Sales

Twitter Basics

Several weeks ago we shared with you that we've done a "social media audit" of our NTPDA members. Just to see what social media platforms they are using and what we might do to better help our members communicate with their customers. We've already looked at Facebook now a peek at Twitter. Twitter Logo 2019

We found a minority of our members on the Twitter Platform. Most likely that's because they may not be aware of how many people in agriculture are already there and think it's not worthwhile. Nothing could be further from the  truth. If you go to Twitter and search for #Farming #Agriculture #Harvest19 you'll find a host of farmers and ranchers there talking about their experiences. You'll also find some of the major equipment retail centers using Twitter to inform folks about their offerings, pricings, etc.

In other words: Twitter is a happening place.

So, let's set out some basics for Twitter use...ready?

  • Have a Plan - Just like with Facebook you need to have a plan for Twitter. What you want is to share information that farmers and ranchers find useful. That is a BUNCH better than using the platform simply for selling stuff. So, think about what you know about parts and agriculture that others might find useful and then create a calendar of what to talk about;
  • Your Business Blog - We've said for YEARS that every business should have a business blog that is attached to your website. That gives you more power from search engines AND you get to tell YOUR story in your own words. But then...what do you do with your blog?  Share it on Twitter. Again if you are sharing information farmers and ranchers find valuable...you win;
  • When to Tweet - We've always thought that the best times to Tweet is when your customers are active on their computers...makes sense right? However with so many farmers and ranchers using their phones to interact that means your customer isn't tied down to a computer screen. He or she might be waiting at the grain elevator or on the combine scrolling through social media and making comments.  Bottom line is that if you are active so too is your customer;
  • How to Tweet - You can jump on Twitter and create an account for FREE. However we think it's wise to purchase a subscription to a system that will allow you to manage your Twitter stream more effectively. There are several out there. We've used Hootsuite for years. It gives you the flexibility to follow others, schedule your Tweets and see what is going on at a glance;
  • Use Images - People respond to images more than just words. Make sure your Tweets have images most of the time; 
  • Tweet Often - Twitter is like a message board that constantly is moving. If you Tweet, say at 6:00AM but not again until Noon you've lost six hours of "eyeballs". We recommend tweeting at least eight to twelve times a day. By using your automated system that's pretty easy to do;
  • Don't Link to Facebook - OK...we know some of you do but your Tweet shows up like this: "facebook.com7476982" or something like that. The reader has NO idea what you've posted. Facebook and Twitter are two very different animals. If you are going to link to Facebook make sure you post what it's about;
  • Re-Tweeting - One of the best ways to engage is by retweeting posts you think are interesting and/or valuable. And, as a favor, always RT our Tweets...please;
  • Using the Hashtag - Once you've been on Twitter for a bit you'll get the hang of Hashtags. It's how to search for something or to keep a topic fresh. You can even set your search for a # Hashtag. For example, like in the opening of this post... #Agriculture put that into Twitter and see what people are talking about when it comes to topics.  This is really handy when you are at a trade show and there is a Hashtag for the event. NTPDA uses #NTPDA20 as the Hashtag for our upcoming annual meeting in Phoenix.

There you have it...some very basic thoughts about Tweeting for Business. As always let us know if you've got questions or comments. You can leave those here on this post!  Thanks for reading and being an NTPDA Member! 


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 


Wish You Were Here!

We are in Mobile for the 2019 NTPDA Annual Meeting and Trade Show and if you didn't make it...well, we wish you were here. We have so much coming up Mobile AL Night Shot that we know will help move your business and our industry forward. And, yes, we'll have time to get together with friends and actually do business.

For those of us who are here, and on the ground, the next few days will fly by. Our Early Bird Gathering is Thursday evening and, if you've ever been with us, you know it will be great.

On Friday we'll launch into "Going Beyond the Brand" which has everything to do with employee and customer engagement. How can we get our employees to become more engaged in what our customers want and need. Karen Video Grab 5 Oct 2018And, know what?  Most of that has to do with listening and being responsive. To get there Karen will talk about transparency and the customer experience. It's not always price but it is about winning.

Also on Friday we'll dive into your online presence with "Online Excellence - Redesigning Your Website From THe Ground Up".  What is it that consumers want to know and see when they first get to your site?  How can you use technology to create a winning relationship with your customer and how can your website engage? Nicholas will have answers to your questions.

And by the time we get to Thursday evening we'll be in our Trade Show area with dozens of opportunities to do business here in Mobile.

And, that's just Friday!!

We really do miss those of you who can't be here and we're going to do our best to get you to see the value, along with the fun, of being at our Annual Meeting and Trade Show.  Be watching out Facebook Page and our Twitter Stream @NTPDA all week long for updates, video clips and more.  You can also follow us by using the hashtag #NTPDA19!  Easy, no?

And, we haven't even talked about Saturday...yet.

 

 


The Power of Repeating Stuff

Who doesn't like repeat customers? Who doesn't like being told...a couple of times...that you've got a great logo or uniform or...heck a Man hay bale microphonehaircut? Just as much as we enjoy repeat customers and repeated complements so too should we learn that when we repeat something over and over it has real power.

