Building A Niche That Attracts New and Repeat Buyers

“Find a niche and strike it rich” is a saying used by my speaker colleague and friend, Mark Victor Hansen. He and Jack Canfield are co-authors of the Chicken Soup for the Soul series of books filled with heartwarming anecdotal stories on a number of topics. Because they fill the need for readers to feel mm-mm good, they continue to fly off the bookshelves. You can follow the same approach to sell your alpacas by finding and filling a niche that draws new and repeat buyers.

To keep the industry growing, bringing in new buyers is imperative. Repeat buyers are an ideal source of new business and usually some of your best referral sources. So how do you build a niche to create both, get them to your farm, and generate the sales you need? First, know your audience and their buying patterns. Determine the specific characteristics of your alpacas and services that differentiate you from other breeders. Then use proven marketing and sales techniques to generate inquiries and convert them into new and repeat buyers.

To give you a couple of real life examples, in this issue I am profiling two of the many alpaca breeders who have done just that. One owns a small alpaca farm in a sparsely-populated area of Virginia, the other operates a large farm in the livestock-oriented state of Texas. Both have built niches that sell alpacas while creating new buyers, some of whom have become repeat customers.

Nancy and Harry Ogan have built a niche based upon providing comprehensive knowledge to new and prospective breeders. Their current seminar, “Alpacas 1-on-1″ is a hands-on, information-packed course that helps aspiring breeders determine whether or not the alpaca industry is for them. Attendees come to Harnan Alpaca Farm and live the life of an alpaca breeder for two days, feeding, trimming teeth and toes, scooping poop, learning about fences, shearing, fiber sales, etc. The Ogans also take prospective breeders to shows and alpaca events. Nancy says, “If they are going to go into this business, we want them to be happy with their purchase.” They market their farm and this seminar on their farm website, on Alpaca Nation, on mailings to the AOBA lead list, and by distributing flyers at shows. In three years as small breeders, the Ogans have sold 13 alpacas, testimony that providing this kind of experiential learning, along with reproductive guarantees and ongoing services, is a niche that works for them.

Thomas Etheredge, Ranch Manager at Fantasy Farm Alpacas in the Texas hill country northwest of San Antonio, has spearheaded a niche marketing effort that has yielded significant sales, new buyers, and a solution to the dilemma of what to do with non- herdsire males. In researching their target audiences, Thomas and owner, Barbara Laird, realized that many retirees buying small acreages in the area were seeking easy-care enjoyable livestock and a way to take advantage of the Texas livestock exemptions on property tax. They saw an opportunity to fill that niche by introducing people to the alpaca industry with inexpensive pets, knowing some of them would then want to invest in breeding stock and build an alpaca business. To test their theory, Thomas says they took young halter-trained male alpacas to many county fairs and livestock events throughout the fourth quarter of 2007, selling usually two or more alpacas and providing detailed information, resources, and contact numbers for ongoing support for their care. This effort created more than 50 new customers and over $100,000.00 just from the sale of baby boys. They draw these new buyers back to Fantasy Farm Alpacas by making feed, supplies, and services available at the farm. To date, some 30% have become repeat buyers of breeding stock.

Whatever the size of your farm or ranch, the mix of animals in your herd, or the level of experience you have as a breeder, there are ways to sell your alpacas and bring new buyers into the industry. One way to do it is by finding a niche and filling it!

Julie Wassom
“The Speaker Whose Message Means Business”
Marketing and Sales Speaker/Consultant/Author

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

Frank Lloyd Wright

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