Equestrian business

Equestrian business is a subject very, very close to my heart. Having run my own equestrian PR and marketing agency for the last 10 years, I’ve been lucky enough to support equestrian businesses of all sizes. I’ve run huge advertising campaigns, created website copy, crafted press releases, launched products (and businesses), worked with large teams, directed photoshoots, set up and managed social media platforms, managed influencers. The list goes on. I’m a bit of a bore on this subject!

I’ve worked with start ups to businesses turning over many many millions a year, sole traders through to companies employing 100 people. I’ve work with clothing designers and horsewear manufacturers through to instructors and jewellery designers. And a lot in between.

In this part of the blog, I share some of my tips for equestrian business with you, and get to showcase some of the real gems I have found in my travels too.

Equestrian PR and marketingYou may have noticed that we’ve updated our website to include a whole raft of other services, but don’t worry, equestrian PR and marketing is still an important part of what we do! Here’s a bit more info.

In the beginning…

Originally, when Rhea Freeman PR burst into life, the focus was entirely on equestrian PR and marketing. As time moved on, the client list grew, and many equestrian clients also had interests in country, shooting and agriculture, so the contacts lists expanded to accommodate other areas of business that were connection to equestrian,

Equestrian PR and marketing was changing

Now, alongside this, the way equestrian PR and marketing ‘worked’ was changing. While the magazines were still very much part of the mix, social media exploded and started to play a hugely important role in a brand’s overall promotion and marketing. In fact, nowadays, social media is some people’s only method of promotion…and they have very good businesses from it! However, with the different platforms and the nuances of each of these, it became important to expand and develop our learning and understanding, to be able to offer a more comprehensive service our equestrian PR and marketing clients. And we did this. And then some. And we continue to learn all the time – as platforms evolve and develop and technology improves.

And then there was the overwhelm

Many businesses of all sizes can feel overwhelmed by this – by the rate that things are changing and how the old way doesn’t cut it anymore. They feel they should be ‘doing more’, but they’re not really sure what they should be doing or how to do it. They know what they want to achieve, but getting there seems like a mammoth task and they don’t know where to start. And that’s before you even think about how to plan content, be innovative and post natively in the spaces you want to be known and visible on. Sound familiar?

And then there was coaching

Demand grew for a ‘helping hand’ kind of service. Something that after a lot of thought (way too much thought!), we’ve called coaching. So now, in addition to offering equestrian PR and marketing, we also offer marketing and business coaching services. A lot of clients come from the equestrian sector, but we also work with people in food, retail, country, fashion and lifestyle. To date, most companies have some link to equestrian and rural, but as the way social media works is not all that niche, again, it made sense to open up the area we operate it. As we work WITH businesses and individuals through the coaching and consultancy services we offer, we’re able to combine our knowledge of marketing and social media with the client’s knowledge of their industry…with great results.

So, there you have it – a little explanation about the new website, the new look and the new services available. Find out more about our coaching services and equestrian PR and marketing services on the main website, and don’t forget to contact us here if you’re interested in finding out more!

Rhea recently recorded a HorseHour podcast all about rider sponsorship – how to get it, how to keep it and, also, what businesses should look for when choosing to sponsor a rider. Amy Stevenson, the interviewer from HorseHour, asked many questions from a rider’s point of view and, hopefully, the answers provided in the podcast will be of help if you’re a rider looking for sponsorship or you’re a business thinking of dipping your toe into the sponsorship pond.

Here’s a link to the podcast.

There are many snippets to take away from this Horsehour podcast. Such as how to get your own ‘stuff’ in order (social media platforms, websites, etc) before approaching companies, how to behave, idea generation…well, the list goes on. If you have thirty or so minutes to listen (and, as it’s a podcast, you can do other things as you listen!) it’s definitely worth it if you’re looking to attract sponsors this season and beyond.

A MASSIVE thank you to Amy and HorseHour for inviting our participation. Find out more about HorseHour here.

 

HorseHour is one of the ‘equestrian power hours’ on Twitter. It takes place each week between 8pm and 9pm on Monday. In addition to the once a week hour, which allows horse people across the world to unite and share stories using the #horsehour hashtag, there’s also a supporting website that’s a real educational hub, packed with videos, podcasts and articles to help improve horsemanship and more.

 

We’re very excited to announce the launch of a new service here at RFPR, and that’s a one to one coaching package. Well, the title is a work in progress, but let me explain…

We all know that businesses need to be promoted in order to get work, earn money and so on. You could have the best product in the world, but if no one knows about it, it’ll never do well. Simple. Now, each week, people contact the Facebook page, or send emails, asking about PR, marketing and social media support for their equestrian and country business. Many of these are start ups who have time but not necessarily the finance to support a PR package. Actually, some aren’t at the stage where they’d necessarily be able to fully utilise a PR package. But they know they need help to get them to the next level. To help focus them and to come up with a plan. And that’s exactly what the new service does. It’s split into three parts – there’s a 20 minute ‘Nice to meet you’ chat, where we discuss objectives; then an hour chat where we look at how to achieve your business goals; and then there’s a 20 minute review that allows us to look at what has been accomplished and adjust anything needed.

