Marketing Multitasking

While many studies lay claim that multitasking can actually reduce efficiency, I will argue that ‘marketing multitasking’ is a no-brainer. Unlike mobile devices that are distracting and often prohibit productivity, finding ways to inject marketing into tasks you are already performing is quite the contrary. In fact, marketing multitasking is an excellent opportunity to multiply your effort.

You wake each morning with a standard routine that must happen in order to operate your business. You get dressed. You go over important tasks with your staff. You communicate with your customers during the sale, at checkout, and hopefully, you follow up. You invoice clients. Perhaps, you spend time driving to deliver product. You attend events, such as stock shows, where you simply visit and support your customers. Because you are accustomed to this routine, it is possible that you overlook marketing opportunities that can be easily injected into those everyday tasks at little to no cost.

Let’s touch on a few marketing multitasking ideas that can be incorporated into your normal business routine:

Staff Dress Code. You should never underestimate the value of apparel or wearables. Next time you are at the mall or large event, take a look around. Count how many shirts you see with brands like Nike, Under Armour, Carhartt and other popular brands. You’ve just been marketed to – many times over. Outfitting your staff with branded apparel creates walking advertisements for either your company and/or the brands you represent. Clothing can be used as conversation starters and magnet for potential customers, and they work overtime! How is that? If you invest in attractive apparel that your employees or customers like, they will wear them everywhere, even when you don’t ask. Being strategic about getting dressed in the morning is a cost effective, fun way to market.

Invoices. For dealers who snail-mail to send invoices or statements to customers, consider adding a product stuffer to the envelope. This is a small piece of paper designed to fit perfectly in an envelope and tells your customer about a new or related product they could benefit from. While you’re spending money on postage, you might as well include something that could spark interest and generate additional sales. For those who utilize electronic billing systems, you can also take advantage of this by attaching a PDF flyer in your email or, better yet, including a coupon for your customer’s next purchase.

Checkout Chatter. The short period of time a customer stands at the counter to check out is a perfect time to introduce them to upcoming promotions, new products or simply ask them if they are satisfied with the customer service they received. It’s the perfect time to up sell or receive feedback on their experience.

Vehicles. As a feed dealer, it is a given you spend much of your time on the road or have a vehicle out and about on any given day. A great way to increase brand awareness is with a vehicle wrap to advertise your dealership or a magnet that has your contact information, creating a traveling billboard.

Show Sponsorship. You will likely attend a stock show at some point throughout the year, whether with your family or to support your customers. While you’re there, wear your branded apparel and consider a sponsorship of product for class winners or champions. Ask if the show will announce your sponsorship over the microphone throughout the event and let people know where they can purchase product. Signage at these events is always a great way to increase awareness, and depending on the event, can come at a low cost.

Employee Time. If you have employees who have some downtime throughout the day, ask them to utilize that time writing thank you notes to your customers. You can never thank your customers enough, and a simple note will pay dividends.

As business owners, you face two important challenges each day:
1) feeling as if 24 hours is not enough to get everything accomplished and 2) engaging with your customers on a level so they know they are important and that you care. Our world is becoming more demanding of our time, and communication space is more cluttered. Rather than revolutionizing your marketing plan and falling short because you don’t have the time or resources to pull something big off, evaluate current activities to know if you are being fully efficient in the tasks you are already performing. And, more importantly, understand your customers’ worlds are just as cluttered as yours. Personalize your marketing efforts to speak to customers about what specifically interests them. By respecting their time and catering to their needs rather than cramming them into a one-size-fits-all plan, you will create engaged customers who appreciate your effort and who will remain loyal to your business.

How They Work: CJ Feed & Supply

Charlene Rein-Murphy 
CJ Feed & Supply, Paola, Kansas
Owner, operator, jack of all trades

One word that best describes how you work: Constantly

Current mobile device: Samsung Android

Current computer: Dell screen, HP hard drive, Dell laptop

First, tell us what you feel separates your business from other feed supply operations?
The relationship we build with our customers.

What websites, apps or tools can’t you live without?
A calculator because I’m always running numbers.

How do you keep your to-do list? Every morning I put major tasks on post-it notes. But it changes instantly and constantly.

Besides your phone and computer, what gadget can’t you live without and why? My dog, Summer.

