One of the best ways to promote your farm is to attend cattle shows. At cattle shows, the best of your herd is on display, both in the show ring and back at the stalls. Even if you don't win in the show ring, you have to opportunity to expose your farm and promote your animals.
We just want to be farmers, but what good is farming if we can't sell our products?
Whether you like it or not, you have to be in the marketing business.
There are several things you can do at the show to market your farm. Some cost some money and take a little pre-planning, and others are very cheap and easy.
You never get a second chance to make a first impression. The first time someone sees you, they are going to make a quick judgment, whether they realize it or not. You should do everything you can to make sure that quick judgment leaves a good mark.
Make sure you look impressive. We are farmers who spend our days taking care of our animals and we don't usually stay clean while doing it. However, when at a show, try to be clean and neat.
I don't know about you, but our barn coats are the cast-offs with holes, may be a little too small, and are always dirty and smelly. Before you go to a show, throw that coat in the wash, or pull another coat out of the closet. Will you get dirty at the show? Probably, but the cleaner you start, the cleaner you will end up. Besides, you probably won't be doing the really dirty work at the show.
Make a good first impression with your cows. You may have the future Grand Champion or you may have an animal that places last in the class. However, all the animals can be clean and pretty. Cows poop...and they always look a sight when you get them off the trailer. As soon as you are possibly able, get them in the wash stall and all cleaned up.
Retail stores have mastered the art of presentation to make you want to buy an item. The same is true for your cows. No one is going to want to buy a dirty, scraggly looking cow.
Hopefully you have done some trimming and clipping at home, so with a quick bath and blow dry, your cows will look like a million bucks.
Your stall presentation means a lot too. Don't you gravitate to the pretty, shiny displays in the store?
The same runs true for the decked out stalls in the barn.
You don't have to go to great lengths or spend tons of money, but a little bit of effort can make a huge difference.
A farm sign is very important. It tells people who you are and where you are from. It helps people to recognize your cows.
Most people put some type of farm indentifier in their animals registered name. Ours is 4 Wiley. Over time, people have learned to put the 4 Wiley Farm sign together with the animals with the 4 Wiley prefix.
You wouldn't believe how many times someone has come up to us at our stall to tell us they bought one of our animals or have an animal out of our blood lines. We don't know them, but they recognize us by our sign and know who we are.
There are many types, styles and materials for signs. You can make your own or have one custom made.
Several years ago, I had our farm sign and dry erase pedigree signs custom made using a logo I designed on Photoshop (I have also used Canva...which is free). The signs weren't horribly expensive. I think the pedigree signs were about $18 each. All the signs got wrapped up and put under the Christmas tree. We killed two birds with one stone. Christmas presents and farm marketing...and everyone was happy.
You don't even have to spend that much on signs. You can buy generic cardboard pedigree signs for about five dollars. And if you want, you can just print out a piece of paper on your printer and stick it in a plastic page protector.
Do you have to have a pedigree sign?
I think it is really important. It tells the registered name of your animal, sire and dam names and birth date. If someone really likes your animal, they will be interested in it's pedigree. People also want to know the age of your animal. You can always tell them, but I can't readily keep those dates straight in my head, so it is better to just have it on display for everyone to see. But most importantly, it promotes your cows and your breeding, whether it is an animal from your farm or one that you purchased and will be part of your future breeding program.
Some shows provide the opportunity to set up a nice display where you can showcase other aspects of your farm. Not all shows are accustomed to farm displays, but the Ohio Beef Expo is one show that is very conducive to additional marketing opportunities.
We don't go overboard, but we set up a table with our business cards and any marketing material we have for our farm. We usually have some pictures on display, so people can see some of our past winners, our farm's success, and many times, the sires and dams of the animals we have on display.
Some people go all out with flowers, custom tables and chairs, candy...candy is always important...free food, etc. There is nothing wrong with all that. If it draws people and future buyers in and gives you more opportunities to talk with people and sell your animals and farm...then by all means do it. However, you don't have to feel the pressure to drop a fortune.
We just use a plastic folding table we have had in the basement for years, bought this amazing table cover for super cheap (affiliate link), have $2.00 picture frames from Walmart, and have built from there. All these items have been bought over several years and we can keep them for forever. You don't have to break the bank...and again, this all makes great Christmas gifts.
Getting your farm name out there takes time...sometimes years...but the more you are visible, the more people will recognize you. You may not see results right away, but over time, people will begin to recognize you, your farm logo and your animals.
The first year we showed at the Ohio Beef Expo, we quickly realized that we needed to step up our game. I will never forget the first phone call we got, months after the show, from someone who had talked to us at Expo. They remembered us, even if we didn't really remember them. You may not see results right away...but believe me...people are watching, learning and remembering those first, second and third impressions.
Hello! I am Heather... the city girl turned mom to manure loving country boys. My husband and I both grew up in the city, but spent weekends visiting grandparents in the country. We are first generation farmers who learn best by almost always doing things the hard way. I hope you enjoy following along with our adventures down on the farm.