Leadership Steps To Keep Your Business Top of Mind

Keeping your company relevant is about change. And to make effective change happen, you have to have strong leadership that is willing to take the necessary steps to move forward. Although staying viable in the industry you serve is all about providing goods and services to your customers and helping them with the challenges they face, you must first have a leader or leaders who embrace the following four steps.

  1. Plan Ahead. Wouldn’t it be nice if we all had a crystal ball? We could see what tomorrow would hold; and even the days to follow. However, we don’t have the luxury to predict our future, so we need to lay our own groundwork to plan ahead. In agriculture, there are some variables out of our control, but we can still study history, read, talk to those heavily involved in each segment and continue to plan ahead so our business stays sustainable and we help our customers succeed.
    If you haven’t already, now is a great time of year to implement a strategic plan that can help you grow. As you develop your plan, think about what is important to your customers during the different times of year, and plan to have products available when they need them instead of waiting. Plan your marketing and promotions accordingly. Finally, plan some time to engage with your customers at different times of the year to hear what is on their minds.
  2. Communicate. Communications is a two-way street. However, we are often times guilty of doing all the talking, and not enough listening. As you plan producer meetings and open houses, set aside some time to ask your customers questions. Hear what is important to them. Do they have a common challenge among them that your business can help solve? Is there a new product that a customer could benefit from? It’s vital to listen and hear what your customers are saying. When you make sales calls or deliver product, take the time to find out what is truly on your customers’ minds.
  3. Get Involved. For most people in our industry, this should not be a challenge. However, for some less hands-on businesses, getting involved and becoming engaged with others is a struggle. If you are in a managerial position and spend a lot of time behind a desk or on the phone, it’s time to get up and be seen. Get out in the store to see how customers are treated. Visit the warehouse to see how employee morale is, and check on the efficiencies of loading and unloading orders. Visit your customers. Talk to your employees. Chat with truck drivers to see what they have seen or heard or how your business can work to create more opportunities. A little bit of movement and a whole lot of engagement with others will help you hear and learn about things your business can do or shouldn’t be doing to stay on top of its game.
  4. Be Responsive. All the listening, engaging and being active in your business means nothing if you don’t respond. Do you need to act on every suggestion? No, but if you hear the same suggestion more than once, maybe that deserves further research. Have you heard that there are better more efficient ways to get things done in your company? Perhaps that is worth looking into. If you rest on your laurels, and are afraid of making any changes, you will stay the same. Your competition will likely grow, and unless you are the only game in town, you could lose customers and ultimately watch your business decline.

Being complacent is not an option if you want to stay successful in the business world. If you want your business to stay relevant and grow, effective changes are needed. Don’t make those changes on a whim, but make sure they are driven by sound business practices and doing what is best for your company, employees and customers.

How Can Your Business Stay Relevant?

The business world is ever-changing, and that change can happen in the blink of an eye. Regardless if you sell animal nutrition products or the latest technology, there is likely someone in the same industry as you are working to create the “next great thing.” So, how do you keep your business pertinent in today’s fast-paced world? Author Andrew Griffiths offers seven tips to stay in the lead and keep your business relevant.

  1. Be present. Being connected to your customers and building those relationships can’t happen if you are not present. Determine the best way to connect and communicate with them. Perhaps for a younger customer, they prefer to get their information from a text or from social media. Maybe you have customers that still like doing business face-to-face, with a handshake. Wherever your customers are, you need to be available to them. Even, if that means stopping by the livestock auction market or the local coffee shop. “As soon as we are disconnected from our audience in any way, our relevance starts to diminish,” Griffiths writes.
  2. Select your communication method(s) wisely. With technology, there are many ways to connect with your customers and stay top of their mind. However, the challenge is staying relevant with the communication tool that your customers prefer. Just because you like to use one social media platform to promote your business, doesn’t mean that is the one the younger generation prefers. Maybe you need to use a variety of platforms to reach all audiences, and remember that personal interaction is always a good way to connect, too. You need to make yourself adaptable and be able to reach all your customers, at whatever level they feel most comfortable.
  3. Engage your customers. It is crucial to engage with your customers and not just talk at them, having a one-sided conversation. To keep relevant in business, you need to listen to their needs and ideas. A true two-way conversation allows for real engagement with your customers and allows them to share their thoughts, ideas, needs, all especially important for sales and new product and service development to remain viable in business.

