When you think of brands, you think of the big guys, such as Coca-Cola, Nike, AT&T or NBC. When you think of a brand, something specific comes to mind. Perhaps you love Coke, or your first thought is "It's the Real Thing." Nike and their "Just Do It" slogan is memorable. And the list goes on.
While a brand and a tagline are important, they can take years and millions of dollars to establish. What happens in the meantime, and how does that relate to your equine business?
Your brand is defined by your customers. Let me say that in a different way; your brand is what your customers say it is.
That's a little scary, but it's true. However, the experience you give your customers is what determines how they define your brand.
Let's say that you have a boarding stable and teach lessons, specializing in beginners--especially children. If your customers see you the same way, then that is how they will relate who you are and what you do to others.
Let's say that you think you have a boarding stable and teach lessons, specializing in beginners--especially children--but your customers see you differently. Maybe they see you as a lesson facility that has lesson horses suitable for intermediate or advanced riders and don't even know you board horses.
If you are counting on getting more kids for lessons, or additional boarders, then you are in trouble because that is not how the world perceives you.
Ask Your Best Customers for Help
One of the best ways to determine how others see you is to ask. You can do this many ways, such as surveys or focus groups. But the best way is one-on-one with some of your best clients.
Give each of those best customers a sheet of paper with the following questions and ask for his/her help. Ask them to keep their answers short; they don't have to be complete sentences.
- What do you like best about this facility?
- What is the most important thing we do for our boarders?
- Why do you choose to remain at this facility?
- What are the top three things you would say about this facility to someone looking for a boarding facility?
- What could we do, or what services could we offer, to make boarders happier.
Once you get answers from your top boarders, compile a list and see what matches and what doesn't match. If you get most or all of your boarders agreeing, then you pretty much have your brand set. But that outcome is doubtful because each person is different and has different needs.
After that, you might want to consider giving this paper to ALL of your boarders to see if they have other opinions or ideas.
You do want to be considered caring, trustworthy, a good horse manager, a good instructor (if you offer lessons), have well-maintained facilities that meet the customer's needs, and reasonably priced.
This exercise can help you learn what your brand is, and it also can help you better searve your boarders.
Let us know what you find out in the comment section below.