Marketing 201…

 A brief review of Marketing 101… Marketing is not just about selling or making money… although that is a goal of marketing. Marketing is also about image, concept, exposure of product, and sharing pertinent information. IF a product is never seen, no one will know about it and it will never sell. 

 The product in question is a llama and while selling or making money is “A” goal of marketing the breed it isn’t the only goal. We have lovely animals that are intelligent, versatile and useable. We need to let others see and know just how special llamas are.  We can do that through the EACH method:  Exposure, Advertising, Communication and Helping out.

 Marketing 201…Image, Information, Concept

 Image is everything. We have all heard that phrase used.  To some extent that phrase is true. Image or the way our “product” or industry is perceived. Image can make or break us.   We need to take a look at what image our farm and our industry has.  And we need to be careful to promote and protect a positive image of our breed.

 Positive experiences = a positive image.  Some “animal” industries have a very negative image. Over breeding, inbreeding, selling bad quality or unhealthy animals has almost some “animal” industries. The quality, looks, and usefulness of some dog breeds and horse breeds have suffered greatly because of over breeding and inbreeding.

 Llamas as a species are graceful, elegant, and beautiful. But they are also intelligent, friendly and useful creatures.  As an “industry” we need to practice quality control in our breeding practices.  So llamas keep a positive image. In a day where someone can purchase a llama at a stock sale or a flea market for $100.00, we must be very careful to ensure the image of our industry and our farms. 

 How can we ensure a positive image? We need to be sure that we offer healthy animals, provide necessary information, and be available as contacts for problems or questions.  These may seem like simple things, but they do work.

 Information overload… We truly live in the information age. We are bombarded every day by information about everything.  The World Wide Web and all media have us trapped.  As an industry we need to look at what information we need to share with our public.

 Many people today buy llamas at stock sales, flea market or exotic animal sales. They buy a cute fuzzy llama with no clue or information of the special care that llama will need - quality feed, special care in the summer for heat, and a buddy/herd.  We need to be sure each new owner has the information needed for basic llama care and health.

 Some breeders will not assist a new owner unless the llama comes from their farm or there is an impending purchase. This can leave a bad image of all llama breeders. We all need to be there with information, referrals, and help if we can.

 We as a “community” of owner/breeders need to realize the importance of sharing information, individual experiences, mentoring, and just being there. A positive experience of a breeder/owner helping out a new owner with shearing, feed contacts, vet contacts, or llama uses is going to give a very positive image. This positive image can create word of mouth advertising, referrals, and repeat customers.

 Selling and breeding llamas are vital parts of many of our farms. But they are not the only parts. As an “industry” we need to make the public aware of all aspects of the llamas.  What a concept! The llama is a wonderful product. It is a total package… beauty, brains, strength, fiber, and love.

 When a llama is sold off our farms how many of us will talk about fiber and its uses? Driving? Sentry llamas?  Pack llamas? Public relations? Llama beans? Selling llamas is great but if selling is all the focus not only do “our” consumers lose out but so do the llamas.

 We have all heard horror stories about llamas needing rescued and being mistreated.  Wonder how many llamas would have be saved, treated better and not resold at a flea market if new owners would have been made aware of care issues and uses of llamas?

We as breeders need to fully understand our product and all its uses before we can effectively market.  While it isn’t possible for a llama farm to specialize in everything… it is possible for a llama farm to have a contact or two for everything. 

 Do you know the reason people buy llamas? Some people buy llamas for fiber, packing, sentry animals, show, public relations, driving, companion, pet therapy, and performance animals.  Some people buy llamas just to enjoy the beauty, grace and fuzzy face. Do you know breeders who could be a contact if someone bought a llama from you and wanted to pack with it? Or learn to use the fiber? Or driving?

 Are we looking at the entire picture here? Llamas are great! Llamas are beautiful and versatile. Llamas are for more than just showing, breeding, and selling. Let’s not sell the llamas or our industry short.

