Black Hills Stock Show



The Black Hills Stock Show and sister event, the Central States Fair, has been a client of RSA for over 25 years. Subsequently, the media placement and promotion surrounding the Black Hills Stock Show had become fairly repetitious. The demographics haven’t changed much over the years, so keeping on top of the media trends and adding social and digital into the mix were the majority of the modifications made to our strategy. But then 2020 and Covid-19 hit…and it was a whole new ballgame.

In the spirit of the farmer/rancher that this organization serves, we knew they didn’t have the option to “close up shop” during the pandemic, so we wanted to honor that heritage and the daily drive it takes to succeed. The decision was made very early that the show would not be cancelled, but we also knew that it would not be business as usual. The strategy quickly became” how do we adjust to accommodate Covid restrictions, and take advantage of a market that was being underserved in the surrounding area?”


The Black Hills Stock Show is not only an event…it serves as a venue for the working farmer/rancher with trade shows, seminars, and most importantly world-renowned horse and cattle sales. Within the industry, the Denver Stock Show and the San Antonio Livestock show are the two biggest events in the country, with Black Hills Stock show rounding off the top 5. But…both Denver and San Antonio cancelled their shows and sales, leaving a huge opportunity for the Black Hills Stock Show.

Again, we’re talking about livestock sales as the goal. And with the partnership of DV Auctions, all of the sales are online with live bidding options available from anywhere in the country. So, we quickly went to work expanding our target audience to the population that these cancellations afforded us.


We expanded our digital media platform into markets that cancelled their shows. Obviously, this increased our advertising cost during a time that budget restrictions were definitely a topic of conversation. To compensate, we secured additional revenue from tourism sponsorships to co-promote tourism and South Dakota within our ad placement. We also reached out to the cancelled shows and asked for their help in hitting their target audience. Because the ultimate goal of everyone is to serve the farmer/rancher, these venues were happy to promote our horse and cattle sales to their market through email blasts and website advertising where available.


As a result, we had a great 2020 Black Hills Stock Show…although very different from years past. Attendance to in-person events was definitely down, but because of our pro-active approach and expanded market reach, our livestock sales were record-setting and one revenue source overcame the deficit of the other.

The lesson learned…no matter how long you’ve worked with a client and how “comfortable” you are with your advertising plan; there is always room for change. It may have taken a pandemic to open everyone’s eyes to the expanded demographics we can reach in today’s world…but we planned ahead and took advantage of it in a timely manner. It comes down to knowing your demographic, understanding the competing market and making hay while the sun is shining!

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