It’s personal. Adapting, engaging and intuitive, it’s gone digital. Hands-on experiences and handshakes evolved into live Q&A and the wave of hands across Zoom screens from home offices.

Relationships deepen, communication expands to reach more, more frequently. Turnkey resources for an evolving marketplace in motion. Networks of like-minded individuals, sounding boards of experts and trusted professionals collaborate to spark creativity and ingenuity when challenge strikes.

Meeting people where they are with what they need — that’s modern marketing for the Certified Angus Beef ®  brand.

Hosting groups in the brand’s Culinary Center is nothing new. The tangible knowledge folks walk out with after their time in the Meat Lab and kitchen are more than bright and shiny — it’s an experience unlike any other.

Bringing together partners from around the globe, the brand hosted 58 events in the first six months of the fiscal year, prior to changes brought on by COVID-19.

Virtually Best in Class

Many things can’t be delivered through a computer screen. It’s impossible to replace the touch, taste and feel of a brand event in person. But you don’t know how close you can come if you never try.

Creating a virtual Culinary Center experience has been an idea for some time. The current situation made it a top priority.

The online format means new experiences for those who’ve never made the trek to Wooster, Ohio’s beef hub. Online trainings, “Live from the Culinary Center” and large-scale events are all part of how the brand learned to connect through a screen.

What was planned as a 10-day affair in Wooster evolved into a “Live from the Culinary Center” event for more than 400 Giant Eagle retail staff in just a few hours one afternoon in September.

Meat scientists Daniel and Diana Clark fabricated beef in front of the camera. Mandy and Aaron Atterholt gave a pasture tour on their farm with live Q&A, while the account manager helped moderate, standing by for account-specific questions.

It’s an experience replicated for groups large and small.

“This is a great moment of virtual engagement. I’m impressed, but not surprised. You and your team always do a great job in these trainings. Shouldn’t be surprised you guys would nail it in the virtual world.”

— Joel Walker, USFS Denver Launch

“There are positives to find in the change around us,” says brand president John Stika. “And I believe the ‘Live from the Culinary Center’ trainings will be an incredible asset for all of us moving forward.”

The brand also hosted Annual Conference virtually for the first time, with a record attendance of more than 1,100 active online for the two-day event.

Turnkey training modules were created as part of the virtual resource hub. The team launched “Certified Angus Beef ®  brand University: Retail” in August to help those at the meat counter answer questions about the brand and the beef in their case. The goal is to be engaging, authentic and real without the background noise and mute button hiccups.

“This virtual training was praised by our field leadership for succinctly covering key aspects while still bringing the same level of excitement and passion to our associates that we would expect from a face-to-face event.”

— Crystal Ackerman, Senior Director, Meat & Seafood, Southeastern Grocers, Inc.

“We aren’t just another Zoom call,” says Deanna Walenciak, vice president of brand marketing. “We invested in new equipment and technology to better serve our partners and meet their needs, virtually.”

They’ve yet to discover how to deliver the flavors via a screen, but in the meantime partners can expect a virtual experience just as high quality.

Read more stories from the 2020 Brand Update here.