Marketing makes or breaks small business, not just rural ones. The principles have broad application because they're about persuasion and building relationships--skills for life as well as business. See Ellie's website,http://beyondthesidewalk.com If you'd like these articles in your inbox, send an email to:
Let me preface this by saying that I bring my own peculiar
personality quirks to this article and they are these:
1.I am very fond of
my chickens, even if I do expect them to be productive egg-layers.
2.I tend to be a
pragmatist—that is I tend to go with what works and am willing to try things
with this criteria—might it work?What
does it cost?What are the side effects?
4.I have raised
goats for something approaching forty years.
5.What follows is reporting, not prescribing.
So, when I had a chicken with bumblefoot, and all the
literature I could find said surgery is the only solution….well, given the
above, I started looking around for a better solution for my chicken.
Bumblefoot is a foot infection that can cripple and
kill.Everything suggested that the bacteria responsible is Staph aureus.Nasty little bugger.It is the culprit in MRSA hospital
infections, those resistant infections for which almost no antibiotic
works.I had personal experience with
one after a hip replacement.Doctors had
me on various antibiotics for months and months with no improvement.I was pretty sure unrelenting antibiotics
that were not working were not a good thing for me, neither short nor long
On a parallel track…Milking goats (and cows) occasionally
get mastitis, an infection inside their udders.If the infection presents with internal lumps, it is caused by Staph
aureus—same bacteria--and there is a medication specific for that problem in
milk cows and goats.The medication is
‘Today’ or ‘Tomorrow’ brand mastitis infusion—one for milking animals and one
for non-milking (dry) animals.When I
finally gave up on human medicine for my own medical problem, I used one of
these mastitis treatments topically on my own MRSA infection and it was gone in
a matter of days.
Facts at my farm:I
am not a chicken surgeon and the prospect for a huge veterinarian’s bill
doesn’t cut it.
In the spirit of experimentation and necessity being the
mother of invention, I began squirting some of this medication all over the
foot of my affected chicken.It comes in
a large syringe type applicator in an oil base (that clings well) and is easy
to just bathe the chicken’s foot when she is on the roost—both night and
morning.That precluded extra handling
and especially at night, she was standing in it all night long.
I wish now that I had kept records of how long I applied the
Today.But I applied it night and
morning until I could see a lot of improvement.I think it was for about two weeks.In hind sight, that was not long enough.In a while (sorry, don’t remember what that ‘while’ was) bumblefoot
returned.I began the treatment the
second time and continued it long after her foot appeared well.The second time cured it permanently.Her foot had a little residual deformity but
she was well, happily foraging and productive.
The mastitis treatment, Today (or Tomorrow) is used on food
animals.The milk withdrawal time after
four treatments is 96 hours (four days).Using an antibiotic off label is totally experimental but I had nothing
to lose.I did not use her eggs for a
couple months after this treatment.
If I ever have to do this treatment again, I would make one
simple change.The medication is not
cheap and could have been extended considerably I think.I would dump it into a small jar and apply
with a brush next time.She was not
excited about having something squirted on her foot and quite a bit was wasted
by the squirting method.Other than
that, I’ll be forever glad I didn’t have to try the surgery route.
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.
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 http://beyondthesidewalk.com. My company will be going to all ebooks this year.
And let me wish you all a grand year of joy and satisfaction!
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
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
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
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.
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!
I am borrowing much of the
information in today’s topic from Chris Gayomali from TheWeek.com,
and I’m translating what he had to say about fonts for my own readers—rural
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
"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.
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
And if you think you might like a webinar on marketing in
March, but haven’t let me know, do it today!
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 firstname.lastname@example.org Shooting for March, a seminar of five classes to get you to marketing Maven status!!!