With sale season kicking off, many breeders are getting those sale season jitters. If you’ve hosted a sale, you know the feeling. Typical moments of panic include “did so-and-so get a catalog mailed to them?” or “did I accidentally delete Lot 14’s picture off my camera card?” Here at Ranch House, we put a lot of research into the promotional efforts that can help make a great sale. Below are a few tips to get more bidders at your next sale.
Start with a quality offering.
There’s a general understanding that you need 10 head of high-quality livestock in order to host a successful online sale. If you don’t have that many, consider teaming up with another breeder, or just selling private treaty. If you have more than 20 high-quality cattle, you might consider holding a live auction. Buyers appreciate quality livestock, and offering quality is the single most effective way to get people to your sale. If you are trying to peddle second-rate stock, it will show.
Don’t start promoting your event 2 weeks before your sale.
Successful marketing programs require a consistent, year-round effort to build name recognition and a customer base. It also takes time for people to get to know you, learn about your program and feel confident doing business with you. If you are holding your first sale, you really should begin building your name brand recognition at least one year prior to the event.
Attend other events.
The livestock business is a PEOPLE business and the best way to get people to know about your event is to be out there, involved in the industry. Go to local, regional and major shows. Attend local field days. Attend other sales in your area. Get out there and let people see your face.
Let people get to know the REAL you!
In our livestock marketing survey, the #1 reason people say they are scared to buy in online sales is because they are afraid they will “get burned” by buying from someone with a bad reputation. Yes, it can be scary to spend thousands of dollars bidding on an animal from someone you have never met, talked to, or heard about. This is why it is SO important to let people know the real you and get to know you to build confidence in buying from you. How can you help alleviate this concern? Have a website that really showcases who you are. Tell your story about how you got started in the business on your “about us” page of your website. Include phone numbers and answer the phone when people call you. Post pictures on Facebook of what goes on day to day at your farm. Be real. Be authentic.
No see, no tell = no sell. Everyone is busy today. People have tons of things on their “to-do” list and chances are, keeping up with everyone’s livestock sales may not be at the top of their list. That’s why you have to keep reminding people about your event in a non-intrusive, non-spammy way. Make sure people know about your sale. Involve your breed association rep, tell the feed store owner (heck ask him if you can put up a flyer), tell your local Extension agent and local ag teachers.
Pay special attention to your past buyers.
A mailing list of past buyers or past bidders from previous sales is one of the most valuable assets in your marketing program. These are people who feel strongly enough about your livestock and your program to invest in buying from you, or attempting to buy from you through bidding in your sales. Cater to these people. Send them a personal email. Give them a personal phone call. Make sure they receive something about your sale in the mail.
Manage your timelines.
The most effective sale promotions have a definitive, strategic timeline. Start with your sale date and work backward. You’ll need print ads placed 4-6 weeks before the sale, a catalog in the mail 2-3 weeks before the sale, and you’ll want to do your biggest push the actual week of your sale.
Post Pictures on Facebook Wisely.
Facebook is where you should be focusing your efforts in the 7 days prior to your sale. This is done to help keep your event top of mind to your audience. It’s not enough to just randomly post pictures on Facebook when you have 5 minutes to spare. Post your pictures at times where your audience is most engaged. (HINT: You can find this under your analytics tab on your page – every page is different – there is no magical Facebook post time.) DO NOT tag people in your photos. That’s annoying and will hurt your ranking on the news feed.
Use Facebook targeting – but don’t get TOO targeted.
Facebook is so amazing at pinpointing your target audience. For example, we can have your posts set to appear to people who live within 50 miles of your farm, and raise your breed of cattle, and are members of FFA. That’s amazing. On the other hand, you don’t want to get so pigeon-holed in Facebook targeting that you miss out on prospective clients who may not even know you exist but are still interested in what you have to sell. This is where a strategic analysis of your Facebook target audience is really important.
Do a Facebook Live.
A Facebook Live is a great way to let people get a glimpse of your operation. Facebook Live’s do NOT have to be scripted or fancy. They show the REAL you. Here are some ideas: Walk through the pasture and show your calves out in the grass while you talk about each calf. Have all your calves tied up in the barn and just walk down the line slowly while you name each one and tell their sire and dam. Film a Facebook live of your family fitting your steer at the county fair that shows your team working together.
Include some sort of social event.
Again, people like to have fun! If you can create a fun event to go along with your sale, this will attract buyers. Ideas: Have an open house the weekend before your online sale; offer a complimentary lunch before your live sale; have a pre-sale party the night before, etc. At a minimum, have some cool drinks and snacks available for people who come to the farm to look at the offering.
Team up with other producers.
We can always accomplish more when we work together. If you live in an area with a lot of producers, try to team up to give buyers a reason to come to your area. There is strength in numbers. Team up with another local producer to hold your sale on a Saturday, and your neighbor’s sale on Sunday. Then advertise together.
Use the Internet to your advantage!
If you’re having a strictly online sale, you’re already harnessing the power of a nationwide sale audience. If you’re having a live auction, consider adding an internet bidding broadcast component so that people can bid even if they aren’t able to attend your sale.
Be overly-available, especially sale week.
If you have a phone call from an unknown number on your cell phone, even if it’s at 10:00 p.m., during the week of your sale….you better be answering that. And talking like you were wide awake. We all know that breeders get really busy the week of the sale with jobs like cleaning up the farm, but this is buyer crunch time. Be available to answer the phone, or consider having a dedicated person in your family just serving as the phone answerer. If someone emails you, reply immediately. An email inquiry expects a response in less than 24 hours.
There’s no magic potion that can make you have a great sale, however, these 14 tips are guaranteed methods to help build your sale exposure and keep your name in front of your potential clients.
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