Friday, January 15, 2016

Happy New Year and a Reminder

Blogging a little more often in on my list of new year's resolutions!   Meanwhile I ran across something today that bears some attention from those of us in rural America with animals or farm products to sell.  Marketing is still the most under-addressed "leg" of any small business.  So here's a story you need to hear.

"Coat Story Goes Viral"  link found here:

The gist of the story is that a woman wanted to return a coat to the company Zulily, fully expecting the usual runaround.  Instead they credited her account immediately and told her not to return the coat but to donate it to someone in need. 

The important point for you and me, is that her report on facebook about this extraordinary customer service has been shared 50,000 times.  How many of those 50,000 shares do you suppose will eventually  be Zulily customers?  Possibly 50%?  Maybe only 25%?  Anyway we can guess, it's a lot of new customers for them for a very minor investment of the price of one coat.

For those of you who have attended any of my workshops, you know I have an entire hour of the day devoted to "over the top" customer service.  It's one way to get word of mouth advertising that is priceless.  Oh, and by the way, it feels good both to you and to customers.  In a world that needs more feel-good stuff.

Good marketing is really about serving your customers.  Take a look at your farm/company policies.  What is your own return policy?  Many years ago I instituted a "30 days, any reason" return policy  for all my books.  Now, I know they're pretty readable and helpful books, but I had qualms when it began.  There was some fear that people would read them then return a used book to me.  I'm happy to report that the only return has been from a prison inmate--actually the prison.  They felt the bindings (spiral wire) were problematic.

What is your policy on mentoring?  What is your response when someone loses an animal?  What do you do when a customer is not happy for some reason?  Think it through and plan how you can really be of service to your customers.  When the extraordinary happens--even when the ordinary happens, how are you and your business going to be extraordinary?

Take a look at areas where you can go above and beyond the expected, and shine in a world that needs light and businesses that forget the humans for the bottom line.

There are still a few hard copies of the first two of my marketing books and a few of the goat book found at  My company will be going to all ebooks this year.

And let me wish you all a grand year of joy and satisfaction!

Thursday, March 19, 2015

Marketing Your Services

Your headline catches or loses your potential customers.  You do that by who you're talking about in your headline.  Talk about yourself and your thing, customers say, "ho hum."  Talk about the customer and what's in it for him and he perks right up and pays attention.  So a brief post today with some examples of headlines for services that put the customer first, as promised in last post.  Note that I'm just using one possible benefit to the customer for each of these examples.  There are, no doubt, many more that could be important.  Know who you are targeting as customers.  Remember that headlines can also have a sub-headline that iterates the idea a bit more.

1.  Connie offers custom rug weaving from fibered rug yarn. 

Get a Foot-Friendly, Hand-Crafted Rug From Your Own Yarn!
Let Connie's Custom Rug Weaving Create Your Heirloom Rug

2.  Kathy provides riding therapy to children with disabilities

Your Special Child Blossoms Physically and Socially by Riding a Therapy Horse

3.  James teaches a class on bookkeeping for farmers

Easy Strategies to Keep the Numbers Straight for Your Farm

4.  John offers hoof trimming for the goat and sheep farmers in his state.

Save Your Back and the Feet of your Sheep and Goats
Keep them walking tall when John does your hoof trimming

5.  Christie (and Company) offer farm sitting and help with farm projects

Peace of Mind When You Can't be There
Whether it's your vacation or an emergency, we ensure the farm is safe while you're gone

Sunday, February 22, 2015

Another Friday Market, Ho Hum!

And like so many other times, I saw some pretty boring headline 

Your headline—whether on a Friday Market on an email list, in a newspaper or program, on your flyers, or any other place you advertise—is your one and only opportunity to get a potential customer intrigued and curious and interested!

BUT--The only thing your potential customer cares about is how his life gets better.  He doesn't care about you, your stuff or what you think or what you want.  He's only interested in himself.

When you learn this one big thing about marketing you will have mastered the trick to getting people interested in what you’re selling.

I could write (actually I have written) at length about this principle of marketing.  It’s the biggie.  It’s all about the customer and how he feels, what he thinks, what he wants, what’s going to make his life better in some way.  It’s putting the customer first and getting out of your own head (barn, workshop, wants and needs).  Why do you suppose that every religion that ever was, has some version of the golden rule?  Because it’s hard for people to put others first.  We tend toward ego centric thinking.  Good marketing starts when you go beyond your own self and touch the customer’s self interest.

How?  Start with this VERY BIG question:  Who am I talking about?  If you’re talking about yourself and your stuff, you’re not putting the customer first. Animal, vegetable or mineral….listen up!

I know, your stuff is so cool!   The customer doesn’t care.
You really need to sell this thing (animal, vegetable or mineral—or a service).  The customer doesn’t care.
You’re so proud of your product, service or experience.  The customer doesn’t care.

