Category: Change

Be Good at 2 Things

When you’re very good at “n”, there are probably thousands of people who are also good at “n”. But if you are good at “n + 1”, that number is far smaller.

And if you are able to add one (+1) to the equation – it increases your ability to withstand anything that comes your way in Life.

Not only do you have the ability to withstand life’s events – when you add that +1 it increases your chances to build upon your current situation.

An example of this would be your hours getting cut at work – by having that +1 you are now able to make up for the loss and find new opportunities to expand and grow. You have now made yourself indispensable.

Indispensable not only to yourself but to any and all persons around you. With your increased skill set your hours may never be cut in the first place.

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

Competitive Advantage

  |   No Comments  |   

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.

Get Unstuck on the Farm: The Power of a Heartfelt Letter

By 

Get Unstuck on the Farm The Power of a Heartfelt LetterSometimes we have to go back to basics to keep healthy change happening on our farms. Lately, in my transition seminars, I have been encouraging frustrated young farmers to write a heartfelt letter of intent to their founding parents. People who are stuck with a large degree of anxiety and overwhelm from not knowing the certainty of the future are caught in what William Bridges has termed “the neutral zone.”  You want to get out of neutral and moving towards a more certain future.

Let’s look at five types of letters that might be helpful to your situation

  1. Exploration
  2. Collaboration
  3. Explanation
  4. Confrontation
  5. Affirmation

You might want to take parts of each of these types of letters to accomplish your specific goals. Here’s how I have seen them used in my coaching work.

Exploration

Exploration is the discovery process of seeking out the possibilities of how you might like to address an issue with another party. You are exploring the various options ahead of you. For a young farmer, it might be exploring a new business plan with the founders or folks who hold most of the equity in the operation. In our case, our son used a marketing contract with a hemp processing company to explore the possibility of growing hemp on our certified seed farm. His father agreed to the plan, and we now have three years of hemp growing experience. What opportunities do you want to explore on your farm? What letters of reference or testimonials do you have in your research to prove that it is a workable choice to engage? Writing the letter will help crystalize your commitment to the project and help think things through for your business plan.

Collaboration

The purpose of this letter is to agree on a working contract. I use this letter in my speaker agreements to be clear about timelines, dates, venues, supplies, fees, and expenses. When you want to collaborate on a project with a family member you usually talk about it lots, but how many documents are in place to be clear about roles and responsibilities? Many farm folks I know wish that they would have taken a few more steps to get things in writing so that they could refer to the original goals and expectations. A shareholder’s agreement is a documented letter of collaboration. Do you understand what your shareholder’s agreement says? Do you need to update it?

Explanation

The Explanation letter is a powerful script to follow when you want to convey your thoughts and intent at a meeting but are not sure that you will be able to say everything quite the right way that you want it to go. I have seen this type of letter used as a powerful tool by a farm widow who was distressed that her adult children were fighting over how the father’s estate had been carried out. She used the letter to read her thoughts at the opening of the family meeting. The children listened intently while their mother conveyed her angst at their bickering. When the tone of reconciliation had been set by the mother’s expectations conveyed in her letter, the children discussed their next steps towards a better family relationship with an understanding of why the estate was executed in a certain manner. People cannot read minds, so letters are a vehicle for building up understanding and starting robust courageous conversations.

Confrontation

Stop texting when you are angry. Put that energy towards collecting your thoughts on paper in a word document that you can craft until it sounds right. I have used this approach when adults want to deliver a strong message of concern to another adult. In one case it was crafted by a husband and wife, then hand delivered to the party that needed to receive the message of concern. This took time and deliberation over carefully chosen words. The power of hand delivery emphasized the openness for ongoing conversation and the seriousness of the need for the conflict to be dealt with. You can make this even more impactful if the letter is handwritten, as long as your writing is easy to read. Sometimes these confrontation letters are hard to receive, particularly if you are like me and would rather just have a face to face conversation. Use the letter as a starting point, and as an invitation to have a face to face conversation.

Affirmation

One of my love languages is verbal affirmation. As a writer, I also love the power of the written word through cards and notes of affirmation. They are nice to see on social media, but those are fleeting comments. You can hold a card or letter of affirmation in your hand, and pull it out again on hard days when you need a word of encouragement. I have seen this powerful letter used by a father-in-law who sought to empower his talented daughter-in-law. He wrote her a letter stating the many reasons why he thought that they should work together on the farm. That letter started a great relationship, and affirmed open, loving, respectful communication between them as a team.

Some younger people have not learned cursive writing, and therefore only print or keyboard their messages. Our local agent who sells driver licenses has taken to teaching young teens how to craft a great signature! I find this hard to believe, but a reflection of how the written word is changing in our culture. Writing a letter to break down the barrier of anxiety about your future on the farm, or the plans for the fairness factor in estate plans is a place to start. You can be clear about your intent not to cause harm, stating your hope to gain clarity of expectations for the future. You can think about the words you carefully choose.

Please consider what type of letter you need to be crafting today. If you have any questions, I’d love for you to write me a letter.

