The cold winter might not be the time you are thinking of the warmth of fair season and buyers at the auction, but it should be. Winter is the perfect time of year to build your network, expand your buyer list and connect to your market. Michigan State University Extension 4-H Youth Development suggests the following five steps to follow over the winter months to accomplish this:
- Create your market recruitment list. Who might be interested in buying your animal? Who would enjoy fresh meat raised by a 4-H member? Who might support 4-H or youth programming? Be creative and reach out to new people. Introduce yourself at a local coffee shop, to the owner of a business or a neighbor you know but have never shared your 4-H story.
- Prepare your 4-H story. Once you introduce yourself, be ready to share who you are, what 4-H is and explain your 4-H project. Share details on the opportunity to attend the fair and buy your animal during the auction.
- Provide a flyer or letter to the individual that includes additional details on you, your animal and the auction, and include your contact information. Ask if you can have the contact information for the person you are talking to so you can follow up.
- Follow up. Send a note, email or give a call to thank them for talking with you about your project. Make sure you offer to answer questions if they have any. Follow up in the spring with an update letter on how your animal project is going. In the summer, mail a letter or visit with the potential buyer again to share the invite to the auction and any details needed so they can attend the invite.
- Be available for questions. If this is a first time auction attendee, there might be questions on how the auction works, how the meat is obtained and how payments are made.
The quietness of winter is a great time to build your buyer list and save yourself the time and energy in spring or summer. In addition, it helps strengthen your relationship with potential buyers and shows them your market animal project is a focus year-round, not just at auction time.