Are you getting the idea?  He really just cares about his own life and stuff.

Let’s take an example of a service, since I don’t talk about services very often.

Suppose you have a service for sale.  You have umpteen certifications.  You are reasonably priced.  Your client list reads like a who’s who.  You’ve provided this service for umpteen years.  You teach people (or reach, or coach or do something they don’t want to do for themselves).  All those things are features.  They are the facts –ABOUT YOU!

What does all that do for the customer?  How does that stuff make a customer feel better, have an easier time, improve his chances of getting the feelings he wants?

"Easier in some way" is one of the best marketing phrases.  Simpler life or happier life, or self esteem or better relationships, or peace of mind or confidence or ?????  Depending on your service, what does the customer end up with that’s about his psychology—how he feels.  Because feelings sell.  Features don’t.  If you’re farm sitting, you’re actually providing peace of mind.  If you’re doing some sort of evaluation, you’re giving them tools for improving something which could be pride or confidence or happiness or....  If you coach or council in some capacity, you make them feel more confident about some aspect of their life. 

There are tons of possibilities here.  Do you offer a service?  Want some ideas?  Send me an email about your service and I will use it as an example in my next blog post!

Touch people’s hearts in some way and they’re yours.  That’s what a headline can do for you.

Here's a service I offer:  Another blog I write is called "Minding the Middle Aged Middle and More".  I'm actively seeking readers.  Here's my headline and the first few lines of my ad.

"If You Just Want to Feel a Little Better or You're Confused by 'A Healthy Diet'..."

Join us at "Minding The Middle Aged Middle and More" blog to cut through the hooey and malarkey of what really makes a difference in how you feel and how you age--perhaps even what eventually kills you.

Blog located here:
And if you want the posts in your inbox, send a blank email to

Wednesday, February 4, 2015

More Ways to Use Stories About Your Farm

A much underused marketing idea for farmers is the short and interesting story.  I recently suggested you could use stories in your advertisements as a way to get people reading those ads.  Today I want to suggest that a press release is another place you can use stories.

Remember that a press release that's blatant advertising will be rejected with a suggestion to talk to the display advertising folks.  A press release however, can be a way to keep your name in the minds of potential customers.  Be entertaining, mention anything new at your farm, but spice it up with a story to entertain your readers.  Because no one HAS to read our promotions, you need to give them a reason to WANT to read it.

Stories are universally enjoyed.  And for most people, the interesting, weird, awesome or special happenings having to do with rural life and animals will always grab attention.  Sure, tell them you're having an event or expanding something, or bringing in new bloodlines, but then sweeten the pot with a fun story about something on your farm.

Start making a list somewhere when things happen or when you notice something out of the ordinary.  Even things that may seem ordinary to you could be interesting to someone else.  How good a story teller are you? 

Because editors (magazines, newspapers, online venues) are always looking for something to get readers reading (for that's how they sell advertising) they will be glad to publish your "story release".  Make it a regular part of your advertising.  You will generate good will and faithful readers--and some new customers, too!

Wednesday, January 14, 2015

Fonts Can Speak Louder Than Words

I am borrowing much of the information in today’s topic from Chris Gayomali from, and I’m translating what he had to say about fonts for my own readers—rural entrepreneurs. 


So to start, ask yourself if it surprises you that the fonts you use in your marketing messages make a difference.  The evidence is pretty clear.  The font can literally speak louder than the words you write, primarily because words are processed by your intellect while the story the font tells is processed by emotions.  Brain stuff gets conscious attention.  Emotional stuff gets processed below awareness.

"Typography is one ingredient in a pretty complicated presentation," Cyrus Highsmith, a typeface designer and author of the book Inside Paragraphs, said. "Typography is the detail and the presentation of a story.  It represents the voice of an atmosphere, or historical setting of some kind. It can do a lot of things."

The fonts you use are very important to the way your reader processes information. Words hold power. But the artistic way those words are presented affects the way they are read, and the way they think about the information you’re presenting.

Let me give you some illustrations of the importance of using the right font for the job you want it to do.


Last summer, European Organization for Nuclear Research, (CERN)  was announcing their discovery of the Higgs Boson or sometimes called the God Particle.  In some of their materials they used a font called Comic Sans Ms. 


A sentence in Comic Sans Ms looks like this.  (if this translates, otherwise type it on your own computer in comic sans ms.)


As you can see, even from the name, this is not a serious font, and in fact it’s a light hearted—even frivolous font.  CERN got some unwelcome response for presenting science-shaking information in a font of whimsy and fun.  They were ridiculed.


What happens when you use a font that’s at odds with the tone of what you’re trying to say?


