This is the first in a new series of articles I will be sharing, titled “The Branding Pen“. This series will be an in-depth tutorial about branding and marketing your business, important steps to take before you even build a website for your business. If you don’t know who you’re selling to, your website will not be effective in reaching your audience, so this series is intended to help you define your niche, your ideal customer and your brand.
First things first, let’s talk a little bit about where you’re at – your mindset when it comes to marketing your business. It’s important to understand where you’re at versus where you need to be so that you can make the necessary shift in your thinking to be successful. Negative thinking will get you nowhere, very fast, so I’m encouraging you to keep your mind open and just go for it. Energy creates more energy, so it’s vital to your success that you work actively towards your goal so the momentum doesn’t quit on you.
Chances are that you’ve been doing what you’re doing since you could walk. Hanging out at brandings with your mom, while Dad and his buddies were roping. Sitting in the front seat of the pickup cruising through the fields with Dad. Patiently waiting for Mom while she rode yet another horse. Okay, maybe not so patiently. Or maybe you’re a life-long horse lover that grew up riding recreationally and competing, and you finally decided to make a career out of it. Wherever you fit into this, this IS a way of life for you, not just a business, so sometimes it’s difficult to separate the two.
Yet I know that you have a desire to truly make more money, work with more people, and maintain this lifestyle that is so important to you. That requires you to really focus on treating your “way of life” as a business. You may feel this is a “huge leap” when it’s actually taking some well-timed steps that lead you to amazing financial results.
Regardless of what business you’re in, it needs to be treated as such, or chances are good it will fail. This holds true if you own a retail store, a restaurant, you’re an attorney, or you’re a cattle rancher. Businesses need a certain amount of TLC in order to thrive, but if you’re a rancher or a farmer, often we grow up learning about crops or cattle futures, but not everyone ends up graduating college with a degree, so many lack necessary business and marketing skills. And this can make it difficult to succeed in a VERY challenging world.
All too often, ag related businesses aren’t taken seriously enough, either by us, or by the general public or consumer. I remember when I had a horse breeding & training facility years ago, it seemed that many people seemed to be under the impression that I was just doing this for fun, that I didn’t really need to earn a living, that this was just a glorified hobby.
They couldn’t have been more wrong, but perhaps I was inadvertently sending a message I didn’t intend to send, by not treating my business like a “real” business. Even though, of course I thought I was. Little did I know.
If you’re like many of us trying to make a living in agriculture, there are many issues that you face that might be making growing your business pretty challenging –
- It’s hard to make a living JUST running cattle, or JUST training horses, for example. Chances are if you’re running cattle you’re also doing some farming, or if you’re training horses, you are also probably boarding some, standing a stallion, giving lessons and selling horses, too. We have to diversify in order to make it in this world, and that brings on a whole new set of challenges and things to do.
- You have LOTS of irons in the fire, literally for some of you! You’re the hand, the mechanic, the bookkeeper, the farmer, maybe even the cook sometimes! This means you are a pretty busy person and just where are you going to fit marketing into this, right?
- Yes, time is on short supply, money may be even tighter. Which, my friend, is why marketing is so important.
- Computers and anything outside of a diesel motor or the rigging on your saddle may be as foreign to you as the Greek language.
- Since marketing may be way off your radar, you need some help with different, out of the box thinking.
- In this business, is marketing even worth it?
I’ve been there, had all these same thoughts, made many of the same mistakes, and now I want to help you get past some of these obstacles, grow your business, maintain and preserve your way of life, so you can go on doing what you love and still make more money.
Now, don’t be fooled into thinking that any kind of marketing is a magic bullet….we all know there is no such thing! Unless of course you’re Ford Motor Company with a budget to match. But hey, you’re no stranger to hard work, right? As with most things, marketing is a work in progress, and like most things that are new to us, there has to be a mindset shift in order to be successful. So, put all those negative thoughts that you can’t do it, that it’s too expensive, that it won’t be worth it, that there isn’t enough time in the day right out of your head, and be sure to click through to the next article in this super-imporant series, Intro to Marketing for the Ag Professional.