Courage to Compete

Competition is not a bad thing. In fact, competition is important to the overall growth of your business and has the potential to impact your bottom line. As more competition surfaces, it is important to tell everyone why they should buy their animal nutrition products from you, and to have the courage to set yourself apart from others in the business.

Be innovative.

Chances are you aren’t the only livestock nutrition company in your town or county. You are going to have to get creative in ways to draw those customers in to your business and keep them coming back. You will likely need to adopt new business services or marketing strategies to get customers to try your products. Is the local cattlemen’s organization having a meeting? Offer to provide part of the program in exchange for some time to talk about whatever
product best fits the season.

Provide service.

It’s one thing to sell an outstanding product. But how does your customer service stack up again the competition? Outstanding service will go a long way. Do you live in an area where there are “hobby” farmers who work a 9-5 job? Stay open late so they can pick up their products after work. Delivery is a big service that many offer, but making sure that the product is delivered on time to the proper place is important.

Know your customers.

Even though you think you are in the feed business, livestock business, equine business, nutrition business, the number one business that everyone is in is the “people” business. Building a relationship with your customers shows that you are genuinely interested in them and their program. Often business relationships evolve to friendships that evolve into long-standing customers. Know what products your customers need and when they will need them.

Tell your story.

It is ok to “toot your own horn.” You’ve got a good product, so let others know about it. This might be on your social media channels, a sign along the road or even at the local auction barn. Get out and spread the word, and encourage your customers to tell their neighbors if they like the products too. Positive peer reviews are a positive marketing tool.

Get motivated.

The fact you have competition should motivate you to be a better business person. You will need to be highly motivated to remain the better business owner. Be proactive, alert, creative and above all focused. Always think of better ways to satisfy your customers.

Staying competitive in the marketplace does take a certain amount of courage. But if you remain innovative, build relationships and provide outstanding customer service, you will edge out the competition.

Displays That Excite!

Customers shop with their eyes, and their eyes need to land on a display that is exciting enough to entice them, yet simple enough to understand as well as being simple for you to assemble in the limited space that you have available. Here are a few ways you can spice up your displays to make them eye-appealing and useful to the consumer:

Keep things at eye level. No one likes to bend down to read a product label, so it is important to stack product high enough that customers can see what it is without getting on their knees. With that said, be sure to stack bags at a safe level and neatly so they don’t slide around and fall over.

Group like products together. Keep similar product lines together, so customers can see the various options that are available to them. They won’t want to go back and forth between products to compare labels.

Place small pack products up front. These smaller, usually less expensive items sometimes get left behind in the stacks of 50-pound bags and tubs. Place smaller items up front and train employees to suggest them as customers are checking out, especially if they complement other items customers are buying or are in season. Is it calving time? Be sure to suggest some Vita Charge® Neonatal or Vita Charge Paste. If it is the summer show season, and a customer is buying Sure Champ® keep Climate Control near the counter, and remember to suggest they add a few tubes of that to their order.

Displays don’t have to be extravagant to be eye-catching. Some signage is nice, but flashy neon signs and streamers aren’t necessary. Contact Kristi Stevens, Marketing Project Manager at (816) 596-8795 to order pre-designed, eye-appealing signs with the brand logos on them to hang above products your store offers. These vinyl signs are easy to clean, easy to read and will lead customers to the products they are looking for.

Add product information to your displays. Information is power, and it is always a good idea to add support materials like a product brochure or spec sheet close to the products you have on display. You might be busy with another customer, and the brochure might have just the information a customer was looking for to make the decision to buy the product.

Be sure to add any special pricing or promotions. Once again, signage doesn’t have to be extravagant, just easy to read with a clear message.

Display at least one of every product you offer. You might not have a large area to bulk stack multiple bags of the same product. Then use a table to put out one of each product or literature on the products you do have available. If the customers don’t know you have it, they can’t buy it.

Making an effective display takes time and energy, but it doesn’t take an advanced degree in artistic design or carpentry. Use the resources available to you, make it easy to see and add signage and supporting materials to provide information.  Keep small-pack products close to the front where they can be easily discussed at check-out, and keep items out on a seasonal basis. Follow these basic reminders, and you will be able to show everyone the great products you offer.

Social Media is a Customer Care Tool

The days of waiting for “normal business hours” to get good customer service are gone. You no longer have to wait until 8 a.m. to dial the phone and hope you get someone knowledgeable on the other end of the line to answer your questions. With social media at our fingertips, it is now viewed as a customer care tool as well as a marketing resource.