This service works for all sizes of business. Yes, it’s great for small businesses who need a leg up and a bit of guidance from someone in the know, but it’s also ideal for larger businesses who want to brainstorm an idea with a PR and marketing person, or plan a product launch – the list goes on!

Due to regular clients, there’s only a limited number of ‘coaching’ slots available each month, so if you’re interested in working together in this way, to help improve your equestrian business or polish your PR and marketing, just contact me.

Have you seen our Youtube Channel? It’s a work in progress (what isn’t?!), but we have a good number of videos on the page now, and plenty more in the pipeline, so please subscribe and stay up to date with RFPR. The videos are packed with small business tips.

On the channel you’ll find lots of different things – plenty of marketing and PR, marketing, social media and even video tips. In addition, due to our extensive experience in equestrian PR and marketing, you’ll also find videos on rider sponsorship dos and don’ts for riders and businesses, information on equestrian events such as BETA International and how to survive a horse trials. The list really does go on. If you’re interested in equestrian PR, marketing and social media, and how to promote your equestrian business in a cost effective way, it’s definitely worth a look. Equally, if you’re in the country and rural sector, or if you’re a small business in a completely unrelated sector going places, you’ll learn lots from the hints and tips provided as many apply to all businesses.

And, if you want to take your learning a step further, why not come on over and become part of the Small & Supercharged community? This group combines small businesses from all industries and shares ideas, advice, goals and a whole lot more. It’s supportive, fun and genuine connections and business has already been done as a direct result of the group. How good is that? Come on over and join us if you’d like to take your small business to the next level.

Here’s the link to the Youtube channel- enjoy!

As you’ll know, sponsorship is a top topic at RFPR. It’s one that gets discussed most weeks with different clients. Although it might seem that we’re against rider sponsorship, that couldn’t be further from the truth, we’re simply against BAD rider sponsorship. Why? Well, a) it costs a client money and generates very little in return – no equestrian PR – actually – no PR, wants that for their client b) budget could be used on the wrong rider, and that takes away from another c) it discourages the company from other sponsorship opportunities, so other riders as well as shows and events lose out. And we don’t like that. Every penny that a company spends HAS to generate something. Riders have SO MUCH at their disposal that they can use to promote a brand that there is no excuse for being substandard. And riders that are don’t last very long with my clients. We don’t have the time for it.

BUT, if you’re a rider who wants to work with brands, to help promote them, have a look at this video – it might just help!

Could video help your business?In this blog, I have a chat about video marketing, to answer the question ‘could video help your business?’

Could video help your business?

As you’ll see below, I have put together video all about video and if video could help your business (I feel like I have said the v word far too much, but stick with me!). Video is not a new concept in marketing, far from it, but in recent years video has become an integral part in many people’s businesses. It used to be expensive to get videos produced for your business, and a cost that, especially for small businesses, was more than a little prohibitive. The good news is that now, you can do the WHOLE process on your iPhone if you like. From filming to editing to posting. Of course, you can get videos professionally edited and that can be a good idea depending what you want your video to do, but now the cost of entry is pretty much zero. How amazing is that?

Should you use video to help promote your business?

I can not think of  one business that wouldn’t benefit from video content. And I’ve given this some serious thought. Video helps to give your brand personality, it allows people to get to know you, it helps you to educate your customers in the form on how-tos, it allows you to show off what you do… it lets people into your world. Is this a good idea? Oh yes. People buy from people and at a time when there’s a lot of competition in every industry, fully harnessing video and integrating it into your business can be a game changer.

But there’s more…

Now, not only can you use video to prerecord messages, how tos and more, you can also harness Live videos in the form of Facebook Live. There’s also the option to promote different types of video content across your platforms. This might mean a minute long burst for Instagram or a long Live for Facebook. Here’s a video about how to make your content work harder. Video is a really REALLY powerful tool and I would really urge you to try it. Video could really help your business. Honest.

I know I’ve been a bit (OK, more than a bit!) rubbish at keeping this blog up to date – but I feel I’ve made up for it. Not JUST a blog – a vlog. And there will be more to come. Enjoy!

 

How to make your BETA International even better!Can you make your BETA International even better?

We’re fast approaching BETA International, THE equestrian trade event where the good and great of the equestrian world gather to see what’s going on in the trade…and what we can look forward to over the coming months. It takes place at the NEC in January and although there’s often snow (or if not actual snow, the threat of it), it’s a fun, warm, busy event that always leaves me a mixture of exhausted and excited. So, how can you make BETA International even better for you?

Exhibitor, retailer or member of the trade?

Whether you’re going as an exhibitor, a retailer or a member of the trade, you will come away with something, whether it’s an idea, excitement about a new innovation, a new contact, or a list of products that you want to stock. Many retailers use BETA International as the place to place their orders for the coming season as manufacturers use the show to showcase what’s coming up. Many stands also have some cracking show offers to save money. Actually, attending the show is likely to save you a few pounds as instead of travelling all over the country to see suppliers, they’re all under one roof…a few feet away from each other.

