Offline marketing activities for horse businesses are as important as online ones.
Yes, we live in a digital age. And, yes, many horse businesses focus only on the digital side of branding and marketing.
But, the fact is that online marketing should be only one part of your marketing plan for your business.
In fact, offline marketing activities for horse businesses combined with online marketing will put you ahead of the game.
Think about this for a minute.
How many emails and social media posts do you see in a day? A ridiculous number I’m sure.
In fact, I did a test on my own inboxes and counted up how many emails I received in one day. The answer? 903! Guess how many I read? If you guessed less than 200 you are right.
But, how many times have you received a handwritten note from a business owner? Once? Twice? Three times?
So, which one did you notice more?
To help get you thinking about offline marketing, check out this list of ideas.
Make a plan and set a strategy to set your equestrian small business or brand apart.
Build a Brand Not a Business
How many of you slapped a logo on a Facebook page or a t-shirt and assumed your branding was done?
Anyone who knows me knows I’m a huge proponent of building a brand, not just a business.
If you skipped the brand development process, I highly recommend you read over some of the blog posts on this topic.
Why is branding important?
Studies show that people need to see something 7-9 times to remember it – much less act on it.
Many businesses add their branding to their car so its seen when they are out and about. I do have a caveat on this one.
Steer clear of branding your car if you are a business that requires known high-cost items. Photographers are a great example of this. Many photographers have had cars broken into by people after high-ticket gear.
Build a Brand, not just a Business
Printed Marketing Materials for your Horse Business
Where does your ideal client go? Consider placing printed flyers, rack cards, and postcards in those locations.
For example, a horse trainer placing a postcard in a tack store.
Or a blanket washing service keeping postcards in a boarding barn’s lounge.
Collaborate with other Horse Businesses with Similar Clients
When it comes to offline marketing activities for horse businesses, one great way to expand your client base is to collaborate with other horse businesses that serve similar clients.
This works well if they serve an audience you would like to get your service or product known to.
For example, you are a clinician who would like to attract an audience in a new area to learn about cutting horses.
An arena in the area is looking to expand its event offerings into the western horse market. Hosting a clinic at their venue may serve you both.
Have a booth at a local horse event
Hosting a booth is a more expensive item on the list of offline activities for horse businesses. So make sure that you are picky when it comes to the event.
Pick an event that your ideal client would be most likely to frequent.
For example, a small business that specializes in rope halters won’t sell big at a dressage show. That same business might do great at a Mustang Heritage Foundation TIP Challenge event.
So, be selective in your event choices. After all, it does you no good if you are in front of an audience uninterested in your product or service.
If you like to write, consider writing an article for a horse magazine or blog that talks to the audience you want to reach.
I have a pretty well read horse blog on my Ride the Sky Equine Photography website. I occassionally have guest authors write posts on there. They don’t even have to be in the horse field.
For example, I have a blog post coming up that is written by a fantastic makeup artist in the Chattanooga area, Emily Dischler, that speaks about how to take better care of your skin for equestrians over 40. So, think creatively about where you can start sharing your knowledge.
Develop Relationships with Local Barn Managers
Local barn managers make a lot of referrals for both products and services.
Develop a good relationship with them so you are top of mind.
Services such as farriers, massage therapists, and vets can all enjoy these relationships. And, if you are an equestrian product small business, you can benefit too!
Gifting some product to the barn manager may pay off big dividends if they love your product.
Depending on your equine business niche, sponsoring a rider or class might be a good fit for you.
The key is to understand what a horse class sponsorship entails. How does it benefit your business and also the event?
If you are sponsoring a horse rider, make sure you have a sponsorship plan. It needs to lay out rider expectations, what perks they will receive, and what your business will get out of the deal.
Send Handwritten Notes or Cards
This goes back to the beginning of this post.
It’s a simple way to stand out from the crowd. People remember things that are unusual.
So, be different. Write a note, send a postcard.
Swap Offers with Horse Businesses that serve Similar Clients
This is a good way to get your business in front of new eyes.
Let’s say you run an organic horse treat business. You could collaborate with a vet by providing a special treat for his or her clients for a certain period.
Each treat could come with a discount code on future purchases.
The vet wins because he’s elevating his client service by providing a treat. The treat company wins by getting their product in front of potential new customers.
