From Pastures to Profits: Understanding Online Marketing and Value-Added Programs
September 18 | Written By Shaye Koester
The Quarter 3 RancherMind series has been focused on several areas of cattle marketing and promotion. Experts have joined producers once a month to discuss marketing cattle in an online world, value-added programs and developing and raising bred heifers. Here’s a taste of the tips and advice that were shared during the July and August RancherMind events.
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Marketing Cattle in an Online WorldTracey Koester and Aly Robins joined cattle producers on Zoom to answer questions about social media and website marketing. Koester specializes in social media marketing and print advertising while Robins is an expert in leveraging websites to help rural businesses thrive. It’s no secret that marketing livestock online is becoming more popular, but understanding how to do it is critical. There is more to it than posting a picture of your cattle right before sale day. The number one tip shared by both Koester and Robins was to know who your target audience is. If you don’t know what value your livestock have to offer and who would find them valuable, you won’t have any direction in your marketing efforts.
Social media is a great place to start showing up online because it is free outside of the time you dedicate to posting and engaging with others. Koester reminds cattle producers to show up consistently online and not just post during the times of the year when they are selling. Showing up consistently also means reacting and commenting on other people’s posts. “When you are engaging with others online, be interested in your client or potential clients instead of trying to be interesting,” said Koester. During the RancherMind event, Koester shared more tips for how to engage with others on social media and what types of posts and information to share on both your business page and profile throughout the year.
A good website is the next step to showing up online in your cattle marketing strategies. A good website builds brand credibility and trust with your target audience. “A good website should share 3 things: who you are, what you sell and how I can buy from you,” said Robins. Components of a good website include clear messaging and proper use of keywords for SEO purposes. Robins also shared tips with attendees to help them understand their businesses as a whole and how to connect with their ideal clients.
Are Value-added Programs Right for You?Dr. Elliot Dennis joined the August RancherMind call to share information about value-added programs with cattle producers. Value-added programs are opportunities for cattle producers to verify their management practices or specific attributes about their cattle to receive a premium from their buyers. There are opportunities for small and large producers to find value-added programs that fit the goals of their operation.
When trying to decide if the value-added route is right for you and which programs to join, Dennis reminds cattle producers to keep it simple and look at the little things they are already doing. Think about your herd health and vaccine protocol. Do you put implants in? What’s the primary diet of your cattle? What’s your mineral program? What’s the genetic makeup of your herd? Are you consistent with all these things from year to year or do you mix it up? “These programs are here to stay. It’s more about finding a program that works for your operation instead of changing a whole bunch of things to fit a program,” said Dennis. Once you have a list and idea of how you are managing your cattle and what type of cattle you truly have to offer, begin looking at lists of programs to see where you might already fit or could fit with just a small change.
Outside of value-added attributes, it is important to think about everything that impacts the price of your cattle. “Think about the non-value-added attributes that impact prices too. These may show up in the form of discounts such as cattle with horns. An example of why this is important would be if cattle meet the NHTC requirements but have horns, it would all be a wash because the discount and premium could potentially even out,” said Dennis.
As always, before you join or commit to something, you need to know what you are locking yourself into. “There are production and financial risks that come with committing to different programs,” said Dennis. Take time to weigh out the pros and cons and different scenarios that may arise before you dive into something new.
It’s a wonderful situation to have options for how we market our cattle as ranchers. Do your due diligence and research which programs and promotional strategies will be worth your time and effort. And don’t forget to keep your ideal client at the top of your mind throughout all of this!