Responding or not responding to those customer inquiries can be vital to your company. A Gartner study showed that inquiries that are not responded to will eventually lead the company to a 15% churn rate or loss of business. Conversely, if a company engages and responds to a customer on social media, that customer is likely spend an additional 20-40% more with the company.

“Social media is one of the biggest overlooked resources as a customer care tool,” said Caitlin Tye, Content and Social Media Manager for BioZyme® Inc. “Be sure to have a plan to use social media wisely and respond to your customers.”

We’ve listed five best practices to use social media effectively as a customer care tool. Follow these steps for increased customer retention and growth.

Pick the platform that’s best suited for your audience. If you know that your audience is 30-65 year-olds that primarily use Facebook, that is the platform you need to use. There is no need to be on Instagram or even Snapchat. Use the platform you know will have response and engagement from your customers and potential customers.

Monitor social media. This doesn’t mean you need to sit and stare at your computer all day after you make a post or watch and wait for someone to mention your product. However, you do need to check your alerts for comments and direct messages and be sure you are responding to your customers in a timely manner.

Speed matters. In a survey conducted by The Social Habit, 25% of social users would like a response within the same day, while 42% expect a response within an hour. Tye said it is her goal to respond to customer care inquiries on BioZyme social platforms before the end of the day the message came in, and she usually is a lot quicker than that, depending on the time of day of the inquiry and how much research needs done to respond.

Use the proper tone of voice. Yes, you are typing, but there is still a “tone” to those keystrokes. If someone is upset or has a challenge, show empathy in your response, and don’t ever get defensive. If a customer is excited about the success of a product, don’t be afraid to share in that success, complete with exclamation points and even a smiling emoji! 😊

Know when to move the conversation offline. This doesn’t mean removing a customer’s post, unless it contains vulgar or profane language. However, not all issues can be resolved on social media. Perhaps the customer needs to visit over the phone with a nutritionist or an ASM for clarification or deeper understanding. But remember, direct them to the correct person initially. No one likes getting the run-around and being told they need to talk to someone else.

Customer service is key to retaining and growing your customer base. Make sure you are using the latest technology to answer customer questions and provide them the timely service they have come to expect. Social media is more than a marketing tool, and when used properly can be a great customer service resource.

Use Social Media to Boost Your Business

You’ve built your company’s Facebook page, and hopefully you found the tips in last month’s VISION useful as you begin or enhance your social media presence. But did you know for pennies a day, you can boost the amount of exposure your company gets on Facebook?

One of the most effective tools on Facebook is a button that allows you to “boost” a post or geo target specific customers with specific messages. Once you have created a post, you can click the “boost post” button, which allows you to create parameters to target a very specific audience including:

LOCATION: You can add the specific town or zip code you want to target, drop a pin or add multiple towns, say if you were hosting producer meetings in multiple locations. Once you have a location added, you can add a radius between 10-50 miles around the town or area you want to target.

AGE & GENDER: You can target only men, only women or both. You can target ranges of age groups between 13 to 65+ years old. Even though you can target 13-year-olds remember, Facebook does not allow you to target sales to anyone under 18-years-old. However, if you were hosting a youth livestock clinic, you might want to target 13-21, since that would be the group most likely to participate.

TARGET GROUP: Search by keyword to find a very specific target audience. Are you trying to promote Vitalize® to horse enthusiasts in your area? Type ‘horse’ in the keyword search, and the following will appear: horse, horse training, horse breeding and horse riding. You can click and select the groups that fit your needs, and anyone who has shown interest in those groups, who match the age, gender and location target you have selected will see your post. They don’t have to be your current customers or even like your page.

COST: Remember you set your budget, and you determine how much you want to spend. You can spend $10 for a post to show up for a month or you can spend $10 for the same post to only appear for a day.

“The more money you put toward your post, the more opportunity you have in reaching a larger percentage of the selected audience,” said Caitlin Tye, Content and Social Media.

If you are a dealer, and there is a cattle show coming to your town, you might create a post to promote you have Sure Champ® and Sure Champ Climate Control on hand. When you type ‘cattle’ in the keyword search, the following appear: Angus, Hereford, National Cattlemen’s Beef Association, cattle rancher, Cattlemen’s Steakhouse. You would select all of those except Cattlemen’s Steakhouse, because you would more than likely get someone who is a beef eater, and not a show participant seeing your post, which does not encourage engagement.

Boosting a post is an efficient, inexpensive way to reach a large group of potential customers who have a core group of interests. If you have more questions about how to create a targeted post, contact Kristi Stevens, Marketing Project Manager, at (816) 596-8795 or email her at kstevens@biozymeinc.com.

