Business of Horses: Replacing the Handshake with Contracts photo © Alan Kotok

3 Marketing Must-Haves for Your Equine Business

 

by Jamie Samples,
This past summer, I was at Comerica Park in Detroit, Michigan for a baseball game. I arrived over an hour pregame and purposely perched myself in the nosebleed section and began to people watch. They were all adorned in orange and navy, face paint and foam hands. They paid for seats to the game, bought their overpriced hot dog and drink and were all smiles in anticipation of the big game ahead.
As I watched this all unfold I began to ask myself, “How did the Tigers create RAVING FANS that eat, sleep and dream about their brand?” Although baseball has nothing directly to do with horses, it gives you a great visual picture of what you are looking to achieve with your marketing campaign.
I am often asked about the most successful advertising/marketing options to ensure the highest visibility. Of course the list of options is long, and can include print marketing, Google Ad words, social media, banner ads, word of mouth, search engine optimization, sponsoring a horse event and many other options.
In my opinion, these three options are the most necessary for growth as we move into the second half of 2015.
1. Have an Up To Date, Functional Website
So many equine businesses offer phenomenal services, products or horses; however their websites are in major need of an overhaul or they don’t even have one. Either they think a new website is too expensive, they are working with a web developer that over promises and under delivers or they do not have direct access to make changes and add items. This is something I see all the time and it pains my marketing spirit!
I am here to dispel the myths. I promise there are web developers that deliver and at an affordable price that understand what the components of an amazing website are. When guests arrive on your website, do you have an immediate call to action (sign up for a newsletter, contact us, etc.)? Your website needs to focus on the pain or challenge a person may be facing. It is your job to prove that your product or service corrects that issue AND that you genuinely CARE. It should also include social media icons, as well as, all your contact information. You never know how your potential customer may prefer to contact you, so give them options. You like options, right?
2. Get with the Social Program
Is your business on Facebook and/or other social outlets? I encourage you to create a buzz around your brand by utilizing a business Facebook Page. A great cover banner is essential to showcase your service or product. If you sell horses, you could feature a horse there.
If you have hundreds of products, consider featuring seasonal or sale products. Are you posting 1-2 times per day, and if so is the content relevant and NOT all about you? Finding ways to appeal to a horse person’s heart is easy, but you have to think outside of your business and what you want. Think about what drives and motivates your clients. Encourage them with great content and they will share and comment. Take the time to plan a strategy and begin by helping and focusing on others. The return is always great!
3. Email Marketing Campaign
Email marketing is one of my favorite tools to build a following because it not only can promote your social media campaign, but also is a very effective tool to stay in touch with and educate your clients.   If you are a business owner you most likely have at least 20 or 30 addresses that you could start with to get your email campaign up and running. These email campaigns are similar to social media in that you don’t want to “throw” information at people. Here are a few tips to create a great newsletter:
•Start with a dynamite subject line! Think about what would make you open an email. We all typically receive LOTS of email and we need to be aware that if we do not have a unique, catchy subject line our emails may not be opened.
•Keep it short. As a business owner you want to provide content that will make a difference in the life of the person reading the email. Most individuals will not read pages of an email. One idea is to share one article, a video or pictures and your social media icons. Again, this is another way to connect with your clients or potential clients on a monthly basis to provide them value and remind them of who you are and what you do. Do your best to keep the valuable information “above the scroll”.
•Branding. Design your newsletter in a way that it reflects your website and other marketing material. With most email campaign websites you are able to create a template and then just change out the content each month.
Are you new to email marketing? I highly recommend Constant Contact
They afford you the opportunity to track your emails: how many people opened your email, how many clicked on a certain link and other valuable information. This information will help you to grow and get better as you move forward with your campaigns.
Really think about what your customers would like to read about and what will make them gravitate to your business. With patience, persistence and passion your customer base will grow if you take the right steps to care enough and engage enough. Just remember: Patience, Persistence and Passion!

 

Jamie Samples is one crazy country chic with a passion for marketing and social media. She is known for her contagious energy and never-ending smile. She started her riding career on a Welsh Pony when she was about 2 years old. She has participated in disciplines such as western, hunt seat, jumping, showmanship and trail riding throughout her show career. From starting her own business at age 13, to being awarded the sportsmanship award at the World’s Largest All Breed Youth Show at 14, her passion for horses and business just skyrocketed. In 2011, she was selected to be the co-anchor of America’s Favorite Trail Horse, which aired on HRTV in September. She is 38-years-old now, still riding, president of her own company, Yellow Barn Media and still riding a Welsh Pony! She prides herself in bringing out of the box ideas to the equine industry through creative social media strategies. Her company offers one-on-one social media coaching & complete management, brand development, networking training and marketing consulting.