Equestrian Business Marketing | What's your objective?
It was once observed by an American businessman that half of the money he spent on advertising was wasted, but the problem was he didn't know which half. Since then, with the advent of the internet, the world of advertising has changed beyond recognition.
The digital agencies will tell you that you should divert your budget their way; they'll say digital ads are less costly, seen by many more people, and more measurable, ergo, more effective.
It seems like there are a million ways to market your equestrian business. So, how do you decide where to invest your limited resources?
You want a marketing plan that will build brand awareness and loyalty. You need more customers with greater frequency for your business to be successful.
🤷 So what's right for me? I'm a Horse professional, not a Marketeer
What is the best way to get people through my door or onto my website? Do I focus on social media, google, or print?
The answer is a little of everything. The best marketing mix for your horse business may include several channels and tactics, like digital advertising or print, traditional media relations (PR), and social media. And the combination will change as you grow!
It's essential to stay focused on what works so that you can invest in it more heavily next time. That means viewing and understanding the stats for your business and how different marketing strategies are working.
Examples of advertising objectives:
- to persuade potential clients to purchase a product or service;
- deliver brand messages, often called branding campaigns;
- increase customer awareness of products and services.
The best way to reach your objectives is by experimenting with different channels like print advertising, social media marketing, and digital ads.
Match your objective to types of advertising
Easier for customers to hold onto; builds customer loyalty and support; better at building brand loyalty. The magazine content will be an engaging and educational experience, which is much more meaningful than a digital representation of your brand.
Can reach a larger audience faster. Digital advertising can still be cost-effective by going with a pay-per-click campaign instead of paying every time someone views the message. The downside is that digital ads are more likely to get lost in the shuffle - there's so much content on social media, and people have short attention spans.
Better for targeting customers with intent. When you use search advertising, you target consumers when they are ready to buy. For example, a horse owner googling 'riding lessons near me' has a clear intent. This can be very successful and cost-effective if you can take the time to learn how to do this effectively.
It can be really tough as a small business to find the right approach and learn the techniques needed to be successful -- boosting posts haphazardly is not a marketing strategy.
The best strategy is to be patient, look at what your competitors are doing and learn from them. Experiment with techniques, don't get caught up in the latest hype or the 'quick wins' and get feedback from potential customers or clients.
Types of Advertising: The Good, The Bad and The Annoying
Banner Ads: Annoying or Effective?
Banner ads are a type of online advertisement that is found on websites and blogs. Banner ads may appear as an image or text link, which can be clicked to bring up a separate page with the company's advertising message.
Are banner ads considered helpful in branding? It's true that banner ads, those long banner shaped ads you see above the info you're looking at, will inevitably appear to be excellent value, at a very low cost. However, the effectiveness of banner ads is debated by many, with claims that they have a negligible effect on brand awareness and are mostly ignored or actively disliked by users. It's hard to tell whether these impressions are based on poor placement, design or just user attitudes - but regardless, it seems clear that there is no magic bullet.
Think about the banner ads you last saw when you were browsing the internet. If you don't remember seeing any, is that because you've blocked them? Or is it because you've learned to ignore them like you do if you're listening to commercial radio?
If you've blocked pop up ads when you're online, then you're in good company. According to the industry magazine EMarketer, one in four of us uses ad blockers, so you won't even see the ad that a company has paid for and had designed. As if that's not bad enough for advertisers, that figure went up in 2018 by 34%, compared to the year before. Put another way, 1 in 3 people that weren't using ad blockers in 2017 had them in place in 2018.
Social Media Advertising: Easy to Use or Easy to Spend Money?
For small equine business owners with limited budgets, social media can be a great way to grow your client base. It can also be very ineffective if you don't take the time to target the ad's audience; boosting posts will only increase likes or follows, which is superficial if the people behind the likes and follows aren't buying your products.
