Nevada County Free Range Beef: Cowboy Marketing

When you have the rare good luck of finding a fascinating personality behind a great product, don't just market the great product. Chronicle and reveal the personality, and the product will market itself. That's the winning approach we took with our client, Nevada County Free Range Beef (NCFRB), which led to nearly a doubling of sales in the first year of website exposure by Studio Nuñez.

NCFRB in Nevada County, California, is owned and operated by Jim Gates, with help from a posse of pasture, retail, customer service, and ranching professionals. This company is the quintessential success story—American Cowboy style. And fittingly, like everything else involving NCFRB, my work with Jim began with a story. So here's the beef. (Sorry, I simply could not resist that.)

A couple of years ago as my husband and I were driving southbound to LA through the I-5 corridor—in our ancient convertible sports car—we were hit with a slap-you-in-the-face-tear-up-your-eyes stench. (Purchased many years ago in the Bay Area, this car has no AC.) The stench—and occasional views—of the nearby CAFO feedlots was nothing short of overwhelming. Revolting, actually. But from that ugly and visceral experience some seeds lodged in my omnivore's brain.

Back from our trip, I was determined to find a resource for clean, humanely harvested and humanely raised beef; local, if possible. I found Jim's one-page website and phoned him. Ninety minutes later Jim had answered all my questions about his operation, interspersing information with strange and hilarious stories about his typical rancher's day. Like others in Jim's posse, I was hooked. Jim sold me a quarter order, and I sold Jim on a much-expanded website that would convey both the incredible quality of his beef and the importance of his work as an old-fashioned modern-day farmer producing a sustainable—even revolutionary—product.

Work on the site began with interviews of Jim and everyone on his team, taking the time to understand the outfit's strengths and challenges. In creating first the enhanced, static-page html site, then the revised dynamic site on WordPress, I kept the focus not just on the product, but on Jim. I roamed the range with Jim (at times endangering my life, or at least my camera) and captured the sights and sounds of what goes into raising cows the way nature intended: on real pasture grass, on ample acreage, and without drugs or confinement.

The result is a site packed full of information for the customer, complete with recipes, a Facebook page, and a blog entitled "Adventures with Jim." And the ongoing exploration of an exceptional ranching operation.

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