52 Fridays is an ongoing series for equestrian professionals and equine business owners and managers, with marketing and public relations stories, ideas, tips, and resources shared here each Friday. This week we’re catching up, due to the International Hoof-Care Summit, helping judge the ESMAs, and new client projects, so enjoy the extra posts!
I’m always on the lookout for interesting, unique, unusual, or just plain smart horsebiz marketing strategies to share. Here are a few I encountered at the recent American Farriers Journal’s (AFJ) 2012 International Hoof-Care Summit.
- Think through your event’s traffic flow and schedule: While at most conferences the tradeshow is open for the entire event, I think AFJ did a very smart thing with their schedule. The tradeshow floor became both a destination and an event because it was only open for three hours each day, and for only three of the four days. Easier for the vendors, who then had time to schedule meetings or get other work done, and easier for the attendees because they could focus on the educational content for the rest of the conference.
- Remember visuals are important attention-getters: Many farrier tools are made of metal and wood, fairly monochromatic stuff even if you like metal and wood (which I do). But, one tool company booth had snazzy plastic rasp handles in bright colors; they got my attention and I stopped to ask about them, and one staffer said they sell out of them every year. Another great visual I saw allowed for interactivity; AFJ had set up two large foamcore-mounted maps on easels near the registration area; attendees could put pushpins in for their location on the map. By conference-end, it was a great visual that showed where in the U.S., and in the world, farriers had traveled from.
- Create buzz around your tradeshow booth: One company had a large corner booth with prominent demo screens, located right across from the American Farriers Journal booth and lounge area. In addition, they’d hired a videographer to record the action for some promotional videos. All of that combined to create a booth that drew conference attendees like teenage girls to a Justin Bieber concert.
- And, make sure you have enough hands on deck to handle that buzz: If you’re doing something to create a crowd, be sure you’ve got enough staffers to handle the curious throng. And even if you’re a small business, if you’re going to underwrite the cost of a tradeshow booth, do yourself a favor and bring a friend, relative, or ‘hired gun’ for the day to help out. There were several businesses I never got a chance to connect with simply because each time I stopped by, the lone rep was already meeting with someone else. Missed opportunity? Maybe.
- Think of projects or services that are win-win: In my opinion, this one’s a genius idea! AFJ offered a service to every Summit participant, that they’d do a bulk email announcement to each farrier’s clients provided the farrier sent them an Excel spreadsheet with the email addresses in it. The announcement would alert each client that the farrier had attended the Summit, improving their hoofcare education and illustrating how their commitment to continuing education made them a better farrier for the client’s horses. Why is this simple little idea genius? Because it helps the farrier by giving a third party endorsement and provides information that the farrier might not mention to the client. It also strengthens the farrier/Summit bond – if that email helps build a better reputation and more business success, who’s that shoer gonna feel gratitude toward? And, it also helps get word of AFJ and the Hoof-Care Summit to a wider audience. Everyone wins.
There were lots of great marketing approaches at the Summit, and I can only cover a few here. The point is that they’re all around us if we just keep our eyes peeled.
However, one of the best marketing strategies I saw might not necessarily have been on purpose, but was a hit for everyone that walked by. Each day, the Cincinnati Police Mounted Patrol had an officer or two outside the convention center. It helped that we had beautiful, sunny weather in the 50s and 60s for the equestrian ambassadors to soak up while talking with conference attendees, but giving horsefolk a little bit of horse time in the middle of the urban jungle was a great PR move, for the Mounted Patrol, the city of Cincinnati, and for the International Hoof-Care Summit.
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