“Getting the like is easy. It’s a light action. Anything else requires trust.” – Jon Loomer, Facebook Ads expert
You need to understand where your audience is, are they on Twitter, Instagram, Linked In etc. and post your ads to the platforms that they are most active on.
Facebook advertising is an excellent way for small business owners to reach their desired audience. Still, with so many ad targeting options available, you need to make sure you're using them wisely.
A growing concern for Facebook advertising is people deserting the news feed favouring the groups feed where adverts are not served. More importantly, this trend results from a lack of trust in the news feed, and by association, the adverts served there.
Google Search Advertising: Is it worth the Effort?
Google search advertising is an internet advertising service from the popular website google.com. It can help you to reach a large number of people who are searching for your products or services online.
Learning how to set up an effective Google search campaign is not easy, and the console certainly looks daunting. There are some great YouTube videos to help with this, and certainly worth spending a few days to really understand it. Also, consider Bing and Yahoo search-based advertising.
Magazine Advertising: Isn't it the most expensive?
Advertising in magazines is not as expensive as you may think and is more effective than you probably give it credit for. The keys to an effective magazine advert are:
- find the right niche magazine
- understand the readership
- have a clear headline to get attention and drive your point home
- design an eye-catching advert
Unlike digital advertising that just gives you an impression, successful print campaigns should create ongoing goodwill with customers who may choose to purchase later from a company they like.
People don't like to be sold to, but they love to buy
If this is true, we need to work out how to enable people to buy from us rather than sell to them. People need to feel like they are in control. Most importantly, they need to be relaxed. This is going to be the case when they are reading content they find interesting. e.g. articles in online magazines and blogs, which they will often share across social media platforms, or print magazines shared with family and friends, so the content has a far higher reach than its original audience.
Trust is a massive issue for businesses, as, without trust, people will not buy from you. Not only are people sceptical about what companies tell them in general, but this figure also varies depending on the medium, with only 13% trusting ads they see on websites, according to MediPost. There's the additional issue of people worrying about getting a virus on their PC, making them wary of clicking on ads.
Is advertising worth it?
“The man who stops advertising to save money is like the man who stops the clock to save time.” –Thomas Jefferson, third president
It would be wonderful if small businesses could simply use organic marketing techniques to grow their business, but unfortunately, this is often not the case. Many businesses can't afford big marketing budgets and need to think carefully about how they're going to spend limited budgets wisely.
Digital advertising can be an inexpensive way for small businesses to reach wider audiences, but some worry that digital marketing techniques are ineffective, particularly if you haven't mastered the audience targetting.
Despite the complexities of certain forms of digital advertising, there's no doubt it offers value when done well.
If you want to build awareness and trust in your brand, you would be foolish to discount print advertising. Print advertising offers an opportunity to build trust and loyalty with the equestrian consumer. Print ads can provide a personal touch that is lost in digital media.
In conclusion, start with the end in mind
What do you want to achieve? Awareness and trust? Increase ROI? Or generate buzz about your company.
Once you know what you want to achieve, ask yourself these questions:
- What are the costs of each form of advertising?
- How much can I invest in marketing per month or quarter?
- Do I have the knowledge to do this well, or do I need help?
Measure your results, you can use the metrics from digital campaigns, but by far, the best way is to ask your clients what made them choose you!
Finally, don't rely on one type of advertising. Use all of the marketing tools at your disposal.
We hope you find this article useful, as Equipreneurs we are constantly obsessing over marketing strategies so that we can compete in the equestrian market and also help our advertising clients. If you would like to explore the potential of print advertising give us a call or subscribe to our Equipreneurs news where we share marketing information and advertising offers.
“Marketing’s job is never done. It’s about perpetual motion. We must continue to innovate every day.” –Beth Comstock, Vice Chair of GE
We are more than happy to share information to help fellow small businesses and we can certainly help with your critical off-line brand awareness, but if you need help with online marketing we recommend this 'Leg Up Audit' from Jenni Bush the Equine Business Assistant. Having worked with Jenni we know - she knows how to help equine businesses like yours.