Between the coronavirus and the upcoming election, the world has become a scary and divisive place. For equine professionals, the economic crisis that seems to be looming over the horizon is frightening. Here’s the good news: animals will always need excellent care.
The other good news is that you can take advantage of the added downtime you have now to protect your business’s future in the wake of the coronavirus. Here are some things you can do today to succeed tomorrow.
Build Trusting Relationships
I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again: marketing is about building relationships. The coronavirus requires physical distancing, not social distancing. Use social media and other online platforms to connect with your customers who may not be able to make it out to the barn anymore. Now is when your customers are looking for reassurance the most. Modern technology allows you to reassure them that their animals are being well taken care of.
You may not have the coronavirus vaccine hiding in your tack box, but you can provide your online followers and clients with a sense of normalcy. Be sure to send current clients updates on their horses, along with pictures. Take to social media with pictures of happy animals, calming barn views, and positive messages. There’s enough fear-mongering out there right now and that’s not why anyone ever went to the barn in the first place.
If you really feel like being creative, set up a livestream of your barn aisle or paddocks onto your website. This way owners (and potential clients!) can check in when needed and bring some of the calming energy of the horses right to their living room.
These tactics don’t just apply to current clients. Potential boarders and students will also appreciate the positive calming messages and reassuring tone in the midst of the coronavirus madness.
Increase Online Engagement
Riding lessons may be on pause and the barn rats may all be safely quarantined at home, but that doesn’t mean online engagement has to stop.
Use your extra downtime now to start laying the groundwork for when you’ll need new clients the most– after the immediate coronavirus threat passes and the economic crisis starts to hit even harder. Take this time to work on your social media, develop videos, and consider doing an online webinar for potential and current students. After all, horsemanship lessons don’t have to stop just because you can’t get out to the barn.
People are stuck at home bored. Give them a distraction, something to do, so after the inevitable quarantine is over, they’ll remember your barn and want to engage with you.
Don’t Back Off Your Marketing
Many equine professionals make the mistake of cutting their marketing budget when the going gets tough. People tend to think that they need marketing when times are good. It’s actually just the opposite.
High-quality marketing helps your business grow and succeed. Your equine business needs growth the most when times are hard. If you can, now is a good time to amp up your marketing and get ahead. Some low- cost marketing activities that you can do now include:
- Social media management
- Online networking
- Facebook and Instagram Live
If you want to use the time you have now to really give your business a boost, look into hiring an equine marketing professional for search engine optimization and website customization.
Look to the Past, Plan for the Future
You can learn a lot about your business and what direction your marketing should take by talking to your favorite boarders. In this case, I don’t mean “favorite” as in best friend. I mean “favorite boarders” as in those who pay on time, take lessons and board, have their horse in your training program, and are drama-free.
These types of boarders are your bread and butter. When the economic crisis does hit, you want to make sure you’re able to get more of them. Appropriately-targeted marketing is crucial in bringing in new clients that fit your equine business.
Talk to these boarders. Ask: How did you hear about me? What improvements do you want to see? Why do you like to board here?
These questions give you more information on the types of boarders you want in your barn and how to attract more of them. Stay tuned for an upcoming blog post with more on marketing for the right clients for your barn.
We WILL Make It Through
The most important thing to remember is that this, too, will pass. Take the extra downtime you have now to build your business for the future. Equine marketing will keep your business front of mind for when the economy picks back up. Remember to provide current and potential clients with reassurance, and a sense of normalcy. Work on creating trusting relationships even in the midst of a crisis.
Your equine business will make it through if you play your cards right. You are not alone— the time to come together as a community and support each other is now more than ever.