You can spend as much as you want - and then some - on marketing. Marketing and advertising are absolutely necessary to get people out there. After 8 years in the business and having the biggest alpaca farm in the state, it still amazes me when I live a mile down the road and people ask me what is an alpaca.*It is not your customer's job to find you. You must seek them out.
Alpacas are not perceived as a "need based" item. You need to show people why alpacas are important to you and why they are important to your customer.
Some easy, inexpensive ways you can increase your appeal and visibility:
- Look at your farm. Is it sloppy - messy, with something here and there? Until I created my own farm, I always wonder why farmers had so much stuff. Just throw it away already! But the fact is, we need every bit of machinery we have accumulated on our farm. Line it up, organize it, clean it and make it look appealing.
- In your email signature, put all of your contact information - name, farm name, address, phone, website, email, blog, fax. Do not make people search for it...because they probably won't.
- On your voicemail, tell them to "please visit our website" or "email us". Let them know there are other ways to get a hold of you. And be prompt in returning messages.
- Wear your labeled farm clothes. For Christmas, much of my family receives high end jackets and vests with our logo and name. We wear polo shirts, work out shirts and other clothing with our embroidered logo.
- Get a sticker on your vehicle. My husband drives our "alpaca mobile," a new F350 black Ford truck with logos all over it. Almost every time we go into town, someone refers to him as "the alpaca guy".
- Have a farm sign. Are visitors welcome? By appointment only? How do they contact you? Make it easy for them to write down your information or call if they are already in your driveway.
- Get those promotional pens, sticky notes and magnets that come in the mail every other day. I have a whole stack of other company's sticky notes and every time I open the drawer - there they are.
- Design a great business card and hand it out to EVERYONE. Vista Print has them for something around $0.04 each. And print on both sides. A blank side of a business card is the most wasted real estate there out there.
Do the farm visits with a smile on your face, even if it is grandparents with kids with them on a Sunday at 6 PM. People truly love alpacas and if you show your enthusiasm, they will remember you down the road.
- Do the visits to the schools, nursing homes, 4-H, fairgrounds. We are taking our Anatolians to an animals shelter for a demonstration on how these dogs function differently than other dogs.
- Label all of your own products with your own permanent labels. From Namemaker.com we get our company clothing labels. We have thousands of products and everyone of them has a hand sewn label by me. The labels are a little pricey, but absolutely worth it. Make sure other people know where they can get their friends hat that they just saw and loved.
- Design a clean, updated website and create SEO to drive people to your site.
- Use social media. You are reading this right now - so will others. Get in chat rooms, learn and enjoy the alpaca business.
- Invest in seminars - both for alpacas and for marketing. There is always something everyone of us can learn from anther's enthusiasm, approach or theories.
This may seem simplistic, but are you doing everyone of these?
Remember, alpacas are a cyclical business, both in animal and textile sales. Very few are interested in a winter hat
in July (including me), but they will remember you down the road if you make SEVERAL good impressions. It doesn't take just one. Think of how many times it took seen the same commercials on TV over and over before you paid attention. Now, you can recite it by heart. Be dedicated to it and you will have a great payoff.