On Monday, we participated in a Fall Sale Chat (#fallsalechat) put on by Focus Marketing Group. We have had the chance to work with Kyla and her team on different occasions and really like they work that they are doing. So when we were asked to give advice on putting on a sale, we were excited to join in! The chat lasted for several hours on Twitter, where they posed various questions one might have when thinking about putting on a sale.
Twitter only allows you to put so many characters (words) out there to the world, so we wanted to post the questions and our full answers for our readers and followers to see. All questions were given by Focus Marketing Group and answers by DP Sales Management.
1. What’s the first step in planning a fall sale?
So you have decided you want to have a sale! Now what?! Once you have decided you want to have a sale, first off you will need to decide on the format (live, private treaty, or online). After that you will want to sit down and choose a date. You want to choose a date that works best for you, but also showcases your cattle are the right time. What will you be selling and when will they look their best? Also think about the time of year and what people are looking for. In the spring time, juniors are looking for open heifers to show throughout the summer and into the fall. Think about your weather. You might not want to have a sale in South Dakota in the middle of winter. If you are looking to hire sales management, you will want to make sure the date you choose is available with the sale manager. All of these things are factors that influence the perfect sale date for you and your operation.
2. When should I take the pictures for my sale?
When you are deciding when to take photos for your sale you should work closely with your photographer, advertising formats, and catalog production. You will need to know when ad deadlines are for your chosen outlets. Most of the time though you will take your photos at least 2 months before your sale. If you are doing early advertising you might want to take a handful of photos earlier to entice buyers and use for ads. If you are doing an online sale you might be able to get away with taking them later, but you would want to check with the company operating your sale.
When you do decide to take your photos – make sure your animals are in good shape and are represented the way you want them to. These photos will be a direct reflection of your operation and genetics. Make sure they are clipped, washed, and maintained.
3. Why should I advertise my sale?
Advertising is essential to a cattle sale. Because we all don’t live in the same town or state as our buyers we want to be able to reach a large target market. If it is your first time having your sale – you might want to advertise a little heavier than you would a sale that has been going on for years. You want to get your name out there as much as possible. Remember that your advertising is the image you are building to showcase yourself and your operation. Try to follow through with your image in all forms of advertising.
4. What are the best forms of advertisement?
Once you decide on your sale date, you will want to sit down and plan out your advertising schedule and budget. Think about which magazines reach your target market. If you are a club calf breeder, you wouldn’t want to advertise in a purebred publication. We like to advertise in a national publication, but also run something in your state cattlemen’s association publication or newspaper. Print advertising will always be an important part of livestock advertisement no matter how much we rely on the internet.
Another resource we like to use closer to sale time is an E-Blast. These can be sent out through your breed publication or advertising & marketing agencies. With everyone using the internet and e-mail; you can send an ad out to thousands of people at the click of a mouse. Your E-Blast should link to your website or sale page where they can get additional information on you and your sale.
5. Do I need to take videos as well?
Videos are very important to marketing your sale not matter if it is live, private treaty or online. Because of advertising deadlines we have to take photos atleast a month and half to two months before the actual sale. Cattle change a lot from the time photos are taken to the time of the sale. Videos allow you to wait until closer to sale time, allow those animals to develop more, and then put them out there. Buyers can evaluate the animals for what they truly are. YouTube helps make these videos easy to put out there, and for potential buyers to find. Remember to put information about finding the videos in your sale catalog, Facebook page, or website. We had a bull sale once that a potential buyer watched the videos and decided to bid on a bull he said he wouldn’t have if it had not been for the video. Both pictures and videos work together to successfully market your sale and your animals.
6. Can I take my own pictures?
This is a tricky one. With the availabilty of camera phones and nice cameras these days, most anyone thinks they can be a photographer. Yes, you can take your own photos. But before you do, think about the image you want to portray of your operation. Sometimes a photo can bring in a ton of viewers or it can send them away just as fast. Professional pictures look uniform, are edited correctly, and will be the correct format (high resolution) needed for catalog and web production.
7. Should I create a FB or Twitter account for my farm or ranch?
With the major prescence of social media has in our lives today, it is helpful to great accounts on widely used social media applications. Facebook is not just for young people anymore – people of all ages are using it. Facebook is a great way to get your photos of your animals out there to potential buyers. Post a sneak peek photo of the offering to entice lookers before posting all or a portion of the photos on your page.
8. Do I need an internet presence for my farm/ranch?
Yes – a farm/ranch or sale needs a strong internet presence these days. There are several ways to do this with technology today. A professional looking website with up to date information can be a great asset to your farm. Remember to keep it updated. Potential buyers don’t want to go to your website only to find things from last year or later still on your website. Again – this is the image you are portraying to people. You don’t let your lawn or pasture get overgrown because of what people might think, same goes with updating your website. It shows you are organized and doing things for your farm or sale in a timely manner. Hiring a professional company that specializes in websites and advertising will be a great asset to you.
Along the lines of internet, if you are having a live sale at your farm/ranch, I would recommend looking into broadcasting online. We have several sales throughout the sale season that utilize it, but when that one sale doesn’t, you better believe everyone is calling to ask if they can watch online. On average we have around 200 watchers online. Maybe they aren’t buying anything that day, but you have made a connection with them and they could be a possible customer in the future.
9. Do buyers prefer live, private treaty or online formats?
Personally I don’t think buyers prefer one over the other. Buyers who are seriously involved in the cattle business and are looking to purchase quality
seed stock are going to no matter which avenue it is. Of course it is easy to log on the internet and buy cattle, but you want to make sure you do your homework first on the breeder and the animal you are looking to purchase. There are only so many weekends in a year for cattle farms/ranches to host a sale at their farm, but with the internet you can have them any day of the week, at any time.
10. Which is easier to put on?
All formats of a sale take a lot of planning, advertising & marketing, and organization. None are easier than the other if you are trying to do a good job and convey an operation that is offering outstanding cattle. For purebred breeders, Our company believes that the live sale will always be a preferred method. Live cattle sales is not just about the cattle you are selling, but also the relationship you are building with other breeders and potential buyers. You want customers to come to your farm, feed them a good meal, and show off your operation and genetics. You are building a reputation with these people and within your breed.
11. What one piece of advice would you give to any livestock producer about putting on a sale?
When people buy cattle and are building their herds, they are quick to jump in to have a sale. A sale is a huge undertaking, but also can be a big reward for your operation. Make sure you have the number of cattle to sustain a sale, but that will not jeopardize the number of quality genetics you are keeping back in your herd. You could have a great sale the first year, but if you sell all your outstanding genetics the first year, what will you build upon after that? Be patient. Rome wasn’t built in a day.
If you have any questions about putting on a sale, please feel free to contact us. We would love to help you! Thanks again to Focus Marketing Group for allowing us to be a part of this!