Readers end up feeling “funny” about what you have to say.  We call that feeling, cognitive dissonance.  It means there’s stuff going on that doesn’t match.  It’s like the feeling you get when someone you know is really disgusted with you but says, “I love you.”  You just know the feeling and the words don’t match.


That’s not a feeling you want in your potential customers.  The point of what you’re writing is to get them excited about your product or your animal or even your service.  If it’s a fun and light-hearted product, choose a font that has a light-hearted emotional tone.  You set the stage.  If you are marketing something serious, then a font with gravitas is what you need.  There is a section in Chapter Nine of my Book “Marketing Farm Products” that talks about fonts.  Color is important for the same reasons.  Colors, too have emotion. 


Put some effort into making your marketing materials hold together in subject and emotion so the message really gets through to your potential customers!


And if you think you might like a webinar on marketing in March, but haven’t let me know, do it today!


 before the end of the day January 15, and I’ll refund the postage!

Sunday, January 11, 2015

A Little Trick To Get People Reading Your Ads

Good Morning and Good Marketing to you all!
If you've been reading my marketing blog at all, you know I tend to harp about headlines.  They matter because your headline either catches or loses the customer's attention.  So, have a good headline!
But...what about the rest of your ad?  How interesting is it?  Copywriting is the art of intriguing the reader and there are tried and true rules for that.  See old blog articles or any of my books for more about copywriting.
One of the world's oldest and surest ways to catch attention is by story telling.  From the dawn of man's history, stories hook us and enthrall us and make us pay attention.  What if you tried inserting a little story into your ad?  Not a shaggy dog story.  A short little vignette about the animal you're selling, or the production of the craft, or the events of the growing of what you're selling.  Tell a little story in there while you're also talking about why your "thing" makes them feel better or be better in some way.
Be consistent in all your ads and readers will start to look forward to your ads instead of rushing to delete, turn the page or turn their heads.  You are the architect of their dreams, you know.  Good ads sell because they touch the hearts of buyers--and a little story in there will help!
Here's an ad example:  Suppose I have an adult animal for sale and the thing I think is most important about her is that she's a very good mother.
Famous Farm Babs Makes kidding (calving, lambing, etc....) a Breeze
Not only will she produce marketable babies for your own farm, but she'll make your life easier, too!  With her excellent conformation, (milking ability, feed to meat ratio, low micron fiber, etc)  her babies are always in demand. 
But let me tell about how she made life easier here.  Birthing season was upon us and Babs was so close.  We had a storm that night and in the dark and wind Babs disappeared.  I was frantic but couldn't find her even with the whole family looking with flashlights.  Fearing the worst, we started looking in the early dawn.  Babs greeted us loudly when we found her--a gate had blown closed penning her out in the wilds.  There she was with dry and fed babies!  Did it all on her own and somehow managed to protect the babies from the storm to boot!
If you'd like that kind of mothering genetics in your own herd, Call me or email for more information!
Make your ads worth reading!
And for those interested in a webinar on marketing--email me at     Shooting for March, a seminar of five classes to get you to marketing Maven status!!!

Monday, December 23, 2013

The Second Most Common Marketing Mistake

Any ad you put on Fri market on a list, on a flyer, on a bulletin board,  on craigslist—or anywhere else--can make you lots more income if it avoids the two biggest and most common mistakes.

 Last blog I talked about headlines.  That’s the place of biggest blunders.  Re-read that article to create headlines that actually get attention and tempt people to read further.  Reminder:  Write it, then ask yourself, “Who is this about?  Me or the Customer?”

 Whew, ok, you avoided the first biggest mistake and wrote a headline that works!

 Second biggest mistake is too many (and too big) words.

 Writing for marketing (copywriting) is different than any other kind of writing.  The reason is that no one has to read what you write for advertising.  Let me restate that because it’s the foundation of how to execute good copywriting!

 No one is FORCED to read your ad.

 Not like in school where you had assignments you had to read.  Not like at work where you have to read memos or reports.  Not like voter information booklets where you want to know what you’re voting on.  Not like research where you’re looking for information.  Advertising is not something anyone in his right mind says, “I want to read all these ads.”

 The upshot of that is you must make it fun, interesting, surprising, or relevant—but mostly EASY to read.  Or they won’t.

 If it’s hard to read, you lose them.  And too many words make it hard to read!  Sentences need to be simple and direct—subject, verb, and object, not a lot of irrelevant words.  This is one of the hardest things for people to “get.”  It seems like more words ought to make it clearer and more important.  They do not!  More words make it harder to read and dilute your message. 

 Let me give you an extreme example: 

 “Insofar as manifestations of functional deficiencies are agreed by any and all concerned parties to be imperceptible and are so stipulated, it is incumbent
upon said heretofore mentioned parties to exercise the deferment of otherwise pertinent maintenance procedures."

In other words, "If it ain't broke, don't fix it."

