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How would you market a specialist tack business?

17 replies

minipie · 14/03/2012 12:43

Hello everyone, I wondered if I could pick your brains? I'm not usually in the "tack room" section of MN but am hoping for some advice on my DSIS's behalf as she is not an MNer.

She's recently started a small internet based business selling quite specialist saddlepads (according to her they are a cut above the "usual" saddlepads - made of memory foam, friction free etc - and not generally available in the UK) and also bridles.

We wondered what would be the best way for her to get her business known? She is doing some shows eg at Earls Court but they are very expensive. She's a member of various horse related forums but obviously can't promote her own business on those.

Where would you look if you were looking to buy a new saddle pad? What sort of marketing/advertising would be most likely to make an impact do you think?

Any thoughts would be much appreciated! Thank you!

OP posts:
Booboostoo · 14/03/2012 17:23

E-bay may be a cheap way of getting started but realistically she needs to advertise her product which will always cost money.

minipie · 14/03/2012 17:46

Thanks for the response Booboo. I hadn't thought about ebay, that's a good idea (although would people expect stuff sold on ebay to be low quality/cheap as her stuff is more high end I think?).

Hmm... what sort of advertising do you think would be most effective? Adverts on equine internet forums? paying for a premium google listing? horsey magazines? I think she can probably spend a little on advertising (well I hope so) but is not sure what is the best place to spend the money.

Thanks again!

OP posts:
Butkin · 14/03/2012 18:48

Are the products she is selling well known high end brands? If so the manufacturers will do the advertising and you can just try and get them to promote that your Dsis is a stockist.

We certainly always look at Ebay for everything equine so definitely a good way to generate turnover.

You may also want to consider working with specialist equine magazines - both national and regional - maybe tying in advertising with a giveaway promotion. They often do trials of new products and important to get into those and get good reviews.

Interested to say she is going to Earls Court. I've not heard of an equestrian trade show there - what is it?

Could she consider having a stall at some well known events. What they are is probably dependent on her location, budget and who her target market is. We buy a lot of our gear at the various showing championships because that is what we're into. She may get better turnover at dressage or eventing shows because that is probably more suited to her stock. At the end of the year having a stall at HOYS and Olympia would certainly get her noticed.

minipie · 14/03/2012 19:05

Thanks Butkin! The show she did recently was at Olympia not Earls Court (oops) - national horse show I think? Was in December anyway. I think she has another lined up for the summer but don't know which.

I don't know how well known the brands she sells are (not a horse person myself) - this is her website which I think shows what products she's selling (I hope that doesn't breach any MN guidelines...).

A giveaway promotion is an interesting idea since it's a new product - she could speak to some magazines and see if they would be interested. And good tip about the reviews as well, as some of her products are quite new/unusual in the UK I think. (At least based on what she tells me!!)

I will pass on this thread to her - thanks again to you both.

OP posts:
Mirage · 14/03/2012 19:47

Agree with Butkin.She could get on the waiting list for Burghley Horse Trials,but I think there is a 3 year wait for stands and it is very expensive.Depending on whereabouts she is,it may be worth her contacting her local hunt website and advertising there,or hiring a stand at their annual Point to Point [going to our PTP always reminds me that not everyone is suffering a recession]Wink

Otherwise,may be worth trying Horse and Hound,Your Horse,Horse and Rider mags too.

Butkin · 14/03/2012 21:03

Yes looking at your website I think she needs to get some exposure at the bigger horse (rather than pony) events.

Badminton and Burghley would be great but as Mirage says a long wait. However she could also try Royal Windsor show and some of the more high profile affiliated events like Blenheim etc.

It would also be good if she could arrange for a well known horse/rider combination could get involved. The sponsorship section is the part of the site which looks a bit amateur.

Callisto · 14/03/2012 21:05

I think she needs to work on the website - name needs to be more obvious, logo is a bit cheap and rubbish looking, too busy in general and takes too long to navigate around. You need link throughs from other equestrian websites - can she sponsor a local rider/yard/equine vets? Also, Ebay isn't just crap that can't be sold elsewhere so definitely worth a look and she can link to her website from there so it can really generate business.

