Tag Archives: Randi Thompson

  • 80% of People are Now Shopping Online. Will they Find Your Horse Business?

    Written By Randi Thompson

    Social media and SEO (search engine optimization) are more important to local horse business owners than ever

    With the recent Google search changes, social media is now the best way to get your horse business on the first page of the local search engine results. Studies show that most people do not go past that first page, so it is important that your business is listed there.

    Local Marketing with a Focus on Social Media and SEO. How people will find you

    When you enter the world of social media, you will become a part of a social network. You communicate and interact with each other through the posts that you share with each other. The more likes, shares and comments your posts and website that is connected to them gets, the higher your business will show up in the newsfeeds of anyone who interacts on it, and even more importantly, the search results.

    Some of the benefits for marketing and promoting your local horse business on social media include:

    • You can attract and target horse people in your local area.

    • Social media marketing is low cost.

    • You will become an authority in your local area and in your field.

    • You create relationships with the people who become a part of your network. Those you are interacting with begin to know, like and trust you. They can become your customers.

    • You can talk directly with potential customers or create a stronger relationship with your current ones.

    Are you ready to get started?

    Begin by choosing a social media network that features local business pages. You can start a local business page on Facebook at: https://www.facebook.com/pages/create.php If you are on Google + (of course, since it is Google, you will get the best search results there) start with a Google local business page here: http://www.google.com/+/business/

    When you go to the business start-up page you will be asked to pick a classification. Choose “local business or place” This classification will help your business rank higher in your local area. The name you choose as the title of the business page is very important. It needs to be one that people will search for. Since they probably do not know the name of your business, you can add more words to the title. For example, Sundance Stables. Conyers, Ga. Or, Sundance Stables- Horse training, boarding.

    Next, you will be asked to upload a photo for the “cover photo”. This is the image that will appear across the top of your business page. Creative business owners use their cover photos to promote their sales or share photos that focus on their business and the customers who make it special.

    You will also need a smaller “profile image”. It is the profile image that will show up on any of posts you share. Many business owners use their logo as their profile image so that people can recognize their business.

    The “About “section” is designed so that your business name and website (if you have one) can be found in the search engine results. It is very important and often over looked by business owners who do not realize its value. With Facebook and Google+ local business pages you can also add your location, phone number, website and other information that people will be looking for in a local business.

    Once your business page is set up, make sure to add its icon, a clickable image, to your website. By doing this, your website will have more value as your activity on social media will be noticed by Google and your website will be listed higher in the search results.

    How to Find the Local People Who Are Interested In What Your Business Has to Offer

    Social media is all about connecting to people with similar interests. Your goal will want to find where they are on other social media pages, groups or communities. To find them go to the search bar on the top of the page and type in the words that people in the horse world are using. This is called “targeting”. For example, you can start with the word, horses, and see who turns up. To narrow your search down even more you can type in AQHA, dressage, horse training or whatever words are related to what you are doing in the horse business. To find out who is in your area, type in those words and add your city and state. You can also go to your competitor’s pages to see who is there and target the people who are there that you would like to get to know better. All you need to do is click on their profile image and you will be magically transported to their business page or personal profile where you can start having conversations with them on the posts they have shared. This makes them feel valued and they will often click on your profile image to see who you are and what you are doing. If they like what you are doing, they will become a part of your social network.

    How to Get People Talking About Your Business

    There is a reason it is called social media. It’s all about being social. You will be using the posts you share and the comments you add to other people’s posts to create conversations with other people. Especially those who are interested in your field or what you have to offer.

    • To start, you will need to reach out to your prospective clients, or the people with lots of connections related to what you are offering in your business, by going to their posts and business pages.

    • Add interesting comments to the posts that they are sharing. Your goal is to get them to respond to you.

    • Post from your business page when you are on other business pages so that those who are there begin to recognize your business from your profile image

    • The more people you can get to like, share or comment on your posts, the higher your business page, and as a result, your webpage, will appear in the search results. To do this, share interesting posts, photos, or videos to attract their attention.

