Tag Archives: Equestrian Professional

52 Fridays – #8 Limit Your Website’s Bells & Whistles

52 Fridays is a year-long series for equestrian professionals and equine business owners and managers, with marketing and public relations information, ideas, tips, & resources shared here each Friday. New EMAIL blog subscribers receive a ’52 Fridays’ PDF when they sign up; existing subscribers and new RSS FEED & WORDPRESS subscribers can send a request for their own PDF here.

On all the 52 Fridays website-related posts, I look at things not from the perspective of a website designer or programmer (which I’m not!), but from the view that a customer might have if they were coming to your horsebiz website for the first time. What would invite me in? What will entice me to click through your pages? Anything that could make me click away from your website? And even more important, what might bring me back?

Some website ‘bells & whistles’ just aren’t a good idea because they don’t invite longer stays and return traffic. Here are a few features that you might want to think twice about adding:

  • Automatic sound: This is a recording (typically music) that starts up when someone visits your website. Many people find this annoying, particularly if they’re not expecting it and/or they can’t turn it off. If they can’t quickly eliminate the sound, many will simply click away from your site.
  • Splash page or screen: This is an ‘introduction’ page, sometimes with animation or images. If it serves a purpose, such as Cavalia’s ‘select your language’ option on their splash page, then it can be seen as useful. However, if yours is just an animated or image page and another layer to click through to get to the main event, it might be better to skip it, especially if it takes a while to load.
  • Animated banner ads: Whether you advertise on other websites, sell advertising on your site, or use banner ads to highlight services & products of your own business at your site, blinking animated banner ads are another ‘think twice’ feature. Yes, the whole point of a banner ad is to get attention, but a constantly flashing banner ad is like an irritating neon sign; it’s just not very appealing when you’re trying to read website text or look at images. If you really want animation, have it flash a couple times and then be still, so you’re not driving away your viewers & potential customers.

When designing your website, think about what you like, and don’t like, on websites you’ve visited. And, ask for the opinions of others, especially if they’re your target customers.

It’s also important to look at features and the amount of time necessary to download them at various connection speeds. While we don’t have the same issues with connection speed that we had when the majority of rural horsefolk still had dial-up, there can still be issues with not everyone having the ‘latest and greatest’ connection, nor the most recent technology to view your site with.

What website features do you absolutely hate? Share your ‘worst website features’ by clicking on the Leave A Comment link below.

You can read all the 52 Fridays posts by clicking the Sort Posts By Topic dropdown menu and selecting 52 Fridays. See you here next Friday for 52 Fridays #9!

6 Comments

Filed under 52 Fridays, Equine Industry Marketing, Uncategorized

52 Fridays – #5 The Internet Is The Cost-Conscious Marketer’s Friend

52 Fridays is a year-long series for equestrian professionals and equine business owners and managers, with marketing and public relations information, ideas, tips, & resources shared here each Friday. New EMAIL blog subscribers receive a ’52 Fridays’ PDF when they sign up; existing subscribers and new RSS FEED & WORDPRESS subscribers can send a request for their own PDF here.

If you’re reading this, you probably already know: For a cost-conscious horsebiz, the Internet can be among your greatest assets when it comes to marketing and promotion.

Equine businesses used to have to rely upon pricey communication options such as printed brochures; magazine & directory advertising; horseshow sponsorships; and flyers on the tack shop bulletin board, but with the Internet the marketing options have become nearly limitless.

There’s also a lot of ‘what do I start with first?’ and ‘I can’t possibly do it all!’ that’s resulted from having all those choices, but that’s why you start with a solid marketing strategy, including things like your goals and your target customers, in order to guide your steps on the World Wide Web. Internet options mean that you can save money in some areas, and then spend bigger in others for a ‘wow’ impact that sticks in the mind of your audience.

In addition, many equine business expenses keep going up and up, but lots of things on the Internet remain 100% free:

  • Blogs that can be used as search-engine friendly Web sites
  • Social media of all kinds AND the tools to both manage them and assess how you’re doing
  • How-to-do-something instructions
  • Research on just about any topic, or any person
  • Equine forums and chatrooms
  • Classifieds for buying and selling just about anything
  • Email accounts to do business with
  • Calendars for listing your events
  • Directories for listing your business
  • Introductory or lower-level versions of paid services, that still might serve your needs just fine

And the list goes on. The point is that, with a well-planned marketing and promotion strategy and some free tools on the Internet, what used to be a big-budget expense is now something that can be done for the cost of your time, and a little sweat equity.

