How many times have you been asked to donate to a junior show this year? How did you respond?
People respond to these requests in a few different ways.
1. The Avoider – the person who goes out of their way to avoid being asked, deletes any emails that are sent out, and hits ignore on the phone when they see someone like me is calling. If you corner one of these people they will pledge money and then never actually pay.
2. The Minimalist – the person who begrudgingly says they will donate, and then sends $10 in two days after the deadline. These people will likely become avoiders in the future.
3. The Supporter – the person who thanks you for requesting and sends in a nice donation, in a timely manner and assures you they will donate again next year. These people are reliable year after year if you contact them and remind them.
4. The Opportunist – the person who recognizes the benefit these events give to their program and takes full advantage. These people actually contact us about donating, get their money in almost immediately and promote the heck out of the event to their customers. You don’t have to keep a list of these people because they will hunt you down to give you money again next year.
The number of opportunists is minimal – but these breeders are easily recognizable. They have built highly successful programs with high volume sales, high per head averages, and have loyal customers across the county who seek out their stock online, at sales, and off the farm.
What do the opportunists see in these events the rest of the breeders are missing? Below are a few key things about national junior shows that may make you rethink your support strategy.
1. We create a lifelong customer for you. 4-H and FFA bring in the clients. The typical customer will raise animals for a few years and then move on. Your customers that regularly attend national level events are significantly more likely to stay in the business long term.
Why? Because they create the relationships with other people that keep them coming back year after year. With the increase in online sales these events are more important than ever for creating the friendships that make people want to keep doing this well past their junior years.
“Your brand is what other people say about you when you’re not in the room.” – Jeff Bezos (Founder and CEO of Amazon)
2. We help you develop your brand. If you want to sell stock, and be successful at it, you have to develop a brand. Brands create loyalty (think Ford versus Chevy) and loyal customers are willing to pay a premium for your product year after year. They need to SEE your name and HEAR your name repeatedly and nothing puts your name in front of your TARGET AUDIENCE more effectively than supporting these events.
“If your business is not a brand, it is a commodity.” – Donald Trump
3. We align your values with your customer’s values. When your customers see that you value the event their entire family looks forward to each year, this puts your values in line with their own. This helps to further develop your brand (see number 2 above) and customer loyalty.
“If people believe they share values with a company, they will stay loyal to the brand.” --Howard Schultz (CEO of Starbucks)
4. We put money back into your customers’ pockets. Do a little research on where your money goes when you donate to these events. Many events now are structured with a high payout. (Ask what percentage of your donation is paid back out or given as awards instead of used for overhead to make your donation the most effective).
At the Midwest Junior Preview Show, we pay back 100% of donated funds! Nearly 80% of the kids indicate they use this money to fund more stock purchases!
5. We expose kids to a higher quality of animal. Often, junior exhibitors simply are not exposed to a higher quality of animal. Once we get them in the door to these national events, they can see the differences in high quality animals. By motivating them with better competition (see below) and exposing them to better animals, we are creating a better demand for your product. Additionally, we are sending them out the door with some additional resources (see number 4 above) to purchase those better quality animals. And the first breeder they will go to is the breeder who has the best developed brand!
6. We motivate kids by surrounding them with a higher level of competition. Local events are vital for getting kids started. To further push their motivation to succeed, we need to get them excited about the national level shows.
Their competitive drive kicks in, the desire to compete and do better goes into overdrive when they surrounded by other exhibitors who excel at showing stock. And once the kids get serious about it – the parents are much more willing to support the projects. And a serious show family is your best customer!
“Be grateful for your competitors for they force you to become the person you are capable of being.” – Stacey Alcorn
It is probably time to re-think your support strategy to national junior shows. Instead of avoiding us, look at the opportunity that we are providing for your program, your customers and your industry.
Across the country these shows are struggling each year to continue operating. They all need more volunteers and more funding. So whatever you have been doing – rethink it – and do double!
Note - Several of you are now thinking, “This doesn't apply to me because I don’t sell animals to kids. I sell animals to other breeders.” If you are at a level of breeding and price point that your main customers consists of other breeders you should double down on your support to the junior shows. Why? Because YOUR CUSTOMERS are selling their animals to juniors and the better funded your customers are the better funded you will be.
Kate Lambert grew up in northern Illinois, not on a farm but active in FFA and showing livestock.
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