People the world over are saying …. ‘I wish I could be in New Zealand right now’. That might be hard for a while but marketing expert Geoff Ross has a plan to take our products to the world and lift our recession-hit economy.

Awareness of our country is at an all-time high. We are seen to have ‘got it right’. We are seen as safe and there is a cleanliness and honesty to our image and the products from here.

We are trusted. Our Prime Minister’s leadership has grabbed headlines worldwide. People have a renewed respect for us.

Brand awareness is one thing — translating this into brand preference and brand CHOICE is harder – but there is a huge opportunity to market our natural products to the world right now and boost our economy.

Agriculture has become more important than ever as an earner of income for New Zealand. BNZ Economist Doug Steel predicts primary industries will move from 54 percent of our export earnings to over 70 percent. Milk, meat, wool, fish and shellfish, wine, honey, fruit, wood, vegetables, craft beer, grain, etc. will feed people the world over. They will provide New Zealanders with jobs and a way of life that allows us to keep growing, farming, fishing, and making in the way we always have — which, for the most part, is with our hands and an eye on tomorrow.

A small lift to the existing earnings – will be a material gain for our economy. Agricultural supply chains are already open and value can be achieved relatively quickly by building greater demand.

New Zealand’s biggest marketing tool right now is social media. We need to use it in a strategic, dynamic way. Like it or loathe it, the use of digital connections and platforms has increased hugely and is unlikely to drop back. New Zealanders across Facebook, Instagram, LinkedIn, Snapchat send our messages to more than a billion people (estimate from Facebook New Zealand – covering all social media channels) outside of this country. Our people, our companies, brands, celebrities and media outlets have a huge worldwide audience already. From Jacinda and Taika to Tourism NZ and NZTE, from All Birds to the All Blacks, from you and I, to Dan Carter and Lorde – New Zealand has a billion plus people for us to talk to .

And then if we can get some of the mega influencers out there in the world giving us a hand, people like Nigella Lawson to Kim K and Ronaldo to Oprah …That one billion audience number becomes three billion and more.

The hole left by tourism this year is likely to be in order of $19 billion. If we as New Zealanders can get our 1 billion friends/followers to buy just $19 more (at cost value) of their favourite New Zealand product at some point this year, we can fill that hole.

Let’s capitalise on the prevailing worldview we are lucky enough to have gained or earned of ‘I wish I could be in New Zealand right now’ with a campaign of….’Bringing New Zealand to you’.

We all want to Help.

Having been “All in this together,” patriotism is at a high. Most of us want to do something to help. Help our neighbour, help a local business and ultimately help our country. There are 3.6 million Facebook users in New Zealand, 2.4 million Instagram users, 2.2 million LinkedIn, 4.6 million regular users of Google. We are all proud of what we have here. We think it is a pretty special place and we like to tell our mates overseas that – in our humble kiwi welcoming kind of way.

Here is what I think we should do.

A partnership between New Zealand’s primary produce brands, the Government, online media and you.

New Zealanders start it – You, me, Jacinda, Taika, Karen Walker, Al Brown, Dan Carter, Lorde, Silver Fern Farms, Icebreaker, Rhys Darby, Flight of the Conchords, Beauden Barrett, King Salmon, Lewis Road, Whittakers, Villa Maria , Heilala Vanilla and so on, on our social media accounts, to our mates overseas.

We share our pictures of cooking a bit of fresh fish, opening a wine, popping some honey in our tea, marinating some salmon, putting a lamb cutlet on the barbecue, pulling on a merino sweater, putting kiwifruit on a dessert. All with the line ‘Bringing New Zealand to you’ E.g. Jacinda and Clarke are cooking a piece of snapper …’ Come fishing over here when you can — but for now we’re bringing New Zealand to you ‘. Lorde is placing a dollop of Manuka honey in her tea … ‘This stuff is my favourite flavour of New Zealand. Give it a try …’ We’re Bringing New Zealand to you’ . A mate of mine who is a dairy farmer from the Waikato walking past his open pasture with dairy cows …’Yeah well , we can probably bring some of this New Zealand to you‘.

Then, we engage the likes of Nigella & co. who are paid to add their own versions, using slices of New Zealand available to them in their own hometowns, from their local supermarkets/online stores e.g. Nigella ‘these NZ Lamb Cutlets I just picked up from Tescos are perfect …’ with ‘Bringing New Zealand to you’. We build a list of New Zealand’s exporting brands, the products they wish to profile and the markets they wish to build. We match our influencers, with the right products, in the right markets, with the right call to action and assist with the relevant amount of support from our social media partner and paid media channels.

Social media platforms help push the key message further. I’ve spoken to Facebook and Instagram worldwide and they are keen to pitch in.

We as New Zealanders continue to feed it to our one billion-plus audience.  (Kea alone has 500,000 kiwis off shore, all with followers around the world).

How do we pay for it? My suggestion is brands like Fonterra, Silver Fern, NZ Merino, Sanford, Comvita, Villa Maria, Alliance, Synlait, King Salmon, Tallys, Zespri, NZ Apples, and the like put in a share of the budget relative to their export earnings percentage. We identify a trial sum such as $10 million which brands contribute to, in proportion to their export earnings. Government agencies match this to create a total of $20 million. Facebook and Instagram support with advertising space in-kind, targeting assistance, boosting, campaign management and measurement .

The $20 million in funds is managed by an existing government agency such as NZTE and or Tourism NZ who have a marketing arm we could utilise and a digital marketing agency. The funds are managed and used with our social media partners Facebook and Instagram who provide time on a cash and also an in-kind basis.

I see it as a 12-month campaign, with the bulk of the activity initiated in the first three months. We keep posting our proud slices of New Zealand as Kiwis. And we keep adding to it, and building it.

We have been fortunate to be in an enviable position in today’s world — we now need to leverage it.

Geoff Ross is executive chairman of Moa group, a brewing and hospitality business and with his family are merino sheep farming at Lake Hawea Station. He is a trustee of Pure Advantage and was founder...

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