In marketing and advertising it is what is called "Top of Mind Awareness". Making sure your product or service is at the top of mind when it comes to buying what you are selling. "One and DONE" doesn't cut it. It takes an effort to make sure you repeat your message over and over.

Here are a couple of examples and while they are for national brands we think you'll get the message:

" Winston Tastes Good Like a Cigarette Should" - Winston has been of television and radio for decades...yet we remember the tag line;

"The Campaign of Bottled Beer" - Miller used this slogan for years and years abandoned it and this year brought it back...for good reason;

"A Diamond is Forever" - DeBeers debuted this way back in 1948 and they are still using it because...it works;

"Breakfast of Champions" - Who doesn't know this 1930's Wheaties slogan;

"It's the Real Thing" - CocaCola hit it out of the park with this from 1970;

"Say it With Flowers" - This will surprise you, the slogan dates back to 1917!

You get the idea... True, each one of these slogans had real dollars behind them to push the idea and the brand. Maybe your business doesn't have that sort of advertising budget but maybe you don't need all that cash to accomplish much the same thing.

Think of your value proposition and what you bring to your customers and then put that in words. Not a bunch of words but short and sweet. We know of a law firm that has the tag line, "We get things done!" because the number one complaint complaint among legal clients is that far too often law firms don't get things done and clients have to wait...and wait. The firm went so far as to register the slogan and they use it...everywhere.

Find your value proposition and then repeat it...often and everywhere. The goal is to have your customers hear or see those words and identify you and your unique value. 

It very well could bring you...repeat customers.


National Small Business Week

All this week, in the United States, there is a celebration of National Small Business Week. Since 1963 the federal government has set aside a week for a Small Business Week Imagecelebration that is critical to our economy.  A few Small Business Facts:

  • There are roughly 29 million small businesses in the U.S. which account for 54% of all sales in this country;
  • Small businesses provide 55% of all jobs in the U.S. and 66% of all net new jobs;
  • There are 600,000 franchise operations here that employ over 8 million people;
  • The American small business sector occupies nearly 50% of all commercial space up to 34 billion square feet.

Astounding yes?

Many, if not all, of our NTPDA Regular Member Businesses would fall under 500 employees so, this week is also your week.  What can you do to take part in Small Business Week?  Some thoughts:

  • Share Your Story - Contact the local newspaper, radio or television station. Let them know this is National Small Business Week and share your small business story. Take a moment and share what your small business means to your employees and customers and how money spent with you stays in your local community. Believe us, reporters are looking for stories they can use all week long;
  • Get Social - Grab the National Small Business Logo from this post and share it on your social media channels...and tell your story there as well;
  • Say Thank You - Remember your customers...they are the people that keep your business in business. Post a note on social media, send a note to customers, enclose a note in your shipping items...let people know how important they are to your small business;
  • Email the Message - Send out a coupon or at least a thank you reminding your email list that this is National Small Business Week...many of your customers are also small businesses.

Happy National Small Business Week!

 


Online Sales Smash Retail Sales

For years many of our National Tractor Parts Dealer Association members found value in adding e-commerce to their sales efforts. Sure, it was a difficult Online Add to Carttransition and it cost money to staff call centers and online chat professionals but it has paid off because online sales are crushing traditional retail efforts. How do we know?

Let's look at one example...Wal-Mart. 

Retail giant Wal-Mart reported solid fourth-quarter results last week with the U.S. business producing another quarter of comparable-sales growth. But the star of the show was e-commerce. Get this, U.S. online sales for Wal-Mart soared by 29% year-over-year, an acceleration driven by the company's investments in the acquisition of Jet.com. E-commerce is still small relative to Wal-Mart's brick-and-mortar operations, but that won't remain true for long.

According to the Department of Commerce in 2016 total e-commerce sales in the United States rose by 15.1%. And that is far faster than the overall 2.9% growth in total retail sales.

We understand that our members are not Wal-Mart however the trend is clear. Your customer is just as likely to come from five states away than five miles away and those numbers will continue to grow. Your challenge is finding a way to build your digital business while continuing to serve your local consumer. It can be done and many of our members have been very successful in their marketing efforts.

If you would like to share your thoughts...please do!

 


A Perfect Storm for Used Parts?

A "perfect storm" may be brewing in farming communities that could have a direct impact on the used agricultural parts industry. In a report published by the Perfect Storm Road USDA this month we learn that, once again, farmland values in the "Farm Belt" have slipped. Lenders have seen another 2% drop in the value of an acre of farm ground. The reason is low commodity prices which, in Iowa alone, will cost farmers $2 billion in income this crop year. The other issue is the rise in oil prices. In just the past week we've seen a barrel of crude go from near $40 to knocking on the door of $50. We are all aware that agriculture uses an abundance of petroleum products from fertilizer to fuel.

All of this, if we pay attention, may signal an opportunity for the used, rebuilt, re-manufactured parts business.

