Equine Transition #2 - Page 17

april 2019 | Equine qualifications

Equine Transition / 17

Learning to Market a Business

Building a client base with a starting point of no equine connections and no brand awareness has been a huge learning process. I’ve found social media to be an invaluable tool and use my Facebook business page as the key touchpoint to communicate to my clients, mainly due to minimal setup costs and high engagement of the equine community. I joined all the local riding Facebook pages and advertise my services where I can. I’ve spent time consistently writing and posting good quality content which is informative and interesting and this has helped drive traffic to my page. I’m also active on Instagram and although I find it doesn’t drive as many customer enquiries it’s been a useful platform to communicate to my target market.

From the outset, I realised I needed to be customer-focused to be successful and this meant I worked whenever clients needed me...if they could only make an 8pm appointment, then that’s when I went. In the early days, I would drive an hour or more to work on one horse. It was hard work but enabled me to begin to build a network and ‘word of mouth’ referrals which has paid off in the long run.

I then knew I needed to raise the profile of my trading name, Auckland Equine Therapy within the industry and so decided to sponsor an up and coming rider. This has been a fantastic way to gain visibility and brand awareness at equine events with a captive audience of the exact demographics of my target market. An additional benefit of the sponsorship was a greater presence on social media, with a well-known third-party recommending my services. This enhanced my credibility, established trust and significantly increased my client base.

Getting to know who’s who and what services are available in the local market takes time. When I was out and about, I realised there were not many equine therapists working or attending FEI events since the introduction of the new rules in 2018 which required registration as a ‘Permitted Equine Therapist.’ Following numerous attempts to get in

touch with an FEI Official Vet, I managed to arrange a meeting. After some intense questioning, I had my FEI referral and completed my FEI exam. Now I’m one of only a few people that can work at FEI events and this has opened a whole new area of work for me.

I believe creating key points of difference to your competitors is essential in overcoming the challenges of establishing a new business.