I often see being asked, and I’m often asked “How do I go about selling my snakes?”. I’ve been asked so often now that I’ve decided to write this blog post about it. I’m no marketing expert by any means, but will touch on my personal experiences and you can take from them what you will. There is no one right way about selling your animals or one path, except regardless it takes time to build a customer base and this does not happen overnight.
Many times I will read frustrated posts on forums or Facebook on how bad the market is, or how they are having trouble selling. Many assume you post a snake for sale and wait for the flood of emails from buyers and when they do not get that flood in 24hrs or a week or a month, they become frustrated and upset and rant about what and why they feel how they do at the time. You’ll see these sellers with weekly price reductions, week to week sales, weekend sale, car broke sale, baby mamma drama sale, etc, etc.
Granted, sometimes it seems some snakes almost sell themselves! You put up an ad and within 10min you have 3-5 emails from buyers with paypal ready to send money. Other times it may take weeks and even months for some snakes to sell. Sometimes 2-3wks go by and not a single inquiry, not a text, not an email, PM, nothing, then out of the blue you sell ten snakes in a week! Point is be realistic in your expectations, have a plan in place to sell your snakes and in many cases sell yourself and why anyone should buy from you instead of 10-20+ other breeders! Don’t panic when a snake does not sell in a weekend, or week, or a month. Relax and don’t go into this assuming, expecting and requiring every snake to sell in 24hrs! Expect that you will be feeding those babies for 2-3-6MO and when you sell them in a week, you’re thrilled! Instead of expecting to sell them in a week and complain about not selling them after 1-2-3MO.
You have to decide how you want to be viewed and thought of and at what level you expect to operate, for example:
1) Do you want to produce and hatch a couple babies here and there each year as a byproduct of breeding a few snakes for fun?
2) Do you want to develop a small (small being relevant) business, but not on a large scale, nor plans of it becoming a full time gig?
3) Do you want to develop a business with the intent to expand into a large scale (large being relevant) and doing this full time?
How you answer these questions should dictate your path and course of action. This varies person to person and is a personal decision you must make and one best made early on as it will help you decide how to proceed. This does not mean you cannot evolve from #1 to #2, and even into #3 overtime as many have and do each year. It’s just my opinion if you have a clear objective early on where you want to go, it will help you in achieving those goals. For example starting out and deciding on a business name, do you need a website, what type of website, branding, how you want to network, etc, etc. Regardless of where you fall, customer service is #1 regardless if you sell 2-3 snakes, 50-100, 100-500, 500- 1000+.
You can sell your animals via many avenues from wholesale, to numerous Reptile Expos nationwide, to online sales, etc, etc. The internet has changed our world in every aspect, many of you may not remember a time before facebook, let alone before the net. Yes, I am getting old! In just 3.5MO from writing this, I’ll be pushing 40! Back to the subject of selling, overtime I have seen shifts in how I’ve sold snakes and I can only speak for myself and my sales. Starting years ago with mostly wholesale and local sales to pet shops, to sales over Reptile forums and word of mouth online, to dedicated classified sites like Kingsnake.com and the like, to this year Social Media outlets like Facebook, and even Twitter dominating the field!
This year thanks to the growth of our Facebook business page (currently pushing close to 5000 likes) we sold close to 100 Ball Pythons between the months of July-Nov (ranging from $75.00-$1,750.00). The a vast majority were actually sold thanks to Facebook before ever being posted for sale, anywhere! We have seen a clear reduction in forum traffic/sales generated, even a reduction generated from the dedicated classified sites, compared to an explosion of networking and outreach expanding from Social media sites like Facebook. We hope to end this year with 5000+ likes on our FB page and 10,000+ by the end of next year. You have a few breeder Facebook pages surpassing as many as 20,000 already and the feedback is very positive!
My fear is, what if FB goes sour? If all your focus and eggs so to speak are in Facebook, what happens if it crashes? Anyone remember Myspace? I’ve dabbled in Google+ from the start and we have about 450 followers there, but to be honest G+ is a bit slow moving vs Facebook. We’re also on Twitter (about 600+ fans) and have also seen an unexpected bonus of generated sales stemming from Twitter. Youtube is a media I NEED to invest more time into as videos are another great venue to reach potential customers and a whole other way to show viewers what you have that pictures alone cannot provide.
All in all, it will be interesting to see what transpires over the next 3-5-10yrs and how it impacts our hobby/business, how we communicate and deal with each other. It’s been a hell of a ride so far and I it will be interesting to see what these next 10yrs bring.