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5 Things Every Producer Needs To Know Before Selling Cattle Online

Marketing cattle online is becoming the next big thing in our industry, but with so many gadgets, services and technology available today it can be overwhelming where to even begin. So we talked to David Moss, co-founder of Agriclear, to help us hack into what buyers are actually looking for when purchasing your cattle online, and how to get yourself ready for successfully selling online.  Agriclear is a new platform for producers to securely purchase and sell cattle online, and we think it’s pretty cool because it’s one of the first platforms that has truly simplified the process and made it safe and secure for both buyer and seller, by adding a payment assurance backstop to every transaction. Agriclear is backed by the TMX Group (owners of the TSX among other companies), and this gives producers across North America that sense of security and peace of mind when marketing online.  Here are David’s top 5 tips that every cattle producer needs to know to help increase sales online.

 

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1.      High Quality Media Sells – take several high definition (HD) pictures from several angles and ensure the photos are representative of the entire lot being sold.  Take several short (10-30 second) HD videos of your cattle, and ensure the environment they are in (i.e. on grass or in a feedlot) is clearly shown in the media materials. Click here to learn how to take better photos with your iPhone.

 

Pupils you betray me

2.      Describe Your Cattle Accurately – ensure you accurately describe your cattle, including animal type and kind, condition (green, medium, fleshy), vaccination program, implant program, and current feeding program.  You want to ensure your description matches what buyers are seeing in the pictures and videos you have provided.  If you are describing your cattle as green, and yet the videos clearly show fleshy cattle, buyers will have concerns.  You want the reputation of always being fair and accurate in your description.  This includes fully disclosing any poor doers, late calvers, or “neighbours bull” events!

 

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3.      Know Your Weights!! – this is absolutely critical!  Take representative test weights often.  Do not rely on last year’s results to predict this year’s weights.  Cattle that do not hit the sale weight is a big issue for buyers.  A missed in-weight will often result in their inability to hit specific finished target markets, and will “weigh heavily” on your online reputation.

 

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4.      Package and Prepare Your Sale Lot – where possible, package your selling lot(s) into uniform groups of cattle, including colour (breed), weights, sex, animal type, and program.  Sort off any sick or compromised cattle.  Take the perspective of a buyer.  Build sale lots that you would want to buy, avoid trying to “hide” off-type cattle in your sale lots.  Check out this great video with Brenda Schoepp on how to consolidate your cattle.

 

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5.      Be Flexible – listing and selling online is a relatively new phenomenon.  You will need to be flexible and fair with your counterparty to the transaction.  Shipping dates may need to adjust, cattle may get sick prior to the agreed to delivery date, your buyer may need a couple more days to clear pen space for your cattle, or weather may play a role in when both parties can complete the transaction.  Communicate openly and often with your buyer, build that trust, and demonstrate your integrity.  Creating an online market place takes patience and commitment from all parties.  Doing your part in making the online experience a positive one.  Selling online is truly a win-win opportunity for both the seller and the buyer, be a positive participant of this transformation in cattle marketing.

Increasing Your Brand Awareness Is Good Farm Marketing

Make A Stencil: Increasing Your Brand Awareness Is Good Farm Marketing

Article by John Suscovich from Farm Marketing Solutions

Your farm is your brand, and your brand is your farm. It is always good practice to increase your brand awareness. This is particularly true when you are starting a farm.

On my farm and off I am always putting my farm name anywhere I can. I leave business cards at cafes and book stores, I leave pamphlets at doctor’s offices, and I have shirts with my farm name on them that I wear anywhere I go. After all, I want my business to be a success, and in order for it to become a success more people have to know about it.

With visitors coming every week to my farm I wanted a way for my farm name to get into the pictures that they take, and for it to get into the pictures that I take and put online. A simple solution for me was to create a cardboard stencil so I can “tag” all of my stuff and increase brand awareness.

The process was very simple, and I will have the stencil as long as I can keep it in one piece. Here’s what I did:

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I chose a simple font and printed out the letters to my farm name in a very large font size. Obviously the whole name will not fit on one sheet so you will have to print out several sheets.

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Next I lined up all the letters and taped them onto a piece of cardboard. I actually doubled up on the cardboard and cut out two stencils at once. Always good to have a back-up.