What everyday thing are you better at than everyone else? I don’t worry about things I can’t control when it comes to dealing with everyday stuff. Don’t sweat the small stuff.

What’s your secret? I am good at being level-headed and not worrying about the B.S.

What are you currently reading? A John Grisham book.

How do you recharge? I go to my horse barn late at night.

What is your favorite and least-favorite task at work? Being on the floor and dealing with customers is my favorite.
My least favorite is collections.

What’s the best advice you’ve ever received? When someone tells me I can’t do it or tells me I will fail then I go for it. That’s my own personal advice.

Why do you love this business? I love animals, I love people. I love the challenge. A lot of it has to do with people that I grew up with and showed with, they are the friendships and relationships that I still have.

How A Simple Question Can Improve the Customer Experience

When a person enters a store they usually have a budget in mind. For a business owner the amount the customer is willing to spend is very important to his or her sales pitch.

At CJ Feed & Supply, Charlene Rein knows how to profile a prospective customer.

She developed a question years ago that lets her analyze just how much people are willing to spend on their animals.

“When they walk in the door I introduce myself then ask, ‘Do you like your animal, love your animal or is it a yard ornament,’she says. “This question applies if they own horses, cattle or a cat.”

Rein says the answer to this question tells her how committed customers are to their animals and what price point she should pitch. She says if they love their animal people are going to buy the best product for it and are committed to keeping that animal around for a long time. If they like their animal then she offers a middle-of-the road product. Answering “like” tells Rein the owner wants his or her animal well fed, but is also price conscious. And if the customer replies, “Yep, I own,” one this means they consider it a yard ornament. Rein believes the customer likes taking care of its animal but won’t go for the all the bells and whistles. She’ll show this potential customer the lower end of products.

CJ Feed & Supply is located in Paola, Kansas. Rein owns and manages the store, as well as her own herd of horses and cattle. As a dealer for BioZyme® she orders products she has used and can attest to, along with Sure Champ® products, which she sells in her store.

First impressions are everything, Rein says. When she asks the customer her intro question she is working to be more efficient. Understanding right away what they have and what they are willing to pay for means meeting their needs more quickly.

In the case of a customer who has a small budget, Rein says she tries to help them understand that they get what they pay for. If they are price conscious and want cheap feed, she is also prepared when they come back to the store six months later stating their animal looks rough.

“I tell them if you want your animal to look better here’s what you need to do,” she says. “I want people to understand they need to look at the label and see this is the nutrition in bag A versus in bag B. If it’s something they are keeping around for a couple of weeks and are just maintaining it, that’s fine. But if you’re going to show your animal, feed it show feed. And still for the child’s sake, please do the best for the animal and at least feed a show supplement like Sure Champ.”

Besides asking the profile question Rein says also keeps track of every customer. Each person is input into a computer system so her employees know their name, animals and previous purchases. She teaches her sales people to learn this information so when the customer walks in they automatically know what they purchased on their last visit. Then she prompts her employees to ask, “Do you want the same?”

Keeping track of customer information is another form of efficiency because if they want the same amount of feed, supplement or vaccine the order can be put together for them quickly.

“We try to know people’s names, their animals and what they do,” she says. “We build relationships with them.”

Rein, her two full-time and five part-time employees all work to make CJ Feed & Supply stand out. They send Christmas cards and thank you notes. They also host a large open house for nearly 400 attendees and serve chili or roast a hog, all in an effort to show appreciation for their customer base. Rein wants to
be able to recognize a customer by the car or truck they just drove into the parking lot so by the time they hit the doors she can be ready to offer a greeting and meet their needs.

Still, Rein says the feed store is a business, not a bank. She has to be willing to call in accounts receivable and make sure the books are in order. Rein buys many products in volume so she can keep prices low. She also encourages her employees to look at price sheets each time they come out so they know when prices increase and are not surprised at the register.

Profiling customers is a natural fit for Rein, and it helps her understand the commitment and the investment a customer is willing to give to their animal and to her store. Asking the right question at the start keeps her efficient, and she knows when to push forward as well as hold back with her customers.

“You have to know how to manage and when to draw the line,” Rein says. “From time to time, I get into a rut but I take a step back and reevaluate. I believe it’s best to take care of those who will take care of you.”