  4. Be in the know about your competition. Just like anything in business, you need to be aware of what your competition is doing, but don’t be alarmed by their actions. By knowing what the competition offers, you can explain your competitive advantage in your products, so your customers know that you are aware that you do offer the best there is available.

  5. Know the trends coming your way and be ready to take advantage of them. By staying current in the industry or industries you serve, you will be able to better help your customer. Read newsletters, listen to podcasts or talk to others to stay current on timely topics so you can better help your customers. For example, is another drought forecast in your region? How about suggesting an investment in the Amaferm® advantage, so producers can get more nutrients out of the resources they do have available.

  6. Create great marketing content that solves problems. Since there are more ways than ever before to engage with customers, the content made available to them needs to remain relevant. Answer their questions, solve their problems and help them stay informed with the industry. Not every dealer has time to create this content, so the BioZyme® Marketing Team has created relevant content for you to share via Promoboxx. Log in at www. biozymedealermktg.com to share timely tips each month for various species and use the resources that are available to you.

  7. Continually develop new products. Businesses don’t stay relevant without creating new products, and new products don’t just happen overnight. By engaging with customers and knowing their needs you can create new products that can help them succeed in their endeavors. Remember, not every new product will be an overnight success; however, your customers will appreciate the effort you put forth in trying to make something new. You might have some failures, but according to Griffiths, “Our customers will no longer crucify us for not getting things right, they will crucify us for not coming up with ‘NEW’.”

Staying relevant in business all starts with your relationships with your customers. Be aware of their needs and wants. Connect with them and help them solve their problems. As we start a new year, make plans to be here for future years, and that all starts with keeping relevant in the industry. And then, watch your business grow.

 

How Producer Meetings Can Help Build Strategy

Producer meetings are a great communications and marketing tool. However, do you know they can serve other purposes too? They can serve as an educational resource, and also as a way to help you develop your strategic plan.

Listening Post

Communications not only involves sharing information, but just as importantly it entails gathering information that can help you grow your business. Producer meetings are a great place to gather input from customers, learn what their challenges are and hear how you can help them become more efficient in caring for their animals. There are several ways you can gather this useful material during producer meetings.

Some dealers like to have small group meetings or gather people of similar backgrounds for coffee, a meal and individual conversations. This is an excellent way to find out about the concerns about a specific industry. Perhaps you are in a predominant cow-calf area but have handful of sheep or goat producers. Why not get them together to share insight on their industry. Maybe there are specie-specific concerns about health, nutrition, reproduction or hoof care. Hearing those concerns, from firsthand producers is the best way to determine how you can best assist them during the next year.

If you don’t think you have the time or will gather enough producers for a small setting, set aside an amount of time at your next producer meeting for some good candid conversation about what your business can do in the future to set your customers up for success. Having this dialogue will help you learn more about what your business needs to do, and you can write some of those steps into you next strategic plan. It also gives other producers in the room a support system, so they know they aren’t alone in their endeavors. Anything you hear, big or small, should be written down so you can follow up. If you are unsure of something you heard, contact the producer and make sure you follow up on anything you want to add to your strategic plan.

One-on-one Convos

Perhaps you are not planning a producer meeting. You can still use a conversation to discover what is weighing on your customer. Here are a few sample questions to get your conversation started.

1. What is your number one production/management concern this year?

2. When do you feel you need the most help saving money on nutrition for your herd/livestock/animals?

3. Who determines the management plans and budgets in your operation? (Good to know if you are dealing with a multi-generation operation.)

