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Friday, February 17, 2012

Maintaining a Mobile Presence...

(A Book Worth Reading)

(A Book Worth Reading)

We are now a mobile world. Well, at least I am. I know that the world has been using smart phones for years, tote around iPads and other tablets, and live-and-die by their ability to communicate quickly by text messaging and emails.

I just got my first smart phone in January 2012 (collective gasp!). Yes, I finally succumbed to the phone envy watching Michael use all his functions on his Droid phone. I went from defiant to weak-willed as if it was covered in chocolate.

At first, I was not as as impressed as I should have been. It wasn't giving me all the benefits and ease that I thought it should... Why? Because some work to set up things IS required. Apparently, I was expecting my phone to come fully 'blinged out' with all the apps that it JUST KNEW I needed (stop snickering). Okay, to truncate what could be an excruciatingly long story, I figured it out and started helping my phone help me. And during the course of this, I realized that I had not thoroughly thought about our mobile clients and customers.

How does my blog appear to them? How does my webpage appear? Are my emails setup for those who do not download pictures automatically? These are some of the kinds of questions you should be asking yourself.

Need help? I know that I love having more info and assistance! So, after some review, I would say first -- be a public library patron. There are so many great books that you can review free at your library. Then, if you want you can buy that hardcover or digital edition. A book that I have been reading recently is Go Mobile! by Jeanine Hopkins and Jamie Turner. I think this book is very good at covering the basics of the new mobile marketing lifestyle.

Secondly, let your fingers do the searching. Of course, you should search the web for sites that discuss things like mobile marketing, SEO, cloud business, Google marketing, Facebook, Email marketing, etc.

But, don't stop there. Many information sites are/have blogs -- so sign up for their RSS feed. Do you use MyYahoo? If so, you can create pages and insert blogs by RSS feed for automatic updates. Or, if you have a Google Blog account, you can Follow other Blogspot sites.

Don't be afraid to give someone your contact info. Sign up for newsletters. Yes, I said it, clog up your box with [almost] spam. Best way to keep this from overwhelming your "real" email is to have separate emails (like news@autumnsunalpacas.com versus our main email livingstons@autumnsunalpacs.com).

For instance, you should capture the RSS feed for this blog and our sister blog at http://autumnsunalpacas.blogspot.com/ to keep getting our info. We also post information (links, tips, pictures, etc) regularly on Facebook -- both in Mary's "person" profile and our Autumn Sun Alpacas Business Page.


Thursday, December 15, 2011

Business Successs in a Crowded Market?

There are tips and advice that tell you what you already know, but do you remember to employ them? Do you really think how you can incorporate them into your business model?

For instance, I saw a link to this site's article in a business newsletter that I receive [That's another trick right there! SUBSCRIBE to all those FREE business newsletters! They consolidate links to the multitude of blogs and websites out that there are available] and followed it to the site to read the full listing....

It told me things I already knew... boring, right? But, then, I started to consider exactly how I AM already using these or how I am NOT using them and what can I do to change that. That's the a-ha moment, when you leave the "classroom" and enter the "real-world" environment. Apply and/or reinforce the tenets that you may 'already know'!

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Here's what the blog said in a nutshell versus how I applied it to my business (alpacas!) model:

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5 Ways To Thrive In A Overcrowded Industry Katie Morell Contributor, OPEN Forum Contributors
See the actual blog posting for the full story, as I am only listing the bullet points with my comments below.

1. Focus on a niche
2. Study the market and fill gaps
3. Network, network, network
4. Diversify your offerings
5. Focus on customer service

1. Focus on a niche:

Of course! Not only are alpacas already in a special niche among livestock, there are ways to set yourself apart in the alpaca industry -- such as specializing in a color like greys, in a breed such as suris only, or in a grade like only baby fine! You can even limit to bloodlines that were original to specific regions in South America, such as Accoyo, though that is having less significance as the overall quality of the U.S. population of alpacas has improved.

But, this may be a key point to remember - be passionate about what niche you choose! Pick what you already love. Of course you love alpacas, but do you really love greys over all other colors or are you trying to pick the 'hot selling' color of the moment? Fads fade, so pick what you want to stand behind for years to come.

