Horse Sense offers insight on how not to market equine enterprises

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Friday’s Opinion

Why do some marketers still feel being an aggressive, hostile and avoided herd member is a good thing? Sadly, the very old-school, two-by-four, forget-about-the-audience culture, sell, sell, sell, in-your-face approach is becoming common on some of the social media sites that used to be immune. How can intimidating your buyers into compliance and/or chiming in only to promote your wares in communities that are designed to support each other build good will? Beats me. I see a good number of equine related endeavors (that curiously don’t seem to have any horsemanship in the mix) being rude to their intended audience by ignoring the group needs and feeling justified demanding respect. Curious. I have a mare here now like that – no one likes her, or follows her, but she does get her feed and water first. She’s lonely, though, and I suspect, very insecure.

Even after twenty years in the marketing industry (yes, there is another revenue stream), I continue to scratch my head about those who take such an approach – and conclude it works. Sure, they may boast fat cat status initially from bullying or self-serving methods, but there’s little happy involved in the mix, particularly when those who aren’t part of their cult start calling them on their actions.

Social media networks – build or destroy

Social media is becoming an increasingly important platform for those who seek to build relationships with potential centers-of-influence, buyers, vendors, collaborators and supporters. It boggles the mind that some (sadly, this seems to be most prevalent among those who label themselves marketing professionals – don’t imagine anyone else would) still feel the used-car-salesman approach (sorry to those who sell used cars – this is probably a bigger slight than you deserve) is a good way to do business. Of course, this also begs the question, how would anyone with integrity ever find this a satisfactory method?

Free speech doesn’t work for the daft

Fortunately, we live in a world where freedom of expression is encouraged in most countries (at least for now). You’d think this liberty would foster an opportunity for all to gather the smarts to recognize stupid approaches which create more bad will than good don’t develop long-term prosperous businesses. Horse herds allow freedom of expression too – and immediate ramifications for poor behavior. Too bad we’re not as adept as a society at banishing and discouraging the bad actor as our equine counterparts.

Unethical horse dealers – you lose

Over twenty-five years ago, I started interfacing with horse dealers supplying lesson and boarder horses for facilities I managed. I was dumbfounded by the short-sightedness of some who knowingly sold an unsuitable horse for the quick buck. Catch me once . . . these charlatans made $500-$1000 on a single sale at the time, but lost a potential exponential revenue stream that could have come from honest transactions. Had one who preyed on the novice riders with the spiel that horses never ridden and inexperienced riders are an ideal match because they grow together. He not only lost any future business at the stable (he was banned from the property), but also lost a potential huge revenue stream associated with the necessary lesson and trail horses required for the business.  I didn’t get it then and I don’t get it now. Lairs are worse than ignorant and abusive marketers in the equine industry. With the advent of the internet and the bevy seeking out online opinions, word will spread faster of such practices now than they ever did way back when.

Horse herds and horsemen unite

As most of the world seem s to be getting more savvy about filtering out and broadcasting about the hype-masters, charlatans and bad eggs, let’s hope we see a new world where those who operate with character, integrity, honesty and good-will no longer find it necessary to deflects attacks from those who have been dragged through the mud by less ethical operators.

Horse herd dynamics can teach us a lot about communications, marketing and leadership. Usually there are two in the herd that get primary notice. One mare is selfish and wins first dibs, commands attention (avoidance), is left alone and disliked. There’s another who is kind, confident, understanding and fair. That’s the one the herd follows, appreciates and respects. Who would you rather emulate?

Do you have marketing, herd, leadership or business stories that have taught you lessons you’d like to share? Please include your experience in a comment below and get the conversation going.

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