Host a Holiday Open House

It’s the time of year for holiday parties, Christmas cookies and egg nog. Sounds like a great reason to host an open house at your business. An open house doesn’t need to be extravagant, costly or time consuming. However, it is a great way to open your doors to the community, your customers and spread some extra cheer during the winter.

If you have an actual store, especially in town or on the edge of town, perhaps hosting an open house makes a lot of sense. It is a chance to promote your business and share in the spirit of the holidays. Often, smaller towns will have a holiday parade, dedicate one night a week when they are open later for shopping or have a community bazaar. These are ideal times to hang a little garland, turn on the coffee pot and host your open house.

If you are an on-farm dealer, you can still host an open house; it might just take a little more planning and preparation. You might put more effort into promoting your event and issuing invitations. You can tidy up the shop or barn where you store product, and still put on the coffee and show your appreciation for your customers – your community.

First, you need to establish a date when you will host your open house. Find out when other events are happening and if it makes sense, plan your open house with those. If there are not a lot of other community holiday events, plan your event during a time when there are not other local community events like a basketball game or concert. Promote your event through local advertising, your store sign, a poster on your door and your social media channels. You might even want to make some phone calls to key customers or potential customers.

Next, plan what will make your open house special from regular store hours. Will you offer food and beverage? What will that involve? Are you thinking sugar cookies and punch? Meat balls in the crock pot with cheese and crackers? Or something more substantial like sandwiches and chips? Whatever you do plan, make sure you have plenty to offer. Nothing is worse than having an event and running out of food.

Provide a learning opportunity. Especially if you are a storefront, maybe not everyone in the community knows what products or services you offer. Make yourself available to share your story or have some type of game or entertainment to showcase the products. Think a store scavenger hunt or BioZyme® Bingo.

Give back to the community. Perhaps you can have a toy drive for local kids or a pet supply drive for the local animal shelter. Make it interactive – bring in a toy or purchase a bag of dog food to leave for the pet shelter and get a $5 off coupon toward your next purchase. There are a variety of ways to give to others this time of year.

If you are an on-farm dealer, your open house might resemble that an open house where you get together with friends, neighbors and customers. People are always looking for a good reason to slow down for bowl of soup and good conversation. And remember, you can also take part in community opportunities and spread the cheer.

For more ideas on hosting a holiday open house, contact Ashley Fitzsimmons at afitzsimmons@biozymeinc.com or (307) 575-1082.

Marketing Will Wow Your Customers

Chances are you wouldn’t be selling the products you offer if you didn’t believe in them. In fact, the 2017 Dealer Survey results show that 82 percent of BioZyme® dealers already use the products they sell. So, that personal experience is one way to share your story and tell how the products work in your operation or on your companion animals.

However, a plethora of animal nutrition products exist on the market. And even though we know that our BioZyme supplements are unique due to the Amaferm® advantage, sometimes the best way to WOW your customers is by focusing on your service attitude versus constantly talking about your products.

“My best advice to produce the most effective results is to advertise to your customers where they are, when they are there,” said Ashley Fitzsimmons, Regional & Partners in Performance Marketing Manager for BioZyme Inc. “Fall is a busy time with weaning, harvest and this year’s weather! So, meeting customers where they are whether that is taking out meals to farmers, being present for conversations at your local cattlemen’s meeting, the sale barn on a busy day, your state/county fairs, etc. really is the most effective tactic.”

Being present where your customers are is just one way of providing service marketing. If they are harvesting, they probably haven’t taken time to think about their cow herd’s nutrition prior to calving or even thought about placing a mineral order. But, you probably have. Reach out to them with a sack lunch or an afternoon drink while they are harvesting with a gentle reminder of how many days are left in this year and a list of the mineral they purchased from you last year at this time – making their lives simplified, and potentially making a sale for you!

Another service you can provide is to simply listen. This is a great time of year to host producer meetings. However, the interaction shouldn’t always be about the dealer talking about new products or special promotions. Take time for an open discussion. Hear what is on the minds of the producers and end-users of the products and see how you can provide a service you haven’t already thought of.

