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Trouble Connecting with Consumers? Here’s the Answer

Getting everyone on board in a company or organization to align messages and effectively engage today’s increasingly skeptical consumer and other important stakeholders can pose real challenges. While opportunities may arise to train relatively small groups here or there, others just down the hall or scattered in offices across the country are missing out on important insights and strategies to connect.

The Train the Trainer program from The Center for Food Integrity offers a solution.

It enables an organization to empower its staff or members with the knowledge, tools and confidence to train others to connect with stakeholders in a powerful way that opens doors and minds. We call it Engage training and its high demand results from the success of those who have completed it and learned its power when applying what they learned.

“My experience with the CFI team was not only invigorating, but eye-opening about consumer thinking,” said Janine Van Vark, manager of outreach marketing for the National Pork Producers Council, who participated in the program. “I have a much better understanding of how to grow trust using both shared values and facts. But that is just the tipping point. This learning opportunity will open the door to great discussions as I share the information with our state pork communicators.”

Engage communication training is based on the power of shared values, meaning you must first understand what’s important to the person across from you and find a connection on what you both value to move the conversation forward. Then you can share information. CFI’s research shows us that establishing shared values is three-to-five times more important to earning trust than simply providing facts.

“Engage takes place in a classroom setting where we explore the power of shared values communication and detail the three steps to effective engagement – listen, ask and share,” explains CFI’s Donna Moenning. “Participants put the steps to work in tailored consumer conversations that test their approach and build their skills and confidence. Establishing that your values align with another person’s sounds simple, but it takes discipline and practice to master.”

Since 2009, CFI has taken Engage training to food and farm companies across the United States and Canada. Engage Train the Trainer expands that scope.

During an intensive two-day training, one person from a company or organization works through the Engage material step by step with CFI staff who help develop examples and analogies that apply to their audience. In the last stage of the process, the trained spokesperson practices leading an Engage session with guidance from the CFI instructors.

“Train the Trainer provides companies and organizations an Engage program that works specifically for their audience and industry,” Moenning said.

This option works well when it’s not feasible to get all members or employees together in one location with CFI staff. If a company or organization plans to conduct more than two trainings in a year, Train the Trainer is also more cost effective. The program includes the use of CFI materials for one year. All materials are updated with new findings from the annual consumer trust researcher.

“Participating in Train the Trainer enables NPPC to share in small or large group settings and reach our audience with a fresh outlook about transparency and how to ‘listen, ask and share,’” Van Vark said.

Organizations that have participated in Train the Trainer have put the program to work in various ways, Moenning said. The Engage training has been conducted at farmer meetings, in leadership programs, company training materials and Ag in the Classroom settings.

If you’re interested in learning more about Train the Trainer, Engage in-person communications training and our new Engage Online self-paced modules, contact Donna Moenning at