Reach More for Less with Social Media

Social media is a great tool to reach a lot of people with minimal investment. Today, nearly 70% of the entire U.S. population has at least one account on a social media platform, and 42% of farmers use Facebook or Twitter daily.

Caitlin Tye, Content and Social Media Manager for BioZyme®, says there are two primary purposes to reach customers with social media, as a marketing tool and as a customer care tool.

“Everything you put on social media is strategic communication. It is not unplanned conversation,” Tye said.

When using social media as a marketing tool, you should see tangible results with an increase in sales. Be sure to know your audience, and what motivates them. And understand what content is important to your audience: talk about the products and their uses; highlight producers who have had positive results; keep customers updated on news from your dealership – new products, events or upcoming promotions. And, remember, sometimes social media as a marketing tool will cross over to customer care.

Tye offers four best practices when using social media as a marketing tool.

1 – Less is more. Capture the audience’s attention with short, effective post copy. People don’t have time to read a lot of text, so keep the copy precise and catchy.

2 – Imagery. Never post content without a visually appealing image to accompany it. Nothing should be posted without an image. Ever.

3 – Engagement.  Be clear how you want your audience to react to your message. Will they comment on it? Will they “like” the post? Will your customers “share” the post, and engage with others who are potential customers?

4 – User Generated Content (UGC). “Never underestimate the power of a brand-loyal fan,” Tye said. UGC is an unsolicited post submitted by a customer who is passionate about the product, who has seen a positive result. UGC is accompanied by a strong image, a powerful testimonial, and is more effective than you telling your customers how wonderful your products are.

If you have questions about social media or developing a social media strategy, contact Caitlin Tye at 309-582-6454 or ctye@biozymeinc.com

Here are a few examples of strong posts that will work as marketing tools. If you need help with Facebook posts about our products, contact Kristi Stevens, Marketing Project Manager, at 816-596-8795.

Product Highlights:
Show a picture of the product in use or product that you have in stock and ready for purchase.

Dealership Information:
Share services offered, exciting news or upcoming specials with your customers.

Customer Testimonials:
Testimonials are one of the most powerful tools you can use to sell products. Coupling a customer’s words with their photo (preferably using the product) makes great content for your social channels.

Get Social with Marketing and Promotion

Facebook. YouTube. Twitter. Instagram. Snapchat. These are just a few of the social media platforms that your customers or your customers’ kids engage with on a daily basis. And they are becoming some of the most widely used marketing tools out there.

If you are looking for a timely way to reach and interact with your customer base, social media is the tool to use, and unlike some predictions of less than a decade ago, social media is here to stay. The reach and engagement is so widespread when using social media, it is hard to deny that it is an effective way to reach a large following very quickly and at a very low cost.

According to an April 2017 report on ebizmba.com, 1.5 billion unique users visit Facebook each month. Granted those users span the globe, that is an amazing number of people to reach with your message.

BioZyme® wants you to succeed in your online presence and posts regularly to its multiple Facebook pages, making content readily available for you to share from your dealer or personal pages. Many BioZyme brands have a Facebook page with content posted regularly. With just a click of the ‘share’ button, you can add that content onto your company Facebook page as well.

Here are just a few examples of ways you can use social media to engage with your customers.

Promote your products. Did you just get a shipment of a new product in? Take a photo and post it to your social media accounts. A picture is truly worth a thousand words on social media.

Create a hashtag and use it properly. Hashtags, the little pound symbol before a group of words, can be a powerful way to reach a group of like-minded people. For example, “#surechamp is great product to keep your show animals on feed this summer,” might be a tweet you post, with a link to Facebook page and a promotion on Sure Champ. Young people familiar with the brand name, but not exactly what it does might click on that post, and learn more and become your next customer. 

Host a contest. Sure Champ® already posts judging classes to its Facebook page. Perhaps you can share this, and you can reward a local winner with a cap or a tube of Vita Charge® Paste. Or make up your own contest. May is beef month, so host a photography contest where your customers can submit their favorite photo of cattle, and then entries are voted on by others on social media.

Recognize your customers. You just hosted a customer appreciation event. Post photos of those who attended, and especially any big door prize winners.

Educate your customers. Share articles of interest with them from other news sites or groups. Chances are if you post these items of interest, your social page will become a one-stop source for your customers. Adding a quick thought about the information you’re sharing is always a great way to continue the conversation with your followers.

It’s time to get social. Promote your business and reach out to your customers.

Customer Testimonials Reflect Passion for Products

I know what I heard is true. John Doe told Jim Smith who told Bob Black all about his latest news, and I heard it from Bob at the local coffee shop. Yes, word of mouth does spread like a wild fire, but if used properly, word of mouth and customer testimonials can be great marketing tools that share not only good information, but passion for our products.

