That's what I'd tell anyone selling a piece of used farm equipment hoping to get the most money for it. So that's basically ALL sellers of used farm equipment, right? Yep, I think so. Fortunately we live now in an age where new and fun possibilities exist for any seller to attempt to personalize the equipment they are selling to potential buyers. But the truth? Most don't. Actually, I should be more specific.
Hardly any sellers personalize what they are selling.
That's too bad because from my vantage point as one who has been compiling auction sale price data now for 25 years on all types of used farm and construction equipment sold throughout North America, I can tell you unequivocally....personalize it to buyers and you'll get more $$ for it. Human emotion is a very powerful thing. When you "engage" potential buyers emotionally on any thing you are selling...your chances to sell at a max price and max profit just went up. Way up.
"But Pete, how do you personalize used farm equipment?"
Fair question. Let's start by breaking down the (3) ways of selling used equipment and those stakeholders who can benefit from finding new ways to personlize what they are selling, in this case used farm equipment:
1. Auction Firms
Ok, just got a new sale booked, nice line of farm equipment, could be a retirement auction or estate sale. So what does every one of the nearly 1,000 auction firms I'm connected with do first? They go over the sale advertising budget with the sellers. How much do they want to spend? What regional ag papers do they want to advertise in? How many sale flyers should we print up and mail out? Gotta do that stuff. I'm not saying auction firms shouldn't....but, there is a lot MORE than can think about and do that won't cost them anything.
So let's start with the sale bill. First thing I'd do is include a nice picture of the sellers. Farmer Joe and his wife. Show folks what they look like. How about take their pic in front of their shiny new shop, or beautifully kept barn? What's the saying...a picture is worth 1,000 words. Yep, very true. I would also find a way on the sale bill to say something about the sellers...and I'm not talking about just the usual "Joe and Mary have decided to retire after a long and successful farming career." That's great, but TELL ME SOMETHING ABOUT JOE & MARY. Maybe a little history on their farm. How long has it been in the family? What was the first tractor Joe and Mary bought, from what dealership, what year did they buy it? How many kids did Joe & Mary raise on their farm? How many grandkids?
Does that info sound silly and irrelevant? Could be, but in providing such info on the sellers and who they are my contention is you have further engaged potential buyers of what Joe & Mary are selling.
Aren't you (auction firms) in fact selling "Joe & Mary"? Yes, you are.
Now, the space on a sale bill is limited, only so much you can work in. But what about the auctioneer's web site? Unlimited real estate there. So I notice when great auction firms like my friends at Kramer Auctions, Ltd. of Saskatchewan (www.kramerauction.com) do things like, a nice little pic and write up on the farm couple selling:
Or this one, from another recent farm auction they had:
Nothing earth shattering here, just lots of good background information and history on the sellers, all info available to potential buyers as they peruse the equipment listing on that particular sale. To me it feels like you (auction firms) are providing more "context" on the sale....who the sellers are, why they are selling, etc.
Now comes an even more powerful tool...video. Youtube channels cost $0 to set up. Yes, that's right. $0. Why not do a very simple auctioneer interview with the sellers, again maybe standing in front of that shiny John Deere tractor of theirs headlining the sale, or with the beautiful shop/barn in background. Actually hearing the sellers talk about their equipment and their farm....very, very powerful I think. If the sellers are stoic midwestern folks who are maybe a bit camera shy? Even better actually. That comes across as "real" to folks watching the video. They aren't bragging about their tractors and equipment for sale, just quietly, simply giving potential buyers some insight into when they bought it, how they cared for it, any issues with that equipment item, etc.
Know you have tiptoed into the realm of "trust building". What any smart seller should strive to do. Remove hurdles and question marks from potential buyers' collective psyche.
So I think of a farm estate auction late last year in Nebraska. Before the sale we ran an auction preview in our Machinery Pete Youtube channel (www.youtube.com/machinerypete) with a video interview with the widow and her son, talking about how dad loved and cared for his IHC tractors. Here's a screenshot from the video, mother & son:
Guess what the 1976 IHC 1466 tractor with 8,004 hours on it sold for on that Jan. 14, 2014 farm estate auction? $14,500...the 3rd highest auction sale price I'd seen on an IHC 1466 in over 13 years. Here's a pic:
2. Farmer Selling Via Classifieds
Ok, so what can YOU do when times come to sell that one piece of used equipment you need to move off your farm? Start with really thinking about what you say in your classified listing. What do you want to say 1st? Then what? My recommendation has always been if you know you are the original, 2nd or 3rd owner of that item you are selling...say that first: "1 OWNER"...."2ND OWNER". Lead with that bit of truth because it says something to potential buyers. It takes away lot of question marks.
