November 12, 2022

Unmasked: Selling In a Pandemic

By Gregg Nott, Big Heart Bison
First printed in The Bison Rancher, October 2020 

This year has presented a unique set of challenges. Acquiring some of the necessities has become difficult at times. Who would have imagined shortages on toilet paper, freezers, and stall mats? And then there’s meat. Never would I have imagined seeing a retail meat display filled with Gatorade.

Earlier this year, it was questionable whether farmers’ markets would be open. The possibility of no markets was a real concern since that is our primary outlet. But as ranchers, we learn how to adapt.

Here is the silver lining; more people are looking for better sources for their meat. As a retailer, this has been beneficial. Offering local, no-contact delivery has opened up a new market. We provided this service free on orders of $100 or more. Facebook advertising worked well, and the orders came in.

The next step was to advertise on Google. But, we met roadblocks with their policies. Since our ad campaign used the ‘word Bison, and all the products are related to Bison meat,’ Google suspended our account. The email from Google stated the following:

“The following is not allowed:

  • Content that promotes cruelty or gratuitous violence towards animals. Examples: Promoting animal cruelty for entertainment purposes, such as cock or dog fighting.
  • Content that may be interpreted as trading in, or selling products derived from, threatened or extinct species. Examples: Sale of tigers, shark fins, elephant ivory, tiger skins, rhino horn, dolphin oil.

I deeply apologize as Bison is an extinct species and content related to such species is not allowed to be advertised for as it falls under the inappropriate content policy. Please accept my sincere apologies.”

We submitted repeated appeals to enable our account. And then, we went through the same process again to allow an ad to run. We have since suspended all advertising and are evaluating how to proceed.Big Heart Bison stand at a farmers market.

All the farmers’ markets have opened but are operating under stringent rules, and the policies vary with each location. All are requiring face coverings. Most are allowing plexiglass between our customers and us as an alternative for face masks. Most markets are controlling the access and flow of people. One market has the police controlling entry and hired security guards enforcing the traffic pattern to keep people moving. This heavy oversight has had an adverse effect causing the number of visitors to decline.

Selling an expensive niche product has its challenges. We depend on strong communication. A muffled, expressionless face restricts our ability to communicate and reduces sales. We see this on our bottom line.

But, as stated before, we are ranchers, and once again, we are learning to adapt. We may not like it, but we will survive and become stronger because of it.