Chris Kyle, ASM in Arkansas, Louisiana and northeast Texas, says the value in customer testimonials is that the person reviewing or talking about the specific product or experience has nothing to gain by doing so. He or she is merely bragging about something positive that has happened on the farm or ranch and wants everyone else to know about it.

“The people who are talking about our products have nothing to gain; they have achieved some sort of success in their area first, and want others to know they have that feather in their cap,” Kyle said.

Most customers are glad to give a review or testimonial. You can ask for it written, take notes as it is given orally or even use the technology that you have on hand to record a video.

“The customers don’t hold back. I ask them how a particular product is doing and they will start talking and telling me about all the good things they have happen with their animals’ health,” Kyle said.

Kyle said that customer testimonials are a great way to reach potential customers, and even though the days of chatting at the coffee shop still exist, more and more dealers and producers have started using social media as a marketing tool; a very quick way to spread customer testimonials and praises.

Another thing Kyle does is shoot a short video – typically 30-seconds – on his iPad or phone of the customer talking about the products. The visuals of their facial expressions and tones of their voices help exude the passion they have for the products they are talking about. He then shares those videos with the marketing team to post to a social media site.

One of the greatest things about social media is the reach that it has. Once a post is made, any individual or dealer can like, comment or share that message, which can be shared again. An example is a blog post that is posted to Facebook on Monday morning and by Friday, has 350 likes and 50 shares. Fifty other companies or individuals have shared that link to their own pages, making the information spread much more quickly than the hearsay at the local coffee shop!

Early marketer and promoter P.T. Barnum said, “Nothing draws a crowd quite like a crowd.”

Customers who have achieved success will be passionate about the products they are talking about. It is important to remember those success stories when you have a producer meeting or customer appreciation event. If you know of customers who have had great success with the products ask for them to share their experiences with the crowd you have gathered. Their real-world stories and experiences that their neighbors might also encounter will definitely help make a sale.

Finally, when sharing testimonials with customers, Kyle says he drops names of big-time, successful producers in the area. If he knows someone who runs 500 cows has had good results with a product, he might mention their name to someone down the road with fewer cows that is undecided about trying a BioZyme® product. He knows the first call that will be made when he leaves is to that neighbor, whose name Kyle mentioned.

Producers are passionate about the products that work for them. Use that passion through customer testimonials as one more resource in your marketing tool kit.

Proper Employee Training Leads to Increased Sales

There are a lot of animal nutrition products out there, and in some parts of the country, more feed and supplement dealers than there are grocery stores. This means it is vital for your sales staff to keep current on all the products you offer.

“People buy from people, and our company owners have done a great job hiring quality people that care about the products and our customers all the way from the sales staff to the delivery drivers,” said Scott Hardman, Marketing Specialist with Earlybird Feed & Fertilizer, Goodfield, Illinois.

Hardman says the literature that BioZyme® sends out when a new product is introduced is distributed to all sales people, both externally and in the store. He said that they usually can’t get the literature fast enough since customers see information about new products on social media, and start contacting the dealer often before they have the new products on hand.

Another great resource is their ASM, Shandy Bertolino. Hardman said that their sales staff typically meets with Shandy twice a year to learn about new products and brush up on their knowledge of existing products. In addition to offering kudos to the ASM in their area, Hardman also praised the entire BioZyme® staff.

“One of the strengths of the company is there are not a lot of layers if we need answers. Shandy will make the link, but the accessibility of the technical and marketing staff is great,” Hardman said.

And finally, he said the sales staff who attend the dealer retreat each summer come back with a wealth of information to share with others who didn’t attend.

Adele Halsall, a researcher and writer for Customer Service Guru, addressed some key training tips in a recent blog post. Here are three of her tips.

  1. Keep Training Consistent. Be sure to give each employee the same message and resources so the information shared with customers is reliable. Halsall said, “Product knowledge training must also be consistent, engaging and customized. There is no point in re-using the same material twice or giving unnecessary information to those who do not need it.”
  2. Allow Hands-on Experience. While it isn’t realistic that your entire sales force will have a need for a particular product, chances are someone on staff feeds one or more of the products. Get their feedback about the pros and cons of that particular product so you can offer more information to prospective customers.

    Hardman said their sales staff isn’t expected to know absolutely everything about every product; however, they have specific people that are experts about particular species. Earlybird relies on those experts to provide information about particular products to the rest of its sales force.

