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Making the Most Out of Sale Weekends

by Molly Clubb | Apr 25, 2014
This article originally appeared in the April 2014 Texas Longhorn Journal.

With only a few sale weekend's left in the Spring Schedule, here are some easy tricks and tips you still have time to implement to get the most from your sale weekend experience. Please feel free to contact Molly with any questions: molly@hiredhandsoftware.com or 319-269-8903. 

With the arrival of spring, many Texas Longhorn breeders are busy attending consignment sales in different locations almost every weekend.  Spring finds breeders checking the mail to get the next sale catalog, marking their favorite consignments, and visiting websites looking for additional information regarding pedigrees, offspring, measurements and more.  For consignors, an even more daunting task of paperwork, vet visits, marketing and promotion is also part of the routine during sale season.
Spring can be a very busy time of year for everyone involved, but with the proper mind set and planning, it can also be a time that yields positive results for both consignors and breeders wanting to increase private treaty sales and top of mind awareness about their program.

Before the Sale
In order to better prepare, consignors should complete a check list of items regarding the promotion of their consignments in order to achieve the best possible outcome.  It is not just about choosing an animal and submitting the proper sale paperwork.  The following checklist should be helpful to those breeders planning to sell Longhorns by private treaty or market their overall program: 

1. Magazine Advertising
One of the most effective ways to get the word out about a consignment is through magazine advertising.  While magazine advertisement allows for a simple and effective means of promotion, it is also important that pertinent information is clearly stated.  This information includes which sale the animal is consigned to as well as the lot number it has been assigned.  It may also be wise to feature information about the animal that is not easily accessible.  This information might include a photo of any outstanding animal in their pedigree, a service sire or outstanding offspring, an impressive horn measurement, or any awards.  Here’s where the consignment should really shine. 
Breeders planning to attend spring sales to network and potentially increase their private treaty sales should scour the magazines for consignments that relate back to their own herd (similar breedings, matings, measurement milestones, etc.). Researching which animals are being consigned, what comparisons are being done, etc. can help to get the most out of any sale weekend. This knowledge will be helpful when combined with other tips mentioned, finally putting it all together at the sale.

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2. Sale Catalog Advertising
Sale catalog advertising can work well if the correct approach is taken.  Since the consignment is already in the catalog, you should do more to utilize the page’s real estate to focus on photos of related animals in the pedigree, any offspring, or the service sire.

Showing the production power of cows is always a good idea and that story is often best told through the use of photos of the offspring and important measurements at key ages. Readers tend to pay more attention to photos vs. copy, so showing that photo of a top-notch service sire is also a smart move. 
A sale catalog ad is also a wise investment for Longhorn breeders wanting to increase private treaty sales.  Many times, these ads are affordable and offer a wide reach to promote an overall program. For example, if you have a full sister to an animal that is being consigned to a premier sale, why not take out an ad in the sale catalog to promote her (along with a few of your other top animals). Bidders who don't go home with the consigned animal may flip back through the catalog to remember that you offer similar breedings and hopefully look you up to work a deal. Think outside of the box when promoting in a sale catalog. Consider purchasing an ad simply to promote the overall breeding program.  Consider using the ad to focus on some of the better animals in the herd, in order to start a conversation about bloodlines and breeding strategies.

Newcomers to the industry should place a family photo in the ad so that people know who to look for at the sale.  Ranches close to the sale site should consider promoting ranch tours and encouraging visits (as long as it does not take away from those hosting the sale). 

3. Email Marketing
Email marketing, or e-blasts, is a cost effective way to get the word out about sale consignments while easily measuring return on investment.  Once an e-blast has been sent, a consignor should be able to log into their website and view analytics regarding how many people visited the website due to the e-blast. Some website providers can even give information about how many people viewed the consignment, and what part of the country that person is from.  This can help consignors gauge the interest of any given consignment. 

The best way to send an e-blast is by sending a content-based message with as many links as possible versus an image or pre-designed ad.  E-blast viewers want the ability to immediately click on any given portion of the message whether it is an animal photo, sire, dam, link to a Facebook page or other content.  Updating websites before sending out the e-blast is a crucial step, so potential buyers aren’t sent to an outdated or incorrect link.

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4. Social Media Marketing
With more and more Longhorn breeders joining Facebook, Instagram and other social media sites each day, it's quickly becoming a free and easy way to reach the masses.