4. What if I can show you how an investment in nutrition will help your bottom line?

Producer Meetings with a Twist

One way you might consider helping your beef producers realize more value in their calves is to make sure they are BQA certified. A recent study at Colorado State University shows “significant premiums are paid on calves and feeder cattle going through video auctions when Beef Quality Assurance (BQA) is mentioned in the lot description. CSU researchers found an average premium of $16.80 per head was paid when BQA was listed.”

In late August, Wilde Angus Ranch, Shevlin, Minn., hosted a producer meeting, in cooperation with the Minnesota Cattlemen’s Association, where attendees would be able to receive their BQA training. As of Aug. 6, 145 producers had already pre-registered. This is a great way to help producers stay educated on industry topics, which could lead them to premiums on their calves, all while sharing the BioZyme message with them.

Stay strategic. Use producer meetings as a two-way communications tool to help you plan your business and marketing strategy so you can help your customers succeed.

How To Plan Your Business Strategy

A business strategy is much like a roadmap. You wouldn’t leave home on a cross-country trek without your trusty atlas, or in today’s world a GPS or mapping system built into your vehicle or phone. Then why would you try to run a winning business without a roadmap or guide to tell you how to achieve success?

According to an article at www.business2community.com, there are six steps to planning an effective business strategy. Let’s look at each step that author Jamie MacDonald outlines.

1. Gather the facts. Before you know where you want to go with your business, you need to know where you are right now. Determine what the purpose of your company is, what your customers’ needs are and if you are currently profitable or in the red. One of the best tools to determine where your business currently stands is using a technique called the SWOT (Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities and Threats) Analysis. Strengths and weaknesses should be examined internally, while external factors should be looked at when examining opportunities and threats. Always make sure that you have the right people helping with this analysis.

2. Develop a vision statement. A vision statement should describe the future direction of the business for the medium-to long-term. It describes the organization’s purpose and values. The vision and mission statements should be developed at the same time by the leadership of the company. To write a vision statement, you might want to ask, ‘Where does this company want to be in five years?’

3. Develop a mission statement. The mission statement outlines the purpose of the company and its primary objectives. The Mission focuses on what needs to be accomplished in the short-term to accomplish the long-term vision.

4. Identify strategic objectives. You should set high-level objectives for all areas of business from sales to marketing. Your objectives (or goals) should be SMART (Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Realistic and Time-related). They should include factors like performance indicators, resource allocation and budget requirements.

5. Create tactical plans. Think of tactical plans as the “turn-by-turn” instructions on your mapping device. These are the detailed steps that will help you achieve the goals of reaching your destination. These plans should focus on measurable results and communicating to your team on what they need to accomplish with concrete deadlines.

6. Review Performance. Just because your mapping system provides you to a detailed route to your destination, doesn’t mean that you won’t hit road construction or another detour. Performance reviews by company leadership and those doing the work are crucial to understanding if you are still heading in the right direction. Reviewing your strategy on a regular basis is crucial to know that you are accomplishing your missions and goals.

Creating a business strategy makes sense. It is an evolving business tool that grows and changes as your business grows and evolves. Take the time to make sure you and your team are on the same road map and every time you reach a milestone, don’t forget you’re closer to winning the race!

Information source: https://www.business2community. com/strategy/6-steps-create-effective-businessstrategy-01391113

3 Things to Discover When Determining Your Short-Term Strategy

Have you taken the time to determine the strategy for your business? As Lisa Norton mention’s in her letter this month, a strategy and a plan are not the same thing, but she defines strategy as, “Determining how we are going to win in the period ahead.” Winning in business is bigger than bringing home the purple banner and the trophy. In order for your business to win, you need to turn a profit while making sure your customers have what they need to succeed.

A short-term strategy will help you accomplish your goals each year, and lead to a win in your business. As we approach the last quarter of 2019, it is a great time to start planning your strategy for the year ahead. Jackie Lackey, Marketing Strategist at BioZyme, suggests asking yourself three questions and analyzing your own responses as you begin to develop a short-term strategy to ensure success in your business.

