Social Media and Business - The Business Blog

In an earlier post for the National Tractor Parts Dealer Association I wrote about doing an "audit" of our member sites and their use of social media for business. This is a continuing series that I hope will help our membership fully understand, appreciate and utilize the power of social media to promote their Blog Image
business and sell more products and services. Each post will cover a social media example that you may wish to incorporate into your marketing efforts. Let's go!

The Business Blog

This can be the building block and cornerstone of everything you do regarding social media content. Creating a blog for your business allows you to do a number of things like:

  • Telling Your Story - Nobody knows your business like you. Writing a blog about your business allows you to share your story with customers old and new. The best thing is that you have control over the story line and that is important.
  • Improving Search Engine Finds - If you have a static website, something that doesn't often change, your site will be overlooked by the search engine algorithms that are constantly seeking new content. If your site doesn't change search engines will pass it by and if you can't be found you can't do business.
  • Giving the "Back-Story" of Business - Look, your customers know what you do but so many are interested in how you do...what you do. With a business blog you can tell real stories about how you've impacted customer needs. You can even use the words of your customers to polish your brand.
  • Creating Content for Other Platforms - By writing short blogs and then using other social media tools to point customers back to your website becomes a win for connecting those tools back to your business.

OK...but "How do I go about getting this done?" I hear your pain and frustration. Let's start with the basics:

  • Find A Blog Host - This might involve getting your IT people involved. NTPDA uses Typepad as our source but there are many more. If you are using a WordPress design they have a blog "plug in". Costs for blog hosting range from free to $20 a month. It's an investment if you use it.
  • Incorporate the Blog - Once you've found a comfortable format have your IT professional or "webmaster" incorporate it onto the homepage of your website. That way the first few lines are always seen and you are always updating your site. You can see how that is done on our NTPDA.com site.
  • Know Your Audience - You know who your customers are and who you want to reach. Keep your blog posts directed to your target. And, remember this isn't always about "selling" it's about telling a story that meets the interests of those you want to reach.
  • Create a Calendar - This is the strategic part of blogging. If you write it down, it gets done. Let's say you want to write one blog post a week. Set aside that time on your calendar and write a draft in a word document. Keep it to under 400 words. 
  • Take Notes - I often hear, "But, I don't know what to write about!" That's why you should be taking notes between blog posts. What happened over the  past week that folks might find interesting? Jot it down and then go back to it during the time you've set aside for writing.
  • Use Photos - People respond to images. Incorporate photos into your post. Once you get it going you might be able to embed video. The creative side of this doesn't have many limits.

I know it sounds like work...and it is...but if you want to expand your sales and polish your brand the Business Blog can go a long way to that goal.

Thanks for reading and if you've got comments or questions feel free to drop them into our comment section.

Michael

 

Michael P. Libbie is a marketing professional who has been a member of NTPDA for nearly 20 years and has been the author of many of our blog posts.

 

 

 


Social Media and Business

Over the years, according to our count, we've done maybe six or seven seminars about business and social media. We've had our NTPDA members speak to the Speaker Seminarissue and brought in some social media experts. It was all meant help our members better engage with their customers and, in the end, sell more product.

Last week we thought it might be interesting to do a social media assessment of our regular members. You know, see what social media channels they are on, what they are doing with social media and get an idea of the utilization. It was very informative. We looked at blogging, YouTube, Twitter, Facebook and Instagram.

The results were mixed.

We didn't find many of our regular members who blogged. There were some that use YouTube and fewer who used Twitter or Instagram. It seems the social media platform of choice is Facebook with over 60% of our members engaged there.

We next looked at how often our members posted and what they posted about. We found, not surprisingly, that most were featuring products for sale and some special sales they were having. Very few members who posted on Facebook posted much else. The YouTube users, and there were a couple, did a Social Media Images July 2019mixture of "behind the scenes" and "how to" videos and many of those were done well.

We did find lots of Twitter accounts that were started a couple of years ago but then abandoned after only a few dozen tweets. Some members link their Facebook posts to Twitter so when they post on Facebook those posts automatically go right to their Twitter feed.

It was enough data to get us to thinking that maybe it's time to do a refresher, here on our Blog, about best social media practices. What each platform is good at and what they should be used for. You see, each really has a different audience.  

