Basic Marketing To Start Your Horse Business
There are some essential and basic marketing techniques you must do in order to start your horse business. Here, the focus is on getting the fact that you are in the horse business out to the public. You must let people know you are in business and what you do in your business. People must know how to contact you and ask for your services. These first marketing steps are essential and should be followed. Every successful business before yours and every business afterwards will market itself--so you will too.
BASIC MARKET RESEARCH TO START A HORSE BUSINESS
What you really want to know is four things:
1. Who Are Your Customers?
2. Where Are Your Customers?
3. How Many Customers Are There?
4. Who Is Your Competition?
All of your marketing efforts are directed towards getting these customers to buy products or use services from your horse business. Looking at Business Plan Software and books about Business Plans, you will find suggestions about gathering huge amounts of data and producing many charts and graphs. These plans are largely intended for Banks, Lenders, and Investors. Most of us do not have the resources or sufficient information to make these plans, charts, and graphs truly meaningful. We are looking for information to start a horse business and may have more limited resources.
Nonetheless, there is information available and you can get it fairly easily. This information will inform and guide you in creating your marketing plan. The data and information you can collect from these steps will open up your mind to more ideas, provide names, phone numbers, and e-mail addresses for an initial marketing campaign to start your your horse business.
You will also learn who your competitors are, where they are located, and what services they offer. You will also see ways to promote your horse business that is beyond what others are doing. You will be surprised that some of your potential competitors do not even have websites or do very little marketing as well as some who are “all in“ and have a defined marketing plan. All of this information is advantageous for you to have. Perhaps most importantly, this information will be local.
*You need to develop some valuable insight into what is meant by defining someone as a “competitor”. You will
find that you need them and they will need you in some ways.
There is an old story about being the only lawyer in town. If you are, you will starve. You need another
lawyer in town so you have someone to sue.
Similarly, you cannot shoe every horse or board every horse or sell every saddle. The day will come when you may need their help or to borrow their trailer. This is
not noted to prevent honest competition. If you are very successful, you may help put someone out of
business. If that occurs, make sure your part in that
(aside from their lack of business acumen) was just a
result of the fair workings of the market. You don’t
need to create enemies if you can avoid it.
You will always be advised to study the demographics of your potential customers for your horse busienss. These demographic studies can be very involved and produce a great amount of data. Unfortunately, the data is not always that easy to come by if you are trying to obtain it for free. General statistics are available--but it is much harder to collect data on a local level or for specific businesses. This can be frustrating to someone who is trying to create a business plan.
Fortunately, there are some tools available which can begin to guide you in the right direction.
One of the first things you need to do is to get information on existing horse businesses in your area. Use Google Maps to collect to help you collect demographic data.
Example: Open your browser to the Google Home
Page and click the Maps” tab. Google Maps collects data from many sources including phone books, business listings, and websites. Point your mouse to your state on the map and
left double-click as you zoom in on where you
live. Zoom down to a level you know fairly well. In the Google Maps Search Box, enter “pizza” and click “Search maps”. The Google map will
show you where pizza business are located. If you see a Capitalized letter, the business has
a website (with a few exceptions). If you see a
red dot, you can click the red dot and get the
name of the pizza restaurant and telephone
Use this same technique to search for horse businesses. Search under several terms: Horse Boarding, Horse Stables, Horse Riding Lessons, Feed Stores, Feed and Tack, Horse Veterinarians, Horse Auctions, Horse Trailers, Horse Gift Shops, Horse Shoeing, Horse Associations, Horse Clubs, Trail Riding, or Farrier. Choose whatever terms are of interest to your business, but search in several ways. Zoom in and out as you search wider areas or left-click the map and while holding down your left-click button, move the map. The map will re-load with more businesses as you move it.
Each search will produce locations of businesses and there will be some overlap. Begin making a list of these horse related businesses, including address and telephone number. If the location is Capitalized, click the website and learn more about the business.
MAKE NOTES: If you plan to ultimately compete in the horse boarding business in your area, do as much online research as you can. If the existing boarding facilities in your area have websites, see what they offer: Covered Arenas, Indoor Arena, English, Western, Boarding Rates, Turn Out, and other services.
This is your quickest and best way to begin gathering demographic information. You already know things about the area in which you live. See where are the high-cost and low-cost housing areas are in relation to these businesses. Look for “clusters” of several businesses in a particular area or side of a town. Remember, these businesses have already located in certain areas and have done their own formal or informal demographic study--they have located here for a reason--including ownership of land.
