Category: Business

The Language You Need to Be Using in Your Marketing

By   /  September 10, 2018  /

You’re Not Selling What You Think You’re Selling…

Most farmers think they sell grass-fed beef, or raw milk, organic chicken or fresh flowers.

But when it comes to marketing, that language won’t help you stand out.

It looks just like your competitor!

What you’re selling is a solution to your customer’s problems.

You’re selling ‘that thing’ your product does for your customers — the reason they buy it.

For Example….

If I Google “Grass-fed beef near me” I find things like this:

“Beef — 100% grass fed and grass finished. Versatile Dexter breed. Call to purchase”

…or, “We raise our cattle on pasture that’s been fortified with minerals that most soil is lacking. The cows are rotated to fresh grass every 24 hours and they are never fed any grain.”

Unless you’re a farmer and you know this lingo, your eyes have glazed over and you’re ready to click on Facebook for something more entertaining.

But you stumble on my farm’s website and read through everything, finally landing on my Products Page where I describe what I sell.

You read, “Ground Beef: Easily the most versatile product we provide — you should always have plenty to spare for those nights you feel totally and completely uninspired and have no intention of getting there. Grill it, loaf it, fry it up with some kale and sweet potatoes for the ultimate Paleo dinner without much effort.”

And then, “Pastured Chicken: The ultimate in buying bulk, one of our chickens will feed your family for two nights with the effort of only one.  Roasted chicken the first night, lettuce wraps, enchiladas, or soup the next.  You’ll have enough time on the “leftovers” day to schedule that pedicure your toes are desperate for.  And the family still eats!”

In this case, I’m NOT selling Ground Beef and Pastured Chicken.

I’m selling the solution my product offers: quick, easy, healthy meals that any busy mom can make.

How do I know what my product does for people?  

I ask them!

When I ask you what you sell, I don’t want to hear that you sell grass-fed beef. I can run down the street to my local grocery store and find grass fed beef, so there’s no reason to drive out of my way to buy from you.

But if you sell a way to get a super healthy dinner on the table fast…or a way to feed their adopted baby formula when they can’t nurse… you are selling so much more than the products you raise.

You are selling a solution your customers are desperate for!

Since this may be a new concept for you, I’ve created an email template for you with the exact questions you can ask your customers to help you discover what your products do for them. Once they respond, you can use their words to market your product to all your other ideal customers.

You can download the email template here. You’ll also find a video I did about how other farmers are using this knowledge and language in their marketing and how they’re attracting new customers because of it. The video is only available for a limited time, so if you’re interested be sure to head on over!

In today’s world, where everyone is looking online for solutions to their struggles and help reaching their goals, you need to make sure your words on your website, your Facebook page, and your Instagram posts, are all connecting with your potential customers in this way.

So, if you’re ready to stand out from every other farmer, grocery store and home delivery meal service, check out the email template and video, and let’s get started.

As always, thanks for being here

Does Buying Older Farm Equipment Save You Money?

Buying Used Tractors is Tempting, but Are You Really Saving Money?

9 Steps To Getting More Family Harmony

9 Steps To Getting More Family Harmony on the Farm
By Elaine Froese

The coaching theme lately has been older brothers and young brothers (a good bit younger) trying to figure out how to farm together. It is a bit of trick since the older brother typically has a bit more equity because he has been on the farm for a decade or more.

The dilemma of how to give each sibling what they need as a successor sometimes breaks a mother’s heart. She loves all of her children, as does Dad, and she is trying to figure out the way ahead so that the family will be in harmony, and the farm will have a strong team.

What can be done to increase family harmony?

It could be adult children who show up as loving adults, responsible, respectful and ready to create solutions. It is the farming successors who show that family relationships are the core value to be protected, and the farm is a business, not a monster to be fed.

9 Suggestions for All Members to Create Family Harmony on the Farm

1. COME TO THE TABLE

Be willing to discuss ideas and options. What is your big picture vision of farming with your parents and your siblings?

The accountant can give you some creative share structure options, partnership and operating agreements once you are clear about what each sibling needs.  Share your “why” or intent for the things you are asking for.

