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The Block - It's more than a show pig

Contrary to much noise you may hear in the marketplace, hosted the first-ever online livestock auction on March 21, 2004. In the 20 years since that first auction, we have seen many different styles and types of sellers succeed, and some struggle to gain footing. We’ve studied the best so you don’t have to, and here are 20 of their most common behaviors. Across the board, successful sellers raise competitive, functional livestock so we are assuming you all know that and are striving to do the same. Listed here are the intangibles that set them apart. We hope by putting some focus or more focus on one or two of these areas, you can see returns as well!

  • They make a plan and book their auction in advance.
    Doing so gets you on the auction calendar and lets your loyal and potential customers know when and where to find you! Post your sale information in a timely fashion. Not giving customers enough time to process what you are offering can be detrimental. We recommend having your lot information and all supporting photos/videos NO LATER than five days before your sale. To help you with this, we have created an ideal online auction timeline. You can visit with your Marketing Agent to help you with this timeline and a comprehensive marketing plan.

  • They communicate openly and regularly with our Showpig team.
    Establishing an open line of communication with your Marketing Agent is a must! If you don’t have someone you are working with, we will pair you up with one of our team members who will be available at the drop of a hat to help you with your auction or marketing needs. Remember, Showpig has a whole team behind you working to help you be successful! You probably already know someone on the team, so if you don’t know exactly who to reach out to, start with the one you are most familiar with and they can point you in the right direction.

  • They are AVAILABLE.
    Leave sale day open on your calendar so you can communicate with potential buyers who have questions or want to visit with you. They are investing their money and time in your business, so being available is important. Don’t book a sale on a day you have commitments that won’t allow you to respond.

  • They know what to sell and when to sell it.
    It’s important to sell your pigs on their time, considering their maturity pattern and selling window that best matches what you have to offer! Buyers are looking for pigs to feed for The Exposition and Team Purebred and NJSA Junior National shows in January and February, waiting until March or April to sell animals that fit this bill may not be the best choice. Likewise, feeders looking for animals that can show at their county and state fairs probably are not ready to buy, or take possession of animals in January.

  • They set goals, and not just financial ones.
    Set specific and realistic goals for your auction and communicate them with your Marketing Agent. These goals could be based on increasing averages, attracting new buyers, selling to new counties or states, targeting national shows versus county fairs, increasing your footprint, or retaining old customers. It is important to know what each auction needs to accomplish for your brand and then communicate that with your Marketing Agent so we can help. Sometimes, the hardest thing to overcome in this business is comparing your success with others’ success instead of working to better your business each day, breeding season, and show season. Manage your expectations, and be honest with yourself about what stage your business is in, what you’re selling, and what a fair purchase price is.

  • They have a diverse plan for marketing their brand and their animals for sale.
    Develop a marketing strategy; don’t keep your auction or genetics a secret! Your Marketing Agent can assist you with a custom marketing plan based on your specific goals for each auction. These plans will help you access the audience on through text marketing, targeted email campaigns, and social media! We have all the eyeballs, and they are looking for what YOU have to offer!

  • They plan ahead for a busy sale night.
    For some, that means getting help with chores or childcare. For others, that means having dinner ready in the crockpot or ordering takeout! They have a plan for communicating with buyers with questions and those they’d love to see get involved in the bidding process. They leave nothing to chance!

  • They don’t underestimate the importance of high-quality photos and videos.
    Excellent photos and/or videos are among the most essential pieces of an online auction and they can make or break you. You MUST work with the pigs to tame them down before you picture or video them. The more comfortable they are with you and in the picture pen, the more relaxed and show-ready they will look to the buying public. A clean space and well-lit area are simple things that have a big impact! Your Marketing Agent and our Marketing Team can assist you with a full list of photo and video tips and tricks. Additionally, there are a plethora of photographers and videographers who do this for a living and do a great job if you feel you need more help in this area. If you would like help finding a professional that fits your needs, your Marketing Agent is a great resource.

  • They are honest and thorough in their descriptions of their pigs, whether in written descriptions or on video.
    Buyers appreciate having accurate descriptions. A buyer who feels misled will not be a happy or repeat buyer. The easier they are to read and understand, the better! Proofreading and putting your best, most honest foot forward will go a long way towards building trust and rapport with your buyers. If you struggle with this or with self-promotion in general, it can be a good idea to hire a third-party consultant or bring in a fieldman to help you bridge the gap and make it easier for your buyers to know what you are selling. Choose someone you are comfortable with and who your buyers will resonate with and respect, and that will come through in your auction presentation.

