If you are raising deer as a business (and not for pets or as a hobby) effective marketing is critical to your profitability. Here are some factors, that if implemented, will contribute to your marketing success.
1. BEING THE BEST - Consumers today expect quality. Mediocrity is not acceptable! You need to be the best in all facets of your business - quality products, quality service and quality after-sales support. Looking after the little things will make you stand out from your competitors.
First, provide the best products. Constantly enhance the quality of your products, whether it is breeding stock, venison, velvet antler, semen or other related products. Be ruthless in culling your inferior animals and getting rid of your inferior products. When demand is high, there is always the temptation to sell that runt or injured animal. Don't do it as in the long run it will damage your reputation as a supplier of quality products. It is important to implement a continuous improvement program on your farm or ranch. You must constantly be looking for ways to improve your animals and products.
Second, provide the best service. Do everything possible to make it easy for your customers to do business with you. Make it easy for them to find you by being listed in the phone book and appropriate directories. Make it easy for your customers to contact you - phone, fax, e-mail, and mail. Make it easy for people to get information about your products - informative brochures, catalogues, websites, etc. Make it easy for customers to order and pay, e.g., on-line orders, credit cards, etc. Provide delivery and installation services if appropriate. Reduce the risks to buyers by having satisfaction guarantees. Maintain good records and be willing to share/give these to your customers.
Finally, provide the best after-sales support. Help educate your customers. Be a mentor. Provide them with as much information and assistance as you can via personal advice, brochures, manuals and websites.
Being the best will require commitment, time and effort. However, once you are the best, the rewards will be well worth it.
2. BRANDING - Along with being the best, you need to "brand" your products and services. Branding helps you differentiate your products from the crowd. "This isn't just any whitetail deer, it is a YOURBRAND deer." Pick a good brand name and trademark it. (For information on how to check and register trademarks over the Internet, visit http://www.steppingstones.ca/library and click on "Trademarks and Patents"). Try and pick a brand name that also has a Internet domain name available (to check on domain name availability, go to http://www.networksolutions.com ). That way you can create an Internet presence for your brand as well. Once you have a brand name, promote it vigorously and aggressively.
3. BUNDLING - This refers to being able to buy all related products and services in one place. If you sell breeding stock to new deer farmers, bundling means you can also sell them feeders, handling equipment, fencing, feed and so on. It makes it easier and more convenient for your customers if they can get everything they need in one place. This also includes bundling related services - "yes, we can build that game fence for you; yes, we not only sell the best semen, but we can also help you inseminate your does." If customers can get everything they need from you, this gives you a distinct competitive advantage over others.
4. BONDING - People like to buy from people, not companies or organizations. Bonding means establishing good relationships with your customers. In the marketing literature, there is much written about "relationship marketing". This is a fancy term for what businesses used to do before the advent of the superstores and megamarts. Store owners knew their customers by name and a lot about them and their needs/wants. They provided them with personalized and quality service.
Get to know your customers and earn their trust. The number one reason people will buy from you is because they trust you. Earn it! Violate this trust and it is almost impossible to get your reputation back. When dealing with your customers, always be completely honest, don't hide anything from them, keep your promises, be willing to listen and take immediate steps to address any concerns or complaints. Satisfied customers are the best source of word-of-mouth advertising, which is one of the most effective (and cheapest) forms of marketing. It also works in reverse! Dissatisfied customers will spread the word quickly and could eventually kill your business!