If you have a question or comment for me about Internet tools for your horsebiz, or want to share what you’re already using, please click on the Leave a Comment button to send it in. See you here next Friday for 52 Fridays #6!

Leave a comment

Filed under 52 Fridays, Equine Industry Marketing, Uncategorized

52 Fridays – #4 What The Bleep Is A Marketing Calendar, And How Do I Use One?

52 Fridays is a year-long series for equestrian professionals and equine business owners and managers, with marketing and public relations information, ideas, tips, & resources shared here each Friday. New EMAIL blog subscribers receive a ’52 Fridays’ PDF when they sign up; existing subscribers and new RSS FEED & WORDPRESS subscribers can send a request for their own PDF here.

A marketing calendar helps you know what to do, and when.

Whether you use a digital, paper, or laminated-hanging-on-the-wall-year-long-planner version, you’re probably using a calendar of some kind to organize your life. You plan ahead for events, schedule appointments, and make notes about what has to happen in order to accomplish life’s goals. A marketing calendar helps you do the same thing, for your equine business marketing and promotion plans.

Here are several examples of things you might put on a horse biz marketing calendar:

  • Say you’ve got a stallion that you plan to stand for the 2012 breeding season. You might want to get that horse into the ‘stallion issues’ of your target publications, in order to reach your target audience mare owners. Print magazines often do things months in advance to accommodate the design layout, printing, and mailing processes, so you’re going to need to provide them with pictures, ad text, and/or camera-ready ads during Fall, 2011. Plus, you want your horse to be well-muscled and sleek, looking his studly best, which doesn’t happen overnight. Your marketing calendar can encompass all of this, from your stallion’s fitness and grooming regime starting now, to his photo and video shoot schedule at the height of his summer sleekness, to working with graphic designers on ads once the images are selected, to connecting with the prime publications for your 2012 stallion ads.
  • Or, perhaps your retail outfit attends trade shows and horse fairs each year. Maybe this year you want to stir up business a little bit with some advance publicity or special offers to draw attendees to your booth or trailer. Your marketing calendar can include due dates for regional newspaper ads, when to send out press releases, and when to post Twitter or Facebook updates. If you’re a wholesaler needing to connect with buyers and you’ll be sending out direct mail or email info-packages, your marketing calendar can help you schedule when to have things designed and printed, stuffed and stamped, and mailed in time for the buyers to get it before they leave for the event.

There are loads of other examples unique to your own equestrian business, but the point is that a marketing calendar is a necessity in today’s fast-paced world. Deadlines missed can be money down the drain.

If you want to develop your own marketing calendar, here’s a downloadable sample marketing calendar from Brandeo.com – it’s in an Excel format, and is adaptable for your own horse business under a non-commercial Creative Commons license. You can also search for ‘marketing calendar’ on Google or another search engine to find more information about what they are and how to use them.

Your marketing calendar can include dates for each piece of your marketing puzzle. It helps you plan ahead, and allows you to ‘back-into’ when things need to happen in order to meet your marketing goals and deadlines along the way.

If you have a question or comment for me about marketing calendars and how to use them, or want to share how you already use a marketing calendar, please click on the Leave a Comment button to send it in. Come back next week for 52 Fridays #5!

 

1 Comment

Filed under 52 Fridays, Equine Industry Marketing, Uncategorized

52 Fridays – #3 Make A List Of Your Resources…It Could Surprise You

52 Fridays is a year-long series for equestrian professionals and equine business owners and managers, with marketing and public relations information, ideas, tips, & resources shared here each Friday. New EMAIL blog subscribers receive a ’52 Fridays’ PDF when they sign up; existing subscribers and new RSS FEED & WORDPRESS subscribers can send a request for their own PDF here.

Equine business marketing is frequently viewed as an expense and a drain on finances…but what if there were a way to promote your horse biz that drew upon the wealth of resources that equestrian professionals typically have? Making a list of the resources you have access to might turn up some surprising connections and opportunities.

In the Encarta World English Dictionary (copyright 1999 Microsoft Corporation version), a ‘resource’ is defined as:

  • A reserve supply of something such as money, personnel, or equipment; and
  • Somebody who, or something that, can be used as a source of help or information.

The Encarta dictionary also includes ‘adeptness at finding solutions to problems‘ and ‘an inner ability or capacity that is drawn on in time of need‘ under the resource/resources definitions. So let’s apply some of that inner adeptness in capturing a ‘Resource Inventory‘ that can help you increase marketing effectiveness, business revenue, and bottom-line results.