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Choose a simple font that will be easy to read. It will also make it easier to cut out. I used Arial for this.

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Put it everywhere. I have it on my chicken tractors, my farm trailer, and I’ll even put it on my Vermont Cart. Just make sure the stencil doesn’t move when you are painting or it will look funny. Here I held it with bricks. I have also used a t-50 stapler to hold it while I spray.

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You can see my stencil on the end of my chicken tractor that I brought to an Earth Day event.

Return on Investment

My farm name is increasingly in my pictures that get shared all over the internet. Since it is clear that I take my business seriously and I want to be a success, others want to see me succeed as well. That leads to an increase of CSA members (4 since the event a couple days ago), and a bolstering of the community around my farm.


What can you be doing to increase brand awareness for you farm?

Link Photo courtesy of Farm Marketing Solutions

Article courtesy of Farm Marketing Solutions

For more information on how to brand your farm business check out a video by Ernest Barbaric on creating your brand online.

 

How to Tell your Farm Story using Social Media

 

We Are Our Own Gatekeepers

Just a decade ago, the media was dominated by a few (very loud) voices. We watched the TV news at 5 p.m. and read the newspaper over coffee. If, as a farmer or a manufacturer or an inventor, we wanted to tell our story, we wrote up a press release and faxed it out – hoping someone would bite. Or, we sank thousands into advertising.

For the most part, farmers didn’t need to hire a big-city public relations firm to tell consumers that milk came from cows. Then came the social media revolution.

For the first time in history, the “gatekeepers” of media didn’t have the power to pick through a pile of press releases and decide which story to run or which consumer questions to answer (and which to ignore). Suddenly every individual had a public voice and a collective of individuals could create a revolution in a matter of days (literally, in some cases).


What happened next?

An overwhelming number of questions came pouring out of the consumer sector. Suddenly, people who previously thought to themselves “I wonder how many gallons of milk comes from a single cow each day?” could simply Google it. And if they couldn’t find out through Google, they could post the question on their Facebook page. Conversations got started and questions got answered.

The problems and uncertainty for farmers (and all industries) in this open information marketplace lies in the fact that the people who “answer” may have no idea what they are talking about. Misinformation becomes fact. Complicated answers become black-and-white. Conversation becomes argument.

This scenario of question/answer has played out in every industry in every sector in every marketplace. People want to know who is making, growing, shipping and selling the products they buy, eat and use. And they have the right to know. And we should be proud to share our stories with them. The more consumers understand the diverse, complex and fascinating world of food production, the more respect and understanding the industry will earn.


What do we do now?

It’s simple: we embrace transparency and tell our stories honestly with the people we work with, sell to, and learn from. It’s called public relations, agvocacy, conversation, or more simply, storytelling.

We are proud of what we do and are proud of our industry. We put food on the table of hundreds of millions of families each day in North America alone. And we stand together against bad actors and actions.

Of course we must listen to and acknowledge the concerns of those who trust us with their dinners, but with our voices, we must focus on our stories: our future, our technology, our commitment to safety, health, and social and environmental responsibility, our love of the land and our way of life, our dedication to our families. We admit our shortcomings and work to improve.

The more of us who choose to engage proactively and productively in conversation with the consumer audience, the more powerful our message will be. The tools we can use are Facebook, Twitter, blogs, and Google+ (to name just a few).

As an ag business newbie and self-proclaimed city slicker, I was honored to be invited to the second Agvocacy 2.0 conference in Nashville, Tennessee, last month. The AgChat Foundation, a social media advocacy organization established to “empower farmers and ranchers to connect communities through social media platforms” held the conference to connect and teach ag professionals like me (and you) how to effectively use online platforms to help us tell our stories.

As I sat in the room a hundred ag professionals who have embraced social media and are using these tools to share these messages, I began to think of all of the millions of others who have yet to engage. Yes, the conference was amazing and I learned a lot. Yes, I think you should try to go, if you can. But, yes, I also understand that many farmers and ag professionals don’t have the time or knowledge to jump into Facebook or Twitter and figure it out.

One of the key messages of Jeff Fowle, AgChat Foundation past board president, in his opening remarks at the Agvocacy 2.0 conference was “reach beyond the choir.”

In my attempt to reach beyond the choir, I am appealing to you — the farmer and industry professional who doesn’t know where to start — pick one place to start.