Ok, that’s an extreme example.  But I watch farmers and crafters writing copy that does essentially the same thing—it wanders, uses too many words and uses big words where a simple one would do.  In many places that kind of wordiness is allowed or even encouraged.  Legal, scientific and law enforcement writing come to mind. 

 But this is copywriting and it needs to be simple and easy to read—about 5th grade level.  Not that you’re talking to 5th graders, but the easier it is to read, the more likely they will read it and get your message.

Distill every sentence down to the “meat” of what you’re trying to get across.  Find little words, not big ones, get rid of ones that are not absolutely necessary.

Understand that the brighter you are, the more you know, the bigger your vocabulary, the more tendency you have to use too many words and bigger ones.  It’s human.  It takes conscious editing to make things simple and easy to read.

 Here’s another example, extreme, about libraries:

Libraries are a prime example of the epitome in intellectual investigation.  They invite individuals to extravagant flights of fancy and exploration.  They are tailor made to entice the niche specialist and the generalist, both, to delve into realms unexplored as well as conducive to the entertainment of the simple, the young and the intellectual.   Not very clear, not very concise 

            Here’s what it’s really saying, “Libraries appeal to people in all walks of life and with many purposes.”  Even more distilled would be, “Libraries are for everyone!” 

Now let me give you some examples from Friday market list ads.  I am just picking ads or parts of ads that are too wordy for examples.  As I go along, notice, too, where these examples show seller focus on himself not on the customer, but my focus today is the wordiness.  This one for an alpaca: 

“_____and her mother were purchased by us to use in our breeding program (pregnant mother with female cria at side ). I am not disappointed in the quality of either of these girls. Both girls came from ____ genetics. She has _______ ($2500.00 stud fee), _______ (deceased), and ______ ($5000.00 stud fee), ______in her close genetics. Her mother has been bred to _______ for a 2014 cria and is in my foundation herd and not for sale. She has a gray muzzle and ears and would be considered a "GRAY FAWN" like her mother who has produced 3 gray cria bred to gray males!  She is very fine fleeced, dense and even color. She comes with a LIFETIME of free breedings to any herd sires owned or co-owned by us.”  131 words

This paragraph could be edited considerably without destroying the essence of the information:
“Here’s show winning fleece--microns, density and color--in one dynamite package with guaranteed 2014 breeding to Asteroid is one of my favorite herdsires. He has produced extremely well for me. He is easily handled and loves his job. He is housed with 4 other males and gets along well with them. Asteroid is extremely dense and produces crias with dense, fine fleeces. I have sold all of his crias with the exception of one of his females from 2013. She will be in my 2014 show string if I still own her. Please take a look and consider this incredible male!a 10x COLOR CHAMPION.  You also get free breedings to any of our sires for her lifetime.  Grey fawn with heavy genetics for desirable grey offspring, and championship genetics throughout her pedigree.”  49 words, and I could probably edit out a few more if I looked at it again later.
Here’s one for a goat.  Note how hard it is to read:  

             Sable Buck For Sale
 A Christmas gift for the one on your list that is hard to buy for????  Offering for sale a two year old purebred sable buck.  Proven breeder.  CAE tested (WSU) negative 1-13.  LA 2-04 86 (VV+).  _________, adga genetics ___________.   I am only selling him because I need to trim down the buck herd and I used him heavily this year.  He is also AGS registered.  Located in central Missouri.  $450 or best offer.  Transportation within reasonable distance for gas reimbursement.  View his photo on my website.  (91 words)s gift for the one on your liist that is hard to buy for????  Offering for sale a two year old purebred sable buck.  Proven breeder.  CAE tested (WSU) negative 1-13.  LA 2-04 86 (VV+).  Sweetbriar MV Eldorado   I am only selling him because I need to trim down the buck herd and I used him heavily this year.  He is also AGS registered.  Located in central Missouri.  $450 or best offer.  Transportation within reasonable distance for gas reimbursement.  View his photo on my website.

Here’s how I’d edit and rewrite:

Solve the gift dilemma for your Sable-loving Special Someone
Give this top genetics two year old buck!  Outstanding enough that we’ve used him on everyone here!  You can have confidence in him with:
o   LA score
o   CAE Negative
o   Transportation available from MO
o   Reg #
Farm website for photos _______________________(55 words)

 The art of writing copy is a skill you CAN learn.  Go ahead and write your ad.  Then leave it for a few days.  Now, come back and look at what’s about you, what words are not necessary, what words are too big (pompous) and how you can edit to make it lots shorter and sweeter--but always about what the customer gets, not about you!

 My Christmas gift to any one on this list, between now and the end of the year, send me your already edited short classified ad and let me see if I can edit it even more.  Sometimes seeing more editing helps you learn how!  Merry Christmas!