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Just Your Standard Bull...

published: August 6th 2021
by: Michael Sturgess

At the time of this writing, I am sitting in our booth at the annual Texas A&M Beef Cattle Short Course. The date is August 3, 2021. It’s been great to get to see producers and vendors in person. As many of you know, last year’s event had to be held online only due to Covid. Attendance has been good, but not at all time highs by any means, perhaps due in part to the Delta variant. In spite of the lower numbers, it has been good to see everyone face-to-face. We have been a sponsor of this event for many years now, and it is always a great place to see and meet new folks.
    Earlier today, I was having a conversation with a good friend and we were discussing the trend of many going to online sales, instead of having production sales or participating in consignment sales. It is my opinion and that of this particular friend that many are losing the value of their product by having these online only events. I’ll come back to this thought a little later.
    If you have ever been to the short course, then you know it is a great place where a large variety of educational topics are discussed. In addition, there is a large trade show included with vendors from many walks of life pertaining to beef cattle production. However, if I was asked to point out the most memorable feature of this event, it would have to be the Monday night prime rib dinner. Each year, the Texas A&M Meat Science department supplies, cooks and feeds 12-1800 prime rib dinners that are not only delicious but served in under 30 minutes! It’s simply amazing how well organized they are. And the consistency and quality of the product is second to none. As a sponsor, we are here at this event every year and have been so for many years. It is always good. But equally important, it is always memorable.
    Now back to my thoughts on online sales. Everyone seems to have gravitated towards them of their ease of use and reduced costs. Theses facts are undeniable. But what do you lose?
    Good performance, pe-digrees, top tier EPDs, superior confirmation and structure are no doubt keys to success. But what about relationships? All things being equal, would you rather buy from someone you know, trust and have a personal relationship, or would you rather it be the nameless, faceless “amazon” type purchase? Do you desire a one-time sale or to develop a long-term customer?
    We are losing relationships and the opportunity to create memorable events. Now, if you are thinking about a production sale, ask yourself these questions. 1) Will I have the opportunity to develop relationships that will result in purchases now or in the future; and 2) what am I doing at my sale to make it a memorable event. Obviously, not everyone that attends a sale actually buys an animal. Perhaps they buy in a later sale, or perhaps they will talk about your sale with other friends or collegues. Will they talk about your sale? Will your event or some feature of your event be memorable?
    You don’t have to serve prime rib dinners to be memorable. But you do need to at least try to differentiate yourself in some form from others. What makes people talk about your sale event, or the product you offer? Perhaps you can stand out too among the online auctions these days too. And perhaps word of mouth and your own customer list is all you need to have a successful sale. And of course assumes that no one ever dies, goes out of business or gets divorced.
    This old cattle business we all enjoy still craves and even thrives upon relationships and face-to-face interactions. Even during the pandemic, the numbers of those attending sales was very high. Why? Because we are still creatures that crave relationships with others.

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