Storytelling and Marketing in the Natural Horse BusinessWhile the definition of Marketing has remained the same over the years, the tools and strategies have changed a great deal. And they will continue to do so.

During my formal graduate education in business administration, I took a few courses in marketing. It was enough to whet my appetite and to instill in me the principle that marketing will always be a moving target.

I’ve been involved in marketing since I was a child. My family owned an Arabian Horse breeding and training business. My mother was a professional photographer and writer, and kept our farm name in the news through articles, interviews, and press releases.

I learned that Arabs should be photographed at a 45 degree angle and the line just below the shoulder is the most appealing for the breed. I learned how to get ears up and eyes open and mute the background.

That was <clears throat> 35 years ago.

As time moved on, I worked for many businesses in various capacities, but was always involved in marketing, as any employee should be. Marketing is storytelling, and that’s what businesses do. They tell a story. They tell their story. They create a story that their potential clients, the market they seek, want to be a part of.

I’ve worked extensively in the horse industry as a business consultant. The task most often asked for is marketing. Horse people are notorious for a few things. One is that they would rather do just about anything in their business than actually do business. They go riding, work on transitions, fix fence, clean stalls, pick feet, treat pastures and examine fecal matter to determine if the digestive system is working at optimum efficiency.

But answer emails, return phone calls, sing their own praises on Facebook or schedule a lesson to give or take, and you’ll see why so many of them are really just glorified hobbyists. I teach them how important their story is and how to tell their story. That’s marketing.

Marketing and its tools change so quickly, that a marketing team needs to become a research department.  As much as I would love to send my clients to conferences where they could learn the greatest and latest for themselves or give them a pile of books to read, I bill myself as their liaison to these resources. I love to attend conferences and listen to storytellers share what has worked and what hasn’t and what trends they see coming. I can guide my clients with questions such as: What is the cutting edge in marketing? Are your potential clients spending most of their social media energy on Facebook or Pinterest? Do they read tweets and respond? Are they professionals with spiffy profiles on LinkedIn? Does their profile need some word-smithing? What are the new social media platforms that we should be looking at? Should we use Buffer or Hootsuite?

They might not be natural born writers, like me. Are they kicking themselves for not keeping up with their blog when they could better spend their energy on a well-compositioned photograph on Instagram from the horse pasture?

The horse industry has moved from articles in regional horse magazines, to websites and online forums accessed by desktop computers, and now are accessed most often by smartphones and tablets. These changes affect what my clients share and how they share it. So much of the mobile audience accesses the Internet via apps. Apps are a wonderful but far too often mysterious thing that anybody can develop or have developed at very reasonable costs so that a user could click the app and see all that the person had been up to.

There are so many wonderful ways to tell their story, we just need to find what works for them. Videos on Youtube, Blab, podcasts, press releases, clinics, interviews, alliances with fellow horse professionals, online courses, eBooks, Webinars and more. Then we can discuss details such as not using nylon web halters for pictures of that $10,000 horse, facing him onto the page instead of off, a little vaseline around the eye to make it pop without harming him, use a noisemaker to get those ears up.

I love marketing. I love helping clients learn to tell their story and invite their clients to fill a chapter. Marketing is a moving target. It is education. It is trial and error. It is cutting edge and at the same time the tried and true. It is creative and moving and curious.

Feel free to share your own experience. I look forward to hearing your story here.

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