Monday, August 6, 2012

Top 5 Marketing Tools for Club Calf Producers

The fall season is often times the ‘make or break’ time of year for club calf producers. Since most producers use the fall to market their calves, usually the business’s entire year of cash flow can come down to a few days before, during and after the sale. Ranch House Designs, Inc. recommends the following five tools as key to finding success in marketing club calves.

Start With A Quality Product. This is the basic fundamental of success in any cattle operation. Producers must strive to raise high quality cattle that others will desire. In the club calf business, an easy way to do this is to utilize semen from the most popular sires in the busines, which are usually readily available and affordable. In order to be successful, club calf producers should buy the best breeding animals they can afford, and then breed them to the best sire they can afford. Owning quality livestock is a way to continually build and grow your cattle assets over time. Only quality reproduces quality, and as time goes by, the net worth difference between great livestock and mediocre livestock continually becomes larger and larger.

1. Quality Photos and Videos are a Necessity
Just as good cattle are the fundamental to having a good marketing program, good photos and video are the next step. Today’s consumers want to see a photo, and preferably a video, before making a drive to come visit your farm in person. In some cases, especially in online auctions, some buyers may even purchase cattle based on the photo and video alone. For this reason, we recommend hiring a professional photographer or video team to photograph your cattle for your sales.

2. Word of Mouth Advertising
The club calf business is a people business just as much as it is a cattle business. Word of mouth advertising is the most effective means of advertising your cattle.  Personal communication such as telephone calls, texts, a letter, an email, or most effectively a personal visit, help build relationships and strengthen a marketing program. Letting others know about your product should be your #1 job in marketing. Attend shows and talk about your cattle. Share your news with your friends and neighbors. Utilize your marketing network such as semen distributers, customers, and neighbors. Remember the old adage, No Tell = No Sell.

3. Year Round Exposure Through Your Website
By today’s standards, every club calf producer should have, at minimum, a website that can be used as the building block of their marketing program. At it’s basic level, the website is used as a constant online reference for people to find your phone number, contact information, and learn about your program. Every producer should have their own address (i.e. and a stand alone site. The website should also be the go-to place that unites all of your online efforts such as social media, email blasts, and blogs. Every club calf producer should also purchase a link on that directs the viewer to back to their own site. While once thought of as a high tech marketing tool, today a website is a basic requirement for all marketing efforts in the club calf business.

4. Social Media, Blogs & Email Advertising
Once club calf producers have their own website established, it is now necessary to take your online advertising to the next level by integrating social media, blogs, and email blasts into your online mix. Online advertising is affordable, sometimes even free, and reaches the mass public instantly.

Facebook, twitter, and blogs are three very common marketing tools currently being used by club calf producers, but may be viewed as challenging by older producers. This is a great opportunity to involve wives and children in the farm’s marketing efforts.

Blogging is also a useful tool, but may not be for everyone. Even if you do not blog personally, producers should take advantage of the blogs of others in the club calf business. Many farms and bull owners have blogs where they gladly feature their clients photos free of charge. Producers should most definitely take advantage of this shared marketing exposure.

Email blasts are also crucial in promoting club calf sales. Generally email blasts costs less than $300 and reach tens of thousands of producers. The ideal email blast strategy should include 2 email blasts. The first should go out approximately 2 weeks before the sale, or as soon as photos of the sale offering are posted on your website. The second blast serves as a reminder of the sale and should go out approximately 3-5 days prior to the event. If a producer uses online sales, a third blast should be sent the day that the online auction closes as a final reminder.

5. Print Advertising During Key Times of the Year
Print advertising, though expensive, is still considered a marketing must due to the exposure given during select times of year. RHD recommends advertising during key times of year in relation to your marketing schedule. For example, if you host a fall sale, you must advertise in the August show publications of your choice. If you sell semen on club calf bulls, spring advertising is a necessity.

Good print ads include excellent photos, usually taken by a professional, and pertinent information such as sires represented and sale information. When there are 300 other ads in a magazine, you must do an excellent job of convincing the reader why they should pick your farm above the other 299 ads in the magazine.

Most club calf producers will find that 1-2 ads per year will give them the exposure needed. However, simply running an ad alone won’t get the job done. The print advertising should be one part of the total marketing efforts. Producers should have their website in place prior to running a print ad so that the website URL can be boldly referenced in the ad for readers to access for more information. The print ad should also be email blasted as the sale date approaches.

Putting it All Together
A good rule of thumb is that a club calf producer should prepare to spend 1 to 5% of their gross annual sales in advertising, with the website being the most important tool in the marketing mix. Successful marketing involves planning, implementing, maintaining, and evaluating. For more on marketing, we recommend purchasing the Livestock Merchandising book, available at > Shop.

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