At this year’s annual Infusionsoft user conference, ICON, I had the opportunity to speak to the finalists for the 2017 Small Business ICON award. The finalists include:
- African Leadership University
- Dierks Farm
While each of their stories are unique and compelling, they all share a commonality of how marketing automation positively impacted their business success. Which is why we’ll share some of their stories here, starting with the eventual contest winner, Dierks Farms.
Dierks Farms’ Marketing Automation Success Story
Pam Dierks, VP of Dierks Farms, discussed not only how using Infusionsoft’s marketing automation platform enhanced their 137 year old farming businesses, but it created a path that allowed their sons to follow in their family’s tradition of cattle farming. Below is an edited transcript of our conversation. The full conversation can be seen in the embedded video below.
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Small Business Trends: Maybe you could tell us a little bit about you, your background, and a little bit about the business.
Pam Dierks: Our farm has been in our family since 1881. We farm and raise cattle on the same land as my husband’s great grandfather who came over from Germany. He also raised cattle, so cattle have been raised on this same land. We raise grass fed cattle, and we just feel like we raise them the way our ancestors did; We don’t give any antibiotics. We feed no grain. No steroids. It’s just completely natural, clean meat.
About two years ago, we had sat down with our son who was in college, and we said, “Lane, what do you want to do with your life?” And he said, “All I want to do is farm.” Well, you know, Mom and Dad we want our kids happy, so we really wanted him to farm too. We want the farm to go on.
We decided that we were already growing grass fed beef, and people were so interested in knowing where their food comes from and interested in our product because grass fed beef is very high in omega three and six. It’s got great cardiovascular effects, things like that. So we just started marketing direct to the consumer, and it took off like wildfire.
We have an online store that we ship anywhere in the continental US, and we use Infusionsoft for our online store, our eCommerce, all our follow-up emails, all of our opt-in process for our database. It’s just pretty well the back end of our whole business.
Small Business Trends: Now before you got to that point, did you have any experience with automation? Any experience with online eCommerce?
Pam Dierks: We also own an advertising agency, so we’ve owned that for about 22 years. So I did have a marketing background, and that really helped, and that was probably another good thing about making the decision. But one of the best things is when we got into Infusionsoft, we were using it just to the bare minimums really, and any small business owner knows, you’re busy, you just don’t have time to do everything.
So we attended Infusionsoft Accelerator, which was a great experience. It set up all of our campaigns. While we were at Accelerator, we were paired with a great certified partner, Daniel from In The Mix Marketing out of San Diego, and he set up a lot of campaigns, started our indoctrination campaign which we still use now, and launched it while we were there. We got our first order from it before we left, and we got 12 orders on it that week, which was amazing because before we went to Accelerator our online was pretty nonexistent, but we set up follow-up campaigns, all kinds of different things; it just was the turning point for us.
Small Business Trends: I got a chance to hear you onstage, you were telling a little bit more of your story. Talk a little bit about the campaign you guys ran around the holiday season.
Pam Dierks: We started planning our Black Friday out about six weeks before, and we started with Facebook ads to add to our database. We upped our database by about 33 percent, and then we started sending out feeler emails saying, “What would you like to see on sale?” And some people would send back, “Well, we like rib eyes. Put your griller’s bundle on sale.” “Put your ground beef on sale.” We took all of those and incorporated those ideas into our sales, and then we sent out a series of emails of saying, “It’s coming.” “Mark your calendars.” “Go out and enjoy your Thanksgiving with your family, and at seven o’clock our specials will be live.” And we ran those specials all weekend. We didn’t do just Black Friday.
Then we came back with another complete set of specials on Monday for Cyber Monday, and ran those, and our orders were up about 1,000 percent over the previous week. So it was very monumental to our farm. It made a big difference in our holiday season, and then going into the next year, and it also built our database, and we also sold several subscription programs of buyers clubs which people can subscribe and have an order sent to their house every month. We still have several of those that are going out every month. We haven’t had any cancel since that time, so it’s just been ongoing income for us.
Small Business Trends: It sounds obvious that automation has changed your business, but just how much did it change it, and did it meet expectations?
Pam Dierks: Oh, it exceeded. Even being in marketing, I didn’t really realize how much Infusionsoft can do, and I’m actually getting some of my other customers involved in it now. It is a huge difference. For years and years, I preached not one ad, you need a series, and all of that. Well, that’s exactly the same way with emails. You can’t send out one email, you have to have several. It has to have the follow-up, and things like that, and that’s what Infusionsoft is based on.
So it’s made a huge difference, and it has helped us reach customers from New York to California. We shipped a whole beef to Texas. It’s amazing really. Here we are a little family farm in middle America, and we’re getting known from coast to coast. So that’s all thanks to the Internet and Infusionsoft, and to be able to get our name out there.
Small Business Trends: But it also has a special role, because like you said before, it allows you to have your sons grow and work in the business.
Pam Dierks: It made a difference of if they were going to work on the farm or work off of the farm, because the way our farm was structured, there was no way we would have enough income to have them both work with us on the farm. So this made a huge difference.
I mean, that’s a big problem with farms nowadays of even surviving and if they do survive, the generations move off of the farm. And once they move off the farm, very seldom do they ever come back, and I’m so happy to have my children close to me. I have a new granddaughter, she’s four miles away from me and is with me every day. That’s also thanks to Infusionsoft that I can have her there and still run a successful business.
Small Business Trends: So where can people learn more about Dierks Farm?
Pam Dierks: You can just log into dierksfarms.com. It has our story, it has pictures of our family, it has our video, and we have a complete online store and can ship anywhere coast to coast; an insulated box with dry ice, and it will be frozen at your door.
This is part of the One-on-One Interview series with thought leaders. The transcript has been edited for publication. If it's an audio or video interview, click on the embedded player above, or subscribe via iTunes or via Stitcher.