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The sales and marketing strategies that worked a decade ago are no longer viable. When our family was young there was a battle for the Holstein Journal … and the winner locked his or her self in the washroom to fend off contenders.  Today’s reach goes far beyond the throne room. Whenever the family gathers, there are several (never less than one) handheld devices in the room. This guarantees that the most familiar view that we get to see of spouses, offspring and grandchildren is the top of their heads!

Obviously, if you are reading this you know how to connect to the Internet.  Perhaps you are also following The Bullvine on Facebook and Twitter.  Perhaps one of your new pastimes is Pinterest. If these social media applications have made it to your house, they should also be making it into your marketing plan for selling your dairy cattle or dairy goods and services.

Here Are 9 Ways The Dairy Marketplace Has Changed And How We Can Stay Relevant Today!

  1. Don’t Waste Your Money!
    Everyone is watching their money these days.  The days of high spending and quick cash from international sales of bred heifers have gone the way of the dial telephone. Everyone is careful.  Everyone is informed (or should be). For many dairy operations, cash flow is tighter than it has been and they are looking to stretch their resources by purchasing less, but higher quality genetics, cattle and services.
  2. Get More Bang for Your Buck!
    Dairy breeders are looking to get the biggest bang for their buck.  When they decide to buy dairy genetics they are looking for cost savings or added value benefits. They seek to buy animals that will move them closer to achieving the goals they have set for their herd. Breeders must have “buy in” before they “shell out”. They want to be sure that the genetics, the production numbers or the conformation are going to move them ahead before they tap their resources.
  3. Go Where the Action Is
    Social media, social networking and the dominance of the internet in our everyday lives means you are now fighting for attention in a very “noisy” marketplace. If you choose to avoid the very visible interaction of social media, you are choosing to be invisible to the most dynamic and growing part of the modern dairy industry.  At the very least, not choosing social media, means not impacting the young breeders which are the future of the industry.
  4. Have Something to Say
    It isn’t enough to be seen … you must also be heard! In order to be heard, your content needs to be creative, dynamic and engaging. Okay doesn’t cut it.  You might as well surrender now if you have decided to simply move your same-as-everybody-else pictures from hard copy ads in breed magazines to social media sites.  Others will put in the time and resources it takes to create great content which will be shared and gain new life across the web. We are seeing live videos and you tube clips giving streaming pictures. Anything less will soon become another murmur that gets drowned out by the voices that are bold enough to stand out.
  5. Sharing is Caring
    It may sound childlike but sharing really is caring in our social savvy, hyper-connected marketplace. Word of mouth has always been important in how you and your cattle are known but today through social media that word is spreading to your friends, and their friends, family and social connections. Today, followers share your content on Face book, tweet their positive, and yes, negative experiences on Twitter and refer you through reviews on Yelp and Amazon.  They will send instant photos of your cows, heifers and calves and share your fan page and blog posts with their networks, which can have a reach of thousands.  It`s important to make your content easily sharable.  There are many tools that can help, but the key is to ensure that sharing is easy for them.
  6. The Social Media Farm lane is a TWO-WAY Street
    To miss out on testimonials and word of mouth that social sharing provides is a sure-fire strategy to sink into dairy obscurity.  Your most successful competitors are facilitating social sharing, 24 hours a day 7 days a week.  The Internet doesn`t sleep.  Take advantage of your audience`s interests in sharing what’s happening in your herd with their networks.
  7. Go Mobile
    You have to meet your dairy customers where they are with messages that are relevant to them.  It`s not enough to blanket traditional marketing channels with generic messages.  Today`s cattle buyers spend less time reading ads in magazines and newspapers. Traditional advertising is getting bypassed. Even when your target audience is watching their favorite shows today, they are using their DVR to bypass the commercials or using the commercial breaks to browse the Internet or flip through their iPads.  To grab their attention you have to meet them where they are.  On their mobile devices.  If your website is not optimized for mobile, you are doing your web marketing a severe disservice.  If you are not spending time on Facebook, Twitter and Pinterest, then your potential customers, who are getting their fill of social interaction on these sites, all day long, are finding other dairy genetics providers to interact with.
  8. Are You Listening to Me?
    And if you`re failing to listen as much as you are taking on these social sites, then you are ignoring an opportunity to mine valuable research on what your target consumers are interested in, what motivates them, and what they are looking for.  Track your analytics and listen to what people are saying about you, and to you, on your social sites.  You can`t gather information that is more relevant and useful than customer feedback freely provided online.

One of the quickest ways to gain the attention of buyers of dairy genetics is to listen to them. Consumers want to be heard. It’s no longer enough to push out your message, no matter how well-crafted and attention getting your message may be. Today’s marketing has to be a two-way conversation between you and the buyer. Engagement is the best way to make an impact. Increase awareness of who you are and what you’re offering and you win the loyalty of those you are targeting.  Dairy breeders are passionate. Social sites are essential in creating that bond and ultimately the trust that is built on your care and shared interest in them, their dairy business and their feedback.

THE BULLVINE BOTTOM LINE “Are you still marketing to last decade’s customer?”

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For most of us The Eastside Lewisdale prefix is associated with the fame of “Missy”. Maria Jones, Marketing Manager for Eastside Holsteins modestly summarizes the connection. “Here at Eastside, we were lucky enough to have co-bred Eastside Lewisdale Gold Missy EX 95, Grand & Supreme Champion at World Dairy Expo and the Royal in 2011.  That has really helped our exposure and marketing, not only of the Missy Family, but of other families here at Eastside”. As Bloyce Thompson, owner of Eastside Holsteins, points out, “When Missy took off as a Jr 2 yr old, we needed to be able to capitalize, get on board and go with her success.”  The fact that Missy’s sister Amaze flushed well put even more marketing opportunities in front Eastside and partner Lewisdale (Read More – You Can Bank on Amaze to Pump up the Volume). “Our main focus has been selling embryos from well known families and making sure each customer is very satisfied with their purchase.”