Promoting sale consignments on social media is easy to do.  Consignors should do more than one post promoting a sale consignment.  Important information such as sire and dam information, notable siblings, updated horn measurements and breeding status, updated photos or video, and more should be provided in the posts.  Remember to only put "teasers" out there and always include a link to more information, so that those interested have a reason to click on the web address to learn more. 
Social Media Marketing is also a great tool for breeders planning to attend sales to try to seal some deals via private treaty. Commenting on consignors’ posts, when done in good taste, can direct new eyes towards Facebook pages and websites. The same guidelines for utilizing social media to generate more interest for general ranch PR and private treaty sales should be used.  

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At the Sale

During the sale, consignors should make themselves readily available to prospective buyers.  This is just as important as the pre-sale marketing efforts.  During high-traffic times, consignors should be near the consignment’s pens in order to visit with interested parties, greet potential bidders and build value in their cattle.  Consignors should also try to attend any social portions of the sale in order to network, to show overall support for the function and to promote their consignment.  A ranch manager should be available if the consignor is unable to attend.  Potential buyers want that face-to-face contact.

This is also sound advice for breeders attending the sale in hopes of promoting their program and to increase private treaty sales. Walking around the pens over the course of the weekend is a great way to meet other breeders.  It is also a good way to start conversations about breeding programs, hand out business cards and more.  If you are a breeder who is there to network and promote, be sure to take note of some of the marketing tips below that can also be applied to materials or technology that we recommend every breeder have in order to prepare for a successful weekend. 

Note that in no way is this article encouraging the poaching of sales by breeders who are not consignors. The suggestions listed here in, when done in good taste, will not harm the sale or its consignors. 

1. Sale Pen Marketing
Attaching marketing materials to the sale pen is another crucial step to promoting a consignment.  From customizable sale pen signs to vinyl banners, sale pen marketing is an essential part of ensuring that the consignment gets attention.  Plexiglas sign holders can be used to display pedigrees, registration papers, photos and more, and some even come with an attached business card holder.  Some breeders have even gotten creative with their consignment promotions by using motion-activated voice recordings. Sale pen marketing can supply potential buyers with all of the important information regarding the consignment.

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2.  Printed Materials
Consignors and breeders alike should not overlook the opportunity to provide potential buyers with printed materials to increase the visibility of a consignment.  Items like brochures, sale booklets, even coffee table books that remain at a consignor’s booth, are all options.        

3.  Using Technology to Your Advantage
Texas Longhorn breeders are embracing technology to better market their herds.

Technological advances within the industry can be seen at the sales and events.

Breeders are often seen grouped together looking over a smart phone screen, sharing a conversation over an iPad, or looking at a computer to show a fellow breeder something on a website.  The internet is by far the quickest and easiest way to quickly reference an animal in order to garner interest. 

A breeder’s website has to be up to date with the most accurate information regarding a sale consignment. It’s common practice for potential buyers at sales to review the cattle in the pens during the day and research the animal that night.  For this reason, all marketing material needs to be current and contain clear information. 

A consignor with a booth or display area at the sale should consider creating a slideshow or video that plays on repeat.  Many breeders will stop and watch the slideshow in its entirety at least once. The video needs to include good photos or video, the name of the animal (and other important information such as horn size or sire and dam). 

After the Sale
Sale weekends are exhausting, but after the sale it is important to close any lingering deals and follow up as needed with prospective buyers and new contacts. Sale consignors should thank the buyers of the sale consignments.  Sending a quick note through social media that promotes the new animal owner is a nice gesture.  Another good way to show appreciation is through a “thank you” e-blast or magazine ad. 

Promoting animals with similar breeding to those that sold well, is always a good idea.

These efforts could result in additional private treaty sales.  It never hurts to follow up with any competing bidders, who could be interested in more than just the consigned animal.

Social media and email are great tools for this.  

Spring sales are a great time to enjoy beautiful cattle and the camaraderie that the Industry has to offer, but it’s also a great time to promote a breeding program.  As a consignor, having paid consignment fees, hauling costs, etc., ensuring that all consignments sell for as much as possible is well worth the little bit of additional time some of these easy marketing tips will take.  And, as a breeder hoping to network and promote his or her program, having hundreds of breeders in one place for a few days is second only to having them at your ranch, viewing your herd in person!

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