Face it, the tactics that have been used for the past 50 years don’t work anymore. The same old ads. In the same old magazine. Advertising the same old genetics. After you’ve seen one, or two, or 10, you’ve seen them all! Boring! However, a Purple Cow? Now that would be something. Are you remarkable enough to have a Purple Cow? In today’s day and age of in vitro fertilization, genomics and social media, you’re either remarkable or invisible.
Seth Godin’s book Purple Cow: Transform Your Business By Being Remarkable is perfectly titled for dairy breeders today. Godin’s understanding of dairy cattle is limited as represented by his comment “Cows, after you’ve seen one, or two, or 10, are boring,” but his point about needing to be remarkable, in order to stand out from the herd, is spot on.
Every day breeders come face to face with a lot of boring stuff – even a lot of the same old boring cows – but you can bet they would never forget a Purple Cow. Now getting a Purple Cow marketing idea doesn’t happen overnight. It’s not as if you can just wake up one morning and change your marketing to have your “Purple Cow” idea. You need to breed for it. You need to manage for it. And then and only then can you market it.
The Game Changers
For years, generation after generation of consistent breeding was enough to have your genetics in demand around the world. However, that is no longer enough thanks to in vitro fertilization (Read more: IVF: Boom or Bust for the Dairy Industry and FAST TRACK GENETICS: More Results in Less Time). With so many breeders leveraging this technology and producing more and more cattle at the top end of the genetic scale, there has been a shift in the marketplace. What used to be unique is becoming commonplace. In this recent spring sale season, I saw no less than three full sisters (Uno’s from the great Apple) selling at three different sales in a 1-week period. And then of course there were still more sisters at home. IVF has changed things so much that even at the very top end, owners of the very best genetics are having trouble differentiating their product. Genetics that at one time would have been sale headliners, are now selling in those lull sections of the sale that minimize profits. Combine that with the cost to produce these animals and the ROI is shrinking. Of course IVF is a catch 22 technology. If you don’t use it and other breeders are using it on their top genetics, you’re still left behind.
In one sense you could say Genomics has brought harmony to the world (Read more: The impact of genomics on cattle breeding and How Genomics is Killing the Dairy Cattle Breeding Industry). No longer are cattle from different countries viewed as inferior or of lesser genetic merit. Genomic testing has brought uniformity to the world market. But as a result it has also brought globalization to the industry and breeders can no longer differentiate their genetics by country of origin. This means that instead of the top 1% of the genetics in the world being in high demand, it is now the top 0.1% (Read more: An Insider’s Guide to What Sells at the Big Dairy Cattle Auctions). Either you are at the very top of the lists or you had better find a new niche or way to differentiate your genetics (Read more: Marketing Lessons from Glen Drummond Aero Flower).
If you want to get your message out to the world, there is nothing better than social media. The power of tools like Facebook to let breeders around the world know what animals you have is amazing (Read more: 7 Reasons Why Your Dairy Farm Needs To Be On Facebook and The Anti-Social Farmer: On the Verge of Extinction?). The thing is, it still takes those animals that are the “Purple Cows” in order to be noticed. Hailey, O’Kalibra, Missy, Happy Go Lucky and Rae Lynn are cows whose show ring successes have also caused social media success for their breeders. On the genomic side, cows like Shauna, Lucia, and Hue have attracted a lot of attention. Another aspect that helps pictures on Facebook go viral is the ones that comply with the Dairy Marketers Code of Conduct (Read more: Introducing the Diary Marketing Code of Conduct and Dairy Cattle Photography – Over Exposed ). However, in order to achieve this sustained viral status you first need to be unique. You need to know your niche. You need to be a “Purple Cow.”
The Bullvine Bottom Line
In Purple Cow, Seth Godin urges you to put Purple Cow differentiation into everything you build and everything you do, to create something truly noticeable. It’s a manifesto for dairy breeders looking to take their genetics programs to a new level. Pretty ads, generations of VG or EX and nice cattle pictures will not pay the bills. Either you set yourself apart or you are wasting your time. What makes you unique? Have you found your Purple Cow breeding program or marketing idea?
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