From your Google Maps results, you can add to your Contact List. This will be a list of horse-related businesses and contact information. Many business websites will contain e-mail addresses as well as telephone contact information. Some websites will provide you with the name of the owner--your primary contact information. You are creating the beginnings of your marketing plan as you search.
SELECTING YOUR HORSE BUSINESS SERVICE AREA
Use Google Maps or Mapquest to get this data to start your horse business. You need to determine the size of your Service Area and have a good idea about travel times. You will highlight and locate major traffic arteries along which you and your customers will travel. You may choose to be county-wide or, if your town is located near a county-line, you may elect a larger area that encompasses two counties. Generally, you are going to look at areas within an hour of your location. Your Service Area will not be a perfect circle. Some areas along a major highway or Interstate will stretch you further in one direction than traveling an hour in another area that is congested. Use your current knowledge of the area and Mapquest some routes and drive times.
Real Estate Agents are a good source of information about Growth Areas, Incomes, and Demographics in your City and County. Talk to a Real Estate Agent. If you do not know one, look at your Contacts List and find someone who does and will introduce you. There is an agent in your Church, School, PTA, or some other club to which you belong or have a contact. If you don’t feel comfortable with the first agent with whom you speak, go to a second.
Here is what you want to know: Where are the established and growing communities where I will find people who are:
-- Women 30 to 55 years of age
-- Families with Children
-- Incomes that are above the average but not necessarily the top incomes
-- People working in Management, Sales, Responsible Administrative Positions, and likely some college education.
Studies have shown that many horse owners are families and single women. Their incomes are less than the wealthiest families in the area and they tend to be engaged in jobs with responsibility, management, and oversight of others. Horse ownership among this group is a strong recreational outlet and relaxation outlet in their lives. People in this group with children will want to make sure their children have opportunities to be exposed to many interests, from Scouting, Little League, Soccer, Horseback Riding, and other activities. Many board horses and spend an average about $2,400.00 per year in addition to board on horse services. These people are also concerned about time. Careers and families are important to them and they have limited amounts of time to get things done. Travel times are important to them. Whatever service you provide in your horse business needs to help them make best use of their time. If you need to offer pick-up and delivery services to get the business, do it.
-- You are also weeding out some demographics.
Lower-income families, young singles in their
first apartments, and students. These people
may be your customers in the future, but it is
not likely now. If there are customers in these
categories that want your services, you are going
to provide ways for them to find you and they
will. You are going to concentrate for now on your best chances for customers to get your horse
SERVICE AREA DEMOGRAPHICS YOU NEED TO START A HORSE BUSINESS
You also need to gather more data before you start your horse business. You can Google your city and county population data. You will find basic census data information. You need your County and City Population as well as the Number of Households in your Service Area. If your city or town closely borders another county or is minutes from another city or town, you will need that information also. This will be available in fairly recent Census Data. You can Google your city and county searching for recent census data and find this information.
HOW MANY PEOPLE MAY WANT SERVICES OR PRODUCTS OF YOUR HORSE BUSINESS?
KEY RATIOS TO START A HORSE BUSINESS:
This calculation will give you an idea of people who may need or use your horse-related business. This is a National average and your local results could be a little more or less. Use your judgment.
1. The Number of Horse-Owning Households =.018 x Total Number of
Households in your Service Area.
2. The Number of Horses in your Service Area = 0.063 x Total Number of Households in Your Service Area
The Number of Horses in Your Service Area = 3.5 x The Number
of Horse Owning Households in your Service Area
*Note: There are two types of estimates given here.
Look at both numbers and consider if your area is
largely urbanized (the lower number) or contains a
fair amount of rural land (the higher number).
3. The Number of Boarded Horses = 0.11 x The Number of Horses in
your Service Area.
These are usable ratios and numbers to be used in starting a horse business. You can now estimate the number of customers you may have in your Service Area. Will they make purchases of your goods and services monthly, 3-4 times a year, once per year? Can you create repeat business from them. These are the kinds of things you will also consider to start your horse business.
WHAT SHOULD YOU LEARN ABOUT STARTING A HORSE BUSINESS FROM THIS RESEARCH?
You should have a good idea about the number of horse-related businesses in your area, the number of horses, the number of horse-owners, and where they are likely to be located.
You have a sizeable Contact List you can use for announcing a Grand Opening, Placing Flyers, E-Mailing the availability of your products and services. This aids you greatly as these are positive marketing steps you can take to get customers rather than passively waiting to see who finds you.