So, that's what we're going to do.  Over the next several weeks we'll post some helpful thoughts about each platform and offer up some best practices. We're hoping it will help and we promise not to go too deep into the weeds.

In the meantime if you've got thoughts about the use of social media for business let us know with a comment here. Just go to the comment section and post your thoughts about social media. We'll not make those public because, well not everybody wants to air their laundry. Right?

Thank you for being a member of NTPDA. We hope you'll find this information valuable. 


On To Sioux Falls

This weekend your Board, friends and family and other members will be in Sioux Falls, South Dakota for our Summer Meeting. We've got much on our plate from Sioux Falls Rapids Board decisions to a site tour of All States Ag Parts and, yes, some socializing. In advance of our trip to South Dakota we reached out to our Board Members and asked this question: "What is the highest value you receive by being a member of the National Tractor Parts Dealer Association?"

To a person we were told that the networking and relationships that are built at any of these NTPDA events more than make up for any cost of becoming a member. One told us, "I can share with you that business coming to us because of our many relationships is 25 times that of what my membership costs are." That is a pretty good endorsement.

Other members told us they learn new things, find new products and compare ideas to help their business grow.

This weekend we'll be talking about ways in which we can do better when it comes to adding value to an NTPDA Membership including better efforts for outreach to retain existing members and recruit new members.

We just thought you should know. 

Safe travels as you head to Sioux Falls!  Wait...what? Rapids in Sioux Falls?  Yep, and it's a big draw for folks...


Member News from Down Under - Parts Express in Australia

The phone conversation with Mike Winter, president of long-time NTPDA Member Worthington Tractor Parts, Inc. started here when asked about the launch Mike Winter Parts Express July 2019 of their wholesale company, Parts Express scheduled for later this year in Australia: “Any business that doesn’t constantly find ways to improve its level of service to the market is bad news for the longevity of that business.” He went on to say, “Our goal is to build a global brand that will bring high quality parts at affordable prices with great speed and accuracy to the dealerships and repair shops that need them.”

Parts Express has a history of success as a wholesale supplier of agricultural parts in the United States and this launch of strategically placed warehouses throughout Australia will meet the increased demand on the continent. Winter added, “To this point products have been available through Neil’s Parts which we acquired in 1996. Now, with additional resources going to the wholesale market we believe we’ll become a world leader for the agricultural market.”

Bruce Parts Express July 2019Bruce Jacobsma, Director of Parts Express added, “Our goal is to make Parts Express a globally recognized name in the agricultural spare parts market. This operation takes us one step closer to achieving that goal.”

Parts Express currently has four distribution centers in the United States and a bonded warehouse in Germany. Dealerships and repair shops are able to buy direct from Parts Express by using the B2B online website or by phone.

The addition of Parts Express into Australia is all about service, speed and affordability according to Jason Atkins, Jason Atkins Parts Express July 2019General Manager/Director of Neil’s Parts, “When we’re able to deliver quality products that are affordable and do so quickly and accurately our customers and their customers win. This move will deliver that outcome. “

Congratulations to the entire team from NTPDA!

If you’ve got news from your member business, make sure to connect with us at NTPDA@NTPDA.com!

About Parts Express - Parts Express is a leading wholesale supplier of agricultural parts in the United States. It carries a wide range of new aftermarket parts for tractors, combines (headers), grain heads (fronts), cotton pickers, and skid steers. Parts Express stocks parts for most brands of equipment including John Deere, Case IH, Ford, New Holland, Massey Ferguson, AGCO and more. To accommodate the local market, they will be distributing wholesale: CAMSO track systems, Gulf Western Oils, Redekop Mav systems, cane harvester parts and Chamberlain parts in Australia.

Parts Express USA can be reached at 800-247-1237 or online at www.Parts-Exp.com 


Member News - Rock Valley Tractor Parts Expands

We love telling stories about our members and their businesses. Today we've got an update on the expansion going on at Rock Valley Tractor Parts from our Scott NFMS Crop
NTPDA President, Scott Schelling. It's a story with an interesting twist. (You can click on the images to enlarge.)

