Friday, April 22, 2011

First Things First (Marketing Grassfed Products Profitably)

Carolyn Nation and Sheri Salatin at the Stockman Marketing School in MS
A little over a month ago, I had the opportunity to speak at the Marketing School with Allan and Carolyn Nation and Joel Salatin. While there, I got a copy of Carolyn's new book, Marketing Grassfed Products Profitably.
So far it has been proving to be a great read.  Here's some thoughts from the first section of the book to wet your appetite.
What makes a good marketer?
What makes a good business?
Allan and Carolyn says that women make better marketers than men. Do you agree?
Personally, I have to agree with this statement, just for the sheer reason that we (women) talk more than guys.  We talk to our girlfriends about different recipes, new shampoo or laundry soap we just tried out or a book we just read. These are all forms of marketing.  We may give negative or positive reviews on these products, but still we TALK about them.

"Experts say it takes eight 'touches' before someone commits to buy."

As a farmer, this means that each time someone talks to you or visits your farm booth or farm store, doesn't mean that they will buy something. And even if they don't buy anything from you that day, you are still marketing. You are making a connection.  The more that they see your name, talk to you and make a connection, the more likely they will be to come back and try your products.

She has a great list in this book about how to tell if you are a marketer or not:
  1. Do you enjoy talking to people?
  2. Are you a good listener?
  3. Are you gifted with a memory for recalling others' names?
  4. Do you make To Do list so that you can cross off accomplishments?
  5. Do you feel happy knowing you've helped someone?
  6. Are you good at doing several things at once?
  7. Do you pay attention to details?
  8. Do people often seek your opinion or advice?
  9. Are you a connector - keeping in touch with friends or acquaintances by writing or calling?
  10. Do you believe in the products you have to sell
You're a born marketer.

One of the best business training a woman can have is motherhood.  Question number six is a resounding "yes" to all of us who have kids and many of us who don't. Think - it's 5 o'clock, dinner is on the stove, 2 year old is crying, dog is whining at the door and the phone is ringing. All in a day's work.

She goes on to talk about setting goals for yourself and your business with great suggestions on how to do so. I won't go into all that now, since I would highly recommend that you read the book yourself.

The last thing that stuck out to me from the first section of this book was this statement:

"If you don't have the support of your spouse and shared goals, the journey to success will be harder than it needs to be."

One of the first questions that we ask to aspiring farmers who come to Polyface for advice is, "What does your spouse have to say about it?"
Farming is more than a job, it's a lifestyle. If you read business books, you see many times they talk about leaving your work at the office, separating it out from your personal life. You cannot do this with farming. You live, eat, and breathe it. Your whole family is involved or trying to be involved.
Without the support of your spouse, every farm is destined to fail. Guaranteed. Some of you gals reading this know what I'm talking about. How many times do you have the kids all dressed up and ready to walk out the door to church or another big event and in walks your hubby?
"Cows are out of water, I need to go fix the pump."
So much for arriving on time. Minutes turn to hours and before long, you've stripped the kids out of their Sunday best and back into p.j.'s and tucked them into bed.
Dinners get cold. Your entire salary is based on whether or not you've made that sale, cleaned that egg properly or moved the animals to higher ground before the flood came.

The same goals and visions are imperative to have a successful farm or any business.
We at Polyface do this during the winter time. Usually at the end of Dec-Jan is our "meetings". We discuss our goals for that year.
We now have a list for each person who works here on the farm identifying their job description.  It helps us to all know who is in charge of what so that we are doubling the work. We are more productive this way.
Carolyn talks about how she is in charge of their publishing business. It's her baby. No one else (aka Allan) second-guesses her decisions. It part of the same business, but it's hers.
This is very important, especially when you have multi-generations on the same farm. 

One of the biggest questions we get from families trying to pass their farm onto their kids is how to do it properly. What do you do with their spouses? Perhaps, I'll go into that more next week. What do you think? Is this something that you would be interested in discussing?

What are your thoughts on everything I have shared today?

For further reading, visit:


Rich Radtke said...

Great post. Straight forward... no nonsense. I'll have my wife read this.

Stephanie said...

Yes! Please share more next week! Marketing, establishing a farm as a business, including/involving the children or other family, setting goals, division of labor.... and more... Love to hear it ALL! Several things in this post really hit home for me. Thank you!

Wendy said...

Awesome post!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Annie, Morning Joy Farm said...

I've been eyeing this book in SGF and now I just have to get it!!
Thanks for sharing Sheri!

We are starting the process of taking over my parent's farm (which involves moving from our current farm). Please, let's talk about it!

Hamons said...

Thank you for the great post. I have been following your blog for quite a while. My and I are in the planning stages for our farm. As I put together a marketing plan I am trying to narrow down who our target customers are.

Since there will be many similarities between the goals of polyface farm and our farm - would you be willing to share what you have found is true about your best customers? DO they tend to cluster around a certain age, income bracket, family type, etc.

Since we have not yet started selling product -- it is difficult for us to predict who we should be directing our message towards.

Jeff Hamons

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