Small Business

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! 


Right to Repair Makes National News

The National Tractor Parts Dealer Association support the concept of "Right to Repair". Recently, during a campaign stop in Iowa a Sestak Farm Iowapresidential candidate spoke about "Right to Repair". Here is that story

Last week Insight on Business the News Hour was covering 2020 presidential candidate Admiral Joe Sestak (right in the photo) at a farm just outside of Des Moines, Iowa. Sestak was there to outline his agricultural policy. One of the highlights of his presentation was the "Right to Repair" issue. Following the talk the Business News Hour reported the following story: (To listen to this clip, click on the player.)

Right to Repair Clip NTPDA Sestak 2019


It is impressive that "Right to Repair" is on the radar screen of at least one of the 2020 presidential contenders. NTPDA is not endorsing any candidate for public office. We are simply sharing what was heard recently in Iowa and then shared across the county.


Social Media & Business - Facebook

Welcome back to our ongoing series of posts regarding social media and business. Recently we conducted an audit of our members and what social media Facebook Thumbs Up tools they seem to prefer when attempting to reach their target audience. That led us to this attempt to help our members, and really anybody else reading, to learn some best practices and "how to" engage consumers with social media. Our first piece on this was "The Business Blog" and you can read that here.

When we looked at our membership the social media platform of choice seems to be Facebook. That's no surprise because the social media giant had, as of
the second quarter of 2019 a bit over 2.4 billion active users!

Oh But The Changes

Perhaps you've noticed that, over the past couple of years, your Facebook posts haven't been getting the traction they once received. Three years ago you could post something about your business and you might get hundreds of impressions and interactions. Today that number has shrunk. Why? Because Facebook wants you to pay for your content to be seen. It's a smart business decision and one of the reasons that Facebook stock is, today, trading at $183.70 a share. So, what can you do to make sure your content stands out on Facebook?  

Video singleVideo and Facebook

In a recent study of over 777 million Facebook posts it was found that video remains the number one driver of consumer engagement. On average video posts on Facebook rack up at least 59% more engagement than other types. Looking at the content of the top 500 Facebook posts of 2018 we find that 81% of them were backed by video. Only 18% were backed by static images.

So, it's a clear indication that you should be spending some time posting short video clips about your business. And, because video is so easy to shoot...why not. Plus you don't need all kinds of fancy gear to make this happen. You can start with your cell  phone video. (We'll have an entire blog about that coming up.)

Reactions to Facebook Posts

The same study looked at reactions to Facebook posts and found that emotion rules. People interact with content they find funny or inspirational. That doesn't mean that everybody loves funny or inspirational content and you have to be careful, given the social climate we find ourselves in, what you post. Remember the goal is to polish your brand. It's always best to know what your target demographic finds engaging...which really is rule number one when it comes to social media marketing.

Prime Example of Engaging Content Norfolk Police Lip Sync

Last year the Norfolk Police Department received more than 3.2 million engagements and grew their audience to well-over 180,000 fans. How? The Lip Sync Challenge. Here is a link to their video. But, promise to come back!

OK, that's pretty cool and I'm not suggesting that you get your crew together for a lip sync challenge but what consumers want to see is the human side of your business. Sure you might be selling an axle but what else goes on in your company that is engaging and fun?

How Too - It's Big

We've got a couple of members that do some excellent "How to" videos. And, according to the study this stuff works well too. When you are helping your customers find ways to fix something not only do you get the credit but it's likely that post will be shared with others. I know you have some "fixes" that could benefit others.  It's not always about "selling" but it is about connecting.

Behind the Scenes

Engage your customers in the "behind the scenes" of what goes on in your business. People buy from people they know, like and trust. You've got to have some great stories that you can record and then share. Right?  It takes work but it really does work.

This post has already gotten a bit long...so let's break it off here and next time some suggestions as to how you can take some great video with excellent sound on a budget you can live with.  

Thanks for reading!