    When do You Promote Your Business?

    Every time you post from your business page you are promoting your business. It is important to keep most of your posts, or comments, conversational, entertaining, or educational. At least 90% of your posts should be posts that people want to interact on or respond to. You can also use your posts to promote your business directly. The trick is in making that post more than just another ad that no one will look at. To do this you can ask questions or experiment with what people will respond to. Less than 10% of what you share on social media should be focused on direct advertising. You can also target local horse people directly with Facebook and Google Ads.

    Can Anyone Find You’re Business When They Do a Search?

    Your prospective customers are now searching online for what they want locally. Will they be able to find your horse business?

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

       

    How to Market Your Horse Business

    Horse and Rider Awareness

  • Equine Liability Laws

    Written by Randi Thompson

    What you need to know. The Exceptions That Will Affect You in the Equine Liability Statutes

    Do you think that the Equine Liability Statutes protects you from any lawsuit simply by putting up the signage and getting a release form signed?  If you do, you are wrong! There are horse people who believe that they are protected completely from any form of liability because their state has these statues. However, when they end up in a legal situation they are unprepared for what will happen.  They did not know that there are exceptions! 

    The Equine Liability Statutes are different for each state.  Each state requires specific signage to be posted and specific language to be included in any contracts and liability releases.  

    What are the Equine Liability Statutes for your state?

    First, you need to look closely at the Equine Liability Statutes for your state?  Click on this link, and then click on your state to see what yours looks like.  http://www.animallaw.info/articles/armpequineliability.htm   There are 4 states do not have an Equine Liability Statutes, CA, MD, NV, & NY.  If you are in one of these states you should contact and attorney as soon as possible for advice.

    Warning Signs and Liability Release Forms Required for Your State

    Begin by checking to see if your state’s Equine Liability Statute requires posted warning signage.  Next look carefully at what is required in the “liability release form” for your state. This is an example of one from Missouri.

    “Every equine activity sponsor shall post and maintain signs which contain the warning notice specified in this subsection. Such signs shall be placed in a clearly visible location on or near stables, corrals or arenas where the equine professional conducts equine activities if such stables, corrals or arenas are owned, managed or controlled by the equine professional. The warning notice specified in this subsection shall appear on the sign in black letters on a white background with each letter to be a minimum of one inch in height. Every written contract entered into by an equine professional and equine activity sponsor for the providing of professional services, instruction or the rental of equipment or tack or an equine to a participant, whether or not the contract involves equine activities on or off the location or site of the equine professional's or equine activity sponsor's business, shall contain in clearly readable print the warning notice specified in this subsection. The signs and contracts described in this subsection shall contain the following warning notice: WARNING Under Missouri law, an equine professional is not liable for an injury to or the death of a participant in equine activities resulting from the inherent risks of equine activities pursuant to the Revised Statutes of Missouri.  (L. 1994 S.B. 457)”

    What is NOT Covered. Exceptions and Provisions that You Need to Know

    Make sure you read and understand the full text of the statute including the “what is not covered” or in other words, the exceptions to liability, that are included in your states Equine Liability Statutes.   For example, this section is from the NC  Equine Liability Statutes in the Summary area:  “However, there are exceptions to this rule:  a person, corporation, or partnership will be held liable for injuries of an equine activity participant if he or she displays a willful and wanton or intentional disregard for the safety of the participant and if he or she fails to make reasonable and prudent efforts in ensuring the safety of the participant” This is why it is advisable to contact an Equine Attorney in your area who can make sure you have taken the right precautions and preparations in order,   including the records that you need to keep.

    At first glance, it probably looks pretty easy to understand. You may think you really are protected against any claims.  Until you look a little closer.  Following are the “provisions” or the “exceptions to protection” from the Equine Liability Statutes of Missouri.  I have also added a few what if’s to each section so that you can begin to understand what they might really mean to you.  This is how that section begins:  “The provisions of subsection 2 of this section shall not prevent or limit the liability of an equine activity sponsor, an equine professional or any other person if the equine activity sponsor, equine professional or person;”  
     

    Looking Closer.  What Do the Exceptions Mean To You?

