Click For Home - Equiworld.Com and the logo device are copyright 1996.
Equestrian Chat Rooms and Message BoardsEquiworld.Com Horse Site IndexHow To Contact The Equiworld.Com TeamNeed Help Using Equiworld?
Equiworld, for real horse power.
Special Sections for Members
Equestrian Products and Product Reviews
Information on Horse Care and Breeds
HorseLinks and Equestrian Search Engine
Sports, Events and Results
Equiworld.Com On-Line Equestrian Magazine
Riding Holidays and Travel
Training and Education of Horse and Rider
Equestrian Services
Advertise Your Equestrian Company Here









Blue Ribbon Consulting

"Good Horsemanship is Built on Solid Basics...So is Good Business!"

BUILDING A MARKETING PLAN
By Lisa Derby Oden, Blue Ribbon Consulting

Marketing plans, business plans - Understanding the difference between these two "animals" sets the stage for the effective use of both. As a horse business owner or manager, you are the most important resource your business has. Your focus is broad-range. This means that you have long-range goals, and short term objectives to reach those goals. You have so many irons in the fire, you often aren't sure which one you should be tending. Preparing a business plan helps you to structure and prioritize your business. It provides you with general guidelines for operation. A marketing plan thenbecomes your "implementation plan".

Many businesses have no formal business or marketing plan. Reasons frequently given for not having these plans are that the owner/manager is too busy coping with daily survival, that the market changes too quickly, and that they are only paper and are too hard to implement. It is smart to avoid a plan that is just paperwork. It is also true that in a very small organization, the business purpose (mission) may be so narrow that a detailed plan is excessive. For example, a freelance riding instructor could put together a plan that only requires eight hours of thought, research and writing. An entrepreneur opening a boarding stable may spend an entire week or more doing research and constructing a plan that is 20-30 pages in length. Many new organizations, however, find a plan valuable because they lack history and their options are so wide. A plan aids in choosing wisely between alternatives. Do you want to offer boarding and instruction, or just one or the other? Will you be the only instructor/trainer on the premises,or will boarders bring in their own?

Often an owner/manager believes they have an internalized plan in their
head, but usually are just kidding themselves. Many owner/managers don't know what their cash position is, find themselves undercapitalized, and having cash shortages. It turns out that it is much cheaper to sit at a desk and do some concrete planning than it is to lose business. A plan provides the basis for resource allocation and marketing performance evaluation. How much money will you spend promoting your new adult summer riding program; what avenues will you use to publicize it; how will you tell the degree ofsuccess your plan had?

A plan also helps your business anticipate change and generate questions requiring research. Does it look like there is a move towards requiring stables or instructors to be licensed? The planning process can also identify major uncertainties so contingency scenarios can be considered. What if someone buys the farm next door and also opens a riding stable? Grow to your business potential by following these steps that provide you with the key ingredients of a marketing plan.

1) Do a SWOT analysis. This is a detailed description: internally of your product/services strengths and weaknesses; externally of opportunities andthreats.

2) Know what your competitive advantage is. This means you will have a thorough understanding of who your competitors are, what they offer and at what prices, their strengths and weaknesses, and where you fall in the
market.
3) Research your marketing options. This means yellow pages, trade publications, direct mail, internet, show sponsorships, directories, local newspapers, television, radio, video tape, t-shirts, brochures, business cards, trade fairs, telemarketing, etc. Find out how many people you willreach with any given method.

4) Know your market intimately. Who wants your product/service and why? How old are they? What income bracket are they in? What is their lifestyle like? How can they be reached?

5) Be consistent with your marketing message, image, and logo. You mightget bored with it, but your prospects and clients will recognize you quickly and easily. They don't get bored with it.

6) Put together an annual calendar. This lists each service, product, or program and how it will be promoted that week. It also shows how much will be spent for that promotion that week. Track your results. How many responses did you get the first week? The second? Throughout the promotion?What kind of response did you expect?

7) Continue to track your marketing effectiveness throughout the year. Always ask how people have heard of you. Code your brochures and coupons. Get counts on visitors to your Web site.

(Lisa Derby Oden has been providing business development, marketing, and association consulting services to the horse industry since 1995. She is the 1999 AHC Van Ness Award recipient for outstanding service to the horse industry.
She can be reached at: (603)878-1694; email at Lisa@horseconsulting.com; or visit her website at www.horseconsulting.com)


Back to the Services Index