Successful Marketing from Your Show or Event Booth (Part 1 of 4)

Put on the hat of your alpaca prospects and imagine walking into the exhibit hall of an alpaca event. There before you are pen after pen of alpacas, rows of display booths, people – and a few alpacas on lead – walking up and down the aisles. You’ve come because you already have some information on alpacas and want more. Or maybe you’ve come just out of curiosity in response to an ad you saw or heard.

As you roam around, what attracts you to one booth over another? What will make you stay at one booth instead of just glancing in or passing by? What will spark your interest enough to take information, sign a guest book, and arrange for future contact with a breeder?

Now think about your own show booth while still considering the prospect’s perspective. First impressions count. You never get a second chance to make a first impression. What impression does your booth give event visitors on first glance? It should be attractive, appealing to all the senses, packed with valuable information, and constantly manned with a knowledgeable breeder or farm/ranch manager. By setting up a unique, inviting booth, and initiating conversations with passersby, you can make your booth a marketing tool that works for you to generate qualified leads you then convert to alpaca sales.

Booth Marketing Tip: Think in the show visitor’s perspective. Their impression impacts their action at your booth.

Julie Wassom
“The Speaker Whose Message Means Business”
Marketing and Sales Speaker/Consultant/Author
Call me: 303-693-2306
Fax me: 303-617-6422
E-me: julie@juliewassom.com
See me: www.juliewassom.com

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Writing a Press Release the Media Wants to See

Generating positive publicity is one of the most cost-effective ways to communicate a compelling message about your alpacas and your farm or ranch. Publicity is defined as information with news value issued through the media as a means of gaining public attention, understanding, and support from a select audience of readers, online visitors, or broadcast listeners or viewers. The third party endorsement it gives you is a powerful public opinion influencer.

With research now showing that public opinion is 70% more believable than traditional advertising (Socialnomics, by Erik Qualman), using good publicity to shape prospect opinion is important in the mix of methods you use to market your alpaca business.

One way to generate publicity is to approach the media about an event or activity that is unique, timely, and of interest to the audience of that specific news outlet. You can interest reporters by submitting, usually via email, a press release for those happenings which are truly newsworthy. An example might be a themed event held at your farm and co-hosted by several local breeders.

Writing a Press Release

Use a press or news release format. Include a brief cover letter on you letterhead. Begin your cover letter with a “hook” statement or question that will grab the media representative’s attention and increase your chances of achieving the publicity you desire.

The order of the content of your press release should be what, when, where, and who. Last is why, quotes, and whom to contact for further information. The reason for this order is that if the media needs to reduce the length your article, they will usually cut from the bottom up.

Press Release Format

For: (Name of Farm or Group)

(Address)

Contact:               (Name)

(Title)

(Phone #s)

TO:  (Name of Media Outlet, if appropriate)

RELEASE: (Date or other instructions, such as “RELEASE UPON RECEIPT,”

“RELEASE AT WILL,” “FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE,” etc.)

(HEADLINE)

(Dateline, if appropriate) – Begin typing release. Use double spacing. Use 5-space indent for paragraphs. Use UPI style. Use only those hyphens required. Include who, what, when, were, why, and how in an announcement type of story.

(more) – (Use, centered on page , if more than one page.)

# # # – (Use, centered on page, at end of release.)

Julie Wassom
“The Speaker Whose Message Means Business”
Marketing and Sales Speaker/Consultant/Author
Call me: 303-693-2306
Fax me: 303-617-6422
E-me: julie@juliewassom.com
See me: www.juliewassom.com

Get Ready, Get Set, Start Marketing! (Part 3)

Question #3: What should I do first?

Put these and your other marketing activities into a marketing action plan. Using a plan will help you stay on track, on time, and within your budget. Make it your goal to complete at least one marketing activity per quarter.  Schedule this marketing activity in your calendar or tickler file just as you would an alpaca vaccination or teeth and toe trimming day.

Start Marketing Tip: Begin with the development of your farm or ranch identity.