2. INVOLVE THE DAUGHTER-IN-LAWS

Readers have been asking for an article on daughter-in-laws who farm. I am her. I am a farm partner who supports the farm team. Some daughters-in-law are more active agronomists, livestock keepers, and bookkeepers. Everyone’s role can look different, but all are important.  In my books, the farmer’s spouse can be a daughter-in-law or a son-in-law. The daughter-in-law needs to understand what kind of debt is going to be serviced and be clear that she is willing to help bring in cash or income for family living. If she is a homemaker, that is fine, but the farm will have to cash flow more revenue for debt-servicing. Is this viable?

3. KNOW YOUR FAMILY LIVING COSTS

You need to eat and be clothed. Parents cannot be expected to give you a free ride with free house rent or utilities forever. Once you cover your basic living costs, what do you have left for servicing debt or buying assets? You need disposable cash to grow.

4. REALIZE THAT YOU WILL ALWAYS BE THE OLDEST, MIDDLE OR YOUNGEST CHILD

You cannot change your birth order or become older to “catch up” to your older farming sibling. You can grow up, be mature, and make responsible choices with your time, resources, and energy.  I know a young rancher who worked hard with neighbors to make hay arrangements for his growing cattle herd, and he also bartered his labor to get ahead. He was not using his youth as an excuse to just coast.

5. VISIT YOUR LENDER AND FIND OUT WHAT YOU ARE GOOD FOR REGARDING LOANS

Do you know your net worth? How much money could you come up with quickly to leverage some debt for an awesome opportunity to gain assets to farm? You might not be able to afford land, but can you access some rented land and pay for inputs?  Your mom would like you to be independent with your living (laundry, meals, etc. ) and ready to be independent financially.

6. BE PATIENT

It took your parents 40 years to get where they are today. It is 2016, and farming has big dollars attached to the adventure. Be open to learning more about financial transparency. Negotiate what you are willing to commit to and for how long. If your parents are going to roll over or gift assets, they want to know that their wealth will be protected. They also want your marriage to be strong and enduring.  Set some reasonable timelines and dates on paper so that everyone can digest what a workable timeline is for everyone to get closer to their farming goals.

7. REMEMBER TO BOOK TIME FOR FUN

Strong families celebrate. I wish you could see the tears in Mom’s eyes (and Dad’s) at the end of a family meeting when she tells her adult farming children that she is proud of them and loves them dearly. Appreciation and encouraging the heart of your farm business is done with words of affirmation, gifts, and time spent together with gratitude. Don’t kid yourself that all the stuff you collect in your house is important; life is not about things. Write your folks some nice words in a card this year.

8. DECIDE EVERY DAY HOW YOU ARE GOING TO INTENTIONALLY ADD TO YOUR FARM FAMILY’S EMOTIONAL BANK ACCOUNT

When siblings farm together, especially at different stages of the family life cycle, they need to recognize that they will always be in different phases of that cycle. Parents are not responsible for making all of their children economically equal, yet their heartstrings are pulled to want to help each child achieve success. Farm owners may want to help the younger siblings, just as they have helped the older farm and non-farm siblings in their own way. This is not an easy dance. The founders need to take care of their own income streams for the next 30 years and protect their wealth as they make the transition of ownership gradually. It also helps if there is a “personal wealth bubble,” as Merle Good says, to help draw non-farm cash for living needs as we age.

9. YOUR MOM WILL ALWAYS BE YOUR MOM

Someday mom and dad may also be your business partner. This is where role confusion really mucks people up. They cannot switch “hats” as they relate to each other in the different roles they play. Practice saying, “As your child, I feel valued and respected as a member of this family, and as your future business partner I am looking forward to creating solutions to make a great future for my own family .”

 

Ranching-Why I do things the way I do:

Cow Herd Inventory Management By Wally Olson

The need of inventory management in the cow herd is that not all cows have the same value. What is the market telling me today?

