Updated: Nov 9, 2020
If you're in the cattle industry, you know every season is busy season. At the moment, fall sale season is in full swing, some folks are calving out, and others are dealing with the first snowfall of the season.
It's a busy time no doubt and spring will bring its own business. Luckily, there are a few things you can start working on this winter to prepare for your spring marketing efforts.
Develop a Marketing Strategy and Audience
This isn't as daunting a task as it may seem, in fact it's pretty straight forward.
Think about your operation's goals. What animals will you be marketing this spring? What type/region of producers will be interested in those animals? What sales/events will you be attending? These are just a few of the very basic questions you should start asking yourself to determine your marketing strategy.
Answering these questions will allow you to better define your audience. It's important to note, you may have several different audiences. For example, I've created campaigns for some of my clients that target two different audiences: commercial buyers and purebred buyers. These campaigns include streamlined ads that establish the client's brand with consistent design while including different information.
The ads targeting commercial cattlemen will feature images of the animals intended to be sold to commercial buyers, information on performance, breed specific benefits as well as information on crossbreeding. These ads may be placed in local cattlemen's publications, on fliers at sale barns/feed stores, or as targeted ads on social media.
Ads targeting purebred buyers will feature images of animals intended to be sold within the breed. These ads will have registration, pedigree, and performance information targeted towards purebred producers who are already familiar with the breed itself. These will be placed in breed specific publications, sent out through association email blasts and social media posts, or as target ads on social media.
Determine Your Budget
When determining your marketing budget there are several investments to consider. You will likely need high quality photos of the animals you intend to market. This may require hiring an experienced livestock photographer. A photo can make or break your ad so it's worth spending the money to get some good ones. There will be design fees for building advertisement campaigns. I typically create a campaign package to save clients money rather than charging a full design fee for each individual piece, but not every designer offers this option. If you intend to print fliers, banners, or brochures there will be printing costs to consider. You will also need to determine in which publications you plan to place an ad. Most publication websites have a media kit which will allow you to view advertisement sizes and pricing. And finally, you'll want to determine digital marketing options as email blasts and targeted social media ads also require an investment, these are typically pretty cost effective.
Marketing your animals is probably starting to sound expensive, but there's a reason I use the term "investment." When you consider costs, break it down per head. For example, if you spend $100 per head and you're selling 5 head. If your strategized marketing brings in just an extra $250 bid per animal, you've not just covered your marketing costs, but you've made an extra $750. Historically, my clients who have developed a strategy and marketed their animals leading up to a sale have sold well above sale averages and often as the top selling lots. Now, these are just examples and not guaranteed, but what is guaranteed is your brand's growth. When you start truly marketing your animals you do more than just sell those individuals; you let folks know who you are, where you are, and what you have to offer. That's huge. That's growth. That's future buyers. That's branding.
I strongly encourage you to visit with your marketing consultant to understand pricing on their services, create a personalized package, and develop their recommended strategy as you determine your budget. Plus, if you start now you can spread expenses out over several months rather than all at once.
Once you've determined your marketing strategy, budget, and visited with your marketing consultant it's time to start gathering content. The earlier you do this the more your consultant will love you, I promise!
It's stressful for everyone when you're a week or even a few weeks out from a sale and you're trying to come up with good photos and footnotes much less an entire campaign. It's doable, but it's incredibly stressful and typically ends up costing you more in the long run.
So here's what you need to start collecting...
Branding Ideas. If you've never had an advertisement designed before or you'd like to rebrand, gather color scheme and overall design ideas. Be ready to explain what "look" you want to your consultant or visit with them ahead of time and pick their brain on their ideas.
Photos. Photos. Photos. If it's snowing or muddy right now, put the shoot off until weather clears, but by all means get your photo day scheduled in advance. Spring photo days will fill up fast and a cell phone shot from the feed truck just doesn't cut it.
Logos and design pieces. If you already have a logo make sure you have high resolution file on hand and ready to send to your marketing consultant. You may also want to gather high quality photos of your operation to use as advertisement inspiration or a background image.
Footnotes. Start writing footnotes for the animals you want to sell. Begin with your animal's registration number, ear tag, registered name, and date of birth. You'll of course also want to include your description of the animal. Hit on the animal's best qualities, noteworthy pedigree, and top EPD rankings. Later on you'll also want to include lot numbers of animals going to sales. Type a word document or an email. Write them out in a notebook and snap a picture. However you need to do it, just get started on them. As a marketing consultant, I'm not writing your footnotes for you. I ethically can't. I haven't seen your animal in person and even if I did once on a photo day you still know far more about that animal than I do. What I will do is double check all your registration and performance information and polish your footnotes. I can definitely clean them up and add some pizzazz, but you have to write the first draft.
Sale information. Make a list of sales you plan to participate in, what animals you will be bringing, and compile their dates, times, locations, and other relevant information. This timeline will be a huge help to your marketing consultant in helping you determine a marketing strategy.
Contact information. Map out important contact information to be included; names, location, phone/fax numbers, social media accounts, website, etc.
Share your story. What makes you different? Why should folks buy from you? What does your operation strive for? Write out a brief paragraph or give your marketing consultant a call and visit about these things. After all, your campaign should represent YOU.
Contact Your Marketing Consultant
In case, you haven't picked up on it by now, the best thing you can do this fall is contact your marketing consultant and get started on your spring marketing game plan as soon as possible.
If you don't already have a consultant, I'd love to visit with you about your needs and determine how I can help you get the most out of your marketing. Email me at email@example.com or give me a call at 405-501-1382.