Set up a Twitter account (it’s simple) and follow @AgChat@agchatfound and me (@amyserves). I’ll help you figure out how to follow along during the weekly AgChat. You can start by just reading the conversation.

Make a Facebook page for your farm (ask around! Your local Chamber of Commerce can probably help, or your teenage kid, for sure!). Connect locally, regionally and through the industry and share your daily life. Start by connecting with others through AgChat Foundation’s page (https://www.facebook.com/AgChatFoundation).

Visit www.agchat.org and read a few of the blog posts highlighted to get an idea about what other people are writing.

If you have something to say, but aren’t sure which avenue to take, connect with the AgChat community or email me and I can try to help.

We’re all in this together. We’re our own gatekeepers and our own storytellers, and through agvocacy, we are our own public relations machine.

Let’s use the tools we have available and get our story out. It’s one we can all be proud to share.

Article courtesy of DCCWaterbeds via Progressive Dairyman

Link Photo courtesy of Paolo Del Signore


How do you use social media to connect with consumers?

Want to learn the meaning of good conversation? Check out Tim Wray in “Get the Conversation Going.”
 

Judi Graff on why a professional business needs a professionally designed site

Our resident web expert contributor, Judi Graff of the FarmNWife, reviews our members blogs and gives some helpful tips on how to improve communications through social media. Check out her review of John Walkey’s, Bridge Business & Technology Inc. website.

Website Critique – Clean & Uncluttered is a great start

Our resident web expert contributor, Judi Graff of the FarmNWife, reviews our members’ blogs and gives some helpful tips on how to improve communications through social media.  Check out her review of Cara Conroy-Low’s, Clear Sky Farm website.

Website Critique – Blog tips for increasing conversions, traffic & sales!

Our resident web expert contributor, Judi Graff of the FarmNWife, reviews our members’ blogs and gives some helpful tips on how to improve communications through social media.  Check out her review of Elaine Froese’s, Farm Family Coach and Succession Planning  website.

 

Why You Need to Develop a Farm Marketing Plan

Marketing is an essential part of any successful farm business. Whether you’re selling a commodity or a retail product your marketing strategy starts with putting together a marketing plan.

A marketing plan helps you keep out emotions when you’re making decisions in your farm business. You need a plan so that you don’t get caught up in hype, and a farm marketing plan will go along way to ensuring you stay the steady course.

Watch Reg Shandro explain why it’s important to have a farm marketing plan on your farm business operation.

This workshop was funded in part by the Agriculture & Food Council of Alberta

 

Take the first step in developing a farm marketing plan

 

Managing the Market Risk on Your Farm

Watch Reg Shandro explain how to manage market risk on your farm.

Managing market risk can look like black magic to anyone who doesn’t understand it. That’s where hiring a professional comes in but there are some basics you should understand as the decision maker in your farm business.

For further resources, please read the information in the “download” section on the right of your screen.

This workshop was funded in part by the Agriculture & Food Council of Alberta

 

What Should I Blog About?

Naming a post or deciding what to blog about is the biggest challenge of blogging. Kevin Kossowan suggests that you must write about something that people care about. If you write about something that no one is searching for, then there will be no audience to find your blog. However, if you write about something that people are actively looking for on the internet, you immediately have potential readers for you blog.

So. as a farmer. ask yourself these questions – what about your farming business do people care about? What would people want to know about farming? Once you’ve answered those questions, and you’re passionate about the topic, you have found an excellent idea to blog about.

In this video Kevin discusses these issues and gives you tips on how to stay focussed on the topic your blogging about.

 

 

Pre-Planning Grain Sales: Some Basics on Forward Contracting

Risk management is all about planning ahead.  And that’s exactly what Kent Ploszspecializes in. If you’re not familiar with forward contracting, or DDCs, this video is a great place to start.

Forwarding contracting, also know in the grain industry as Deferred Delivery Contract (DDC) allows farmers to agree with a grain company ahead of time, that they will deliver a quantifiable amount of grain in return for a specified sum of money at a future date. This is a smart risk management strategy, that farm businesses should definitely be aware of, and look into.

This workshop was funded in part by the Agriculture & Food Council of Alberta

 

For further resources, check out these Important Topics for Successful Grain Marketing, from Farms.com Market School.