Horse industry customers buy goods and services because they have needs they want to fill, yes? What happens when you know your customers so well you can anticipate needs they aren’t even aware of yet?
This past week, Chicago was hit with a historic amount of snow, the 3rd heaviest in the city’s recorded history. I’ve had problems with finding some good, reliable boots for several years now, so when the blizzard was forecast, I thought ‘uh-oh’ and headed out Tuesday morning to get me some good ones.
I knew my needs were ‘easy to walk in’ (I trek 20+ miles weekly with my dog Bella, on city sidewalks AND cross-country at the lakefront) and ‘waterproof/warm’ and I typically buy black or dark brown boots. So why did I end up with a pair of ‘white with grey trim’ snow boots?
These Columbia Bugaboots (in winter white with metallic silver trim) not only fit the needs I’d already identified, they fulfilled a need I didn’t even think about until I saw the boots. During winter, what color is the ‘salt line’ you typically get on your dark-colored boots? That’s right, it’s white. So a pair of white boots won’t show that horrid white salt line. Brilliant! Columbia got the boot sale because they’d identified something I was always frustrated with, but never considered there was a solution for.
As for how that applies to the horse industry:
- A few years ago when I was doing marketing & PR at a large Arabian horse farm in Tucson, we needed to promote the riding lesson program and boost participation. We combined the Arabian Horse Association’s Frequent Rider program, which rewards non-competitive riders of Arabian and Half-Arabian horses, with a direct mail letter to past students advising them of the goals & incentives we were incorporating into the lesson program, and inviting them back to join in the fun. Within two weeks, the lesson program was full! I think because we reached out and connected with past students, plus offered them a structure, with goals and rewards, it renewed their enthusiasm for riding lessons and brought them back.
- Another example of fulfilling a horse industry need is the Edition Boiselle calendar line, by equestrian photographer Gabriele Boiselle. Her amazing, large-scale calendars are gorgeous wall art, and sell fabulously in Europe. However, we Americans like to have calendars to write on, to list our important dates and appointments; this is different than the European style, which only lists dates but doesn’t have room for notations. For 2011, Edition Boiselle offered American-format calendars for the first time, to give American fans not only the Boiselle images they love, but also a calendar they can use on a daily basis. Need fulfilled.
How does your horse business identify and fulfill customer needs? Is it time to sit down and think about not only what your customers say they need, but what they need that they don’t even know about yet?