Michael Libbie, a long time member of the National Tractor Parts Dealership Association, creates content for our association. If you wish to comment, feel free. And, here is a link to that 2019 Study of Facebook in case you want a deeper dive. 


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.

 

 


Look Who Says "Hi!" - Meet Karen McCullough

Our Annual Meeting and Trade Show is quickly approaching and we figure you want to know more about our speakers....right? Presto! Meet Karen McCullough who will be in Mobile to talk to us about BRANDING. What is it? How do you sustain it? How does business live it? Who creates it? How does it work?  Yes, lots of questions and Karen will be with us to explain it all!  And, she's fun!  Save the date, registration will be opening soon!

 


See you at the Spa!


Natural Disasters, Oil Spills and Community Effort

Over the past month a number of our NTPDA members have had to deal with weather related disasters. In Iowa there has been a rash of flooding and then in Rock Valley there was a major oil spill.  Rock Valley is the home base of our President Scott Schelling. We sent an email to Rock Valley Flood 2018 Scott to check up on him. We thought his answer mirrored so many of our members and their communities that we're sharing it with you:

"Sorry for the delay in responding.  I have been out for over a week for various reasons including sandbagging and flood relief.  We are getting back to normal, the river is back in its banks but we still seem to get rain every couple days so it doesn’t go down much.  We set an all time record back in 2014 when the river got to 22.7 feet over floodstage.  This year we topped out at 21.5.  We were more prepared this time and we knew where and what to do so things went a little smoother, but ultimately we still got our butts kicked by the river.  We were able to avoid the major property damage with the work we did and most people just had to empty their basements Rock Valley Flood 2018 Twoand pump water.(they still are pumping water)  We took some steps after 2014 to prevent that same event in the future, we built a permanent berm on the north end of town to keep the river out and bought a couple huge pumps to pump out our storm sewers.  When the river is in flood stage it is higher than our storm sewers and cant run away so we have to pump it out.  And that takes a HUGE pump to keep up when you keep getting rain and everyone is pumping water out of their basements.  We also made some changes to make the river flow away better so it don’t dam up as high.  All the steps we took helped, but we still can do more.  I’m sure we will have more ideas to help for future events. 

 

The oil spill was just 6-7 miles upriver from us and I understand it was the worst oil spill in the US in the last 5 years.  The last number I Rock Valley Oil Spill heard was 230K gallons spilled, and as of last Thurs, only about 100k of that was recovered.  We could see oil in the river and of course it puddled up along the banks in the quiet water.  You could smell oil all thru town on Thursday and Friday.  We had to shut down the city wells to try to keep oil from getting into them.  The DNR has been out and testing dirt in places as the river recedes to see how bad the contamination was.  They have cleared the soccer fields and ball fields to be played on, they say the contamination was minimal in those areas.  The cleanup crew that BNSF brought in was excellent, they went right to work with cleanup and repair and last Thurs the trains were running again down those tracks.  We will see how long before they are finished with oil cleanup, but they don’t stand around, those people are here to work. 

 

The silver lining of it all is the way the communities come together to fight back against the water and how they come out to help others that are in need.  We again had several thousand volunteers from the surrounding towns come to us and help, and they still are coming to help people they don’t even know with cleanup.  This is the reason I love to live here, we don’t just throw up our hands and cry about it and quit, we show up any time of day, and help out people we might not know, and we stand shoulder to shoulder in chest deep water throwing sandbags all night, and we pick each other up when things seem like they are hopeless.  It is a beautiful thing to witness, and it keeps you going even after no sleep, or when your muscles don’t want to go anymore.  I love my town!!"

Scott Schelling - Rock Valley Tractor Parts


New Member Benefit - Omaha Streaks!

Everybody already knows that the best steaks in the nation come from Omaha, Nebraska. What? You don't? Well, let us introduce you to Omaha Steaks a new Omaha Steaksbenefit for our members. See, we told you we bring value to your membership!

All you need to do is be a member of NTPDA and follow this link to Omaha Streaks and BAM! You've got mouth-watering goodness delivered to your home or to your business. Think employee appreciation? 