Build a file of good photographs of your farm or ranch and your alpacas. Design an individual website or put a page on a community alpaca site. Get involved in local community activities. Generate local press, and do some very selective advertising. Remember, your initial marketing goal is not to sell alpacas. (You don’t yet have any to sell anyway.) It is to build the awareness, recognition and retention of an image that will ultimately help you generate prospect inquiries and referrals.

With all these marketing efforts growing as your herd does, you will have your image established and be miles further around the track than your competition who waited to do any marketing. Then, when you do have alpacas to sell, you will be well positioned to expand your marketing to those activities that will actually sell those alpacas.

Do you have Marketing Alpacas – Tools for Getting Started, as part of your library? The first chapter of this book gives you specifics on developing a farm or ranch identity program and the second chapter has details the how-to’s of working with the print media to generate positive publicity for your farm or ranch. Use this link to review this book and see if it is right for you. http://www.juliewassom.com/alpacas%20order%20products.htm

Julie Wassom
“The Speaker Whose Message Means Business”
Marketing and Sales Speaker/Consultant/Author
Call me: 303-693-2306
Fax me: 303-617-6422
E-me: julie@juliewassom.com
See me: www.juliewassom.com

Get Ready, Get Set, Start Marketing! (Part 2)

Question #2: What marketing can I do while my business is young to get the most bang for my buck?

This is a question breeders ask me nearly every time I present a marketing and sales educational seminar. “What marketing actions are most important and in what order?” is a typical question.

Long before you launch an expensive advertising campaign, consider these high yield marketing program building blocks.

  1. Farm or Ranch Identity Program

Awareness is the first of four steps to more inquiries and referrals. Long before you have animals to sell, it is important to make prospects, industry colleagues, and other opinion influencers aware of your existence and the unique image of your alpaca business.

Building a strong farm or ranch identity program will jump start you toward that goal.

Your identity package will display your business image in print and electronic marketing collateral. Print can include letterhead, business cards, a farm brochure, show booth banner, and vehicle signage. Electronic identity refers to your website, email signature, etc. Though you may not get all of this right away, start with the basics, and gradually add to it.

An initial step in building a farm or ranch identity is the creation of a farm or ranch name and the development of a graphic image for your farm or ranch. Including a logo and tagline will give your materials a unique look that will help prospects identify you and retain that image. This image will then appear on all printed marketing materials and on your website.

2. Website

A well-designed and maintained website is a powerful marketing tool and one that deserves your attention whether you are a new or veteran breeder.

When I ask seminar attendees, “How did you decide which farms or ranches to visit?” over half the group says they visited websites, then contacted breeders whose farms or ranches they wanted to visit. Remember, prospects are embarking on what can be a two-year journey. If you do not have your own individual farm website or a presence on a  community alpaca site such as Alpaca Nation, there’s a good chance they will go visit the breeder down the road and never even know about you.

Start Marketing Tip: Keep your first website simple, visually interesting, and interactive. Design it to generate inquiries as well as educate visitors about your farm and your alpacas.

 Alpacas Magazine has published a number of articles on making your website a more effective marketing tool, including my article, entitled, Website Marketing Made Easy, in the Autumn,’01 issue.

3. Industry Involvement

Being a visible supporter of the alpaca industry can take you from awareness to recognition, the second marketing step toward more inquiries and referrals. You want your future buyers to recognize you, your farm or ranch, and your marketing message. Though you may only have a few alpacas thus far, the hours you spend taking your alpacas to shows, volunteering at shows and events, manning your farm booth, or attending and supporting your local affiliate association will position you as a bonified breeder in the eyes of your colleagues. Before prospects and fellow breeders can feel comfortable doing business with you, they must feel comfortable with your stability as an alpaca business owner. Your industry involvement can help give them that impression.

4. Community Relations

Don’t forget the diamonds in your own back yard. Look for opportunities to gain exposure within your own community. Parades, visits to local nursing homes or libraries, open houses at your farm or ranch, and sponsorships of local initiatives are just a few of the ways alpaca breeders can gain a lot for giving a little back to their local communities.

One alpaca breeder wrote to me about their success with setting up a booth stocked with alpaca fiber and fiber products at a local farmer’s market.  In the three hours a week they spend there, they sell $40 – $200 of goods, hand out 30-40 business cards, get their guest book signed, and usually generate 2-3 farm visits in the next week.