    Now we are going to take a closer look at how the ‘exceptions” to the Equine Liability Statutes might not protect you. Basically, these not inherent risks to being around horses.   For example , look at: ”(1) Provided the equipment or tack and knew or should have known that the equipment or tack was faulty and such equipment or tack was faulty to the extent that it did cause the injury; or”    

    Do you have paperwork that proves that you are checking your tack on a regular basis to make sure it is safe and in good condition? Where are your records?  What are the dates? Can you show that you have repaired equipment (bills) or replaced equipment as needed?   How would you explain if a stirrup leather broke?  Or if the girth leather split causing the saddle to fall off?

    (2) Provided the equine and failed to make reasonable and prudent efforts to determine the ability of the participant to engage safely in the equine activity and determine the ability of the participant to safely manage the particular equine based on the participant's age, obvious physical condition or the participant's representations of his ability;” 

      Are you sure that putting that new rider on a green horse is really safe?  How can you prove that they are?  What tests are you requiring of the rider to make sure that they are prepared before you put them on any horse?  Do you have charts or records that show the process you are using to determine which horses can be ridden by which level of riders?  Are you keeping incident reports when something happens with a horse or a rider gets injured or comes off a horse?  Did they fall off, get bucked off?  What happened and when? 

    3) Owns, leases, rents or otherwise is in lawful possession and control of the land or facilities upon which the participant sustained injuries because of a dangerous latent condition which was known to the equine activity sponsor, equine professional or person and for which warning signs have not been conspicuously posted;”

     Is your riding ring free from obstructions that do not belong there when riders are using it?  Is there a tractor sitting in the corner?  Is the footing rough or full of holes?  When you take other riders out for a cooling off walk on the trail around the barn, what happens if the horse they are on trips in a hole that has been there for some time that you have not taken the time to fill?


     4) Commits an act or omission that constitutes willful or wanton disregard for the safety of the participant and that act or omission caused the injury;

     What if you take a person around a  horse, who had very little to no experience with horses, and they get kicked, bit or stepped on?  Who is responsible?  When people come to your barn, what are you doing to keep them away from horses that could be dangerous to them?  Can a 6 year old read a warning sign that says a horse bites?

     5) Intentionally injures the participant;

    Intentional is such a broad term.  How would the law look at an incident where you do not tell one of your students, who gets injured, that the horse you have put them on has flipped over, or has bucked riders off before? 

    6) Fails to use that degree of care that an ordinarily careful and prudent person would use under the same or similar circumstances

    You ask a friend to help you bring in horses with you. They do not have a lot of experience.  Somehow, they lose control of the horse and are trampled resulting in injuries.  Or, you are teaching a student and do not check the girth.  The saddle slides around the horse resulting in the rider getting dragged, and hurt.  Who is responsible?

    Now That You Know More About The Equine Liability Statutes…

    They do not protect horse people from lawsuits unless they have taken the time to make sure that they have followed all the requirements and have the records to show how they are doing this.  Do yourself a favor, contact an equine attorney in your area today and find out if you are doing all that you can do to protect you from a possible lawsuit

    DISCLAIMER

    This article provides general coverage of its subject area. It is provided free, with the understanding that the author, publisher and/or publication does not intend this article to be viewed as rendering legal advice or service. If legal advice is sought or required, the services of a competent professional should be sought. The author shall not be responsible for any damages resulting from any error, inaccuracy or omission contained in this article.

