots. I’ll take this young lady’s work any day. For all I know, she took the photos with a cell phone. But clearly, she suffered a little. She got down on her hands and knees a lot. Woke up in the dark and drove to the farm hoping it would pay off (it doesn’t always).

    Anybody can be average. She is above average. Congratulations!

    • Lour, Thanks for taking the time to give some feedback. Leslie (who wrote this blog) did use a dslr camera for some photos and her iphone. She definitely was not afraid of losing sleep or getting a little dirty for the sake of capturing a great shot. I’ll be sure to share your comment with her! – Lisa, Office Manager, Red Hen Turf Farm

  2. This post just made me so happy! I work on a sod farm in Colorado doing marketing for what was originally an intern position ended up a full time position since I graduated college. I had no manager to show me or teach me anything so I had absolutely no idea what I would be doing and where things would go. I took it day by day and now after a lot of self teaching in two years I finally have the hang of what I’m doing. I’ve never really gotten to see behind the doors of other sod farms and what they do for marketing, so to see that I have been doing mostly the same things but also learned a few more from this blog is so helpful!!! I loved how she described her manager as a walking encyclopedia. My owner actually calls me by the nickname “Britannica” (Encyclopedia Britannica and my name is Brittany). But I’ve never thought about blogging about an event! I love the idea. I would love to know what kind of marketing/marketing materials you do/use for trade shows and events that are towards other businesses and cities instead of residential customers. This was great to read. I truly enjoyed it 🙂

    • Hi, Brittany. We’re glad you enjoyed this blog post. Also – WOW! Thanks for taking the time to share your own experience. That’s a good question about specific marketing materials geared toward other businesses and cities. Honestly, we don’t have anything in print that is specific. Now that I’m thinking about it, maybe we SHOULD consider this sort of thing 🙂 We’re very fortunate to have very little competition in our region, so for the surrounding city-employees, we ARE the go-to Sod Farm. A lot of the brochures we DO use – whether geared toward retail customers, landscapers, sports fields, golf courses or whatever, originated before my time, but we continue to tweak them over the years. Our current owner’s father (who actually owned Red Hen since the 80’s) used be an Ag Teacher, and later he went on to teach Master Gardener classes (with our local Extension). He is very well-known in our community for this. In his footsteps, we do tend to emphasize offering technical advice / education to our customers. I sense that this has gone a long way towards building trust, since we get a LOT of referrals by word of mouth from happy customers. If you’d ever like to chat some more, feel free to inbox me at turf (at) redhenturf.com … have a great day! Lisa, Office Manager, Red Hen Turf Farm

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