New clients are the lifeblood of every barn, whether you are seeking boarders or new students for riding lessons. Word of mouth referrals and hanging flyers at local tack stores are still important marketing tools, but to reach new clients, having a digital strategy is just as important.
Define Your Goals
It’s easy to say that you want to bring in more money, but what precisely does that mean. It might be that you want to increase the number of boarders you serve from 10 to 15. Or you might want to grow your lesson program by 25 percent.
Maybe you host clinics or horse shows, so it could be that you want to increase your social media followers in order to reach more people for your events. You might set a goal to increase the number of Facebook followers from 500 to 1,000 for your stable, or maybe you want to increase engagement and have comments on those posts go from five per post to 20.
Having goals allows you to design a plan of attack to achieve those goals.
Choose Your Channels
The list of social media tools seems to grow by the day, with popular sites including Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, LinkedIn, Snapchat...and the list goes on. It’s not necessary to be on every platform, but it’s critical to choose those that will have the customers you are looking for and to be consistent on those chosen channels.
“Facebook and Instagram are the most popular for barns,” said Jamie Samples, social media expert and founder of Yellow Barn Media. “Trainers with a lot of credentials should also consider LinkedIn.”
The ultimate goal of any marketing strategy, whether it is digital or traditional print, is to keep communication flowing between you and current clients and to introduce new clients to your barn and convert them into clients. The most important is to create a marketing plan. Know what your goals are and what you are going to do to achieve those goals.
From that plan you can decide what you need to focus on and what type of content you will use and how you will deliver it.
“You can pay someone to create a digital marketing strategy for you,” said Samples.
The content can be updates at the barn or facility, tips such as a show day checklist, or a blog that helps people better manage their horses.
If you can't or don't want to hire someone to manage your digital outreach, Samples suggested taking a course through your local chamber of commerce or at the local community college to understand what how to best market to your current and potential audience.
Understand Digital Motivation
According to socialmediatoday.com, there are five reasons customers visit a business’ social media site(s). They are:
- promotions and discounts
- the latest product information
- customer service
- entertaining content, and
- the ability to give feedback.
Since customer service is among the top reasons people turn to social media, it’s important to meet their expectations by responding promptly to questions and comments on your social media accounts.
The best way to find new clients and keep existing ones happy is to give them what they are looking for, then surprise them with more. Understanding why they search for businesses online—and the type of information they expect to receive online—can help you create a message that resonates.