Making a 'Resource Inventory' can help you be more creative in your horse biz marketing.

Below are three types of resources you can create lists for. Start with a couple under each category, and keep the list going for a week or so, jotting down things as you think of them. In addition to creating an inventory you can work with, it’s an exercise in thinking ‘outside the box’ when it comes to your marketing and promotion resources:

  • People Resources: This list can include past customers, vendors and contractors, and local business owners. It can include horse industry folks, such as your feed & shavings dealer, veterinarian, farrier, and local tack shop owner, and you can also list mainstream contacts, such as your doctor, dentist, insurance agent, car dealer, plumber, and electrician.
  • Skill Resources: What skills do you have? Do you have talents or expertise in areas of construction, farming or gardening, writing, teaching, or repairing things?
  • Asset Resources: These are your physical resources, such as land, buildings, storage space, horses, vehicles, equipment, etc.

You might be thinking about now, what does this have to do with marketing my horse business? The answer is, it all depends on what you have, and how you put it together. During the course of daily life, we often forget how many assets and resources we have, or we don’t view the possessions and skills we have in a way that helps us bring more of them to the table. Here are a few ideas to inspire you:

  • If you have a heated barn with some space, you can hold a ‘wintertime open house’ combined with learning sessions during the slower months. Combine that with presentations from your farrier, veterinarian, and feed dealer, and you can all co-promote the event, expanding everyone’s marketing reach and leveraging everyone’s networks.
  • If you have beautiful grounds and buildings, contact photographers in your area and offer your facility as a shoot location for wedding parties, family portraits, and senior pictures. If you also have gorgeous horses, that could be a draw for people who might love to have their portrait taken with a horse but they simply don’t own one. This approach can also bring more people, all of them potential customers, in contact with your horse business.

Can you think of other types of resources? What resources can you identify that are under-used in your own marketing? Share them via the Leave a Comment button, and come back next week for 52 Fridays #4!

5 Comments

Filed under 52 Fridays, Equine Industry Marketing, Uncategorized

52 Fridays – #2 Identify Goals For Your Business, Plus Your New Projects

52 Fridays is a year-long series for equestrian professionals and equine business owners and managers, with marketing and public relations information, ideas, tips, & resources shared here each Friday throughout 2011.

Most horse people today are busy, busy, busy. ‘Time starvation’ is a near-constant state of being, where there’s always too much ‘do’ at the end of the day. So things just roll over into the next day, and the day after that. But, we can get caught up in the do-ing and allow too much of our day, week, or year to go by on things that are just time-suckers and that don’t actually move us forward to success. It’s true in life, and it’s true in your horse biz.

I’ve taught classes on goal-setting, teaching people how to unplug from the overwhelm of too much to-do and get in touch with what they truly want their lives and work to be focused on. It all starts with identifying what you want those goals to be.

Remember the Stephen Covey book, The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People? Habit #2 is Begin With The End in Mind; I highly recommend reading Dr. Covey’s description at that link, and if you’re interested you can read all 7 Habits here.

I remember seeing Dr. Covey in a televised presentation, and something he did has stuck with me through the years. He had on a table a clear jar, a bunch of large rocks, some smaller rocks, pebbles, and sand, plus a pitcher of water. He told an audience volunteer that all of it would fit into the clear jar, and invited him to fit them all in. It seemed impossible. In hindsight the solution is clear, but if you don’t know the strategy it would be difficult indeed.

Image courtesy Lisa Kemp

The solution? It’s to ‘put the big rocks in first.’ That’s right – if you put in the big things that are important, the smaller rocks, pebbles, sand, and even the water fit into the jar. Those ‘big rocks’ are the goals for your equestrian business. Those are the building blocks for your successes.

What are your goals for 2011? Do you need to increase revenues? Decrease expenses? Gain more clientele? Diversify into additional products and/or services? All of the above?

Most of the ‘big rock’ goals in life aren’t achieved overnight. They take time and effort, a willing heart and a tenacious determination. But, if you’re focused on the ‘little rocks’ of life, all the pesky, daily to-do items that are equivalent to the pebbles, sand, and water in life, you’ll never get to those ‘big rock’ goals. Unless you identify what they are, for your overall equine business AND any individual projects, and make time for them in your daily schedule.

What are YOUR ‘big rock’ goals for your horse biz? Click on the Comments button on this post to share yours.

Come back next week for 52 Fridays #3, about making a list of your resources.


2 Comments

Filed under 52 Fridays, Equine Industry Marketing, Uncategorized