Of course you then need to fill in all the pertinent specs on that item you're selling. Go ahead and do that. But how to personalize it? Think about maybe ending your listing with a little statement about how you used it and how you cared for it..."This combine did 7 harvests for us and never broke down. It never sat outside a night in its life."
If you are able to provide a picture of your item for sale, think about you standing next to it in the picture...by your nice farm shop/yard/barn. And here's the big kicker you can pull out. Set up your own Youtube channel and post a video of your tractor, combine, planter, disk for sale. Don't know how to set up a Youtube channel? Intimidated by technology? Don't worry, you're not alone. I've posted over 500 Youtube videos now. How did I get started? I asked our 2 daughters, then in high school, to help teach me. Believe me, if a tech idiot like me can do it, you can too. Don't be afraid to ask for help from your kids/grandkids/neighbor kids/local FFA chapter kids. They will help. You will have fun learning.
And as you learn, keep this image in your head to drive you....that classified listing where you are telling about your 1983 John Deere 4450 tractor with 4,000 hours, power shift, for sale...think about the power of putting a Youtube url link at the end of your classified listing so readers can WATCH IT and HEAR YOU TALK ABOUT IT.
Potentially very powerful stuff. And remember, it costs $0. $0. $0. $0. $0. Zero dollars. Nada. Nothing. No cost. Zippo. Free. Free. Free.
3. Dealers Selling Used Equipment
Actually the most potential and most powerful application is right here. So all the implement dealers througout North America with all the excess of late model used equipment sitting on their lots not moving, how to go about finding new ways and mechanisms to get it moved, what to do?
So you have (40) 1-4 year old used combines, I get it, very difficult to move 'em. Values are falling. But the same rules apply here, how can you (dealers) make your item for sale stand out from the crowd? And there is a HUGE crowd currently of very nice, very large, very low hour stuff for sale on dealer lots all over. What can you (dealer) do differently in your advertising? See my answer above: personalize what you are selling.
How to do that? Well, I'd start by trying not to think of what you are selling as a commodity. Yep, you've got (40) combines you have to sell. They are commodities, but think here again of video. Don't just show that 2 year old combine in front of your service shop, rolling forward and back a few feet. Is that going engage potential buyers emotionally? Nope. Back up the process and think of the strong relationship you (dealer) have with your customers. What if you had them, or someone from your sales staff shoot just a little snip of that combine in action in the fall, rolling through beautiful corn fields of central Iowa/Illinois/Indiana, would that video be more meaningful to potential buyers? I think so. Think of the new opportunity that "in the field" or "on the farm" video snip of that combine just gave you...now you can begin to "sell the farmer". Voice narration during the Youtube video clip: "This 2 year old combine with 489 engine hours was owned by a great long-time customer of ours, Joe ___ of ___, IL."
You have personalized what you are selling. Now maybe it's not just a commodity there's too many of.
Easy to change and do these things? Nope. Hard in fact. But only "hard" in the sense of investing time to learn (it's easy, fun too). No time for that kind of stuff you say. I get it. We're all super busy. You (dealer) can certainly continue on advertising as you have. Or you can think about this new way. Cost......zero, $0, nada, zippo. Cost of not changing and embracing the new possibilities....I'll just say HUGE.
If you (dealer) need more reason to consider looking into this new way of personalizing your advertising efforts, think of it from a competitive brand building point of view. YOUR BRAND. My 5 year experience with Yotube videos and social media is that farmers enjoy having a spotlight shined on their farm equipment. You (dealer) know your customers. You have worked with them for years and years, probably worked with their fathers and grandfathers before them. Is there value in these customer relationships? Off the charts value. In what fun new ways (cost $0) might you be able to "honor" these long time farm customers? In the video ways I've described, that's how.
Oh, and if you (dealer) don't....your competitors will...eventually. Change usually (almost always) isn't fun. This time it can be. Trust me.