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Smart Marketing in Stormy Economic Times
Author: Julie Wassom
As the economy shifts and rocks like a tugboat in a hurricane, how can you best manage the strain it can cause on your farm's sales? To ride out what may be rough waters in the market for alpaca sales, your commitment to marketing must go beyond having quality animals from outstanding bloodlines, a well-managed farm, and responsive customer support. Your willingness to take necessary action now can be your life buoy for keeping your alpaca business afloat and meeting your sales goals during stormy economic times.
The good news is that there ARE alpaca buyers out there. There always have been. What is different now is that they may not come forth so readily and you need to look for the opportunities to find them. Here are some ways to get started:
Seek New Target Audiences
Is your farm in an area where breeders of other livestock are looking for animals that are easier and less costly to raise? To find them, participate in community or industry events they attend, and network with the intent of making at least one good contact interested in learning more about breeding alpacas.
Dove-tail on national alpaca industry marketing that attracts new prospects, such as National Alpaca Farm Day. Make sure they sign your qualifying guest book and get into your prospect database. Then make regular follow-up contacts with information of value.
Cultivate Good Relationships with Opinion Influencers
This is the target audience who may never buy an alpaca from you, but they influence the people who could. Make sure your veterinarian, feed supplier, local 4-H leaders, the press, and your neighbors have your business cards, farm brochures, a copy of a recent article about you, and an invitation to your farm days and local alpaca affiliate events. You want to be the farm that is top-of-mind when your opinion influencers are asked a question like, “Do you know anyone I could talk to about alpacas?”
Review Your Online Space
Evaluate your website to assure it makes it easy for new prospects to find you, learn more about your niche in the business, and schedule farm visits or register for farm events. Now, when the retail malls are nearly empty and Internet surfing is up, make your website an effective marketing tool that not only informs a wide reach of prospects and customers, but gives visitors multiple opportunities to contact you about farm visits and sales.
Generate Positive Publicity
In this economy, your local paper would welcome a positive article about the joys of raising alpacas. Don't wait for them to find you. Contact them with a good hook letter and press release or an invitation to do a feature article on your farm. Send them irresistible photos with cut lines that include your farm name, location, and contact information. To find a sample hook letter and press release, photo tips, and scripts for talking with the press, refer to Marketing Alpacas - Tools for Getting Started, available in the Alpaca Marketing Success Library at www.juliewassom.com.
Think from the Perspective of New Buyers
Where are they looking for information? What are they reading? Where might you and your alpacas be noticed by potential buyers?
For instance, a breeder in the northwest does a column in a newsletter put out by a group of realtors who specialize in selling plots of two or more acres to target buyers between 45 and 70 years of age. A breeder in the Midwest had a four-page article in the quarterly magazine published by their area’s Rural Electric Cooperative. A New England breeder was featured in the publication of a nearby university. A family alpaca business in Illinois is still getting calls from their article published in Chicago Parent Magazine several months ago. These are new ways to achieve good exposure to new target markets in a cost-effective manner that generates inquiries. That’s good marketing in any economy.
Create MSI's. This stands for Multiple Sources of Income. Though alpaca sales and breedings can give you significant ROI, now is an ideal time to seek new or additional ways to generate income from your alpaca business. I know breeders who actively sell fiber goods, transportation services, alpaca poop fertilizer, panels, fiber processing, consulting services, hay, scales, alpaca feed, shearing tables, website development services, or a number of other products and services that generate revenue that helps cover farm operating expenses. Promote these on your website, in cooperative marketing efforts with other breeders or suppliers, and in select electronic and print marketing pieces.
Focus on Your Customers - This is very much a relationship business. Do your customers perceive you as not only a source for the alpacas they want in their breeding program, but as the helpful, knowledgeable resource they can trust? Do you initiate periodic contact with them, asking about their needs, keeping them up to date within the industry, and providing valuable education and services? Remember, your customer is your most cost-effective source of referrals and repeat business.
If you find new ways to pay attention to your customers and serve them well, they will continually refer you, repeatedly buy from you, and become a rudder for keeping your sales levels stable regardless of how much the stock market is tossing up and down.
Succeeding in a challenging economy is far from impossible. By using these techniques to keep your alpaca business afloat in tough times, you will be at the helm of your own success. Think of it as a marketing regatta. It's a challenging course of action, but it is worth the trip.
Julie Wassom is the owner of Grand Champion Marketing in Aurora, Colorado, and is the author of The Alpaca Marketing Success Library of books and other marketing resources, available at www.juliewassom.com. She can be reached at 303-693-2306 or email@example.com.
© 2009 Julie Wassom.
All rights reserved.
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