 Listed below are some more easy, inexpensive marketing ideas.

1.      Manure – We all have an abundance of manure. There are articles available on processing and marketing manure. Contact your local rose, orchid, or other botanical societies. Volunteer some “llama tea” for use. Once they see the results they will be hooked.

2.      Fiber – Llama fiber can be used for many things. Contact art supply stores and local art guilds let them know what you have available.

3.      Fiber – Llama fiber can used to make “flies” for fishing. Do you know any fisherman?

4.      Packing – Do you have a good pack llama or two? Lunch with a llama is great idea. All you need is a llama, a pack to carry essentials, a place to hike and have lunch, and of course, someone to eat the lunch.

5.      Packing – Do you live near a golf course? Contact the course and see if they would be interested in llamas working on the course. A golf bag is not too different from a pack.

6.       Manure – Golf courses pride themselves on gorgeous greens and luscious landscapes. “Llama tea” can help it be even better.

7.      Farm Field Trips  - Many people today have never been on farm. Field trips with brunch or lunch included could be a great way to get new people to the farm, enjoying your llamas, and possibly interested in purchasing.

8.      Telephone books – Be sure to list what your farm offers in the phone book. Yellow page ads are relatively inexpensive and they get your name out there.

9.      Public Relations – Celebrating special events with llamas can make them special.  Let the public know how special. Public appearances can be good for the “industry” and for the pocketbook.

10.    Public Relations – Be an active member of your community under your farm name.  Serve on committees, help with donations, make appearances at events, offer services. My Llama Farm will get press and a good community image.

11.    Sentry Animals – Contact local farms with sheep, goats, etc. with information about sentry llamas.  Let them know if you have one available or give the name of someone who does.

12.    Pet therapy – Got a really sweet, gentle llama? Consider delving into pet therapy.  Older adults or special needs people can greatly benefit from such therapy.  This could be done on site or at your farm.

13.    Driving – What an impression llama cart rides would make at a local fair, festival or event.  You could get your llamas out there, support your community and maybe even make a dollar or two.

14.    Performance animals – Do you have a local llama group? Why not practice up and have a llama performance team? You could do a drill team on a small scale or an obstacle team.

15.   Public Relations – contact local libraries or museums see if they will allow you to put up a llama display for a month. Feature information about llamas, care, uses, and of course your farm.

16.    Packing/Public relations – if you have the resources why not consider llama trekking? Have folks come hike or camp with the llamas.

17.    Show – If you have the facilities close by, consider holding a llama show highlighting local breeders. The show doesn’t have to be fancy. Make it fun, showcase the llamas and their uses, and have lots of information available.

18.   Show – Be a farm sponsor at llama shows. You will be mentioned during the show, be able to hang a banner in the arena, and help our your llama buddies.

19.    Public Relations – Do you have some great pictures of your llamas or works of art made from llama fiber? Contact local business to see if they would like to “feature” your artwork in their lobby. Many businesses look for “free” art to display.

20.   Driving – Decorate your llama cart or wagon up for use in weddings and other special events.

21.   Public relations – Contact a local elementary school volunteer to be a “mascot”, make special visits to the school, donate some llama photos and items for the children to learn about.

22.   Pack/driving – Contact local state or national parks. See if they will allow you to “use” their facilities for packing and/or driving.

23.    Public relations – Contact a local “hang out” for kids. Sponsor a llama-coloring contest and offer prizes. Grand prize could be a visit to the farm for a llama kiss.

24.    Fiber – Are you a fiber fanatic? Sponsor a fashion show of things made from or highlighting llama fiber.

25.    Show- Be sure to have information and pictures available at each show you attend. You never know who might just fall in love with one of your llamas.

 When you are marketing your llamas and farm, remember keep a positive image, provide necessary information, and be there for contacts.  Marketing involves more than just making money.   We have a great package to offer brains, beauty and versatility. Market the whole product and not just part.

  Mitzi Ross, Good News Llamas