Booboostoo · 14/03/2012 21:13

You get all sorts of products on e-bay, from very competitively priced everyday essentials, to top end, high fashion, frivolities (there is certainly a lot of dead sheep/diamonte stuff on there for eye watering prices!).

I've had a look at the website and here are my first thoughts, although of course I am just one person so what do I know!!!

  • the saddlepads sound interesting but as with all new things I think uptake may be initially slow because they are new. Is there any way she could get some well known names to endorse and maybe some people to write testimonials about them? (I saw the sponsorship page but there is no mention of who the riders are or any direct quotes from them about the difference the pads have made). The prices on the pads are just about OK for trying out something new, but the expensive friction free versions are beyond my budget.

  • the bridles: I do dressage and at the moment if it's not patent or at least sparkly it's not dressage diva enough! Other disciplines may be more contained however!

  • dead sheep: no self respecting dressage diva will be seen without at least half a dead sheep on her horse, although quite a few brands now offer sheepskin and probaby at lower prices.

Hope this is helpful in some way to her!

Ditto above for adverts in major horse mags, H&H, etc.
SaggyOldClothCatPuss · 14/03/2012 21:22

From the point of view of someone who trades at shows and events, I'd like to add my twopenneth. Be very careful. There were large scale events last year, where people lost A LOT of money. The Festival of the Horse, (If I remember rightly ) had much lower than forecast numbers present, and many traders ended up thousands out of pocket. A lot of the shows and events in our field were much reduced. Many people went home barely breaking even if they were lucky.
The good thing about Internet based sales is that there are few overheads.
I'd go with the person who said improve your website, and maybe get advertising space on high traffic websites like Horsequest et al.

SaggyOldClothCatPuss · 14/03/2012 21:30

Also, being picky, I've had a look at the website, it's quite plain, it could do with lots of nice atmospheric pictures, and on the home page, 'Catalog' really irritates me, and would make me wonder if I had stumbled onto an American site, and possibly navigate away.

Butkin · 14/03/2012 21:43

Just a couple of small points on the site - like Saggy says it seems quite American, particularly the spelling of Color...

I also don't like the fact it doesn't have an address or landline - just a mobile and email address seems a bit fly (although I appreciate she is probably just a one man band at present).

minipie · 15/03/2012 10:29

Thanks very much for all the feedback on the website - really useful! I will pass it all on to her. She went to uni in th e US so that's probably where the spellings come from. I agree it looks quite busy.

Some really good ideas about where to market as well. This is all an unknown world to me so I can't give her much advice myself - your help is much appreciated!

OP posts:
Mama1980 · 15/03/2012 20:39

Hi I agree with all the other posters. I think the way to I would definitely try to get some kind of sponsorship/well known name involved. the sponsorship section seems very amateurish and unconvincing. I have a horse mad dd who shows etc and if it's in a magazine or one of the names she knows mentions/endorses it then she's always very keen. Also maybe a promotion of some kind for new customers? I could just a bout afford most things but it is very expensive if you are just trying something different. Best of luck to her

Ponyofdoom · 16/03/2012 21:38

Maybe have stands at all the national Ceam chasing events? I bet they would be really cheap and as there aren't usually more than a few stalls she would have a captive market!

Ponyofdoom · 16/03/2012 21:39

Sorry ''Team Chasing'' that should say

Butkin · 17/03/2012 16:18

We often buy items on the Hope Valley Saddlery website. They offer really good prices, even for quality items like Horsewear Ireland Rambo rugs etc. Their P and P isn't too bad and they are good about returns.

Just been to their sale at our local town hall and got some excellent rug/travelling boot bargains (a real scrum first thing...).

Worth the OP having a look at their site as they are online only (except for their stalls) and if she looks under Events it shows what places they will be at. It gives a good cross section of equestrian shows and trade fairs.

minipie · 17/03/2012 17:24

Thanks a lot! I will pass on to my sister. I must admit I don't know what Team Chasing is but I am sure she will Smile. Thanks for the tip re Hope Valley.

Thanks Mama1980 for the tip about the big names, there are apparently some well known riders who use these products but I think she could make more of this on the website.

Thanks again! V much appreciated.

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