The recent announcement of promotions at the Active Interest Media (AIM) group contains some interesting information for those in the horse industry to think about, in terms of where our greatest competition lies and what we can do about it.
Special Interest Groups
Last month, AIM announced they’d acquired a number of equine print magazines and Web sites, including such time-honored names as EQUUS, Practical Horseman, Horse & Rider, Dressage Today, Equisearch.com, Equine.com, and MyHorse.com.
This acquisition meant that some long-established equine magazines and online media would be managed under the umbrella of ‘recreational’ and ‘enthusiast’ topics, along with magazines on backpacking, yachting, yoga and wellness, and rehabbing homes.
What’s really good about this is that a company that’s been successful in identifying and growing ‘special interest media’ publications (AIM) feels there’s an opportunity for growth, and advertising revenues, in the horse industry.
Another factor is that the company’s equine media acquisitions, typically segmented by breed, discipline, and activities that compete for the attention of those interested in horses, is now going head-to-head with their other recreational activity publications. I imagine the equine unit will have to deliver a return on investment comparable to AIM’s other niche publications, or the future for these established brands might look different from their past.
While we’ve traditionally thought of ‘competition’ in terms of English versus Western, or dressage versus reining, today’s savvy equine business needs to think in terms of ‘horses versus other hobbys and activities.’ How big is our slice of the ‘recreational pie’ now, and what will it be like a decade from now?
Marketing Into The Future
In the face of rising costs and fewer opportunities to economically own horses, it takes real commitment for people to own them, to travel long distances to a stable for riding, to find access to trails, to show and compete. Finding both the time and the money for horses is a challenge in today’s world.
If horses are a way of life, what can we do to grow our equine community and industry? Through focused marketing efforts, can we:
- Identify potential new customers and welcome them with outreach and education efforts?
- Demonstrate the benefits of horse ownership and show how they far outweigh the expense?
- Engage potential customers in equine activities so they focus more on horses and less on boating or crafts?
Many of the key players being promoted into new roles at AIM are still able to represent the horse owner’s point of view in AIM’s equine publications and Web sites. But will that always be the case, if the recreational competition heats up?
It’s up to all of us to expand and grow our pool of potential horse owners, and equine magazine subscribers; we can do it through smart marketing strategies that inspire and invite new people to join us in our love of all things horse.
Thoughts or comments? They’re welcome here. Doing something innovative or unique at your horse business? Let me know about it! Have a marketing challenge? Fill out our survey, below.
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