The goal of the National Tractor Parts Dealer Association is to offer you real value through education, involvement, public policy and...yes, your tummy! 

Thank you for being an NTPDA member now remember to season correctly!

This is your National Tractor Parts Dealer Association making a difference every day for our members and their customers!  Thank you for coming by! 

 


A Month Away!

It's hard to believe that in just a month we'll be gathering for the National Tractor Parts Dealer Association Annual Trade Show and Corpus Christi SkylineConference! With all the holiday cheer and excitement it's sometimes easy to forget about the middle of January...  We get it. If you have not yet registered and made plans to join us in Corpus Christi now is the time to make that happen. Here is a link to our registration page complete with the schedule of events and our top of the line speakers.

Come to Corpus Christi, where we hope it will be much warmer, and hang out, have some fun and learn how to become a better business owner/manager/employee. (A nudge to our Canadian Members...think...warm!)

Coming up a THANK YOU to so many who have decided to help NTPDA with sponsorship. We figure a little recognition is in order...right?

See you in Corpus Christi...remember, just a month away.

Yikes!


You Should Be Very Afraid!

It is Halloween and the spooks are out...no really! But if you are fearful of ghosts that is nothing compared to missing the National Tractor Parts Dealer Annual Man Shock Meeting and Trade Show. Missing that adventure should really send shivers down your spine!

We'll be headed south to Corpus Christi, Texas in January and there is no time like the present to make plans to attend. We've got some frightfully dynamic events in store including our great headquarters hotel the Omni Corpus Christi. Check it out by clicking on our special page...go ahead and the price won't scare you away!

In addition to a great location we've got a boiling cauldron of great information to help you better run and manage your business! 

  • Richard Flint on Embracing Change - Folks are often scared by change but it's coming any way. Richard will offer up "Six Steps to Embracing Change" in our first session on 18 January.
  • Crystal Washington on Advanced Digital Marketing - She's baaack! Crystal was with us last year and you enjoyed her so much she is back for a second round of training. This time she will be helping you better understand the best methods of using digital (think computers and smart phones) marketing. She will also be presenting on 18 January.
  • Got the Right People? - Richard Flint joins us for an afternoon session that same day and talks to us about hiring smart and retaining well. We all know how difficult it is to find the RIGHT person for the job. Richard will help take the horror out of the effort.
  • Got Skills? - Then on the 19th Richard is back with "Mastering the Five Skills for Effective Leadership". What skills are necessary to be able to get people to their most productive level? He'll have the answers!

Don't miss out on this fantastic training...it ain't at all scary!

One other thing:  "Knock, knock" (Who's there?) "Booo!" (Booo who?) "Don't cry it's Halloween!"

Thanks for reading...see you in Corpus Christi! 

 

 

 


How Does Your Business Measure Up?

Today is National Tape Measure Day! No kidding, we looked it up. It seems it is celebrated every 14th day of July. Who knew? But, that got us to thinking about business and how we measure our success and our relationships with our members and friends of the National Tractor Parts Dealer Association. Tape Measure Image

So, how do you measure success? Sure, we can look at sales (the easiest way to gauge how we are doing) we can measure expansion of our business and it's business model. We can measure customer satisfaction. We can measure our willingness to give back to our community. We can measure our ability to attract and retain employees. We can measure so very much and many of us do.

But what happens if we find out we're "coming up short" in our measurement of success in any of the areas above? What do we do about it? Might we chalk it up to mistakes, miscues, or is it mismanagement? 

Those are tough questions to ask ourselves and ask about our relationship with customers, vendors and employees. How do we measure up and what might we do if we find an area where we can improve?

One of the things your NTPDA attempts to do on a regular basis is take the measurement of what we're doing to enhance the value of membership. Where is it that we can improve in our communication our training our involvement with our members?

We'd love to know what you think. Take a moment and let us know. You can comment here on this blog or drop us an email or give us a call or check us out on Facebook. We're here and we'd love to know how you measure success and if we are measuring up to your expectations.

Thanks for reading!