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

     

    http://www.facebook.com/howtomarketyourhorsebusiness

    http://www.howtomarketyourhorsebusiness

  • How to Sell through Your posts on Social Media

    Written By Randi Thompson, Founder of the Award-Winning “How to Market Your Horse Business” website

    Welcome to the fourth and final article in my series, “Marketing Your Horse Business through Social Media.” Here’s a quick recap of Parts 1-3:  In Part 1 we explored how having a presence on social media can benefit your offline, “real world” horse business. Part 2 focused on developing a content strategy that becomes the foundation for all your online marketing. And in part 3, I covered my magic “Rule of Three” and introduced how to use your comments to create relationships and attract those who are looking for what you have to offer. Now in Part 4, we’ll go even deeper into how to use your posts to promote what you have to offer as you continue to build your network.

    How to Market Your Horse Business with the Posts You Share

    Marketing on Social Media is all about how we use our posts to “talk” to other people. Each post you share is an investment in your business and future success. By connecting with other people in your field, you will become a part of a network that will continue to expose you to more people who are looking for what you have to offer.

    How to get Other People Talking

    One of the best ways to get people to exchange comments, and to start “talking” with you is to respond to one of their posts first. Take your time and choose the posts of people you want to know better, or posts that a lot of people are already talking on.  Join in that conversation and see if you can get people to respond to what you have to say. Imagine you are talking with a group of friends, how would you keep the conversation going? One way to get people talking is by asking questions.  You can use open questions to everyone, or ask direct questions to whoever you want.  Once the people in a community begin to respond to your posts, you will know that you have established yourself as a valued and welcome member. You will feel like you are a part of that community. That is when you can start letting people know what you have to offer with a “sales post.”
    If you are not a part of the community you are sharing your “sales post” in, no one wants to hear from you and your posts will be ignored.  In fact, you will be seen as a spammer and your post may be deleted and you banned.

    Here are two important rules to understand about a “sales post”

    1) Never try to sell through your posts or comments. Comments are for building relationships and interacting. Your “sales posts” should direct people to your website or sales page.

    2) The Golden 90/10 Rule of Sales Posts. 90% of all the content (what you share) in your posts should be information that people might need, find valuable or enjoy. Only about 10% of your posts should promote what you offer.

    Crafting Your “Sales Posts”

    There are basically two ways to sell, or share what you have to offer, through your posts.  One way is by responding to another person’s comments on a post.  For example, you might be reading a post about an issue that someone is having.  It just happens that you have the perfect solution with your product or service.  Rather than trying to sell that person through a comment reply, you should contact them off the page first. If you can’t do that, then gently suggest that you might have a solution that could help them and ask them to contact you.

    The second way to sell what you have to offer is by starting a new post,  your “sales post” Here’s a technique that you can use that works very well.  It does not sound or look like a sales pitch.

    *Start with a good photo that will catch people’s attention.
    *Introduce yourself with a friendly greeting: something as simple as “Hi, Everyone” or “nice to see you” will work.
    * Share a few benefits people will receive through your product or service. This should be only a few sentences so it’s not spammy! You can also ask questions that lead back to your product or service as being the solution.  This is the area you will be using to get people to “talking” to you on your post.
    * Invite people to find out more by clicking on your link below the comment.
    * Add your first name and tag your link with your website URL so people will begin to associate your name with your business. If your comments are interesting enough, they will go to your business page to see what you’re all about.

    What about the Follow-Through?

    Sometimes people are so focused on sharing their “sales posts” in as many places as they can that they forget to notice if anyone is responding to the posts they have left. This makes them look very unprofessional. You need to be very aware (and thankful) when someone takes the time to “talk” to you on any of your posts.  Those comments are worth their weight in gold. Make sure you always respond to any comments that people make on your posts.  Also, make sure that you “Like” any comments that other people add to the posts you’ve shared.

    Social Media: It’s Easy, Fun and It Works!

    Following the recommendations I’ve made in this “Marketing through Social Media” series can help you enter the Social Media world for the first time or improve on what you’ve already tried. You’ll find that your interactions and the relationships you build will help expand your business and open doors to new markets.

    With a little practice, you will begin to enjoy social media and all the benefits it will bring to you and your business. Be patient with your process and join us at: https://www.facebook.com/howtomarketyourhorsebusiness

  • 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.
    .
    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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