2. Study the market and fill in gaps

Wow, this to me is two points that often are separated by folks. Many do not study the market, or only did it when they first opened their farm. The market is always changing, so you should be watchful. This does not mean just reviewing the emails and blog posts that are sent to you but trying to review the animals and fiber listed across marketplaces, on personal web pages, and at auctions. What are things sell at now? Are you in the market or above or below it? Got a beauty and want to sell her? Earmark a few comparable listings (like realstate comps) in your region or in your specialization if you have one. If you have time, watch them for the next few months to see how (if) their prices change and when the sell.

Fill in the gaps, hmmm.... now that can be the big question. So, what gaps are there? No appys? No lingering fineness? No great herdsires? No great foundation dams? Well, I would say that a true 'gap' in alpacas may not exist, but there may be more an opportunity to accentuate more rare or special traits. Have a male at 20 um at 10 years old? Boast about him! Have a herd with a 80% rate of greys? Use it as a headline in your ad! There ways to accent why you are notable, special if not one-of-a-kind.

3. Network

Well, really should this need discussing? This is a network business, and word of mouth advertising often is the catalyst to a really good sale. Emails, blogs, chatting at shows, marketing events, etc are all aspects to this network marketing. There are droves of books on this subject and many at the library if you want to keep your investment and storage of books to a minimum. Keep reading!

4. Diversify your offerings

You could take this to mean offer different bloodlines and wide selection of ages, breeding status, colors, and fiber grades. It does at the fundamental level. But can you extrapolate this to even more diversification in your farm?

This is the safety net that works for all business types. When your stocks are down, your bonds may carry you. When your alpacas are not selling what are you doing? Do you work out of the farm (ie. day-job)? Great! Do you also raise horses or goats? Do you make crafts and artisan goods (with the intent to be business successful, not gifts or hobbies)? Do you do graphics? Sell vegetables? Take a look at some of those self-sustaining farm models often touted on sites like Hobby Farms and LocalHarvest.

5. Great service

This should be all our number one goals, and not just because it is the right thing to do. Not just because we should all treat others as we want to be treated... It is also human nature to stand thick-n-thin by those we like, to return without question to those we trust, to advertise and promote to others brands/stores we love! Good customer service means you have a fan, a friend, almost a psuedo-employee who will help you advertise! And they will for good or bad.

So, those of you who have slighted others, took advantage or walked away when you could have remedied a situation with your customer, you have to ask yourself -- was it worth it? Worth the bad reputation? In network marketing the power of a bad review echos and even amplifies, especially since your past customers' OPIONIONS are how others will judge whether they trust working with you! Take the time to offer great service. It is worth it.


Saturday, November 19, 2011

Alpaca Extravaganza in the Colorado Springs' Newspaper!

Gazette Telegraph Picture

Gazette Telegraph Picture

The Gazette Telegraph visited with us and fellow farms at the 6th Annual Alpaca Extravaganza hosted by the Southeastern Colorado Alpaca Breeders in Black Forest, CO the weekend before Thanksgiving. Among a handful of other farms this event promotes alpacas and their fiber in handmade and commercial products. Filled with warmth, holiday music, and a relaxed atmosphere, the event was fun for both the farm vendors and the visitors... We talked to so many nice people, amazed and taught the surprised bystanders how to spin with a drop spindle and card on a drum carder, and sold lots of yarn, fiber, and luxurious alpaca products.

See the local community's newspaper article: Alpaca Extravaganza Features Fluffy Critters, by Kristina Iodice


Tuesday, February 22, 2011

Crochet Bags to Reduce Waste...

Grocery Bag Crochet Patterns from FaveCraft.com email newsletter (2/21/2011):

1. Reduction Tote Bag
2. Reusable Crocheted Grocery Bag
3. Crocheted Produce Bag
4. Sturdy Errands Bag
5. Hobo-Style Bag
6. Reusable Giftbag







Saturday, February 19, 2011

No Doubt...