“No one knows your customers and your community better than you do, which is what makes local dealers so incredibly vital and important to our company. If anyone ever wants to bounce ideas back and forth or see what tactics have worked best in a community like theirs I’m always available via email,” Fitzsimmons reminds the dealers.

Providing a service and listening to your customers – you have just turned two traditional customer service tactics into marketing plans to help you reach your customers in a way that will WOW them. Everyone likes to have a service provided to them, especially when it is unexpected. And, when a customer is listened to, it makes them feel more like a part of your team. Use these two marketing tools to wow your customers this fall and see your sales grow!

Share Your Story

It’s the anniversary dance at a friend’s wedding. The emcee announces for all married couples to gather on the dance floor. Immediately, the newlyweds are seated, being the most recently married. Then in five-or 10-year increments, couples are dismissed by the number of years they have been married. One couple remains, dancing hand-in-hand like they have for 57 wonderfully wedded years. Don’t you wonder what their story is? What is the secret to their success?

And now you’re wondering what that story has to do with being in business or more specifically the animal nutrition business. The point is, everyone has a story. Everyone, including you. And it is time to tell your story.

According to the Small Business Administration, there are more than 28 million small businesses, making up 99.7% of all U.S. businesses. That makes your story one in 28 million! Do you know your story? Do you have a 3-minute “elevator” speech to share with someone if you were mingling at a party or at a networking function where you didn’t know others in the room? Think about it. What is your story? What makes you unique? And I know there is something unique about each and every one of our dealers.

First, determine what your story is. Perhaps, you are an equine enthusiast who became passionate about the products and want to share the products with all of your friends at the barn, show, rodeo, etc… Or, you might be a second-generation dealer who is taking over the reins of the family business – the farm and the feed dealership. Maybe, you are young person who felt there was a void in your “neighborhood” for a high-quality mineral program.

Once you determine what your story is and why you’re passionate about helping animals and their owners, determine who your audience is. Obviously, it is your customers. But, there are potential customers in your everyday lives too. Chances are your doctor or dentist has a dog or maybe even a horse. Do they know that you sell a product that can improve the health and well-being of their four-legged friends? And what about the local service organizations? Rotary, Kiwanis, Sertoma. Those groups are always looking for local businesspeople to come share their stories and how they are involved in the local community. Reach out to them to get on their calendar.

How will you tell your story? Of course, speaking engagements and one-on-one conversations are great. But you probably won’t be able to talk to everyone at one time so use other methods to share your story. Share it on social media. What do you do at the feed store on a daily basis? Did you go out to a customer’s ranch and take forage samples to send in? Document that with pictures to share on Facebook, Instagram or your business web site. People are interested. They have a desire to know what you are doing and how you do it. Explain the process. If you have customer newsletter, devote part of that to your story. Or work with your local paper to have a regular column in it to talk about agriculture and animal health – another great way to share what you are doing.

No, it isn’t always easy to talk about ourselves. And we might not think what we do on a daily basis matters. But remember, as a business you are one in 28 million. You have a story. Share it with those around you. You might be amazed at the positive feedback you receive.

“Snack & Savings” Get Mineral Message to Farmers

Nebraska ranks second in the nation in total cow-calf production, only behind Texas. However, when late spring and early summer roll around, most farmers and ranchers have just one thing on their minds – planting and irrigating crops. Taylor Ruether, Area Sales Manager for Nebraska, was working with a few of her dealers to come up with an innovative way to get in front of farmers during their busy season, when the “Snack & Savings” approach was created.

“One dealership gave me the idea to do this, because I was wanting to work with him, and he kept saying, ‘It’s farming season, you can’t catch any body right now.’ So, I was trying to come up with a way to get in front of farmers during their busy season,” Ruether said.

Snack & Savings gave Ruether and her dealers the opportunity to get in front of farmers – bringing them either a sack lunch that included a sandwich, chips and a drink, or a mid-afternoon snack of a cold-drink and either a bag of chips or a candy bar. Included with the snack was a product guide and a coupon for any VitaFerm® product.