Last year Rock Valley Tractor Parts acquired a company called Iowa Cutter Supply. It's a forage cutter company that, ironically, Scott helped get off the ground back in 2010. The company is in the niche business of supplying parts for forage harvesting. These are the machines that are most often associated with dairy feed. While most of us are accustomed to grain farming we had
Iowa-cutters-supply-logoto ask Scott about the dairy business. "You would be surprised at the number of dairy cows there are here in Northwest Iowa", said Scott. "It's sort of a secret because of all the attention given to corn and soybeans. In fact, just down the road about 34 miles is Wells Blue Bunny an ice creme giant in the United States." 

Scott tells us that he's selling forage cutter parts not only in the North America but also in Puerto Rico, Central America  and Australia. 

To incorporate the acquisition into Rock Valley Tractor Parts headquarters has required a major expansion of the company footprint.

"We're sort of land-locked here so our expansion plans centered on buying three homes near our offices. We then tore down two of them but the third we Rock Valley House Movecouldn't destroy. You see, it was the first house my wife Vicki and I lived in after we were married."  Rather than demolish their first home Scott had the house picked up and moved about ten miles away. "It wasn't that we were just sentimental; it was a good house and will make a fine home for the buyers."

In its place will be a new 21,000 sq. ft. building that will house Iowa Cutter Supply plus a brand new tractor parts teardown room. "The room we use now was built back in 1968 and tractors have changed just a bit since then. We need the room!"

Rock Valley expansion photosCongratulations to Rock Valley Tractor Parts and we loved the story about the house!

If you've got a story about your business we'd love to showcase it. Drop us a line at NTPDA@NTPDA.com and let's talk.

 

 


A Financial Note from RBC Wealth Management

RBC Wealth Management is the investment firm for the National Tractor Parts Dealer Association (NTPDA) and we recently received this notice from our advisor RBC Logo Craig Shaver.

"With respect to the companies that are the subject of the attached equity research report, RBC Wealth Management is required to disclose certain conflicts of interest. Any such disclosures may be obtained by either accessing our web site at https://www.rbccm.com/GLDisclosure/PublicWeb/DisclosureLookup.aspx?EntityID=2 or by mailing a request for such information to RBC Wealth Management Research Publishing, 60 South Sixth Street, Minneapolis, MN 55402.

RBC Wealth Management, a division of RBC Capital Markets, LLC. Member NYSE/FINRA/SIPC.

Deere & Company - Tariffs/trade take a toll; Maintain Outperform: (To view the report, click the link below.)

https://www.rbcinsight.com/WM/Share/ResearchViewer/?SSS_B4287797E254397514D209F114D51E9E


Member News - All States Ag Parts in California

We've got some exciting news about one of our long time members All States Ag Parts and their expansion into California. That's just half of the story. Jeff Jeff GriggsGriggs (photo) from ASAP told us the company has just purchased the John F. Mahaney Company a manufacturer of fine quality agricultural, ranch and industrial hardware supplies. The family owned company was started back in 1951.

In addition to being the first All States Ag Parts California location, the acquisition strengthens All States emerging wholesale division and provides the company with manufacturing capability for popular brands including Red Rooster Tools, a line of professional grade agricultural hand tools. 

“This is a great acquisition for us,” said John Dyke, CEO of All States Ag Parts. “We’re happy to be in the heart of California’s agricultural area and look forward serving the farms, vineyards and orchards here,” said Dyke.

What this also means, according to Griggs, is that All States Ag Parts can now market these professional hand tools eastward and into the growing areas of the Midwest and Northeast.

Dyke said Steve Mahaney, previously a co-owner, will stay on board to manage the Sacramento operation. All current employees will be offered employment with All States Ag Parts.

With this expansion ASAP will now have ten locations across the country.

Congratulations to the Mahaney Family and to all our friends with All States Ag Parts. We look forward to meeting Steve and his crew at upcoming events.

 

 


Spring Decision Making On The Farm

In many parts of the nation farmers are already getting equipment ready for field work. As we check in with our members from around the world we're often caught by how so many farmers are facing the some of the roughest times since the early 1980's. With low commodity prices, for the fifth year in a row, and Tractor Memoriestrade issues times in Rural America are tough.

Just last week we saw a story from Reuters that growing numbers of grain farmers are choosing to shed their machinery and find renters for their land. As these older grain farmers are retiring, fewer younger people are lining up to replace them.

