By Robert Gane – Canchones Alpacas
This article will cover the following:
- What to sell – Evaluation & Selection
- How to price an alpaca – Pricing
- Product Options – Packaging
- Who wants what I am selling – Targeting
What to sell – Evaluation & Selection
Deciding what to sell should be based on your breeding and business objectives. All animals can be for sale, as long as they are correctly priced. Having said this, you may choose not to sell some, as selling them may have a negative impact on your breeding program. If you are unable to replace the animal with something that will have a better impact on your breeding program, then it may be better not to sell.
Selling alpacas that are no longer critical to you breeding program will have the greatest impact on your long term business and breeding goals.
To achieve this requires you to carefully evaluate your alpacas and select those that you wish to offer for sale. This evaluation should consider both phenotypic and genotypic traits.To help clarify this evaluation, all alpacas owned should be scored, to determine where they sit in your herd. An example of a scoring sheet is found at the end of this article. The score sheet ranks the alpaca on various aspects and this information is then used to develop a price and is also used when discussing the alpaca with potential clients. This is an example of a score sheet by most breeders will want to develop their own to match their breeding vision.
The completed score sheets can act as a prompter for you in your discussions with clients and also ensures that the discussion is based in fact and not on emotions. This will increase confidence in the potential client.
Price the alpacas – Pricing
This for many breeders is the most difficult part of developing a sales strategy as they have no idea where to start. The most important aspect to this is that the price should reflect the unique qualities the alpaca for sale is offering the client. These qualities include many aspects that need to be evaluated, such as:
- Fertility i.e ease of getting pregnant
- Mothering ability
- Age of alpaca
- Quality of progeny
- Show results
- Fleece weight
- Micron results
- Quality of pedigree / genetics
This is by no means a definitive list. However these qualities should be taken into account when considering a price as well as comparing the alpaca to what else is available in the marketplace.
What you initially paid for the alpaca should not be used to evaluate the current cost. The price should fairly reflect where the alpaca stands in the current market.
Product Options – Packaging
Once alpacas have been identified for sale with approximate prices, you then have to decide how you are going to sell them. Are you going to sell them individually, in packages or groups or including other add-ons such as matings, product etc.
In many respects, it is better if you are able to develop a package. This may include a groups of alpacas, a single alpaca with an additional mating or with some of your own product or an ongoing service arrangement. The advantage of packages is that you are able to provide greater value to your client. Also in providing items that are specific to your business, you are no longer competing directly with others in the market place.
Another important aspect that you may be able to offer is ongoing support and payment options. If you feel you have enough experience, ongoing support offered to a client may help them make a positive decision in regards to purchasing alpacas. This will be especially important for new breeders. It does help to relieve any initial fears and also provides you with ongoing interaction with your client.
Payment terms can also be helpful by spreading the payment over some months. If you are able to develop suitable terms, then a purchase may be agreed. Often a monthly payment is viewed favourably, with ownership transferred and delivery only occurring once the final payment is made. Independent advice from your accountant would be useful here.
In any industry, competitors exist. It is therefore important to be aware of them and to determine how you compare. Competition should not be feared. Instead of fearing them, make sure that you develop a clearly defined position and be consistent in communicating this to the market.
Who wants what I am selling – Targeting
As part of developing your sales strategy, it is necessary to identify who is your target market. This means who will be interested in your product. The potential targets can be broken up into groups:
People totally new to the alpaca industry. These will require the most support and advice. Do you have the skills and knowledge to adequately service this market?
“Top” new breeders
These are also new breeders but are only interested in buying the best available genetics. To attract them you need to be seen as being able to offer these animals.
This group, have been in the industry for a while and are building up their numbers. Ongoing support will be less important but genetic range and mating options will be vital to attract these.
Breeders moving up
These are alpaca owners that have been in the industry for a while and are now happy to invest in better quality alpacas. Like the “Top new breeders” you must be seen to have the stock to match their requirements.
This group are not looking specifically at purchasing alpacas but are looking at stud sire services. This is a group that pregnant females to leading sires will also have appeal.
Like sire users, but this group is more open to purchasing alpacas. To satisfy this group, you must have the required genetics and be able to discuss the benefits of the pedigrees of the alpacas offered.
Show winner chasers
This group are most concerned with show placings. Therefore, the alpacas you offer must have the show record they require. This group can be a challenge as you are only as good as your last show.
As a group, these are more interested in the lifestyle opportunities. Not really looking at establishing their own stud. If these are nurtured, they may progress to more involvement in the industry over time
This group, is not looking at hands on involvement but purely the financial benefits of owning alpacas. To service this group, you must be prepared to offer ongoing management of their alpacas and to clearly manage and communicate the risks involved in their investment.
Existing clients are often an overlooked opportunity. These are people you already have a rapport with and you are already talking to. If you are able to offer alpacas that are suitable to their growing business, this can be a potentially rewarding relationship for both businesses in the longer term.
The above is by no means an exhaustive list. Also people may fall into more than one group or progress from one group to another over time. Therefore, your offering will also need to be reviewed over time. Once you have identified your target groups, you need to decide how best to communicate with them.
To make the most of your limited marketing budget, it is important to focus your advertising to the most effective media for your target market.
Specialist publications and more generalised press may be effective but they can be expensive. They also have longer lead times but if chosen well may have a long effective life span as well.
Web sites and email are often cheaper and can be more dynamic. It is essential that web sites are kept alive with regular updates. Nothing is more negative to a sale than being confronted with a difficult to use or or out of date website. Keep the site informative and interesting with good photographs appropriately sized) and limited but effective text. Though it is tempting these days to design a site yourself, the cost of paying an expert to design and maintain the site can be invaluable. A well designed site, should be easily updated by yourself so that it can remain fresh and interesting.
Using targeted email can also be very effective. A small run of emails to selected targets can help develop interest in your product offering. If you find that it does not have the desired effect, then a new email, that has been redesigned can be sent through to another group of potential clients. This has been found to be a very effective tool.
In all marketing and advertising, the objective is to encourage a farm visit, where the alpacas can be reviewed and ongoing rapport can be developed. Again to aid decision making make sure that you have relevant and up to date information at hand and available to support you and the client in discussions.
Once the visit has occurred, it is useful to follow up with any additional information requested or with new photographs etc to keep the contact going. If the sale proceeds then it is necessary to send through a contract or sales letter and an invoice.
A more in depth discussion on how to manage and prepare for an on farm visit will be found in a future edition.