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openherd

openherd

Openherd.com is north america's leading alpaca marketplace, offering buyers the widest selection of alpacas and alpaca products, and sellers the industry’s best online marketing tools, including personal farm websites, herd health software, online auctions, and sales list management.

Posted by on in Camelid

I love my kids - they're both a joy and sometimes amazingly unaware of how some simple things work. "I'm hungry - what's for dinner?" they'll ask. And when their favorite food isn't served immediately, they seem exasperated about why it's taking so long and why we didn't know what they wanted. I'll try to explain how it takes planning and time to buy food, get it home, prepare it, etc. But they'll just say again, "I'm hungry!" Sigh.

Marketing is a lot like this to many farmers wanting to sell their animals. They decide some day that they want to start selling and expect immediate results. Just like having the meal you want, it takes time to decide what you're going to cook, make a list, go buy the ingredients, go over the recipe, prepare and cook the food, and then finally serve it up.

There are many steps and each is dependent on the previous, otherwise you don't have dinner! Marketing is the same. You'd think that concept would be self-evident but so often people expect results when they're missing important pieces of the "pipeline." For example, a farm might purchase an expensive magazine ad to promote a herdsire, include a link to their website, but just send visitors to their home page where there's no more information or direction as to what to do next. That's like buying your groceries and then never bringing them home. You go to the fridge and the food's not there. No wonder you can't make dinner.

Marketing is a string of logical steps and activities that move the customer forward from step to step all the way to the sale and beyond. It just doesn't happen. The clearer you signpost the path and encourage them on to the next step, the more likely they'll make it to the goal - theirs and yours!

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Posted by on in Camelid

In my last two posts we learned the following about websites:

    •    It’s great having a website but they can cause frustration to get going and maintain.
    •    Most of your customers will find you online first. Since first impressions last, it better be good!
    •    Exposure is the first step in marketing, so being on a big, busy website like Openherd is great for exposure.
    •    The next step in marketing - presentation - is best done on your own farm website where things are more personal and branded.
    •    Your own website will help build direct links in search engines and present a more professional image.

Now that we’ve talked about why having your own website is so important as the hub of your online marketing efforts, the next logical step is figuring out how to get a website - that’s the technical part that makes most people glaze over, procrastinate, or convince themselves they don’t need one.

There are a number of types of website packages. They all involve money, time, energy, and skill but in different proportions. So you’ll need to figure out what resources you have in each of those categories. If you’re on a really tight budget but have some web skills, building and maintaining your own website can be a good way to go. If money’s not too much of an issue, you can get something custom built and then pay a webmaster to make the exact updates that you want. For others, time may be the most limited resource, so you’ll want to go with something that’s easy to update and maintain.

So make a list of these factors and prioritize them to determine what resources you have to throw at your website - not just up-front but also on an ongoing basis. The pieces of a website that you’ll need are: 

  • Domain name (i.e. www.myfarm.com). This is the personal address of your website. It should be as short as possible, easy to verbally communicate, and include keywords that will help with search engines (including the word “alpacas” for example). You shouldn’t have to pay more than $10/year for a domain.
  • Website hosting. This is the server space that you’ll rent to store your website files so they can be displayed for visitors. Typical hosting costs are around $5-20/month, depending on features, disk space, bandwidth or other factors.
  • Website code and graphics. This can be done “in-house” if you have the skills, by a paid professional, an “open source” template system, such as Wordpress or Joomla, or it can be a template system provided by a website company. Costs can be from free (Wordpress) to many thousands for custom work (including every update you have your webmaster make!).
  • Website editing software. If you’re doing your website “in-house” you’ll use your own software, such as Photoshop and Dreamweaver. If a professional is going to custom build a site for you, then you won’t have to worry about getting software. Template systems will come with their own editing software that is web-based, which includes automatic upgrades, so you don’t have to pay to buy or upgrade your own software (Photoshop is a pricey piece of software!)
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Posted by on in Camelid

In my last post we got the discussion going about websites and learned the following:

  • We love them when they work but they can make us pull our hair out!
  • Most people do their initial research about your farm online first. So first impressions last is a true statement!
  • If  your web presence is a poor one, that is negative marketing and will turn people off to your farm.
  • Large community/marketplace websites like this one and Openherd are great places to get started with a web presence.

While large community/marketplace websites are a good starting point for your farm's presence, they shouldn't be your only presence. Websites like Camelid Central or Openherd.com are great for generating traffic because they draw a large crowd - like a traditional outdoor market. So they're great places to connect with potential customers, advertise, and use the industry tools they offer.

However, a large site with a lot of farms on it means that potential customers can easily click away to another farm where there are lots of distractions. In addition, you're not able to customize your own brand or unique personality on such a site.

So the next step is to have your own website. The benefits of having your own website are:

  • Unique destination to direct customers to where they won't be drawn away by competitors.
  • Your own website address (i.e. www.myfarm.com).
  • A branded experience that gives them a much better feel for your farm.
  • Build search engine links directly to your own website, rather than someone else's.
  • Perception of professionalism, experience, and being well-established.
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Posted by on in Camelid

Let's get some discussion going about websites - why have them, what they do, what you don't like about them...

Websites are a kind of love/hate relationship - we love them when we don't have to give them much attention and they're doing something tangible for our business but hate them when we spend hours updating stuff and things don't work properly and are not making the phone ring, so to speak.

Most people today do their initial research about something online before they engage in person. So your website will be the first impression they get of you. Therefore, if you can't be found online, have an outdated website, or it looks messy and unappealing, most people won't bother going any further.

Imagine if someone drove by your farm and saw the grass was long, there was construction debris in a pile, and your store had last year's "Summer Sale" sign up, would they want to stop in? The reality is that many farms are doing just that with their website. It's not just less-than-ideal marketing, it's negative marketing, sending people away before they even meet you in person. You'll never know that they came and went!

So it's obvious that you need a web presence but it has to be a good one. That's the key. The investment you make in a website (time, energy, money), has to be worth it. A great starting place are websites like Camelid Central and Openherd because they take care of making you look good and all you have to do it upload your info and then take advantage of the site traffic these sites generate.

This is a good starting point. Next post I'll talk about the place of a personal farm websites and some of the challenges those present.

Comments?....

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Recent comment in this post - Show all comments
  • Lorrie Williamson
    Lorrie Williamson says #
    Fantastic information for new breeders or seasoned veterans -- your website is YOUR image! It's well worth the up front costs to r
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