Soil Health Comes First, Then Grass & Livestock

Burke Teichert | Jun 27, 2014

In recent columns, I’ve touched on the following topics:

• Empowered people, because everything in our businesses happens because of and through people – usually those closest to the business, land and livestock.

• Sustainability, because it’s such a buzz word and people outside of our business will have an impact, whether we like it or not. Also, ranchers don’t know all we should about the environment, particularly the ecosystem – its complexity and interconnectedness, and how it reacts to our management actions.

• Planning strategically first, and then developing tactics and operational schedules and methods to accomplish the strategic objectives. Too often, we do it backwards – starting with operations, then tactics, letting strategy be determined by default – with tactics defining our strategy.

If my writings do nothing more than confirm your current thinking, I’ll have failed. My aim is to, respectfully yet somewhat vigorously, challenge your current view of a cattle ranching business and lead you to some new thoughts, approaches and methods.

I’m reminded of my first meeting with the late Bud Williams – the best, in my opinion, of many gurus of stockmanship. After about 10 minutes of my questioning him, Bud stopped me and said that we needed to change the rules of the conversation.

He then pointed out that I was looking for things I did similarly to how he did them. He told me that I would likely find some and, when I did, “you will think you’re as good as I am, and you’re not.” He then said that for the rest of our conversation, I should only look for things (ways of handling livestock) that he did differently and ask why.

That very short exchange changed the way I have tried to learn from others ever since. Now, when I occupy the role of learner, these are my questions:

  •  What are you doing?
  •  Am I seeing it correctly?
  •  Why do you do that?
  •  Why do you do it that way?

A change in management approach

With that background I want to suggest another change in our approach to management. After working with a number of clients, talking to ranchers following some of my speaking engagements, and thinking about my own past approach, I’m convinced that most ranchers give their cattle the highest priority, followed by grass; little thought is given to soil.

I suggest that is backwards. We should think soil first, as all life springs from the soil. Our livestock can be a powerful tool to improve or damage the soil, and too many of us don’t think about which we are doing.  We just graze cattle. Of course, we like to think we’re not “overgrazing;” but do we really know what “overgrazing” is?

We usually do our grazing for the benefit of the cattle, and maybe the grass, with little attention to the effect on the soil. Do you know how to use livestock to improve soil organic matter, increase water infiltration rates, improve soil moisture holding capability, and improve nutrient cycling?  This can be done, and then grass productivity improves.

In addition to seeing our livestock for their endpoint value, we need to see them as a powerful tool for soil improvement and then grass improvement. (In this context, when I talk of grass, I am including anything that livestock and wildlife will eat – grass, forbs and shrubs.) When a short period of grazing is followed by an opportunity for the grazed plant(s) to fully recover before being grazed again, and when the animals help to lay litter on the soil surface trampling some into the soil, and when animals spread their dung and urine on the very areas they graze, soils begin to improve.

As soils improve there will be an increase in biodiversity above and below the soil surface. There should be a greater variety of plants with different depths of rooting. Some will grow early and some will grow late, while others will grow when it’s hot. There also will be an increasing variety of soil micro-organisms and animal life. This complex web of interdependency, if properly managed, will continue to improve the soil and its ability to feed your livestock.

While I want herbicides and pesticides in my tool box, I want to use them as sparingly as possible, as no poison kills only the target organism. Sometimes the net effect is good, but we often fail to see the unintended consequences because they aren’t quite so obvious to the impatient, untrained eye.

I often wonder, when using pesticides and herbicides, what have we killed that is important to soil building and nutrient cycling or to a balance in predator-prey relationships. My preference is to manage as much as possible “for what you do want” instead of “against what you don’t want.” And I want healthy soils with much biodiversity above and below the soil surface.

Cattle endpoint value

While we should manage cattle for their endpoint value, we must put it in appropriate context. If soil building and soil protection isn’t one of the first considerations in developing our strategic plan for the ranch, it will probably be ignored.

Cattle operations must be flexible to accommodate good grass and pasture management. This often means that the same event (calving, breeding, branding, weaning, etc.) won’t happen in the same place each year, but the end results for cattle can still be good. In addition, the people involved must learn to be flexible and understand that nature likes a little chaos. Livestock management must fit the grass management, and the grass management must fit the objectives for soil health and soil improvement.

We must always remember that our livestock are a powerful tool for management of the soil. They can be used for improvement or regression.  By thinking “soil” first, we can still allow for excellence in cattle management. So, let’s change the paradigm from livestock-grass-soil to soil-grass-livestock.

UNL Cow-Q-Lator

An Excel worksheet with Examples comparing the cost of TDN and Crude Protein in different feeds considering transportation and handling costs with losses. It also calculates the feed needed and total cost given herd size and days fed.

This is the Goto software that will give you the Best idea on using your available resources to combine them – Making sure your Livestock are getting the right balance in their DIET – while keeping your costs Low.

Click Here for Link to Cow-Q-Latro

Livestock barns and handling systems

VISUALIZATION AND DESIGN

Many ranchers and builders do not have the time or expertise to make professional models and drawings of their livestock handling systems. I help by providing quality SketchUp models and construction documents for livestock handling systems.

Click Here – Your Operation will Run Smoother