Accounting Software Increases Awareness & Efficiency

Accounting is the language of business. Not having accurate accounting information is like trying to get on the right train in Tokyo when you don’t speak Japanese. In the end, you will be lost and unsure of your business’ financial footprint.

Whether you’re just opening up shop or you own a thriving business, accounting software can make your life easier and save you hundreds of hours of time and stress. The best accounting software can perform most accounting tasks, such as keeping track of expenses and daily transactions, paying bills and employees, sending recurring invoices and syncing data across financial accounts. There’s no substitute for an accounting pro who knows the ins and outs of tax law, but today’s packages can help you with everything from routine bookkeeping to payroll, taxes, and planning.

When Business News Daily asked small business owners what made the “perfect” accounting software, there was one resounding requirement across the board. The best accounting software saves business owners time and doesn’t add to the already stressful nature of owning a small business.

The good news is there are more accounting software options than ever, including subscription Web-based options that don’t require their users to install or update software. Many businesses, however, including those that need to track large inventories or client databases, and those that prefer not to entrust their data to the cloud, may be happier with a desktop tool. Below are four of today’s favorite options among small business owners:

  1. Wave is a free, easy-to-use program that also has some surprisingly strong accounting and invoicing tools.
  2. Gusto ($29 per month) is inexpensive, has a simple and attractive interface, and incorporates the payroll tools most often required by small businesses.
  3. FreshBooks (from $19.95 per month) is exceedingly friendly, understandable, and attractive. FreshBooks is the site to beat when it comes to managing and tracking invoices, time and expenses for the very small business.
  4. QuickBooks Online ($39.95 per month) is a cloud-based accounting application that includes the most comprehensive set of features for small business. It’s easy to use, aesthetically pleasing, and has numerous integrated add-ons. QuickBooks can also be purchased as a desktop install.

Purchasing the right accounting software and then using it is one of the most important ways to know the financial state of your business. However, if you don’t take the time to extract information from the software, analyze that information and then use it to make decisions, the software is just another wasted purchase. Without knowing how your company has performed financially, it is impossible to predict where it can go. In addition to reviewing the monthly financial statements (profit and loss and balance sheet), consider adding these four items to your think time:

1. The Quick Ratio (> 1)
By definition, the quick ratio is found on a company’s balance sheet and is the business’ current assets (cash and accounts receivables) divided by its current liabilities. A favorite metric of every bank when considering a loan, the quick ratio is a measure of the financial stability of a business. It shows that the company has more cash available than the short-term money it owes. In most industries, a healthy quick ratio should be greater than 1.

2. Top 10 Customers
While all customers are important, not all of them are created equal. Who are the 10 most important customers that contribute to the success of your company? This is measured not only by revenue, but also the additional products they buy. In many companies, these top customers contribute 70 to 80 percent of the total revenue. Remember, it is typically easier to sell more to these established customers than find new ones.

3. Days Sales Outstanding (< 133%)
Days sales outstanding (DSO) is the average number of days it takes for customers to pay. The smaller the number, the better, since the business can use that cash more quickly. The number should be less than 133% of the payment terms with a customer. For example, if terms are 30 days, the DSO should be 40 or less. DSO can be improved by giving out less customer credit or collecting payments more quickly.

4. Operating Cash Flow (> $1)
How much positive operating cash flow did the business produce last month? Profit is important, but cash flow is king. By definition, cash flow is simply the sum of your monthly profit and any changes in accounts payable, accounts receivable and inventory. The higher this number is, the healthier the company is.

Striving to make smarter and more profitable decisions is the basis of financial success. Having an accounting system and using it to make those decisions is a great start.

Know Your Customer :: Target Their Interest

Diversity is all around us. And with the diversity available within the BioZyme® product line, your customer base could include a family who feeds lambs and goats for a seasonal show circuit, someone else who is a fifth-generation purebred cattle producer and another who breeds prize-winning show dogs. 

Obviously, with such a broad spectrum of potential customers, your marketing plan can’t be a one-size-fits-all. Just as it is essential to know details about your customer, it is just as important to know how to provide a unique marketing approach to fit each customer’s needs.

According to a University of Kansas “Community Tool Box” website
(http://ctb.ku.edu), market segmentation enhances your ability to best use the four P’s of marketing: product, price, place, and promotion.