While auction houses are winning...it’s putting a major strain on the farming community and the entire agricultural supply chain.

Think of it...fewer farmers means fewer customers for seed and chemical companies, fewer machine buyers, and fewer suppliers for grain merchants. 

We've heard from several members that business is still good as many farmers seek ways to cut down on repair costs by doing more of the work themselves. We've also heard that some members are actively trying to find ways to be even more assistive to their customers.

We're all in this together and times will get better. Our goal, as an association, is to continue to support our members and the many, many farmers that feed the world. Stay strong.

 

 


Investment or Expense

In business we're all to aware of these two words. An investment usually means we expect some sort of return for the good money or time that we've Accounting imageexpended. An expense can also bring us a return but often it is simply the "cost of doing business". It can be a capital expense or keeping the lights on. The expense allows us to do business.

The same can be said about your membership in the National Tractor Parts Dealer Association. You can go ahead and pay your dues without expecting much in return...an expense...or you can be wise about your "investment" and expect value and a return on your dues payment.

We really hope your view of NTPDA Membership is an investment. But, to really get the most of your membership it takes just a bit more. The return on your investment depends on your involvement.

I'm really not sure of another organization that gives as much back to its members as does the NTPDA. Recently we published a sheet of "benefits" that membership brings you...it filled nearly four pages. But, the trick is to use them...but to use them ya gotta know about them. One of them is our NTPDA Scholarship Program that we wrote about last month. To check out the others head to our website or follow this link.

Investment and Involvement are also linked with you and your company make the decision to be truly engaged in your association. You can do that through a number of ways:

  • Volunteer - There is nothing like learning about the workings of your Board of Directors other than volunteering to work on a committee. This year our goal is to get more involvement from our Membership in a committee structure from Membership to Planning;
  • Attend - Your association holds two events each year. Our Summer Meeting and our Annual Trade Show and Meeting. When you attend these you become involved in making sure your investment pays off. Real business ideas and solutions along with creating relationships with fellow members and the folks who supply us with goods and services.

In the end it's your choice. We know you've got a bunch on your plate. We all do. But, here is a way that you can get the most out of your NTPDA investment and that one word is..."Involvement".

Thanks for reading!


NTPDA Scholarship Time!

Each year the National Tractor Parts Dealer Association offers our Annual Scholarship Program. NTPDA contributes $1,500 and the sponsoring company of the Diploma Scholarship recipient contributes $500 for an award total of $2,000. The scholarships are awarded to deserving student who are NTPDA members, employees of members, or dependents of members or employees. Our scholarship applications are open to U.S. and Canadian graduating high school students, or current college students, enrolling full-time (12 or more credit hours), toward a diploma or degree at an accredited college or university.

The scholarship awards are based on academic achievement, extra-curricular/community service activities, evidence of leadership, work experience, short and long-term career goals and the applicant's overall response to each of the question on the application. Financial need is not considered in the review process and there is no distinction made on race, religion or gender of the applicant. Completed applications must be accompanied by written verification of affiliation with a NTPDA member company and a Recommendation Letter from someone outside of the sponsoring company or your family.

Sound good so far?

The Details

NTPDA will invoice companies following the selection of the recipient or recipients and one check will be sent the recipient from NTPDA in the full amount. Scholarship recipients must provide evidence to the NTPDA office that college registration is complete before scholarship funds are disbursed.  Upon receipt of such evidence, the NTPDA will issue a check to the recipient. 

The lifetime maximum an applicant may receive a NTPDA scholarship is two.  There is a limit of two scholarships awarded per paid membership per year.  This includes Regular, Associate and Affiliate members.

The selection process is an extremely difficult one because of the many outstanding applicants each year.  Therefore, great care is taken to assure that impartial and unprejudiced choices are made.   Applications are sent to the NTPDA office where they are logged in and noted with the date received and assigned a student code.  The numbered applications are then sent to the Scholarship Committee and the original kept in the NTPDA office.  Based on the criteria above, the committee then ‘rank’ the applications, choosing the top ranked as the recipients of the scholarships.  Their selections are then forwarded to the NTPDA office for announcement to the Association and in the student's local newspaper.

Applications MUST be complete and received in the NTPDA office by Monday, March 18th, 2019.

And...here it is.  Download the application here.

Good luck and thank you!