Three-year-old cows 1300# 8 months bred @ $1700 Hi-Quality 4-5-year-old cows 1000-1100# 6 months bred @$1200 Avg-Quality 6-8-year-old cows 1000-1100# 6 months bred @$750 Avg -Quality 1300# 1100# True Value of a Cow- Her Cull Price @ $60 $780 $660 The calf Value 500# @$150 $750 $750 < Carry Costs> $40 per month $320 $400 Base value of a Cow $1210 $1010

What this tells me is the 3-year-old cow will have $920 in depreciation coming in her life. It could be the next preg check or many calves down the road. What the market is telling me that the 4-5-year-old cow could have $450 next year. If calves are selling for $750 the calf that this cow produces has a value of only $300 after paying the loss in the cow value. If it costs $480 to carry a cow you are down $180. The cow that I’m buying is the 6-8 year old cow .If she has made it to six the odds are she will make 10 or 12

She is will only have $90 in depreciation to be covered by 5 calves or $18 She has a base value of $1010 and cost of $750 .Her value to me is $1010 – $750(Her Cost)-$18 (Depreciation)=$260. This is a 32% return on my investment, which I can live with.

The market may be telling you to keep the heifer calf and sell the 3-year-old cow In the 6-8-year-old cow, it is telling me to keep the cow and sell the heifer calf. Look at the relationships of the classes and adjust your inventory. Only deal with today.

Are we really good at everything?

Billy Whitehurst for Progressive Cattleman Published on 15 January 2019

I once asked a group of my students how many enterprises the typical cow-calf ranch has. Almost without fail they all said only one, the ranch.

The answer in most cases is usually around four: the calf enterprise (selling calves at weaning); the replacement heifers (be it raising your own or for sale); the hay; and a land enterprise (this is where you analyze lease value of the property).

Many ranches have added farming, custom grazing, hunting and maybe a seedstock enterprise as well. With so many different aspects to manage, it is easy to unknowingly let one successful enterprise carry one that is not successful. I have found very few people who are truly good at farming and are good stockmen and vice versa. We all have something that we favor over the other or have a more natural gifting toward. There is nothing wrong with that. So how do we focus on our strengths and not let our weaknesses (or our pride) hinder the bottom line?

Years ago, a business and economics teacher told me that most business owners would rather act like an employee instead of the owner, and I think that’s true for a lot of us. The hardest thing to do is sit down and be the manager when you really want to be the one out doing the job. Being the manager is hard, yet necessary. One rancher who finally did this came into my office about five years ago and told me he had decided to lease his place out when he realized that he could lease his place and profit $60,000 per year from it with virtually no responsibility or time on his part, whereas for the past 20 years he was working about 70 hours per week for a return of $100,000.

When the lights came on that he was working 70 hours per week for an extra $40,000 that equated to approximately $11 per hour, he decided that he could do something else with his time for a higher return on his efforts. It was a hard decision and one that required him to admit he wasn’t as good at something as he originally thought he was. The reality is no matter what industry we are in, to stay sustainable we must be willing to either let go of things we aren’t good at or (dare I say it) hire someone who is better at it than we are to run that aspect of the business.

For many folks, when the water turns on and the hay needs to be harvested, the cattle take a back seat and things fall through the cracks on that end. In some cases, cattle are calving when we need to be in the field farming, and we’re focused on cattle when we should be out farming. The list goes on and on, and we could hash it to death, but the bottom line is that trying to do everything and be good at it is rarely a sustainable practice.

In the end, something always suffers. It may be the cattle; it may be the crops; or it may be the family unity and health from pushing too hard and trying to do it all. I read a survey about 10 years ago that was collected by the Farmer’s Union (I believe it was FU, can’t swear to it; the important thing is the result), which showed that the ranches with the highest degree of profit had some common habits.

  1. They all took a yearly vacation of at least one week to get away from the operation, recharge and, most importantly, return with fresh eyes. It’s easy not to see the forest because of the trees when we are in it all day every day.
  2. They used family members’ and employees’ talents in their areas of gifting. If one kid is a gifted farmer, guess what he focuses on? Another manages the maintenance of the place and equipment if he is a mechanic and engineer, and so on and so forth.
  3. The most productive operations had a typical work week of 50 hours. Obviously, there are weeks of heavier work and lighter work, but regardless of the work season, they all took at least one day off to rest. This resulted in fewer breakdowns, more productive time at work, less cost from employee turnover and more returns in the end.
  4. No one is allowed to return to the operation until they have spent time away somewhere else doing something. Many go to the military, work construction, work on another operation, etc. The reason being twofold: It ensures that when the person returns to the operation, he or she has tried some other occupations and is sure he or she wants to be working the operation, and it brings new perspectives, newly learned skills and fresh ideas back to the operation.

