Communicating With Your Customers
By Shelby Mettlen
INDIANAPOLIS, Ind. (Nov. 6, 2016) — Producing seedstock for the Angus industry is quite a responsibility, Brett Spader, director of operations for DV Auctions, told a group of producers and marketers at the 2016 Angus Convention in Indianapolis, Ind. Spader spoke as part of the convention’s Angus University on Sunday, Nov. 6.
“Certainly, the responsibility doesn’t just stop with producing the cattle,” Spader continued. “It also comes down to customer service and communicating with your customers.” He said he likes to refer to marketing more as communications.
“It’s such an important part of what we do, but a lot of times, it falls to the bottom of the list,” he acknowledged.
You’re not always in the mood to be sold to, Spader explained, but communicating with others is human nature. The relationship between breeder and client is strong, and it’s important.
The goal for producers is to communicate to past and potential customers the identity of your brand, family, and the goals and values that go along with those.
“If you’re not keeping in touch with your customers, someone else probably is,” he said. Communicating with customers is a year-round effort, and battles are won and lost in the off-season.
Hear your customers’ needs; plan and keep in touch with them, he urged. Spader outlined a few points to help get in touch, stay in touch, and continue to successfully market cattle.
“There’s no such thing as a recipe for what’s going to work or what’s not going to work for your operation,” he noted. What works for your operations will likely be very different than your neighbors’. Focus on who you are trying to communicate with, because the message may differ.
Returning customers need continued support and ways to take their herds to the next level. New customers need more consultation to determine what they need and how you can serve them.
Geography, operation type, age and other factors can also play a role in what type of message you need to relay to your customers. Take everything into consideration when developing your plan. Understanding those aspects of your clients will help drive decisions and give you direction as to where to invest your dollars, Spader said.
Create and set goals that are measurable and attainable, he said. “That can be as simple as a $100 increase on your bull sale. It can be as simple as 20% more phone calls or catalog requests.” It allows you to determine what’s working and when it’s time to try something new.
In order to see what you need to improve on, you need to be able to measure those goals. A few examples Spader provided included bulls sold, metrics on your website and the number of calls or emails received.
Establish a series of touch points that build upon each other, Spader said. Everyone processes information differently, so get to know your different audiences and what appeals to them. View what you’re putting into your business as an investment, and know that what’s going in is going to build your business and help you become more sustainable.
Spader explained the “sales funnel,” which he said, “is just what it sounds like.” Reach out to people, explain what you have to offer and bring it down to making a sale.
The marketing mix Spader described to establish these touch points includes direct mail (flyers, catalogs), print (Angus Beef Bulletin, Angus Journal), digital (online publications, Angus Auctions), video (livestock and creative), radio and social media.
The media timeline
Spader shared his media timeline, which starts about a full year out from sale day. A potential customer’s first stop is often a producer’s website, which then leads to catalog requests, social media searches and direct interaction.
Between 11 and 12 months prior to the big day, Spader urged producers to identify targets and create goals for the production sale. Just after that, start posting on social media. At nine months, start calling your past buyers to let them know you’re interested in their needs and are eager to provide a valuable product. Just short of the six-month mark, send out postcards and print ads in magazines like the Angus Journal advertising your sale and what you have available. At two months, move those ads to digital, and at one month, send out your sale book. At three weeks, occupy some radio spots to tickle the ears of your customers, and follow up with videos and e-blasts during the remaining week or two.
“See what we’ve done,” Spader said. “We’ve kept in constant contact, and it’s not too hard to do that.”
Keep in mind, “This is just something that has worked well for several breeders,” Spader noted. Identify what works for you, and tell the story of your program to people who want to work with you.
View the PowerPoint for this presentation.
Spader’s presentation was one of the Angus University Workshops sponsored by Merck Animal Health Nov. 6 at the 2016 Angus Convention. For additional coverage of the Angus Convention, tune in to The Angus Report on RFD-TV the week of Nov. 21 and watch for coverage in the Angus Journal and the Angus Beef Bulletin. Summaries, speaker presentations, photos, videos and much more can be found online at www.angus.media.