In the introduction to “How to Direct Market Your Beef” Jan Holder writes that when she and her husband, Will, took over the management of the family ranch in 1992, “we thought that it was going to be an idyllic life. We were going to whip the ranch into shape in a few months and then spend the next 20 years canning vegetables and writing the great American novel. We thought that if we just ran things a little more efficiently, the ranch would be instantly profitable.” Of course, those of you who are already raising beef know that that’s not how the story went.
Instead, the Holders realized that the beef industry had changed and they needed to find out a new way to sell their product. Jan Holder writes of their discovery that it wasn’t enough to simply differentiate their product by describing how gently the animals were raised and the health benefits of their beef. They had to learn a lot about marketing, sales, prepping their product for sale, working with butchers, restaurants, and more.
In this 96-page book published by the Sustainable Agriculture Network, Jan Holder shares all the tips and hints you need to begin direct marketing your beef. She covers breeding for tender beef and what she and her family learned about helping customers understand how to prepare their beef purchases. She also provides a great outline for identifying your Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities and Threats. She calls this a “Situational Analysis” but you’ve also seen it described as SWOT in earlier articles in On Pasture. (See Risk Management – Here’s a Tool to Make it Easier and Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities and Threats – Do You Know Yours?)
Holder doesn’t hold your hand and take you through a step-by-step recipe for success. But she does tell you what questions to ask, what you ought to think about, and tells you what you need to know to avoid pitfalls. The book also includes an “Enterpreneurs” section featuring the real-life successes in direct marketing of 7 farms and ranches. It concludes with a “Resources” section to give you a leg up on places to look for more assistance and information.