The phone rings from a possible buyer. This is a frequent question that is asked once or twice a week, “What is the market for Texas Longhorns?”
You can’t blame a person for asking the question, however, what do they expect the answer to be?
Reply #1. Yes all your neighbors want to buy lots of Texas Longhorns. They are just waiting on you to raise them. They will pay dearly for your cattle. You will get rich quick—do it.
Reply #2. No one knows if you have cattle for sale. You will have to create an awareness of availability and make some marketing efforts to attract prospective clients to get good prices.
Make this mental picture in your mind: If you were starting a tire business and everyone in town wanted to buy more tires than any store was providing--that someone had promoted the use of tires, but there were no tire stores? To have a ready-made business like that would be a dream, but there will most likely be a tire store in place before you get the idea. Yet, that is the hope of some cattle buyers to slip into a market already promoted and easy to succeed with little or no effort required---it won’t happen! Not with tires or registered cattle.
To start a tire store it will involve a profitable product and service: how fast can you replace a set of tires? Can you provide a better tire at a lower price? The Texas Longhorn business, as a business, is just like any other business. Each person has to create a market for as many cattle as they raise---surprise? This involves normal marketing or finding a niche market that is new and can be developed.
This is an issue that has faced every entry-level business person. The good news is--it is solvable. Here are some good, bad, cheap, and, or, simple types of business development for the Texas Longhorn producer.
- Always look at cost of advertising on the basis of dollars per person reached. For instance, a $200 ad in a school annual when only 100 year books are printed is a cost of $2 per person who glances at the ad.
- Internet/facebook may have millions of people who are prospects but thousands of people are using it at very low costs. It is cheap, yet be aware of the stampede, and getting trampled. Unless the insertion is eye- catching you may have a free ad that is lost in the dust.
The largest profits in the cattle business are made by (1) raising and marketing top-end registered cattle and (2) selling retail beef. Producers who don’t target these two jewels will have a problem making good profits.
Serious cattle people should sell some retail beef. Otherwise, they miss the most profitable part of the easiest money for lower value genetics.
Marketing lower-value cattle is a bigger consideration than most realize when entering the business. All producers have to dispose of cull specimens—but to make good profits, they need a clear business plan. Why? Because bottom-enders cost as much to raise as the high-dollar types, but they bring a lower return on time and feed.
In today’s economy, ranchers who raise generic cattle should avoid local liquidation auctions. Income from those sales will rarely be enough to buy property and also pay the bills. An old-timer once said that a rancher can pay the mortgage or give yourself a salary. You can’t do both. In fact, according to the USDA, over 1,000 ranchers go broke every month, and have been for dozens of years. The main causes are taxes and government regulations. Nevertheless, the future for Texas Longhorns is bright. DCC has found Texas Longhorn cattle to be the most profitable of any breed. Selling cull cattle is especially sweet, because we diversify our products and market many spin-offs.
I don’t mind working long, hard hours, but everyone needs a new marketing tactic to tell more people about our good healthy product. An old friend, Joe Assad, of Houston, Texas, once sent a list of every Rotary Club within 200 miles. I wrote to each program chairmen and offered to be a noon speaker about the cattle business. This pitch went over well, because these groups like to learn about new types of business—and no one else was giving presentations about cattle. They were tired of politicians who wanted to talk all the time about themselves.
There are 48,219 Rotary Clubs in the USA. There are also Chamber of Commerce, Kiwanis, Lions, and many other good social organizations. The numbers are out there. All have luncheons, meetings and need unique speakers. These are normally good business people, gracious, and eager to learn.
Over a few years, I spoke at dozens of Rotary and Chamber of Commerce luncheons from Houston, Texas, to Salida, Colorado, to Cleveland, Ohio. Attendance was typically prominent business people, from 40 attendees in small cities to more than 300 folks in Houston. At each speech, I passed around a yellow tablet and asked attendees to write their names and email addresses to get more info on Texas Longhorn breeding stock and our beef product. Then I used the names for monthly communications about beef. Some of the first Rotary people have bought from us now for up to 20 years. They know our family and have helped with wonderful referrals. Referrals are the world’s greatest asset in marketing.
Happy Shahan taught me the yellow tablet name gathering idea. A small luncheon would capture 10 to 20 addresses and a big one maybe over 50. Once I did one at Marietta, Ohio and an attorney stole my tablet keeping the addresses for himself. (I watch the tablet as I speak now.) With a Rotary every couple weeks, in a year hundreds of prospects were located. Normally these are leading community business owners who are able to buy live cattle or halves of beef.
If an entry level producer is concerned about the MARKET FOR TEXAS LONGHORNS, that is good. Each can control their own business and grow or not grow that local business. It doesn’t have to cost a lot to grow a cattle sales business. Here is the process to start speaking at social organizations:
- Locate addresses and send out offers to be a “free” speaker. Some are booked months in advance.
- Include a bio and general info about you, your business and your presentation.
- Most welcome the distribution of materials. Ask to make sure. Have good informative printed materials for everyone.
- Make notes on the direction you want to promote. Discuss lean Texas Longhorn beef and how to save by buying bulk. Discuss raising cattle on grass land to avoid dastardly government taxes. Speak on the joy of raising TL cattle, calves being born, the family enjoyment, etc. Discuss your registered cattle prices and also some of the recent really high prices fetched at well managed auctions. Stories about cattle profit are always good.
- Be the first one arriving and meet/greet everyone. Give them a business card or other colorful materials. Contacts made before the lunch speach are the most valuable
- Local markets are the easiest to communicate with new buyers. Never promote to buyers over 300 miles away and expect the same good results as working the home-ground area. Local buyers are the sweetest. You own the local turf. You can compete locally better than anyone.
- Developing your own local clients helps to keep clients. A local business can serve and follow-up on local sales far better than distant sales. If you take good care of your local clients no one in a distant state will take them away from you. Happy clients are repeat clients and that is the secret to growing any business.
- Watch---capture your yellow tablet and go home. You now have a buyer list easy to communicate by email. See wasn’t that a walk in the park?
“The more marketing ideas you test, the better your chances of finding patterns that can be traded profitably.” ~ Henrique M. Simoes