  3. Take Training out of the Office. Hardman mentioned the bi-annual meetings with Shandy and the dealer retreat were two of their valuable training tools. Halsall agrees that it is always good to give employees a fresh perspective and allow them the opportunity to network with others to learn helpful sales insight.

Making the sale is imperative to your bottom line. Keep your staff knowledgeable and excited about your products, and the sales will come readily.

An Investment in Nutrition Prevents Common Animal Disease

In a region of the United States where Anaplasmosis is a cause for concern in the cow herd, Bob Black doesn’t worry about his herd catching the infective blood disease that can decrease performance, cause weight loss, abortion and ultimately death loss. The fifth-generation cattle producer focuses on managing his herd’s immune system function and investing in a sound nutrition program. And in addition to ranching with his brother, he owns Elk County Veterinary Services at Howard, Kan., and has been a BioZyme® dealer for nearly 18 years.

The Blacks run a cow-calf operation in southeast Kansas where they concentrate on raising cattle with a high carcass quality to provide the consumer a safe and favorable eating experience. The brothers wean nearly 300 calves each year, and Dr. Black says he can’t remember treating any animals for Anaplasmosis since they have been feeding VitaFerm® products.

“We’ve been feeding VitaFerm for at least 25 years, and whatever we invest in pays off in the end,” says Dr. Black. “Amaferm does a great job of breaking down the forages, and the organic minerals keep the cattle’s immunity up.”

The cow herd on the Black’s operation eats a forage-based diet with minimal supplementation. However, the VitaFerm products they do feed offer maximum nutrition in key trace minerals of copper, zinc, selenium and magnesium.
In addition, Amaferm is a great resource to help break down the forages and convert them to energy.

Dr. Black has used LONGRANGE® to control parasites such as ticks that spread Anaplasmosis for the past three years. In addition, he manages their body condition score to keep cows between 5-6 BCS, with a goal of 90% conception rate. He says if the cows get too much condition, they lie around and don’t graze, and therefore are not as healthy.

“It all comes down to proper management and animal husbandry” Dr. Black said.

Although he has chosen to ward off Anaplasmosis by proactive management techniques, he does sell CTC to some customers. Dr. Black’s goal is to use his personal successes to demonstrate the Amaferm advantage to sell more BioZyme products.

“The uptick in the market the last few years has helped, but getting our foot in the door is the big challenge,” he said. “Once a client switches over, and they see the Amaferm advantage in their cows, they are usually hooked. We are seeing good conversion.”

Marketing the New Cow-Calf Mineral

It’s no secret that times are tough. Producers are constantly looking for ways to stretch their dollars. And luckily for them, BioZyme® is always developing new products with its producers’ best interests in mind while still utilizing its key ingredient, Amaferm®, in all products.

As BioZyme rolls out its new VitaFerm® Cow-Calf Mineral, producers will now have a lower-cost mineral option available to them during “belt- tightening” times or during times of the year when they choose to maximize savings.

“This mineral package was designed for the price conscious producer looking to lower their input costs,” said Alan Lee, Director of Sales – South. “But it is still a better option than other economy mineral lines because it contains Amaferm.”

According to Lee, many producers will sacrifice quality to buy the cheapest product at a local farm or box store. And in the end, those producers discover they get what they pay for. While the new VitaFerm Cow-Calf Mineral does not contain the same level of vitamin and minerals as all other VitaFerm mineral products, it does still exceed NRC requirements. The big ticket to marketing the VitaFerm Cow-Calf Mineral is to remind customers they will still see the Amaferm advantage when using this product.

“Producers can keep their cows on Amaferm at a lower price point,” Lee said. Lee encourages producers to continue feeding VitaFerm Concept•Aid® during the critical times of production like breeding and prior to calving to get the most return on their investment. However, he says due to the Amaferm being included in the lower cost mineral package, producers should still see increased appetites, initial gain and increased feed conversion from VitaFerm Cow-Cow Mineral in the down time.

The introduction of the VitaFerm Cow-Calf Mineral to the BioZyme line of products is a good way to capture new customers, according to Lee. He encourages dealers to find those producers who have been buying the $18-20 bags of mineral from competing brands and introduce them to this mineral and the Amaferm advantage. He says once they try this mineral, and see some small results, they are likely to try some other products, see big results and be hooked on the BioZyme products. He also recommends marketing this to less-progressive producers who don’t demand great results immediately. Lee adds that the price point of this new mineral option makes it a great product to have on hand, so fill the truck with it to take advantage of better freight rates.

“All dealers have those price conscious customers. This is a good product to put before them, but remind them, they do get what they pay for,” Lee said.