Tag Archives: How to Market Your Horse Business

  • Marketing Your Horse Business through Social Media, Part 3, How Comments Create Relationships

    Written By Randi Thompson, Founder of the Award-Winning Facebook “How to Market Your Horse Business”
    In the first article of my “Marketing through Social Media” series, I explained how offline businesses can benefit by having a presence on social media networks. In Part 2, I focused on developing a content strategy as the foundation for all of your social media marketing activities. Now, in Part 3, we’ll look at how your posts can be used to expand your social media presence and influence. 

    Social media is perfect for those in the horse business as it is all about creating relationships with customers andnetworking with other people. The secret to your success is in how you participate in any social media community, including yours. To do this, the posts that you share should be like a conversation that you are having with a friend. Your goal is to find ways to get people to “talk” with you on your posts, or on theirs.  Why is this? Your responses will turn up on their newsfeeds which makes you visible to potential customers who are looking for what you have to offer. This is called “viral marketing”. The more people that respond to a post, the further out it goes on the newsfeeds. 

    When you first begin “posting” on a social network, those who are already there will be watching how you interact on other people’s comments and what you share. They need to like, trust and know you before they start responding to what you are sharing. 80% of what your posts should be interesting or fun. Only 20% of your posts should be about what you have to sell. 

    How can you do this? Begin by following “The Rule of 3” that I share with business owners on Facebook who want to discover the secrets to marketing on social media. If you practice this rule every day you’ll start seeing results very quickly.
    Begin by “friending” or “liking” 3 new people from your personal profile every day. Start with people you know or want to know better. Don’t be shy! You’re creating relationships that can make a big difference in your business. Try to include a few people that you believe are famous, or those you see as competitors in your industry. You will learn a lot from watching what they do. If you are a local business you should invite people in your local area or from business groups you would like to connect with. Take your time. Look at their profiles and choose the people you have a good feeling about. This is important, especially for those who are new to social media. Later, when you have enough friends, you won’t need to keep adding them as people will be asking for your friendship!
    “Like” 3 Facebook Business Pages every day. Choose business pages that are in your field, that way you will begin to become a part of their network. Be selective and choose business pages that are active and interesting, where people are sharing ideas and asking questions. Ask yourself if you want to be associated with that business page. (If you change your mind you can always “unlike” it later)   As a fan (when you “like” a business page) you will see their comments in the newsfeeds and watch what they are sharing and how they interact with other pages and people. If you would like to get to know them better, all you need to do is start responding to their comments. You will be surprised how important some of these connections will become as you continue networking and building relationships with each other.
    “Like” 3 comments every day that other people have made. Likes are easy, so feel free to do more!  All a “like” takes is a click of your finger!  Each time you “like” a post it goes on the newsfeeds of anyone else who makes a comment on it or “likes” that post. You can “like” posts from your newsfeeds, people’s profiles, or from their business pages. The more you like other people’s posts, the more they will notice you and begin to respond to what you are sharing. You will become visible to them. Make sure to “like” any comments or posts that people share on your business page or profile. That makes them feel like you care and encourages them to share more!
    Make 3 comments on other people’s posts or their business page/group every day. Take your time and choose a post where you can add a meaningful response or question that shows you are interested in discussing the topic. As a result, the owner of that business page/group will notice you and want to know more about you. So will the other people who are active on that business page/group. On Facebook, you can post from your business page.  That way, people who are reading that post will see your business page. If your comments are interesting enough, these people will go to your business page to see what you’re all about.
    DO Make Comments That Create Conversations… DON’T Be a Spammer!
    Unfortunately many people who are new to social media try to use their comments only to sell what they have to offer. They are really “spamming”. They will even do this in their own business pages or groups! This is because they do not know the right way to promote and market their business on social media. They are not being social. They are easy to see as their comments are not conversations and other people do not interact on them. When we see a spammer post on the newsfeeds, we cringe and probably won’t bother to read them.   A spammer is also known as a “spray and prayer.” They post as many comments as they can everywhere, on every business page or group that they can find, hoping that someone will buy from them.
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    Business Page and group owners do not like “spammers”. Those posts will probably be deleted and the person who posted the spam will often be blocked, banned or even reported to Facebook. The facts are, if you don’t bother to become part of the social media community that you are posting on, by interacting with others, NO ONE will be interested in what you have to say.Now that you know the secret to your success is in getting people to interact with you, this will not happen to you!

    In Part 4 of my Marketing through Social Media series, we’ll focus on the secrets to creating posts that work for promoting your own business or service. In the meantime, start using “The Rule of 3!” It will really make a difference in what’s happening to your business on social media. Try it and you’ll be amazed!

