A Rancher’s Guide to Risk Management: Marketing Risk–Part III

Ranching has always been a risky endeavor, whether it’s dealing with difficult weather, low market prices, or livestock sickness and disease. And although you can’t control some things that affect your operation, you can develop a marketing plan to help you manage input costs and the prices received for your livestock, starting with the 5 W’s of marketing

So, what’s that, exactly?

The 5 W’s of marketing is a foundation for successful delivery of a product or service, and its methodology can help you manage your operation’s marketing risks; 5 W’s stands for Who, What, When, Where, and Why.

This third guide in a five-part series from Redd Summit Advisors gives you information about the 5 W’s and provides questions to ask yourself as you develop or modify your marketing plan. Make sure to read it through, check out other posts in this series, and bookmark our blog to stay informed.

Who: Your Livestock Buyers, Defined

To communicate your image and brand as a livestock producer, you need to understand the nuances of your target audience, otherwise known as your buyers.

Questions to ask:

Who are you marketing your product to?

Are you selling directly to the feedlots, to another ranch for finishing, or to a local farmers market?

What: Your Livestock Products, Described

The products you market may vary from year to year, so make sure to describe exactly what you intend to sell.

Questions to ask:

What product(s) are you marketing?

Are you raising breeding stock for replacements?

Are you marketing calves or carcasses on the rail?

Do you sell any beef directly to consumers?

Pro Tip: LRP insurance, livestock gross margin insurance, and other ways to help manage market risk. LRP insurance, livestock gross margin insurance, and forward contracting are some of the various tools you can use to protect your livestock operation from market price fluctuations. Ask Redd Summit Advisors about LRP insurance. You can call us at 1-800-825-2355 or fill out our online form.

When: Your Timing, Planned Out

Your market timing can be affected somewhat by herd health issues, weather, and market prices, but you’ll want to have a general timeline for selling your products, and to whom.

Questions to ask:

When are you hoping to market your product?

What timing works best to capture the most out of your product? 

What timing works with your breeding cycles and resources?

Where: Your Sales Locations, Mapped Out

As you put your marketing plan together, it’s important to determine exactly where you’ll sell your products. This way, you can learn the rules and regulations of sales platforms and be prepared as you get closer to your marketing dates.

Questions to ask:

Where are you planning to market your product? 

Will you sell at local auctions or run a video auction?

If you cannot sell at your planned location, where are some other locations you can sell your products?

Why: Reasons Behind Your Marketing, Explained

When it comes to the way your livestock operation does business, there are probably a variety of reasons behind the “why.” Maybe you have a long-standing family tradition that you’d like to uphold. Or maybe your method works with an off-the-ranch obligation you need to maintain.

Questions to ask:

Why are you marketing the way you do? 

How does the way you market work with your operating system?

How does the way you market capture your customer’s attention?


After answering the 5 W’s in this Part III of your risk management guide, look into developing a workable marketing plan for your operation. Once it’s established, make sure that it’s clearly outlined, easily implemented, followed, and reviewed regularly.

Keep up with our Redd Summit Advisors blog for more posts about risk management here.

Macy Holmgren

Macy Holmgren is a Digital Marketing Intern at Redd Summit Advisors.

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