November/December 2020
Russia native Natalia Cervantes aims for positive vibe about potatoes

Potatoes USA’s newest team member grew up a long way from the USA. A native of St. Petersburg, Russia, Natalia Cervantes spent summers at her grandmother’s small farm. It was a minimalistic lifestyle — no electricity and water straight from the well — but Natalia enjoyed it. Upon moving to Indiana at age 11, Cervantes said the biggest culture shock was the food, as in the size and amount of it. Cervantes’ marketing background will guide her in her new role to make sure potatoes stay America’s favorite vegetable.

1: Could you share a little about your background? 

I studied in my hometown at Indiana University. I started in product marketing, then moved into event marketing and my previous experience was with institutional marketing. My experience with each company taught me that the specific part of marketing I am most passionate about is the customer journey. That’s why I got into the digital word of SEO, Google Ads and Analytics and that’s why I’m here at Potatoes USA. To walk along-side with our audience, hand-in-hand, so they know we are here for them. 

2: Conversation Architect is a new role. What will your job entail?

I will focus on monitoring sentiment and communication about potatoes so I can enhance and strengthen the demand for U.S. potatoes. Our digital world is growing exponentially among all audiences and listening is no longer enough. My job is to absorb what people say about potatoes and engage in a way that builds positive conversations that continue to evolve. Potatoes are America’s favorite vegetable and my job is to keep them that way.

3: What are the early tasks on your agenda?

Educate myself about the current conversations surrounding potatoes. Before I can engage and grow new conversations, I need to learn what’s currently being said and why. Sometimes not all positive is positive and not all negative is negative, but every statement is equally important.  

4: You graduated from a specialized digital marketing program at Yale. What will be the biggest asset from that going forward?

Learning the intricate branches of an online journey and the importance of conversation. When we speak in-person, our conversation demeanor and vocabulary change depending on the person and it’s easy to start a new topic or end and part ways. Also, our etiquette with a best friend is different from etiquette with a professor or a judge, but online all three can fall into the same audience at different points of the journey. We learned how to navigate a diverse audience without losing etiquette, maintaining engagement and getting them the appropriate message. The program was very unique and I’m excited to use it to give U.S. potatoes the voice they deserve!

5: Any advice for farms looking to be more effective through digital or social media marketing?

First, work within your capacity. It is far more effective to have two very active, engaging and content-strong social media accounts than four you can barely maintain. Second, make friends with Google Analytics. Whether you work alone or with an agency, it is important to know how to understand those numbers in relation to your goals. Oh, and don’t force the numbers to work for you, learn from them so you can work with them.   

6: What do you like to do in your free time? 

I am a runner. I enjoy being outside. My favorite runs are in the morning after a snowfall. I love how peaceful fresh and untouched snow is.

7: What is your favorite way to eat potatoes? 

When I don’t have access to the unique dishes by our culinary chef RJ Harvey, I love shoestring fries!

More from Spudman 7 and the people who make up the potato industry.

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