We each have unique gifts, talents, interests and resources. When we stay within those areas, our productivity and profitability tend to increase, and we’ll be in a better mood when the day is done. With a new year, let’s all take some time to reflect on what we did well this past year and see where we could either improve or eliminate areas of the operation that didn’t prove as rewarding and commit to making positive changes moving forward.  end mark

Billy Whitehurst

Opportunity costs just went up

Seth’s Blog – Seth Godin <notify@sethgodin.com>

Every choice has a price.

If you have $100 to invest and you buy this stock instead of that bond, the interest you gave up in making your choice is your opportunity cost.

At the dinner buffet, you can take as much food as you like, but you can only consume so much food. Which means that eating the jambalaya means you won’t have room to eat a dosa. That’s your opportunity cost.

Opportunity cost is the key to making decisions. Once you know the value of the alternatives you’re giving up, you can be smarter about what you’re choosing to do.

Time is finite. We only get the next hour once, and then it’s gone forever. So choices about how we spend or invest our time come with real opportunity costs.

A car with a bumper sticker that says, “I’d rather be surfing,” tells us a lot about the driver (including the inconsistency of his or her actions). But it’s proof that each of us wrestles with opportunity costs every day.

With that in mind, the cost of watching a cat video on YouTube is real indeed.

And the internet has raised the opportunity cost of time spent.

Our access to the world of learning and online resources means that the alternatives are far more valuable than they used to be.

You’re about to spend 11 minutes perfecting an email to a customer. You could do a 90% ideal job in one minute, and the extra 10 minutes spent will increase the ‘quality’ of the email to 92%.

The alternative? Now, you could spend that ten minutes reading a chapter of an important new book. You could learn a few new functions in Javascript. You could dive deep into the underlying economics of your new project…

Or perhaps you’re about to spend an hour manually cleaning a database or tweaking some image files. You do this every day.

Today, though, you could invest an hour in learning to build a macro that will do this recurring job in just a minute a day from now on. Or you could figure out how to hire a trusted freelancer who will do the job on a regular basis for far less than it’s costing you to do it yourself.

Next week, the choices you made at the buffet won’t matter much. But if you learn a new skill, you own it forever.

Human beings don’t like thinking about opportunity costs. As they approach infinity, it’s easy to get paralyzed. As they get harder to compute, it’s difficult to focus and be mindful of the choices already made. That’s a challenge.

But worse, far worse, is to ignore them and fail to learn and connect and level up.

Competitive Advantage

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When a business is able to sustain profits that substantially exceed the average for its industry, that business is said to have a competitive advantage.   We firmly believe having a competitive advantage will be the difference between mere survival and true success in the future of the cow-calf business.   There is no reason you cannot have a competitive advantage – if you want one.   It is up to you!   There are two primary types of competitive advantages – a cost advantage and a differential advantage.

A cost advantage exists when a business is able to deliver the same product as competitors but at a much lower cost.   This requires a low cost of production.   Low-input cow-calf producers, for example, have a big competitive advantage over status quo producers.   Many (perhaps most) PCC customers have a cost of production that is less than half what the national average is.   That’s an advantage of $300 to $400 per calf.   WOW!   The easiest money you will ever make is the money you don’t spend.

Having a cost advantage will only be possible for those who focus on production per acre – instead of production per cow.   I personally know several producers who have increased pounds and profit per acre by 50 to well over 200 percent.   These producers have implemented proper grazing management to make the most of every ray of sunshine and drop of rain that falls on the land they control.   They also produce smaller, more efficient cattle that fit their environment – instead of artificially changing the environment to fit their cattle.

A differential advantage is created when a product differs from competing products and is perceived to be superior to competing products.   Many PCC customers, for example, produce and market grass-finished beef.   While the demand for conventional beef has been steadily declining, the demand for grass-finished beef has been increasing by leaps and bounds.   Producers with grass-efficient genetics are receiving huge premiums for their calves.

Many PCC customers have both a cost advantage and a differential advantage.   They produce beef for substantially less than everyone else and they sell it for substantially more than everyone else.   These producers are my heroes!   As time goes on, they will be buying out more and more of their neighbors.   That’s a little sad – but I don’t have much sympathy for people who are too lazy and/or too afraid to think for themselves.