Distribute a press release.
Did you win an award? Are you a brand new business in the area? Are you offering a new service or product?
Inquiring minds want to know so tell them – and show them – about it.
Press releases do follow a certain format. Here’s an example of a press release: Betsy Bird receives Certified Professional Photographer degree with the Professional Photographers Association of America.
Most press releases follow a similar structure.
You can also do a google search for Press Release Examples and get hundreds of ideas.
Advertise in Equestrian Magazines
Along with hosting a booth at an event, print advertising is going to be one of the more expensive items on this list.
However, the cost will vary depending on if it is a national, regional, or local publication.
In fact, many local horse clubs have newsletters that you can advertise in for a very low cost.
Always request a free media kit from larger publications. You want to make that if you are going to spend money, the publication serves your ideal clients.
Consider Donating to Charity Events
This is a good one but again be choosy.
There are a million different organizations out there that want charitable donations.
But, for it to work for an equestrian business, donations need to benefit both the charity and your horse business.
This is not to say that it has to be a financial benefit if you don’t want it to be.
Does donating to this charity make you feel good and that’s all you need out of it? If so, great.
But, what if you need a donation to produce high-quality leads for your business? If that’s the case, make sure that the charity’s audience is one that you would like to serve.
I always say that a Gypsy Cob is my spirit animal.
Why? Short, curvy, cute, good personality, lots of hair, and loves to snack.
Dying to work with a specific person or business? Get their attention with treats! Just like horses, people love snacks too.
Attend Networking Events
There are a zillion networking events out there.
Many are currently online due to the pandemic. Others are still in-person or will be resuming in-person events soon. Several organizations will continue hybrid event opportunities post-pandemic.
When choosing networking events, pick those that have business owners you wish to connect with. Or an audience you want to get your horse business out in front of.
Many networking events even have monthly member speaker opportunities. This could be a great chance to get your business top of mind by telling and showing the audience about your business.
Speak at a Horse Event…or a not so Horse Event
Look for opportunities to be a speaker at a club, school, expo, or conference about your horse niche.
I get requests to speak to high schoolers about photography in general, as well as horse photography. I’ve talked to camera clubs, and horse clubs. I also get requests to talk about entrepreneurship, marketing, and small business ownership. I also guest on podcasts occasionally and talk about a variety of topics.
My point is that you never know where leads for your business might come from. So be open to the opportunities that are out there.
Offer a Free Consultation or Trial Opportunity
Let prospective clients learn about what you do. Tell them about it, and show them the benefits of your product or service.
If you are a horseback riding lesson program, offer a free lesson. If you make organic horse treats, offer a free sample.
Host a Party or Open House
Are you a new stable in the area?
Did you recently open a brand-new location for your tack store?
Host a party or open house at your location and invite the public to come and check it out.
Make sure to promote this with a press release to your local media.
Also, send handwritten cards to individuals that you think would be especially interested in what you have to offer.
Offline Marketing Activities for Horse Businesses
Offline marketing activities for horse businesses should be part of your marketing strategy.
It should complement and magnify your online marketing efforts.
Have you got an offline marketing idea that works for your horse business? I’d love to see it in the comments below.
Want to Read More about Building a Brand for Your Horse Business?
If you are interested in learning more about building a brand for your horse business, check out some of these posts:
Betsy Bird of Ride the Sky Equine Photography spends her days doing insane things to make horses look at her. Clearly, she’s desperate for attention. Outside of acting like a total weirdo, she invests time and energy into growing her business, hanging with her favorite dog, Nitro, dealing with her teenagers’ angst, and planning her next big wheels-up adventure. Betsy is a Certified Professional Photographer (CPP) with the organization Professional Photographers of America (PPA). The CPP designation is held by fewer than 2,500 photographers nationwide and is a hallmark of consistency, technical skill, artistry, and professionalism. Betsy specializes in creating storytelling magic for horse girls of all ages. In other words, she enjoys working with fun-spirited clients who need horse portraits, equestrian senior, and equestrian brand photography. She even throws in some dogs for variety because what true horse girl doesn’t love a great pup too? Based in Chattanooga, TN, Ride the Sky Equine Photography works on location in Tennessee, North Georgia, and beyond.