I find myself thinking occasionally thinking would I do this over again, and the answer is yes. It's not any get rich quick scheme, if anything it is a lot of work to raise alpacas. Running a farm takes dedication! There is inherent worth in raising these animals. Whether you are 'in it' for the fiber or for the show, that's a legitimate reason to raise alpacas (or any other livestock). Whether you think the prices are going to go up again, stay the same, or even drop further, there is an intrinsic worth in each animal. The prices are based on our desire as well as their function and worth against that criteria. Have you searched on the web for the higher priced seedstock bull, or racehorse, or rooster sold? Try it sometime and you will be surprised. How about the price of a bottle of wine, a painting, a night at a 5 star hotel, those first few Ipads or Prius... the list goes on and on.

We own alpacas because we want to! They are easy to care for livestock, have great personalities and produce a fiber that is unique and worthy of special interest. Also, showing is great fun, and nothing beats getting that coveted ribbon. It lets you get out there to mingle with others of the alpaca community, and is a great way to get your name out there.

So, the same reasons for our start in the alpaca industry still apply today: want to raise livestock and want to show/spin. Are these animals a good investment - sure, with the appropriate care and reasonable expectations. Is this a good time to get in the business -- absolutely, especially with those farms not able or not willing to ranch anymore getting out on a dime. Is this a get rich quick business -- most definitely no, and certainly not when there are alpacas that rely on you to care for them, whether you are 'getting you money out of them' or not. There is plenty of opportunity for quality alpacas, a great farm/ranch business, and fiber production for all serious people.

Have thoughts are questions? Just ask us, and we will strive to answer any and all questions. First question... would I do it again -- absolutely!


Tuesday, January 4, 2011

Resolution is to Streamline

My 2011 New Year's Resolution is to Streamline My Online Efforts -- for more time, better & more regular 'output' and overall improved customer satisfaction.... Here is my first OP blog post...

Well, that was a bit verbose but it bears repeating.... Simply put, "Time is Money." My time is worth something. More importantly, when I fail to do what I want to and more importantly, what I need to -- then my farm's marketing plans can suffer.

So, I am attempting to streamline my efforts to no more than 3 locations. With our own website, several alpaca 'marketplaces' available online and more popping up every day, blogs, Facebook, emails, classifieds... it is easy to get confused and overwhelmed. Spreading out too much just leads to little impact over a large area.

So, this is my 'test' of the newly released Openherd blog page..... Is it worthy to replace my other blogsite? Will it be "The One" to allow me to turn my back on Blogspot, Livestock Grower, Local Harvest, Facebook (this I doubt), etc.

If you see this and like it, or don't and disagree with consolidation... leave a comment or a message to let me know!

Thanks -- Mary

Tuesday, January 19, 2010

Why Didn't I Think Of That?




Do you ever think of or hear about something that makes you think, "Wow, that is so simple!" or "Why didn't I think of that before?" Well, I've got one for you....

I know that you see all kinds of email messages that are sent using an email service, like Vertical Response among others. Now, not necessarily advocating one service provider over the other, have you ever just perused through their free information / articles? It's like going to the public library, in a way -- helpful information just sitting there, waiting for you to look at it.

So, besides the email marketing campaign that you've been planning ;) -- pop into these providers' sites and take a look around. Maybe get on their free newsletters to get more information handed to you.

Don't know of any such providers?

Well below are some links to some information provided. There are others email marketing providers, like: Campaigner, Easy Contact, Constant Contact, Mad Mimi, icontact, ContactPro, and so many more. Now, granted, some of these sites have more free info than others, but take a look around to see.

Just Google or Yahoo on 'email marketing' to see what's out there.

Again, not promoting any particular email service, just grabbing some links I know of ....Here are just some of the links to some of these sites....


Explore, Read, Use!


Get out there, folks -- Be brave!


Easy Contact's Email Marketing Resource Guide

Vertical Response's 2010 Business checklist

Vertical Response's Top 10 Blog posts of 2009

Constant Contact's Learning Center
-- includes webinars, tutorials and guides!

Interspire's 62-page whitepaper about permission based email marketing
(you have ask for it)