Holy cow – marketing can be fun, especially when bovines are involved

ATHENS, Tenn. – Marketing can be fun – especially when cows are involved.

The Athens area is well-known for its ties to the dairy industry. Lots of families have made a living from bovines. The Mayfield Dairies Farms Inc. empire is based here, after all, producing Brown Cow ice cream treats, milk and other delicious items.

The area’s dairy heritage will be celebrated this weekend during the National MooFest, a young yet growing festival dedicated to all things dairy. The Newman family got the idea for the event from the National Cornbread Festival in South Pittsburg, an event that draws thousands of visitors per year to that small town to celebrate cornbread (South Pittsburg’s tie-in is that Lodge cast iron cookware is located there). So, the Newmans launched MooFest several years ago.

This is the first year that MooFest will run for two days. Events will include music, a homemade ice cream contest, a contest for other dairy recipes, the “Moo-Pie Auction” for charity, lots of food to taste, and a carnival.

The MooFest will draw people to this area from throughout the region and showcase all this small community has to offer, from the nearby mountains to historical attractions like an old train depot in the city of Etowah. The hope is to make MooFest just as big an event as the Cornbread Festival in South Pittsburg. Marketing can be fun, and it can benefit an entire community.


Stand out through branding

Branding may be only one of many factors you must make when launching a business, but it’s a crucial decision. It identifies you, your products/services and your philosophy to customers, hopefully making you stand out from the competition. And it protects your ideas from copycats.

You may build your entire business around a handful of ideas. For example, three men recently launched an independent restaurant in Athens, TN. Their restaurant, Tracks, is located in a former Central Park restaurant (for those not familiar with Central Park, this regional chain uses small, drive-through buildings with no internal seating). Tracks is owned by Shane Smith, a banker and Athens politician; Randy Dunlop, a successful Domino’s pizza franchise owner; and Eric Walker, a former high school assistant football coach.

Tracks serves hot dogs, hamburgers, chicken nuggets and milk shakes. Tracks’ owners said they came up with the name after a lengthy brainstorming session. Eric said the use of a railroad track logo is easily recognizable. The hot dog and hamburger toppings are referred to as “cargo.” The owners are thinking of pain

ting railroad tracks on the driveway, and are thinking of using a person dressed as a train engineer to wave at passing traffic.

Before opening Tracks, these business partners made a decision to create a theme around the restaurant’s name. That’s a great way to stand out from competitors.

The owners have also made an effort to stand out in other ways. Randy said since the restaurant could not compete with a cheap menu, he and his partners decided to compete on quality: The hotdogs are all-beef, Black Angus, and milk shakes use real milk from a regional diary that’s based in Athens. And the owners decided to give hiring preference to people who had been laid off, putting back to work more than a dozen people who had been laid off in an area that has a higher-than-average unemployment rate.

So, branding includes more than a name and words: It can bring in what products you offer and how you reach out to the community.

Photo by Anthony Dake

Tracks menu, photo by Anthony Dake

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