  • PRICE: Price comes in different forms. A customer may be willing to pay a premium for quality if that is something you know is important to them (see page 8 for an example of how CJ Feed & Supply obtains this information). At the same time, a customer may be willing to pick up product versus having it delivered if they desire a lower cost.
  • PRODUCT: Knowing and understanding customers need different products for their various species and goals will allow you to have a more personal conversation, whether that be in person or through marketing efforts.
  • PLACE: Different customers can be reached in different places. Perhaps you have a customer who wants you to call them on a regular basis, while another appreciates a personal visit to his or her operation. A group of customers might benefit from an email that highlights upcoming price changes for products you know they use regularly, and another group might appreciate the
    opportunity to attend a producer meeting.
  • PROMOTION: Each customer responds differently to
    marketing and advertising. As mentioned in previous
    newsletters, the BioZyme marketing staff has tools
    (email, direct mail, texting, signage, etc.) and resources
    available to help you reach these customer groups.
    Contact Katie Vaz, Marketing and Communications
    Manager, at kvaz@biozymeinc.com or 816-596-8782  for more information about which marketing tools are available and best suited for you.

Since you know your customers best and their specific needs, it is important to be able to relate to their needs. Is breeding season approaching in your particular region? Perhaps you begin heavier promotion and offer education on the benefits of ConceptAid®. Do you have several customers who show pigs during a summer jackpot series? It might benefit you and those customers to attend the first show of the season to promote Vita Charge®.

Targeted marketing quickly shows each customer segment that you care about their specific needs and have the products to meet those needs. This type of marketing positions you as a specialist in  the eyes of your customer and encourages  them to seek you out when they have a question, problem or product request. This relationship-building marketing strategy will draw your customers closer to you and make them more willing to invest in you and your products instead of your competitors.

Great Taste Matters

A product must appeal to the senses to encourage one to eat it. Humans can be convinced verbally that something is good for them to eat even if it doesn’t taste so good. However, livestock can be very selective about what they decide to eat, and we can’t talk them into anything.

There are two potentially different perceptions of palatability, one being that of the producer or owner and the second being that of the animal. Owners tend to focus on smell and looks, while animals focus more on smell and taste.

Simply put, if the animal won’t eat the product, it doesn’t do the animal, the owner, the dealer or BioZyme® any good. As a BioZyme dealer, you should feel confident that you are representing products that have been tested and evaluated on an on-going basis for palatability and consumption.

Perhaps the most unique aspect of BioZyme’s testing of product palatability and consumption occurs at the company’s research farm, Winding River. Since its purchase in 2012, we have been able to utilize our own cattle, horses, sheep, pigs and goats to test products. This allows us to see first-hand how animals react to our products before they go into the field.

This type of testing is going on right now with the Concept•Aid® Goat mineral. After receiving some feedback about low consumption, our team reformulated the product. Simultaneously, the Farm purchased a small herd of goats. The new formulation is now being fed to each goat, and consumption is being tracked daily. After three weeks we will either know the new formulation’s consumption is on track, or we will need to reformulate and start the test over again. Either way, the product won’t go into the field until it passes the Farm test. While testing does take some time to accomplish, we believe it is time well spent.

The next way consumption and palatability are monitored comes straight from the field. All of our Area Sales Managers submit weekly call logs that report the details of each call they make. In these logs, product information is routinely reported back to us from dealers and producers. The nutrition team reads these reports each week looking for any palatability or consumption issues. We take these findings very seriously and follow all up with a phone call if there is any concern or education needed. In addition, a company database houses these call logs. This allows our nutritionist team to search for key words in the database like consumption, intake and palatability in a six-month period to look for any trends that might need to be addressed.

When it comes to making a palatable product, the company does have a few trade secrets. We reserve space in the product formulas for specie specific palatability. Sheep, goats and swine do not like dried distillers grains but cattle love DDGs. So, we use dried distillers grains for cattle formulas, and for sheep, we use soybean meal and extruded soy.

Salt is a dynamic ingredient for palatability in sheep, goats and cattle. We also use high-intensity sweeteners to change and mask bitter flavors. Licorice is a good example of a flavor that will entice the animal away from green grass and lead the animal to consume mineral. Swine and equine products are more commonly hand-fed so we might use fruit, berry and vanilla flavors to make the product more palatable for them.

