Marketing - Creating an Your Image
Marketing is all about building an image that catches our prospects’ attention and holds it long enough to make them interested in becoming your customers. Your prospects’ perceptions of you form impressions in their minds that position, or brand, your business. Whether the impressions are good or bad is your job to convey. Powerful and long-lasting, these impressions may or may not be what you had intended, yet it is these very perceptions which influence whether or not your prospects will ultimately pursue buying from you - or from someone else.
A significant amount of this impression-building happens long before your prospects ever get close enough to interact with you personally. Your goal before they actually make contact with you is to project an image that will make them want to meet you, visit your farm, and become your customer.
What often happens is that as breeder and alpaca productscreator, you work so hard on face-to-face marketing, you overlook the impression you are giving to those you have yet to meet. While focusing on the big picture of marketing – getting business cards, placing strategic ads, going to shows, getting on-line, etc. – it’s easy to overlook the little things that can change a good impression of you and your farm into an image that causes the prospects NOT to take action to pursue doing business with you.
“Little things are not little things. Little things are everything.” Harvey MacKay
What do your marketing materials say about you? Cheap? Sloppy? Tacky? Professional? Informed?
- Does your ad speak to a prospect’s needs? Does it say anything they didn’t know? Even a small ad can ask a leading question what will entice prospects to pursue whether or not you can fulfill their needs and desires. Be customer focused, not about how great you are.
- Use bullet points and headlines. Realistically, they are not going to read your entire brochure – just like most people will skim this blog. Get to the point. Overloading with wording and photos can turn people off. Use of essential photos is crucial. Keep the brochure clear, flowing and uncluttered.
- Is your business card graphically consistent with the rest of your identity package? Does it show clearly that you are in the alpaca business? VistaPrint.com has excellent quality products, but no alpaca related materials. You can get great business cards from them, but try to introduce your own theme into the cards. * And use good card stock wherever you go. Show prospects you are willing to put in a couple of extra dollars towards paper and gloss on your cards. This small piece of marketing collateral can begin to build a positive image of you or it can make a potential buyer stop right there.
- Is the sign on your vehicle in good condition? Does it offer a phone number and website to contact you in LARGE, legible print? Is the vehicle in clean and good repair? If it is, your prospects will perceive that you take good care of your farm, animals and customers, too.
Think in your prospect’s perspective. How will he/ she perceive your print marketing materials? Keep them prospect-focused, uncluttered, and consistent in design and brand imagery. Always give prospects multiple ways to contact you and a directive call-to-action to do so. The easier you make it for them to feel they can get the right product from you, the more likely they will be to move from distant viewer to interested buyer.
What is unique about your website? Eighty-five percent of all prospects research on-line before making calls, attending shows and meeting breeders. This is excellent. It means they are interested and want to me more informed. The Internet has become your filter to helping people see if it’s even an option before “wasting” your time. By the way, talking to someone is never wasting time. Even if they do not buy, there is a high chance that their sister / neighbor / cousin / friend-of-a-friend may be interested. So always make your best efforts with every person you meet.
Show and Event Booth
- Is your website easy navigate to? Have friends and family test it out with a certain question they want answered in mind. Is it graphically inviting? Does it include photos of you living the lifestyle?
- Does it have AMPLE ways to easily contact you – phone and email and mail?
- Does your e-blast have an attention-grabbing subject line that makes prospects want to open it at all? Does is offer links to your website or your inbox to make it easy to investigate further and speak with you? You need to be careful you do not fall under spamming regulations. If your email is put on blocked lists, if falls back negatively on your electronic rankings.
It can be overwhelming for prospects to walk into an alpaca show and know where to begin. So, many of them initially keep their distance, slowly deciding what to see, and with whom to converse.
Walk the aisles slowly and see what makes you spot your own both. Is there anything about it? Then think in your prospect’s perspective. Would you approach your booth? Is it clean, uncluttered and inviting? Does it offer take-away information about your farm and your animals? Is it manned throughout the show?
- Have the names and ages of the alpacas posted on the outside of your booth.
- Wear your logo on your shirt. Embroidery is about $10 and makes you look professional.
- Hand out an “Alpaca 101” or “Alpaca Fun Facts” sheet with your info on it.
- Approach people confidently but slowly with a smile, say “Hello”, wait another 5-10 seconds while they are still looking at the animals, and then start talking. Ask them what they want to know.
- Don’t overwhelm them with your knowledge of alpacas. Help them get to know about alpacas, and you, without inundating them.
- Many alpacas like chew toys tied to the side of the pen because they get bored. We often coat them with salt or molasses. This makes people smile and laugh, which is a good place to start a conversation.
- Speak up when a passer-by shows interest. Stand up and smile. You have a collective group going out of their way to learn about alpacas. Use the opportunity to your benefit.
If your prospects form a good perception of your farm appearance, it will support you in making them feel comfortable and confident about you as a breeder. They will be likely to listen more intently to what you tell them, and to leave feeling good about their visit.
- You never get a second chance to make a first impression – and this is no exception. Most farm visitors will form an initial impression of your farm within the first few minutes from the time they turn into your driveway. For those unfamiliar with rural living, they really do not know what to expect. Little things they notice will have lasting impressions. And all this will happen before you even get a chance to introduce yourself.
- Was the farm easy to find based on your brochure or website?
- Did you suggest cold/ warm clothing or farm boots? Patent leather shoes love to retain the alpaca manure smell. And for those having to get back on an airplane, no fore-warning is not appreciated.
- Is it smelly? Our “Spring Thaw” is rough for a couple of weeks and many understand that. But do your best to keep “farm smells” to a minimum.
- Is your farm sign visible from the road?
- What can visitors see as they drive up your road? Are the fences in good repair? Has the garbage been removed from the road? Are the buildings in good condition? Is your barn clean?
- As you there to greet your scheduled visitors or must they come find you?
- Inside the barn, are the alpacas approachable / catchable and is it clean and organized?
Once your prospect has become a buyer, she / he may leave your presence, but she will have a strong need to feel connected to you from a distance. How you communicate with her after the sale is important to future business, as she becomes a potential repeat buyer and strong referral source.
- After the sale is finalized and alpacas are either agisted or delivered, what do you do to initiate regular contact with your customers? We call about 3 days after they are on their farm to see how things are going and we also encourage them to call us. Send them cria photos of their alpacas to give them a sense of history with their alpacas. Offer to take them to shows, share herd management techniques and nutrition information. Do you make visits to their property to offer pasture evaluation and layout? Many buyers are happy to show you how they have developed their own alpaca farm.
- Share in shearing, tooth and toe trimming, birthing and farm operation. They want to learn and we can all use extra help with husbandry.
Help them to determine which male is the best choice for breeding their female. Does she need density, coverage, staple length, fineness? Who is the best match for each particular female?
The relationships you build when your customers away from you can either create distance between you or bring you closer to future sales and referrals.
In a marketplace where actual distance between breeders and potential buyers is commonplace, the techniques you practice to close that gap will increase your chances of bringing those prospects face-to-face with you. Practice these techniques and you will increase prospects’ intention of learning and wanting to buy from you now and in the future.