1. Do I understand my business and its needs?

This one question might need to be answered by asking a series of more questions. What do you as a business owner or manger need to do to grow your business? Do you need to put more focus on strictly large accounts? Or do you need to diversify your customer base more? Determining what your business goals is a great first step to discovering what you need and what you hope to achieve for your business.

Part of discovering your business needs might also involve realizing new ways to upsell your products. Marketing should be a big part of your business strategy and determining the best ways to position, promote and sell your many products is all part of the strategy development.

2. What do my customers need to succeed?

A business won’t win if the customer is not happy. So perhaps one of the most important questions to consider is what the customers’ needs are. Of course, your customers want to have a profitable year; that is everyone’s ultimate goal. But, how can you help them reach that goal? They need to be aware of the many options that are available to them, and how they can use those options during various stages of production or before, during and after a show or competition. Listen to your customers. Learn their needs. Plan your strategy.

3. Am I making a profit?

If you are not making a profit, you are not going to be in business long. Then, you will have to start thinking about a new strategy and set of goals! Everyone that owns a business should determine their desired profit margin as well as have an accurate list of income and expenses. Once you analyze your profit potential, you will be able to set your business strategy in a way to ensure your business is lucrative.

Once you have discovered the answers to these three simple questions, you can start planning your strategic framework. Remember, start planning for the short term, with your customer’s success in mind, and you will win by getting to watch your business grow!

Differentiating Your Business Starts with Your Why

It’s a dog-eat-dog world out there. Unless you are marketing a generation-old family secret anti-aging potion it’s likely you will have competition in the marketplace. In order for your business to thrive, you need to differentiate yourself from the rest to rise to the top.

But how do you do this? You know your products are great. You’ve trained your employees to know the products and provide the best customer service in a five-county area. That’s all important, but to really set your business apart, you need to start with the basics. And for that you must establish your WHY.

According to Jackie Lackey, Marketing Strategist at BioZyme® Inc., when you discover your “why” you are building your own personal brand. That brand is what will help set you apart from the rest.

“Developing a personal brand is valuable, but it is not about you. It is about delivering value to others,” she told attendees at this year’s Dealer Retreat.

There are ultimately four characteristics that make up your brand, which should reflect what you say and do. Let’s review each of those features, and while you read these, think about how they apply to your individual brand.

1. Who. Before you can start building a brand, you need a solid foundation, and that foundation begins with understanding who you are. Each person has unique, authentic, genuine traits, so take some time to reflect on those. What is your passion? What really drives you and motivates you to get out of bed each morning? Is it helping others? Selling a great product? Making a profit? What talent and interests can you share with others?

2. Why. Knowing your “why” will help you discover your purpose. Everyone has a purpose and that purpose should show through in everything you do. At BioZyme, our purpose is to “provide care that comes full circle,” and we can do that every day in multiple ways. We show care for animals by providing products to enhance their health, and therefore should help producers achieve profitability. That care also extends to the dealers and employees within the company who make sure those products are available. Determine your purpose or reason for getting out of bed each morning.

3. Values. Everyone has values and they will vary from person to person and from region to region. But if you don’t know what you believe in, who will? It is important to have a strong value system in place. If you feel strongly about your values, why not write a value statement and display it prominently in your business or home? Perhaps your values are best displayed by the way you treat others on a daily basis.

4. What. What are your future goals and objectives for your business? You obviously want to achieve growth and while doing that, help others be successful. But what other goals do you have? Remember, goals should be SMART (specific, measurable, accountable, relevant and timely), and they become more concrete if you write them down and review them often.

Once you have established your brand and you know how to differentiate yourself, it is time to start promoting and marketing to let others know about you and your brand. Here’s how BioZyme can help. Set up a meeting with your ASM and the marketing team to inform them of your why and how you would like to share your message. They can help you with unique marketing messages to target your audience and set yourself above your competition.