Riding Shotgun – Paradigm Shift
As we travel the highways and by-ways of the Limousin family and breed we often cuss and discuss the cattle business, sports, politics, great cheeseburgers and most of the time, the promotion and marketing of Limousin cattle.
Through “Riding Shotgun” we invite you to join us in the right-hand seat, so that we can let you in on what we find to be our marketing pet peeves, shortcuts and some of the favorite habits of top-flight professional producers. Grab a cup of coffee and take the ‘shotgun seat’—we are pleased to have you riding along.
Webster defines a “paradigm shift” as a fundamental change in approach or underlying assumptions. I think it is time we consider a paradigm shift in marketing and promotion of purebred seedstock. When I started this journey we took pictures with film, sent ads by FedEx and mailed catalogs to everyone with an address. Those days are thankfully long gone. Now the mail costs 10 times more, is ten times slower and the mailbox if full of junk that most people recycle before reading.
As you can see from the calendars of the breed’s top sales managers and top programs, the new way to reach the most people and to maximize your exposure and minimize your expense, is online in some form or another. Whether it is an eblast, digital advertising, or online sale, you have a way to reach people that you never had before. Using old methods and ignoring new tools available to you will leave you behind in the marketing arms race and cost you more at the same time.
You still must recognize the core principles of marketing, but it’s time to consider a paradigm shift regarding your sale system. Some of what we talk about in the following points may already be in your program, if so, great, if not, maybe you need to think about the future and how your operation can adapt. These are only the opinions of the writer, and don’t forget he’s a gray haired, potbellied old guy.
1. Build a picture/video pen. The proper pen and system for shooting great pictures and videos is the basis for new marketing. Consult with your photographer and videographer, think about the sun angles and the pen size. Build a pen you can easily get livestock into and out of. This will be the center of your marketing activities as time goes on.
2. Find a videographer and or photographer you can interact with. Learn about their past work and schedules. If you want to learn how to do this yourself, fine, but KNOW, this is a skill and like all skills, it takes practice and patience. It takes the proper tools and proper timing. I heartily recommend hiring a professional, the benefits far outweigh the costs. Find someone you like and stay connected, get on their schedule and be ready on the day they arrive.
3. Sale day is now PICTURE DAY. In the past, you schedule your feeding program and clipping program for the cattle to be ready on sale day. Today, the schedule is moved forward. SALE DAY is picture and video day. You will be presenting your product to the public based on what they look like on that day. Have them ready for condition, disposition and fit, because what the client observes in your videos is what draws them to bid on your product.
4. Have cattle tattooed, lot numbered and tagged on video day. You will have customers passing through in the days before sale day and having the cattle tagged and identified will make it easier for them to take notes and bid on your product later online or at the live auction.
5. Decide who your video/internet provider will be. Work with them establish a schedule for submitting videos, pictures and pedigrees. Find out what formats are the best for their system. Make sure your videographer is capable of fulfilling those requirements and hook them up with each other if needed.
6. Work to find email addresses of all of your past clients and make sure anyone who inquiries about your product leaves an email address and that you put them on your email list. Digital advertising can be built and distributed in hours, you are no longer dependent on a mail system that is slow and expensive.
7. Develop a social media platform and presence that works for you that you can easily maintain. All these digital platforms are fluid and can be updated immediately. Do you need to hire someone to do it for you? The platforms are here, are you utilizing them to your best advantage?
8. If you do still have a live auction, reconsider your cattle display and sale setup. Can the buyers see the cattle at their advantage and is the seating correct for TV-Video selling? Does your facility have proper internet access and usability? Have you posted the latest supplement sheet and sale order? Who is billing the buyers? Make sure you call all buyers and thank them for participating. Discuss payment and delivery and take good notes.
9. After sale day, it is more important than ever to communicate with your buyers and bidders. If you have an online auction, you do not have the face-to-face communication that used to happen on sale day. I recommend considering delivering your product—that way you get to shake the hand of every buyer. I also recommend that you try to visit with everyone that participated. Visit their operation when it works for you and establish a personal connection. It is still what makes the seedstock business work and the most enjoyable part. I can guarantee if you only have a sterile online presence, your time in the business will be short.
10. Work to keep up with technology. There are always new ways to do things, and most are faster and more efficient than what we have had in the past. Sticking your head in the sand will only limit the selling profile and profit your program can achieve.
All of the factors above consider live cattle or frozen genetics, so think about your situation and consider becoming a marketing guru. The good news is, in the old days we used to say most of your product is sold within 75 miles of your operation, now the worldwide web is your selling partner. The sky is the limit. Enjoy each other and what you do, it’s a great day to be in the Limousin business.
CONTACT THE AUTHOR
Mark A Smith