AMBOY, Minn. – A weekend snowstorm has boosted beef sales for Fox Premium Beef. While things were quiet on the farm, the Fox’s office was busy taking new orders, getting meat ready and lining up pickups and deliveries.
“Blizzard days are huge,” said Karen Fox. “Everyone is on their phones, they’re shopping, they’re stuck at home and they have time they normally don’t have.”
Much of southern Minnesota was shut down over the weekend of Jan. 18. A winter storm moved in from the south with high winds and blowing snow.
The Foxes decided to offer a blizzard special that Saturday, 7 percent off.
“My phone was constantly ringing with messages through Facebook, people who had questions, inquiring about product and planning, splitting quarters with friends,” Karen said. “It seems like people are preparing, thinking about spring on the horizon.”
Facebook is the main form of advertising for the Foxes since they began selling beef directly to their customers last spring. They do send out emails to their customers via Mailchimp every 3-4 weeks and they are also on Instagram.
The goal is to draw customers back to their website and their Facebook page. The website shares their story and explains what they have to offer. Facebook messaging is the main form of communication with prospective customers.
“One of our posts actually had like a thousand views in a day and a half, which is pretty heavily viewed,” she said. “That promotes clicks to the store and online website.”
The challenge with direct marketing, especially since the Foxes are still in the early stages of building their customer base, is sales aren’t always consistent. Unlike marketing loads of cattle based on the rotation through the feedlot when the producer has a good idea of when to expect a big check, the Foxes don’t always know when that big sale will come.
“I had someone during the snowstorm say, ‘Hey, we’re going out of town and we gave our kids as part of their Christmas gifts a notice that they each get $150 worth of meat. Here’s their order.’ So, I went out in the snow to the freezers and got it ready.”
The couple ended up leaving with the gifts for their kids, plus additional ground beef and other product for themselves. In the end, it was a nice sale of over $500.
“People definitely are over the holiday purchases,” she said.
Marketing on Facebook and social media is not as easy as it sounds. Creating posts that are informative, interesting and catching enough that people click on them and share them can be a daunting task.
“I sit down to write a post and all of a sudden, I’ve lost half an hour of time I didn’t plan to spend,” said Karen.
Currently, the Foxes cattle are all booked out. At their peak production, they would be sending around eight head to local meat markets for processing each month.
Maintaining that level of sales is a real challenge – not so much getting the product sold, but organizing the sale once it is made.
“It is time consuming to get all those sales done, get the deposit, then get the final payment, get the animal shipped and get their processing orders,” she said. “It’s all about how much time during the month I have available to dedicate to that job."