The bottom line is that BioZyme focuses on palatability. No matter what, the animal still has to want to eat it or there’s no point in putting the product in the feeder. When you open a bag, jar or container you have to like the smell. The animal wants the same thing.

Product Focus: Sure Champ® + Vita Charge®

With countless supplements available to customers to meet an animal’s nutritional requirements, developing a proper feeding program for livestock can be nothing short of overwhelming. For this reason, BioZyme® has made it our mission to supply your customers with high-quality products to aid in meeting the nutritional needs for livestock in any production scenario. In addition, we are dedicated to improving an animal’s general health and well-being. Sure Champ has been the foundation of achieving this goal in show livestock. For the best results, use Vita Charge in conjunction with Sure Champ.

Sure Champ® is a natural top-dress that should be incorporated into a daily feeding regimen as a proactive approach to digestive health, increased appetite and added growth and muscle development.

Remind your staff to highlight these points when talking to customers:

  • Sure Champ is a complete vitamin and mineral supplement. No additional vitamin and mineral products need to be fed.
  • Sure Champ is one of the most inexpensive top-dress supplements on the market.
  • Sure Champ should be fed for a minimum of 30 days to see the full effect.

In addition to Sure Champ Cattle, Sure Champ is available in a pelleted form for goats and sheep, and a pelleted or meal form for pigs.

vita charge® liquid boost can be used as a convenient and effective product for livestock recovering from stressors such as calving, weaning, processing, hauling, showing and sickness.

Liquid Boost is unique as it is administered through waterers, drench and/or medicators. Typically when an animal is under stress and goes off feed, they will continue to drink. Because of this, there is a huge benefit to the liquid application and being able to provide the nutrients they need during times of stress.

Vita Charge is also available in other forms that include: 6-gram boluses, gel caps, drench, paste, dispersible powder, and stress tub.

January – Letters From Lisa

I know it is the smart way to do everything, but I am not nearly as efficient as I want to be. Why? When 70 to 80 percent of your day is spent doing work about work (multiple meetings, endless emails, etc.) instead of doing actual work, that’s a problem. I have that problem. I love that problem, but I do have it. Isn’t the first requirement of change to acknowledge you have a problem?

Despite its difficulty in life, efficiency in business is imperative to keep pace in an increasingly competitive world. Sooner or later, any company operating inefficiently will be out of business. Being efficient in business means making choices that benefit one sector of a business without taking from another. Knowing the steps to take and the tools to use to make your business more efficient will help you get the best results at the least possible cost.

Here are some tips to help your business work more efficiently, cut costs, improve customer satisfaction and stay ahead of the competition:

  • Deliver anytime, anywhere information access to employees (you too). To stay productive on the move, you and your employees need to be able to reach the people and information they need—anywhere, anytime.
  • Make it easy to work together. Smooth collaboration between employees, partners, suppliers and customers is a sure-fire way to boost efficiency while also reducing costs.
  • Streamline customer communications. Delivering fast, knowledgeable service is the best way to keep customers satisfied.
  • Reduce unproductive travel time. All too often, time spent on the road is time lost. Use travel time to get work done using technology if you have the right tools. The money invested in these tools is well spent.

To me this list of business efficiencies seems challenging, but not impossible. 

So let’s get back to personal efficiency since that is more difficult, at least for me.
I recently read a Robin Sharma article, that was just what I needed, entitled
21 Tips to Become the Most Productive Person You Know.” Of course it is not as easy as it sounds, but here are the five points that I found most interesting:

Sell your TV. You’re just watching other people get successful versus doing the things that will get you to your dreams.

Say goodbye to the energy vampires in your life (the negative souls who steal your enthusiasm).

Run routines. When I studied the creative lives of massively productive people like Stephen King, John Grisham and Thomas Edison, I discovered they follow strict daily routines. (i.e., when they would get up, when they would start work, when they would exercise and when they would relax).
Peak productivity’s not about luck. It’s about devotion. 

Don’t say yes to every request. Most of us have a deep need to be liked. That translates into us saying yes to everything – which is the end of your elite productivity.

Be a contrarian. Why buy your groceries at the time the store is busiest? Why go to movies on the most popular nights? Why hit the gym when the gym’s completely full? Do things at off-peak hours.

Let’s work together to get more efficient – you hold me accountable, and I will do the same for you. Go get big things done this year!

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