When farmers see the economic reality of lower prices and higher inputs they begin to re-think their spending patterns. If, for example, they can save several thousand dollars on repairs this fall it's money in their pocket.

This has a direct impact on members of NTPDA if we start telling our story. Farmers have long been independent do-it-yourself experts. And when they realize the economics of doing business with you...you are more likely to increase your business.

But, they have to know about you and how you can help so here are three things you might consider over the next several weeks.

  • Share the Story - If you are using social media you should start telling your story about being an independent business who can assist the agricultural community through this economic downturn;
  • Your Website - If you have, and you should have, a call to action on your website you should use that space to highlight the savings and benefits of doing business with you and how you can provide high quality service at lower prices. If you have a business blog (and you should) consider pointing that call to action to the story about how you can help;
  • Media Connections - We all have local newspapers or radio stations. You should consider writing a quick piece about the economics of the farm economy and then pitch that to the media outlets. They are always looking for solid stories that impact their listeners or readers.

You have an excellent story to tell and people are seeking answers.  Go get 'em!


Using All the Tools

We enjoy finding news about our NTPDA Members and when we were checking the Internet came across this great article from The Detroit News about our
Steiner Logoassociate member Steiner Tractor Parts.  If you want to go and read the article go ahead but promise to come back!

What we liked about this was how well the article focused on the lifestyle of repairing old tractors and how that hobby has grown into a huge business: "What started as a four-page flyer...has grown into a 616 page phone-book size catalog..."  This is also a great example of something called "Earned Media" or sharing a story with reporters and then following up to make sure it's carried.  Remember this is in The Detroit News, not a rural publication but valuable in helping them build their brand.

And that's not all. A visit to the Steiner Tractor Parts website told us their crew is using all the marketing tools they can to increase their "findability". From Pinterest (Yes...Pinterest!) to Facebook and YouTube our friends at Steiner understand that marketing to multiple segments of the community pays off.

We just thought you might find it interesting and helpful as you continue to build your online and in person business.

Hope you had a fantastic Independence Day Holiday!


Paying Attention to your SEO?


SEO ImageThe world, it seems, buys from the computer. If not making the direct purchase from the computer we, at least, go to the Internet to find where we can buy an item. The Total Retail Survey of 2016 looks at the buying habits of consumers and in the United States and Canada 40% and 38% respectively make decision purchases based on product and supplier reviews.

But, first they have to find you.

We just completed a quick study using five different computers that have had zero interaction with agricultural parts. In other words the words "Ag", "Tractor" and "Parts" were never used in any product search. We know because we picked people without any connection with agriculture. In each test we asked our subjects to do a search for "Ag Tractor Parts" just to see who and what popped up.

The good news is that several National Tractor Parts Dealer Association regular members showed up on the first page of the search. There were also paid advertising on the first page and that varied from computer to computer. 

The bad news is that many of our members did not make the first, second or even the third page of the search. What can you do to improve your ranking and "findability"?

  • Paid Google Ad Words - You can pay for keywords and that investment will drive your search results but, frankly, it's a gamble;
  • Review Your Home Page - If the wording on your home page has not changed in some time the "search bots" look at that and think, "Nothing new here, let's move on!" It's critical that you alter, at least every month the wording on your home page and your "About Us" page. It will help get you found;
  • Social Media Interaction - If all you are doing is Facebook it is not enough. It helps but remember, you are limited to your "Likes". To reach out further you'll have to invest in other platforms. You could start to Instagram parts tractors, combines and people you work with. You could do SHORT YouTube videos of a delivery or a parts tractor or a burned combine it all matters and making sure you have keywords in your description helps;
  • Do a Blog - What better way is there for people to learn about your "back-story"? Tell about your founding, your experience, your customers...it all adds up.
  • Don't Just Broadcast - If you do Social Media don't just broadcast your message but interact with others. Ask questions, do a poll, have some fun. People don't always want to be "sold" they just want to be human and interact.

Hope this helps move your SEO and your website ranking.

 


Want To Make A Bet?

You Can’t Build A Business From Your Couch Gut on Couch

Coming up in Kansas City you’re going to receive REAL VALUE for your Membership in NTPDA and REAL VALUE with the Marketing Masters Bootcamp. So, why is this different and what can you expect?  Glad I asked. 

Want to make a bet?  

Understand that never have I sold a tractor part. Never! However my bet is that I can sell it or a thousand other products/services better than you and grow a business faster. How can that be true?  Because I understand there are THREE ways to grow a business…any business: 

  • Drive potential customers using a purpose driven marketing mix;
  • Improve existing sales techniques that convert lookers into buyers;
  • Extract more revenue from each of your existing customers.

There it is, three things you’ll learn to do during the Marketing Masters Bootcamp in Kansas City in January.  A program that sells for $500 per person at seminars across the nation…yours FREE with your registration to NTPDA16. 

You can stay home and do the same old thing that boosts sales by (maybe) six to eight percent or you can come and learn proven methods that can, if you work it, boosts your bottom line by thirty to fifty percent. 

If you click here or on my friend on the couch you'll still save money on your registration!

It’s your call...See you in Kansas City!