Ruether made this opportunity available to any of her dealers who wanted to set up appointments to meet with customers and potential customers. She had a couple of dealers who really grasped the concept and spent a couple of days with a cooler of water and sodas and met with farmers to remind them about summer mineral programs.

“We felt like it was a good way to give back to farmers when they are crazy and hectic, and it did get most of them to stop and talk to us, even if it was just to remind them about BioZyme. No one usually turns down a pop and a bag of chips. The beautiful thing about this promotion is, if someone didn’t use the coupon, it didn’t really cost anything,” she said.

The Snack & Savings trips were a good investment in time. Ruether said that dealers did make some Sure Champ® Extreme and VitaFerm® HEAT® sales while talking to the famers. Follow-up appointments have resulted in interest in the VitaFerm® Gain Smart® program.

Ruether will work with her dealers again on similar promotions and marketing efforts, taking the message to the customers. She feels the efforts are worthwhile and she will encourage more dealer involvement. She also learned that chips are the preferred snack over candy bars.

“Anytime you do stuff like this, the more people expect it, and the better response you have. We’ve had some follow-up, and that was worth our time and effort,” she said.

Ways to Support Youth Projects

“The youth is the hope of our future.” – Jose Rizal

More than 6 million youth are involved in 4-H and FFA. And while not all these young people are involved in livestock projects, all of these young people are consumers and do want a safe, nutritious eating experience. That’s why it is important for BioZyme® dealers to support youth projects and events. While the support of the project or event is beneficial to the young people involved, as supporters, we often get to share our story; telling everyone that our products are all-natural and will only continue to help the animals feel good, stay healthy and perform to their upmost potential.

There are many ways to support the youth – or the future – of our industry. Remember, every time we give, we are making an investment.

Show sponsorships.
It is easy to write a check to group or an organization for a show sponsorship. But have you ever considered sponsorship in the form of product? Many shows are looking for “new and exciting” awards or ways to make winning the show seem more appealing. What is more exciting or appealing than winning a bag or bucket of Sure Champ Extreme with Climate Control? Be sure to include your contact information along with a product brochure. Those winners just might be your newest customers.

Educational Workshops.
Giving our time to young people is vital. And in youth projects, there are so many things to learn – feeding, fitting, showing, judging, skin and hair care. As a dealer, you are likely an expert in at least one of these areas or know someone who is. Take the time to host a day or 1/2-day workshop or work with another company to co-host an educational workshop. You don’t have to tackle every subject or every species all at once. And, at the end of the day, have a drawing for a bag or tub of product.

One example of an educational workshop was a roping clinic recently conducted by Vitalize Ambassador Whitney DeSalvo. Each participant received a tube of Vitalize® Equine Recovery Paste and a Vitalize cap. A bag of Vitalize product was rewarded to one of the young participants based on merit. Giving away product might cost you initially, but it might also gain you a lifetime customer, and you will see the ROI mount over time.

Make Stall Cards.
Offer to make stall cards for your customers prior to the county or district fair. Don Bush with Powell Feed & Milling in Arkansas, said Powell makes its own line of show feeds, with the assistance of Dr. Susan Day. Last year, Powell feed provided stall cards to its Powell Show Feed customers to use at the area fairs, to recognize their customers, and help the young people have a more professional and neater looking display at the fair. Bush said the youth appreciated the added gesture, and he anticipates this is a program that Powell’s will continue.

Simply Give Back.
With many stores in many counties, Bush said it was going to be nearly impossible to support each Powell customer. Kirk Powell, the company owner, said he would rather donate back the profit margin from show feeds to all the youth than buy just one kid’s animal. And that is what he did. At the end of the summer, Powell Feeds calculates the profits from its show feed sales and divides it among all the youth who buy feed from their various stores. Then, the kids get a certificate worth a specified amount to use at any of the Powell stores.

“We can buy one animal, spend $3,000 and impact one child, or we can take all the profit from our show feed business and spread it amongst every one of them. And some of those kids who don’t win, it means more to them than the kids who do win,” Bush said.

Remember, youth are the future. They are future leaders, future decision makers and future customers. The decisions you make today to support youth will impact them and your business now and in the future.

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.