  • Marketing Your Horse Business through Social Media Part 2, Content Strategy: What You Share Keeps People Interested

    Written By Randi Thompson, Founder of the Award-Winning Facebook Business Page “How to Market Your Horse Business”
    In my first article of this series, I explained how “offline” businesses can benefit by having a presence on social media networks like Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, YouTube and Google+. I left you with a two-part “assignment” for getting started:
    1. Look at what other businesses like yours are doing on social media sites and web sites to promote themselves. What do you think their marketing strengths and weaknesses are? Are you clear about what they have to offer? How can you incorporate some of those ideas in your marketing?
    2. Talk to your existing customers to find out what they’d like to see from you in the social media world. What do they do with social media? Where are they “hanging out” and who do they think are the “movers and shakers” of the horse social media world?
    Now let's continue by exploring content strategy.
    Developing Content: What you share on social media will attract people looking for what you have to offer.
    The expression “Content is King” originally referred to print and broadcast media but it’s equally true in the online world. A great comment, photo or video may get people to visit your web site or follow you on social media for a while, but if your content doesn’t remain valuable to them you’ll quickly drop off their radar and their newsfeeds.
    Our goal is to get people to respond to us and interact with us through the comments and content that we share. Here’s why content and comments are the secrets to success for marketing on social media:
    1. Good content builds loyalty. If a business had to get a new customer to make every sale, their marketing challenge would be enormous! A horse publication, for example, doesn’t make most of its money from people picking it up for the first time, it makes money from people who realize its content has ongoing value that they need, so they subscribe. Really successful Internet sites, blogs and social media pages also get most of their traffic from repeat business, based on the value of their content. It’s the content we share that gets people interested in what we have to offer and, most importantly, gets them to respond to our comments. When people respond to your comments, those comments go viral on the newsfeeds and you are then exposed to more people who are looking for what you have to offer!
    2. Relationships lead to sales. When you build loyalty through high-value content that encourages people to interact with you, you’re actually creating relationships with people who are interested in what you have to offer. We’d all rather buy something from someone we have come to know, like and trust.
    3. Well-planned content helps people find you. Search engines like Google and Bing are a way of life, zipping through the virtual universe to recognize and rank content that most closely matches a user’s query. You can help your content be recognized and ranked through the use of “Search Engine Optimization” or SEO. A whole SEO industry has sprung up to specialize in using the right “keywords” that will get a site recognized early and ranked highly on Search Engine results lists. But you have to do more than focus on keywords – your business has a better chance of flourishing if you provide great content first, while having a decent understanding of SEO and keywords.
    But What Should You Be Saying?
    It’s exciting to think of all the ways you can communicate on social media – your comments, photos, audio and video can be fun to think about and create. But the most important step in determining your comment strategy is deciding what you should be saying so people will respond and your comment will be shared on their newsfeeds.
    If you want people to purchase your products or services, you need to be able to tell them what you have to offer in a way that’s easy for them to understand. Even more important, you have to show them how what you’re offering will benefit them. The first step in creating “benefits-driven” content is to organize your own thoughts about what you’re offering and how you are going to promote what you have to offer.
    1. Start by making a list of the products and services you offer. If you have a retail store you don’t need to list every saddle and bit – just the product categories. If you have a boarding barn, you could include types of stalls; types of turnout; specialized services; what type of riding rings you have and whether you have trails your clients can ride on. If you’re a trainer, you could include group or individual lessons; discipline specialty; working with green or problem horses; offering weekend clinics, etc. No matter what specific horse business you have, you need to break it down into specific products and services you feel prospective clients will be looking for – you can’t promote what you can’t describe!
    2. For each of your products or services, identify what is different about your offerings – and hopefully unique or better – than what the competition offers. Find those things that set you apart so your potential customer can understand why your offerings are the best choice for them.
    3. Think about your priorities in terms of what you should be promoting first or most actively; you want to be sure what you’re promoting is not just relevant but is also of high value. For example, if your barn stays full of boarders but you need to add revenue, you could emphasize other things like lessons, summer camps or “adult pony club” activities. If you’re a retail store, you may have certain products that offer repeat purchase opportunities and better profit margins than other products. Here’s why prioritizing is important: on your own web site you can provide comprehensive details of your total business but when you’re marketing through social media, your comments have to be briefer and more targeted. The good news is that you can use social media comments to drive “target customers” – people who are looking for what you have to offer – to your website or social media network.
    Giving careful thought to each of the three areas above will help you develop a content and comment strategy as the foundation for all of your marketing activities. So get started! In my next article I’ll talk about how you can use your comments to sell what you have to offer.
    Randi Thompson is internationally recognized in social media for her award winning “How to Market Your Horse Business” and “Horse and Rider Awareness."  She is a keynote speaker at national events, author, and expert legal consultant for the horse industry. For a FREE copy of Randi Thompson’s e-book, DIY – Get Listed Locally, How to Get Your Small Business Listed Online in the Local Searches!, go tohttp://www.howtomarketyourhorsebusiness.com/downloads/DIYGetListed.pdf.   You can also join Randi on Facebook athttps://www.facebook.com/howtomarketyourhorsebusiness.