  • They make it easy for prospective buyers to see their stock before the auction.
    Setting open houses or viewing hours before your auction can help you and your customers with scheduling. An unintended benefit- your pigs aren’t exhausted from being overworked leading up to sale time! We know there are a lot of details to consider before hosting an open house, so we developed a checklist to make the process more efficient. After all, we at Showpig love nothing more than efficiency and a checklist!

  • They offer their best genetics online to attract the most potential buyers.
    It’s possible that buyers will only ever see your online auction listings and will determine their feelings about your brand FOREVER based on what they see for sale there. Offer your best, not your leftovers. As they say, you never get a second chance to make a first impression so show the world what you’ve got! The online buying audience is big, and they are paying attention. Saving your best to sell off the farm and selling your leftovers online may create a narrative about your genetics that can be hard to overcome. It would be like Apple never letting us see new iPhones and only highlighting their technology’s discounted, out-of-date, or scratch-and-dent versions. Put your best out there, have a plan, and let the world see what you can do!

  • They make it easy for buyers to get their purchases QUICKLY and efficiently.
    Help your buyers plan by providing various convenient delivery options and clearly communicate them as soon as possible. And yes, we have a list to help with that, too!

  • They know that post-sale plans are just as important as pre-sale management.
    Have a plan for delivery, health papers, and federally recognized ear tags. Health papers and federally recognized tags are mandatory when transporting livestock across state lines. Families are also showing pigs much earlier thanks to jackpot circuits. They need their registration papers much sooner than in years past.

  • They take customer service and follow-up seriously.
    Plan to follow up with buyers and help them with their projects throughout the year. Create a system to track each buyer if necessary. Showing gratitude and helping with feeding, grooming, and training makes a world of difference for families who desperately want to succeed but may just lack some of the wisdom you’ve gathered. If this isn’t something you have the bandwidth for, find someone who can fill that gap (an aged-out former showman looking for purpose?) and provide the extra service that way. See projects through to the end and gather backdrop pics and success stories for future promotions. Additionally, stand behind your product, and be prepared to listen, make adjustments, or offer credit options when things don’t go as planned.

  • They take good care of their current customer base.
    People make buying decisions based on trust and relationships first and foremost. They want to work with people who care about their kids on more than just a show pig level. Get to know your customers, their goals, their struggles, and what motivates them. As the great Zig Ziglar famously said, “You can have everything in life you want, if you will just help other people get what they want.”

  • They recruit new customers.
    Don’t discount the importance of your influence and what it means to a showman. When you reach out, tell them that you’d love to have them on your team. More than ever, young people are looking for a place to belong, to be appreciated, and to be pushed to be the best they can be. It’s no secret we think the barn is the best place for that; some just need a nudge to know they are wanted and seen and have the potential to be great. Sometimes, a showman ready to give up only needs someone to see a spark of potential in them to change the trajectory of their lives.

  • They are wise enough to know they don’t know everything and can’t do it all.
    Raising pigs and offering them for sale requires all kinds of skills, and some you might not be great at. Don’t be afraid to reach out to peers, friends, or other sellers for wisdom. Most of the time, they are more than willing to answer your questions. Don’t be afraid to hire for the things you are not good at or seem to never get around to. Surround yourself with trusted advisors, a home team you can count on, and someone to call for encouragement when everything seems hard. Additionally, our team is equipped to help with any number of administrative tasks that most breeders hate to do. All you have to do is ask your Marketing Agent, and we can connect you with resources to help with nearly any task outside of the breeding and production process!

  • They are happy for other’s success.
    Not everyone can have the high seller every night. Be humble when you do, and be supportive of others when you don’t. It’s the same message we tell our kids in the show ring when teaching them how to be gracious winners AND losers.

  • They see themselves as entrepreneurs and coaches, not just as breeders.
    The show livestock industry is a big business, and those who succeed and sustain that success, regardless of the species raised, understand that they are not just a breeder of good livestock, although that is a prerequisite. They understand they are also a small business owner who needs to have a good grasp of human resources, marketing, financial acumen, goal setting and planning, and customer service. They also understand and do not take lightly their role in young people’s lives. They are the first call a showman will make when something isn’t working right. They are the most trusted source of information, whether in regards to making buying decisions, feeding changes, or even dating advice and college and career choices. As a breeder, know that you wear many hats and have tremendous influence, just as many others did for you along the way to here!

  • They see and understand the big picture.
    Remember, our industry is about so much more than a show pig.

Written by Megan Wendt

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