As the economy slowly recovers, we are finding more people spending more money on horses, whether getting new or additional animals, or perhaps taking lessons that they have put off for a couple of years, or even getting back into competition and looking for the right boarding facility to suit their needs. If you have a few empty stalls at your facility, or you are thinking about boarding a few horses on your farm to help pay the bills, you must be prepared to "sell" yourself to potential new clients. For that, you need your own "personal commercial."
A personal commercial is a descriptive introduction that lets people know who you are and what you do in a friendly, non-pushy way.
When you are in a business, social/business setting (such as an industry meeting, horse show, or clinic) or a strictly social setting and you meet someone new, you should have a personal commercial or two ready to use. Think about TV, radio, magazine, or Internet advertising; companies use multiple selling points to try and get their point across to individuals. The same selling point won't work for everyone because each person has their own needs and problems they want you to solve.
You should script your commercials ahead of time, and keep your message short so that you don’t put the brakes on the conversation by coming across too heavy.
What should your personal commercial say? Part of that will depend on the type of people you are meeting, what you want to "sell" them and the situation. If you are in an industry meeting where everyone expects you to have a job associated with the industry, then make sure your message gives the other person that information. If you are at a social function with lots of folks from various backgrounds and work situations, then your message will be a bit broader.
The goal is to give the other person some common ground or an interesting tidbit that will help them feel more connected with you. You also want your introduction to open the door for the other person to give you a little more information about themselves rather than just their name or something superficial. To that end, you often should end your introduction with a question to give the other person the floor, so to speak.
Here’s an example of something you might say if you were at the annual meeting of your state horse council.
Hello, I’m Joe Smith. I have a tack shop near Louisville, Ky., serving mostly English show disciplines and foxhunters. What’s your connection to the industry?
Having another question “at the ready” is a good way to keep the initial conversation flowing, especially by getting the other person to talk so you can learn more about them. The business purpose is to determine if they are someone who is of interest to you professionally, or someone who is an influencer who might be able to help you meet others who could use your services. Here’s an example:
What do you think is the biggest problem facing the horse industry in Kentucky?
This will give you insight into what is a “hot button” for that person, and what they are involved in.
If you are really at the function to build business, you might even push the question a little closer to your business interests, such as:
I often ask new people this question to help me better stock my shop: What is the one thing you can’t get in a tack shop that you can get online?
That might open them to discussing their buying habits and give you some insights into items you might want to stock in your store.
If you are at a function that is not just horse folks, then the message might be something more generic, for example:
Hello, I’m Joe Smith. I’m involved in retail for the horse industry near Louisville, Ky. What do you do for a living?
Take a few minutes to think about how you introduce yourself and your company to someone new. Actually write down your “personal commercial” (or several personal commercials for various scenarios) and really pay attention to how people respond. If necessary, tweak your “script” to see if you can make more progress in with future introductions.