5. Publicity Generation

Generating good publicity is one of the most cost-effective methods of reaching large groups of prospects and referral sources with your image and marketing message. Look for a newsworthy happening at your farm or ranch, such as the birth of new crias, or shearing day, or your involvement in a community event. Learn the best way to contact your local press and take the time to do it. Not only will you gain awareness of your alpaca business, you will generate third party endorsement, a valuable assert in any marketing program.

6. Farm & Ranch Guide

One advertisement well worth considering is an ad in AOBA’s Farm & Ranch Guide. Every prospect who contacts AOBA can get a copy of this annual publication, and they use it to find farms and alpacas to investigate further. With three levels of ad placement to choose from, there is a way for even the newest breeder to be included.

7. Prospect Profiling System

As you start to generate inquiries and referrals, log information about your prospects on a profile, contact management program, or database. Doing so will pay big dividends in helping your future marketing efforts be more targeted and cost-efficient. When any potential buyers call, email, or visit your farm or ranch, note information that will help you qualify them and schedule meaningful follow-up with them. When you go to shows, make sure the guest book you have in your booth is actually a modified prospect profile file form, versus just a sign-in sheet. Contact me at julie@juliewassom.com for an alpaca prospect profile form you can begin using right away.

Julie Wassom
“The Speaker Whose Message Means Business”
Marketing and Sales Speaker/Consultant/Author
303-693-2306
julie@juliewassom.com

www.JulieWassom.com

“The thing always happens that you really believe in;
and the belief in a thing makes it happen.”

Frank Lloyd Wright

Get Ready, Get Set, Start Marketing! (Part 1)

You’re relatively new in the alpaca business. You’re still building a core herd, not to mention fences, paddocks, and a barn. You really don’t have any animals to sell. No need to do any marketing yet, right? WRONG!

One of the biggest mistakes I see alpaca breeders make is to hold off on the marketing aspects of their business until they have alpacas to sell. By then, most of those breeders are at least two years behind on a marketing program. Marketing sooner could have given them an industry presence and a unique niche that would ultimately make selling easier and more rewarding.

If marketing is uncomfortable or unfamiliar to you, think about it this way. Your marketing program should evolve and grow in much the same way your breeding program does. You begin by taking small steps to insure the best decisions, you invest in the best quality you can find, you see the rewards of your efforts, and you build on those results to get to where you want to be.

Exploring the answers to these three questions about alpacas marketing will help you rev up this part of your business.

Question #1: Why should I market now?

AOBA research has shown that a qualified alpaca buying prospect spends an average of two years from the time they begin investigating the industry until they actually purchase alpacas. When you finally do have production stock to sell, the prospects you want to attract are those who already know about you and are now ready to buy. To try to cram all the marketing it takes to gain recognition into just a few months can be overwhelming.

You need time. Time to develop a unique image of your farm or ranch, to determine which markets you intend to target, to develop a marketing action plan that you can realistically work, and to fund those marketing initiatives that will bring you the greatest returns. Now, while you are simultaneously building your herd and your business, is the time to begin.

Start Marketing Tip: When should you start marketing? At least two years before you’ll have an animal to sell.

Julie Wassom
“The Speaker Whose Message Means Business”
Marketing and Sales Speaker/Consultant/Author
303-693-2306
julie@juliewassom.com

www.JulieWassom.com

“The thing always happens that you really believe in;
and the belief in a thing makes it happen.”

Frank Lloyd Wright

Do You Know Where Your Buyers Are?

It’s now well into the second half 2013. Do you know where your buyers are?

Today’s prospects seeking alpacas, alpaca fashions, and the alpaca lifestyle are looking in ways you may not realize. And you may be trying to reach them by marketing in all the wrong places. Knowing where you buyers go to find you is crucial to generating a high rate of inquiry for your efforts.

“There’s more investigation online,” you say. That’s an understatement. It’s not just about searching. It’s about what “brand” they follow and ultimately buy. Research firm, Digital Surgeons, reports via i-librarian that of the nearly 500 million users of FaceBook worldwide, 41% log in daily, 40% follow a brand, and 51% will purchase the brand they follow over another brand.