I’d call myself a seasoned BETA International attendee. I go each year to support my clients who exhibit, to catch up with magazines, to see what’s coming up in the trade, to network, to catch up with friends and to be inspired. For those who are new to BETA International, whether it’s the first time they’ve attended as a visitor or the first time they’ve taken a stand, I have a few top tips…obviously some of these apply more to stands than visitors and visa versa…

Tips to make BETA International even better

* Footwear – yes, footwear is important. Even if you’re on a stand all day and not marching around the halls, your feet will ache. Actually, everything will ache. Wear comfortable footwear. Honestly. You’ll regret it if you don’t.

* Hydrate – I don’t know what it is about the NEC, but I always end up with a dry throat and feeling a bit ‘urgh’ towards the end of the day. I blame the air con. And the near constant chatting. So make sure you’re armed with a bottle or water at all times. Yes, it’s not terribly ‘PR’ to be drinking water rather than champagne but a) the Ab-Fab champagne swilling persona isn’t true…and if you find a PR that’s partially drunk a 12noon on a Sunday, they probably aren’t the kind of person you want to work with b) water doesn’t make you feel odd (as per alcohol and caffeinated drinks..well, after the sixth one) – it helps enormously and is very easy to come by c) BETA International can be a bit of a marathon as there’s always so much to see and you’ll be walking miles in the day…water is the way forward. Honest.

* Lip salve – lip balm, lip butter, whatever it’s called, take some with you. Again, I think the air con’s to blame, but my lips always dry out…and a bit of lip balm/salve fixes it.

* Plan – get your ticket before BETA International. It’s a trade only show, so consumers can’t attend, but if you fit into one of the categories, you should be OK. You need to register here.

* Take in the fashion show – there really is nothing like it. If you enjoy people dancing around with whips, it’ll be right up your street.

* Take a notepad and somewhere to keep business cards safe – you will be given various business cards from people, and losing them is SOOO annoying. You can get little business card holders, or just take a notepad and staple the business card of the person you’ve been dealing with to the top of your page.

* Bags – there’s no doubt that you’ll collect leaflets and promotional material as you go around…so take a comfortable, easy to carry bag…and be careful about what you take. One year I was given a HUGE paper bag from a company. I ambled off, very pleased about it and what could be inside it and you know what…it was empty. Completely empty. I quickly binned it. It might also pay to sit and sift through your gathered leaflets and brochures a few times during the day to give you the chance to get rid of the stuff you don’t need and reduce everything into one bag. You’ll thank me for this tip when your fingers are not sore and red and you STILL have to walk back to the car. Honest.

* Phone – your phone is a useful asset…although not always in the way you think. Yes, you can make calls on your phone, but, in my opinion, that’s secondary to this. Take a picture of where you’ve parked your car and the car park you’re in. After losing the car for the best part of an hour in the pouring rain a few years ago, I always take a picture of it and the car park sign that’s the closest.

* Have a plan – use the BETA International website (www.beta-int.com) to plan who you want to see before you get there. All the exhibitors are listed, so you can see who you HAVE to see and then make another list of who you’d like to see. I’m 99% sure that there’s a floorplan in ETN’s February issue, which is a HUGE help. Or you can pick up a copy of ETN/BETA International guide when you get there.

* Do you need to make an appointment? Some companies are obsessed with appointments, especially if you want to see a particular person at a company. Drop them an email/call them before BETA International to see how they’re working this year. If you need to book appointments, make sure you don’t book them too close together, give yourself some breathing room in between. This means that if you get stuck into something, you don’t have to run half way through and, if you have time to spare, you can take in some more of the show/refill at the cafe before your next appointment.

* Tell your customers – if you have a stand at BETA International make sure EVERYONE knows. Put it on your website. Put it on your social media platforms. Send out a newsletter about it. Paint a herd of cows to show you’re going (OK, do NOT do the latter if they’re a) not your cows and b) the paint is not suitable for cows). MAKE SURE PEOPLE KNOW.

* Offer an incentive – if you’re at BETA International, offer an incentive for people to come and see you on your stand. It could be a corking show offer, it could be entry into a competition in exchange for a business card, it could be something completely off the wall and interesting, it could be sweets. Whatever you do, do something. Saying ‘we’re here’, isn’t good enough. If you’re launching a new product, tell people.

* Speak to the press – if you’re at BETA International and you have something new and exciting to show the world, why not invite the press to your stand to see it? You could have an open invite or organise a little launch and invite whoever you want.

* Have fun – yes, it might be work, but BETA International can be great fun too. They have a fab demonstration area where you can see real horses showing off new kit. One year, War Horse was walking around the place…and one year there was a man modelling sand into a horse scultpure in one of the aisles (it was amazing actually!). See the BETA International website (www.beta-int.com) to find out what’s going on.

 

My must-see places…

* The fashion show – you HAVE to go to the fashion show…even if you can’t stay for the full event, go and see some of it.

* The New Products Gallery – full or interesting new products from established brands and new kids on the block.

So there are some top tips on how to make your BETA International even better – enjoy!