Supreme Champion WDE 2011. Grand Champion WDE 2011.
Supreme Champion RAWF 2011. Grand Champion RAWF 2011

Viewing the Future from EASTSIDE Out!

Bloyce and partner Jamie Lewis, of Lewisdale Holsteins, thought over the potential they were facing and decided to set up a new company Eastside-Lewisdale.  They plan to have it underway early in 2013. One of their visions is of an embryo community.  In order to do that, they know that they have to plan not only the financial side but also how to brand their genetic products. “We thought about it and decided we need email a web site” and all of the modern technology that puts PEI fully accessible to the marketplace. Bloyce admits “We knew we wanted someone who had great computer skills.” That’s where Maria Jones came into the picture.

Maria Jones

Maria Jones
Marketing Manager at Eastside Holsteins

MISSY meets MARIA:  Behind Every Super Star There is a Super Marketer!

It wasn’t long before the marketing part of the plan was put into action says Bloyce, with the hiring of Maria Jones. “I knew Maria had computer skills and that she was between jobs.  She lived on PEI and started part time which has grown to almost two-thirds time now.” Maria has demonstrated her technical ability and how comfortable she is with global communication. Bloyce is enthusiastic, “She is a person I can give ideas to and she can take it from there.” Sales numbers are backing up the wisdom of the hiring a marketing person.”Since Maria started embryo sales are up 90%”
Eastside Ad

New Tools Greatly Enhance Familiar Methods

Modesty is contagious around PEI and Maria points out.”Of course, you have to have the product people want and be ready to roll.” As a marketing manager, she wears many different hats and faces the challenges and logistics of, not only marketing the products but getting them delivered. She notes,” In the cattle business it can be very complex and goes beyond the designing to record keeping, financial and managing the workload.” Time pressure is an added incentive. Bloyce states what he feels is obvious, “Holstein genomics is moving so fast that you must always be developing for the future market.” He gives an example. “Hailey has taken over From Missy so we must adapt to that.” Every tool is analysed and critiqued. “Embryo sales at World Dairy Expo time went well. We will likely try that again another year.”

More Information Sourced and Delivered with New Tools

Maria is well aware of modern tools. “We have been using Facebook and Twitter. It really helps communicate to our customers what is going on at Eastside.  They know about our new purchases and what embryos we have available. We report show results and just about anything else that is happening.” They see the potential of using social media for real time updates. “On a daily basis, we broadcast to our audience around the world what is happening.  It has been a very successful tool for Eastside.” Maria feels this asset also serves another valuable purpose, “It is a great advantage that we have two-way communication with others about what is going on in the industry.”

Good Two-Way Communication = Marketing Progress

Everyone at Eastside agrees that communication is important to their marketing strategy. Maria lists her favorite sources, “The internet, magazines, mixing and communicating with others at Shows and Sales are all great ways to keep up with the industry.” She is always eager to pick up something new. “I just keep an eye on what is going on around me and always notice everyone’s marketing efforts.  I enjoy seeing all the new ideas and try to understand why they thought it was a good idea.  I always keep in mind that they are in the same boat as I am!” She sums up the three L’s of her marketing philosophy, “I am never one to judge but I listen, look and learn!”

The Challenges of Dairy Marketing

In the fast paced world of modern dairy marketing it is important to know your priorities. Bloyce says the challenge is clear.  “You must always plan ahead and have the current product that people want.” There are the usual business pressures to keep costs under control but this team feels that marketing must be able to reach the huge number of potential clients based around the world. Bloyce recalls, “A decade ago, living on PEI was a major disadvantage but, today, with the World Wide Web, location is not a problem.” This opportunity also presents the main challenge, “We are only touching a fraction of the market.” Both Bloyce and Maria recognize that creating interest means constantly facing deadlines. For instance “The website must be updated 3-4 times per week.” Although that might seem simple, it too turns on the speed of responses to email, phone calls and messages. Maria acknowledges,”It can be frustrating.” But admits that “Marketing can be a fun and enjoyable career.”

Eastside Ad 2Walk in Your Buyer’s Boots and Walk Fast

Bloyce repeats business maxims we all know to be true, “The way that you position yourself, how you use words and how you treat customers are all very important.” He sees dairy breeding evolving to produce “a more functional cow with stronger immunity, better female reproduction and requiring minimum labour.”  Maria agrees that the market drives demand, “We have turned to more of what the market will be looking for in the future, namely the polled breed and genomics.” Acknowledging that everyone is not interested in the same thing she feels that “Eastside has got you covered” by providing show cattle, type and genomics.

Develop Marketing Skills Where You Find Them

Drawing on his positive experience, Bloyce sums up the best advice he has for those looking to market their dairy genetics.  First and foremost he feels “It is absolutely necessary that you have a product people want to buy.”  Once you have met that hurdle, he suggests “Get with technology both on the farm and in marketing.”  He points out what he feels is an obvious resource to develop, “Why not bring your children into the business via the marketing side of the farm, instead of just through the labour side.” He sums up his reasoning quite convincingly, “Kids run computers with their eyes closed.”

The Bullvine Bottom Line

At the end of the day, marketing only works if the story moves off the planning page and produces measureable results.  Eastside and Lewisdale are banking on good marketing based on a philosophy of “Listen, Look and Learn” to promote their supply of genetics that the market is asking for.  The future looks ready to shine brightly for Eastside-Lewisdale.



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