So prospects are not only using key words to search for websites online, they are significantly influenced by the public opinion they find online. This kind of information gives the term, “word-of-mouth” a whole new meaning.

What are important action steps for you to take so you and your key target audiences of buyers can connect?

Have a good website. Make it easy to find, easy to navigate, and full of opportunities for prospects to learn about your unique attributes and to contact you. Every page should include a strong call to action and all your contact information.

Maximize your ranking on search engines. Search Engine Optimization is critical for your site, since most web visitors will not look past the first several listings. One technique to help increase your ranking is to use very specific keywords on every page of your website.

Explore social media. This wave is not going away anytime soon. If you are not riding it, you are missing an opportunity to engage with potential and existing buyers. If time and know-how is an issue, professional assistance may be cost effective. Check out the firm I use at http://www.newmediafluent.com.

Think outside the box. A fellow speaker named Joel Weldon said, “Look at what everyone else is doing and do something else.” Good advice. To generate awareness (the first of four steps to inquiries), your marketing must be creative enough to grab the attention of your prospective buyer. If it looks the same, is delivered the same way, and communicates basically the same message as most of your competitors, you will have a tough time getting noticed, let alone contacted.

Train yourself in successful sales skills. Of course, I am biased on this one, but it’s true. If you use superb marketing to generate qualified inquiries, but you do not have the skills and confidence to convert them to buyers, you have not succeeded in maximizing the return on your marketing investment. Whether it’s my on-site seminars, teleseminars (See special savings below), or resources from my Alpaca Marketing Success Library, the training IS available to you for the taking.

Knowing who your prospective buyers are, where they look for alpacas, fiber goods, and rural lifestyle choices, how they find you, and how they make the decision to put you on the list of breeders they contact are all important steps in selling more alpacas and fiber goods. Base your marketing action plan on this knowledge and you will soon be maximizing your prospect inquiries and your opportunities to convert them into buyers.

Julie Wassom
“The Speaker Whose Message Means Business”
Marketing and Sales Speaker/Consultant/Author
303-693-2306
julie@juliewassom.com

www.JulieWassom.com

“The thing always happens that you really believe in;
and the belief in a thing makes it happen.”

Frank Lloyd Wright

Advertising On Your Vehicle

Your vehicle is a rolling billboard upon which you can advertise your farm or ranch. What alpaca business identifier is currently written on your van, truck or trailer? If the answer is “Nothing,” you are missing a cost-effective marketing opportunity.

Some tips on vehicle marketing:

  • Have your farm or ranch name, logo, website address, and telephone number professionally printed on the sides and back of your ranch vehicle. It’s important to put it on the back, because when you are stopped and cars are at a stop behind you, that is when they can grab a paper and jot down your contact information.
  • Make the font style consistent with your alpaca business identity. This is one more place you can create the consistency of image that causes recognition of your name in people’s minds. If your alpaca business colors do not coordinate with the color of your vehicle, use a complimentary color that shows up well.
  • Make the letters and numbers big enough that people in moving vehicles or parking beside you can easily read your information. Remember, your target market is between say 35 and 70 years old. Those over 40 or so probably can’t read small print anywhere and certainly will not attempt to on your vehicle.
  • Attract attention by keeping it simple. “White space” is as important here as it is anywhere, to getting your advertising message read by more people who matter.
  • If painting your farm name on your vehicle is not an option, you can do the same thing with a magnetic sign. Most sign companies can help you pick one that looks good, can withstand outdoor elements, and can be removed when needed. Be sure you know a magnet will adhere to your tailgate. Some are made of non-magnetic material.

Good luck, and I hope to see your ranch’s rolling billboard at the next major alpaca show!

Julie Wassom
“The Speaker Whose Message Means Business”
Marketing and Sales Speaker/Consultant/Author
303-693-2306
julie@juliewassom.com

www.JulieWassom.com

“The thing always happens that you really believe in;
and the belief in a thing makes it happen.”

Frank Lloyd Wright