  • Marketing Your Horse Business through Social Media

    Written By Randi Thompson, Founder of the Award-Winning “How to Market Your Horse Business”
     
    If you’re running a horse business, chances are you spend more time in the saddle, in the arena or on the business end of a muck fork than you do in front of your computer. But just because you run an “offline” business doesn’t mean you can’t benefit big-time from “online” marketing. In this series of articles I’ll introduce you to marketing through online social media and how it can help build your brand and your business.
    Social media includes big sites like Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, YouTube and Google+, as well as hundreds of forum and chat room sites dedicated to shared interests – like, say, horses! Millions of people are on social media sites like these everyday – in fact, using social media is second only to checking emails in terms of online activities.
    It’s obvious why social media sites are important tools for online retailers and other online businesses: social media sites are free, efficient ways of marketing to the virtual world. For an online business it makes perfect sense to market to online customers.
    But many people mistakenly believe that social media can’t play a role in marketing an offline business. That can be a serious mistake. After all, your current and potential customers could be on social media at any time. When people want information about something these days, where do they go? To the Internet! Right now there could be someone looking online for a boarding barn, trainer, tack shop, feed store, equine vet or anything else horse-related in your very own area. Would they be able to find your business? What would they learn about you? And who’s controlling what gets said about your business online? The obvious answer is that you should be!
    Your first priority for online marketing is to think about how you want your business to be represented in the virtual world. Your potential customer is sitting at a computer, not at your physical place of business seeing it in real life or hearing directly from you or your staff about what you have to offer. What you need is a virtual means of communicating the same points and benefits you’d be talking about in person. That’s how you’ll create an awareness of your “product,” brand and expertise that reflects reality and sets you apart from your competition.
    The great thing is that technology today can make it easy to develop online content that’s compelling and fun – once you know what it is you want to say. A photo slideshow and short videos can make your social media pages the next best thing to being there. But don’t rush into the fun part yet – first you have to figure out what you should be saying and where.
               
    Step One: Research
    Research is one of the most important things any offline business can do when entering the realm of social media marketing. No matter how obscure your business or what kind of niche you sell to, there are undoubtedly other businesses like yours already represented online. And depending on your specific business, you may actually have competitors with their own online retail outlets.
    Bad news: your competitors got online before you did. Good news: you can scour through all their social media pages (and their websites) to learn from their good ideas and improve on the things they don’t do well. Everything you learn can put you in a more favorable position when you launch your own social media efforts.
    How do you find your potential competitors online? The same way you find anything else you’re interested in: through search engines like Google and Bing, through horse-related message boards and chat rooms, through horse organization websites that carry advertising, for example. If you don’t know the names of many businesses like your own, think of the “key words” that a potential customer would use to find a business like yours and start there.
    Be open-minded about the businesses you’re researching: they don’t have to be exactly the same as your own, they don’t have to be in your region of the country, they can even be a completely online business as opposed to offline. In all cases, you’ll be able to learn from what they’re already doing. Here are some questions to help you get started:
    • How are other businesses marketing their products/services…and to whom?
    • Are they on Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, YouTube, Google+?
    • Do they have profiles on forums related to their products/services?
    • What tone do they use on their social media pages and website: casual, friendly, fun, for example, or serious, scientific, disciplined? Is their tone consistent and does it seem appropriate for their product?
    • How are they using photos and videos?
    As you research each business, critique its marketing efforts and jot down what you liked or disliked, what you thought worked or didn’t, and any ideas you have for improving something. Here are some points to get you started:
    • Is it easy to understand their business and its benefits or is their online content confusing?
    • Does their Facebook profile look unprofessional?
    • Do they have out-of-date Twitter feeds?
               
    Tap Into Your Customers
    As an offline business you have another great source for research: your own real-world customers! Ask them if they’d appreciate your being on social media. Would they be interested in a Twitter feed or a LinkedIn profile? Would they friend you on Facebook and be an active participant? If you have younger customers, they can talk your ears off about social media platforms – after all, they’re the ones most likely to be on social media at all hours! Anybody over 30 may have a less informed opinion on social media but may want to get started on it when you do. Either way, talking directly with your current customers is a great way to consider their needs/wants and likes/dislikes as you start firming up your social media marketing plans.

     

    Randi Thompson is internationally recognized in social media for her award winning “How to Market Your Horse Business” and “Horse and Rider Awareness". She is a keynote speaker at national events, author, and expert legal consultant for the horse industry.  
     
    http://www.howtomarketyourhorsebusiness

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