Marketing & Promoting Your Horse Business
Marketing Your Business is the first of the ďTen Commandments of Marketing & Promoting A Horse BusinessĒ outlined in my book, Horsiní Around The USA Guide to Marketing & Promoting Your Horse BusinessĒ.
In my opinion this is the most important of the ten commandments Iíve outlined, but one that when the economy gets bad horse business owners tend to cut back on. One of the reasons is that marketing is often equated to advertising and adverting means spending money.
Although marketing does and should include an advertising budget, there is a lot more a marketing plan can include. And these things cost little or nothing.
The first layer of any good marketing plan lies in having the basic tools that any business should have. Having a good business card, which I discussed in an earlier column, is one of the most cost effective marketing tools you can have. Again, get one done at a printer or through a mail order companies like Colorful Images or Current. For less than $25 you can have a medium that tells the public, and potential customers who and what you are.
However, business cards arenít any good if theyíre tucked away in your wallet or setting on your desk at home. Get them out there. Thatís why you have one. Tack four or five up on the bulletin board at your local feed store, tack shop, veterinarian office, boarding stable and other equine businesses. Donít forget about other businesses in town where potential customers patronize including restaurants, grocery stores, and auto dealership service departments, etc. Posting cards on their bulletin boards is free and helps to get the word out.
Having good and effective signage is another effective marketing tool. This means a professional looking sign at the road front if you are running a horse operation, and for tack shops and feed stores. Putting signage on your vehicle is another great way to market your business; itís like a mobile billboard. If you donít want to have the name of your business on your vehicle permanently, consider magnetic signs. Front license plates (if you live in a state that only requires a rear plate) and/or license plate holders with the name of your business is another way to market your business.
A good brochure is another essential marketing tool Ė especially for horse business services like boarding, training, and breeding operations. Although you can easily do a brochure from your home computer, have it copied on a better stock paper at a copy shop. It should cost less than 20 cents for a double-sided sheet, which you can then bi-fold or tri-fold yourself (depending if you designed a two-panel brochure, or a three panel layout). Color copies will cost more.
In addition, if you are selling items to the public as in selling horses, stallion services, tack and feed, a web site is another effective tool in any marketing plan. Webs sites range from economical pages that are made available by some of the popular search engines like Google and Yahoo, to custom websites created by a professional web designer.
I canít tell you how something as simple and cost effective to produce as a flyer can be in marketing you business. With horse expos and used tack sales coming up in most states now is the time to make a flier and put them up at these upcoming events. Other than the cost of making copies of the flyer, the rest is free. If the venue has a place for setting out fliers like tables, countertops, then do a single sheet flyer. If not, youíll have to post your flyers and will have do one with vertical pull tabs that have the name of your business and phone number listed on them.
When posting flyers make sure they are secure attached to the wall (duct tape works best) so they donít come lose when people remove the pull-tabs. Make sure that the name of your business and other important information is large enough to see from distance. The best place to post flyers is in high traffic areas- like entryways to arenas, and near bathrooms and vender areas.
Last, but not least, is getting your name out on t-shirts, sweatshirts, and hats, as well as on pencils, pens, and even a good oleí bumper sticker. Companies that specialize in promotional items now offer low runs on promotional items with reasonable prices for art set up. I have found companies that will do a single shirt, if thatís all you need.
Finding a local seamstress, who can embroider can be a very reasonable means to getting custom clothing items. You buy the shirts, hats, etc. (hopefully when your favorite retailer is having a sale) and just pay for the embroidery. I have been able to get shirts and 15 words embroidered on them for as little as $15 a piece.
Laurie A. Cerny is the author of Horsiní Around The USA Guide To Marketing & Promoting Your Horse Business (iUniverse/One Horse Press). Her equine marketing advice has been featured on Stable Scoop (Horse Radio Network). She has over 20 years experience in the horse industry as a journalist and communication professional and is a member of American Horse Publications, American Quarter Horse Association, and Michigan Horse Council. Horsiní Around the USA Guide To Marketing & Promoting Your Horse Business can be ordered for $12.95 (plus $2.00 for S/H). Mail check or money order for $14.95 to One Horse Press at 70883 39th St., Paw Paw, MI 49079.
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