Four Signs Your Barn’s Marketing Plan is Working
By Elisabeth McMillan
November 1, 2012
During my early years as a horse professional, most of my time and resources were spent on the horses and riders I worked with - not on marketing my business. At that time, I was rather ignorant about marketing and believed that true career success would deliver all the business success I needed.
I thought clients would be able to identify the benefits of doing business with me simply because of my knowledge and track record. It did not occur to me that I might actually need to explain how these things would benefit them. I did not realize that the hallmark of a good marketing program is not "fluffy self promotion" but its ability to clearly communicate with both current and potential customers the true value of doing business with you.
And, I didn't understand just how much a good marketing program could do for my riding career and business. It was an honest mistake. It is also one that I see so many other horse professionals make, that I'd like to help you avoid it.
Here are four signs of a successful marketing plan:
SIGN #1 - You receive a steady stream of new customers!
The first benefit of a well executed marketing plan is that it creates predictable growth both in numbers of new customers and type. A good marketing plan doesn't just attract "any ole" customer. It attracts the best customer for you. If your business is not predictable in terms of growth- check the consistency of your marketing. An inconsistent approach to marketing can create inconsistent growth. If your marketing is not attracting the right type of customer - check your branding and marketing message. Your marketing may be connecting with "Mr. Wrong" instead of "Miss Right."
SIGN #2 - Your current customers are "on track" and extremely happy about it!
It's easy to just think about how marketing can be used to attract new customers. However, one of the biggest benefits of a good marketing plan is its ability to positively influence current customers. The horse business requires long term relationships and unified goals (i.e. customer goals must be in tune with the business goals in order for both to be successful.) And this is where a marketing plan that includes current customers can really help you. For example: If customers enter your business early in their riding career as riding school students, your marketing plan can encourage them to progress into horse owners. Once they are horse owners, your marketing plan can encourage and support them in competing at more horse shows. In other words, your marketing plan can be instrumental in helping your clients and business progress.
SIGN #3 - Profitability!
Successful marketing plans don't just promote - they educate. When your customers are clear about the value you provide, it is far easier to price your services accordingly. Horse business owners who successfully market themselves are typically able to price their services based on value not just on the "going rate." They are able to charge more and their customers are happy to pay it because they understand its value. This can help you avoid the trap of "competing on price" with other barns in your area.
SIGN # 4 - Reach!
A good marketing plan reaches beyond the first layer of people that it touches. It doesn't just reach "to" - It reaches out "through" your customers. A clear value proposition is paramount. Word of mouth is powerful and a business whose loyal customers accurately tout its praises is destined for success. For example: When you "overhear" your customers saying "just the right thing" about you to other people - you know your marketing message is clear and effective.
The more effective your overall marketing plan is, the easier it is for your customers to actively promote you. For today's horse professional, Social Media has clearly made "Reach" even more relevant. In fact, many forms of marketing including - press releases, SEO, newsletters, videos, articles, photos, news, affinity and event marketing are all made more powerful when coupled with a good Social Media marketing strategy.
About the author
Elisabeth McMillan is an equine business consultant and the founder of EquestrianProfessional.com, a website which provides business education and career support to horse professionals. She is also a sought after public speaker for equestrian organizations and speaks at equestrian events through out the U.S.
This article is a courtesy of Equestrian Professional, an USHJA educational partner. All USHJA trainers receive a 10% discount on any Equestrian Professional membership plans. Additionally, USHJA Certified Trainers receive a 25% discount. Plus, as a member you'll receive a huge discount on the Equestrian Social Media Boot Camp!
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