Three successful speakers discuss
the benefits of a niche market and
how it can grow your business.
The seeds they plant aren’t figurative. And neither are the crops they harvest. Michele Payn-Knoper,
CSP, Damian Mason and Jolene Brown,
CSP, may speak for a living, but their
passion lies in agriculture.
They know what you might be
thinking: overalls and pitchforks. But this
niche market is a progressive business.
“Agriculture is not American gothic
and bib overalls anymore,” Mason says.
And as all three point out, it’s an
important business. The USDA estimates
that this year’s U.S. farm net income
will be $63 billion, up $6.7 billion from
2009. Yet, agriculture remains a niche
market for these speakers. Agriculture
employs less than two percent of
working Americans. One farmer
produces enough food to feed 155
people, Payn-Knoper explains.
That’s why part of Brown’s mission is
helping farmers stay in business.
“I know it’s been a long time since
people in our country have gone hungry,
and I know who makes that possible,”
That’s what drives Mason, Payn-Knoper and Brown in their endeavors.
It’s a passion that stems from years of
experience in the field—all three are
farmers. And where your experience and
passion lies, they agree, is where you’ll
find your niche.
Keith and Jolene Brown’s
farm in eastern Iowa.
PHOTO BY LInDA BeHLe
Farm Gate to
Michele Payn-Knoper, CSP, has two
degrees in agriculture from Michigan State
and worked in various areas of interna-
tional agriculture before she established
her business. She saw a growing need to
connect farmers and consumers and, today,
she focuses almost entirely on “giving a
voice to the people who feed the world.”
Celebrating nine years in business as
Cause Matters Corp., she offers services
in social media, grassroots marketing and
“I speak because I love agriculture
not because I love speaking,” says Payn-Knoper, who grew up on a dairy farm in