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6 Marketing Lessons from My First Equine Affaire

Equine Affaire in Columbus, Ohio is packed pull of entrepreneurs making a loving doing what they love in the horse world. That’s why when I visited Equine Affaire for the first time this year, I made sure to take notes so I could share marketing and lessons learned with you here on the podcast.

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Welcome to the show notes! Remember, this is a brief summary from the How to Market Your Horse Business podcast. You'll want to listen to the entire episode for all the good stuff!

If you’ve been around a while you know that I’ve got my marketing hat on pretty much all the time, even when I go to an event or even a concert. So, when I went to Equine Affaire, you know I had a note on my phone just for writing down ideas and takeaways that would apply to equestrian entrepreneurs like you. 

If you aren’t familiar with it, Equine Affaire is a 4-day equestrian expo. They have a spring event in Columbus, Ohio—hailed as the largest horse-related trade show in North America—and a fall event in West Springfield, Massachusetts. 

While there, I walked the trade show floor, talked with exhibitors, attended clinics and presentations of various breeds and disciplines, met with new and old friends and clients. In other words, I covered a lot of ground in our time there. And all the while guess who I’m thinking about – you, the equestrian entrepreneurs I get to serve. 

So, let’s dive in, shall we? 

6 Marketing Lessons from My First Equine Affaire 

1. Put down your phone and engage in face-to-face conversations. 

If you have a booth at horse shows and expos, don’t bury yourself in your phone. I get the temptation! But, you are likely going to miss opportunities to be making sales and valuable connections. 

Second, even if you don’t have a booth, let this serve as a reminder when you’re at a horse show or event: if you keep your head down on your phone, you’re very likely to miss out on connection with the people around you. 

2. It’s not who you know, it’s who knows you. 

Glenn "the Geek" Hebert from Horse Radio Network and co-host of the Horses in the Morning daily podcast gets full credit for this one. 

Here’s why I want you to hear this – one of the jobs of your marketing is brand awareness. To get more of the right people to know you, who you’re for, what you do, what you sell, who you help. 

True, sometimes it’s a matter of who you know. And having the right connections in the right places can be key. 

But, who knows you and your horse business whether you know them matters too. 

That’s why it’s so important you do the work to narrow down your best-fit audience and the promise you’re making as it relates to your products & services. 

When you build your brand with clarity, you’re essentially teaching people what they need to know about you. And when the right people know about you, they will send your ideal people your way. 

3. Collaboration over competition. 

I’ll credit this one to Jamie Samples of Yellow Barn Media. She’s been a marketer in the horse world for more than 15 years, and when I entered this world she welcomed me with such open arms. 

Rather than seeing me as a fellow marketer and thinking “Oh no, competition, I better put my guard up and hold onto everything I’ve built as tightly as possible.” she had a completely opposite mindset. 

Through that open-handed approach, we’ve built a friendship and she’s done what she said she’d do and sent some wonderful website copywriting and design clients my way that I’ve had the pleasure of helping. 

And I, of course, in that process have learned what she loves to do and who she’s best-suited to serve. And, I’ve sent more than one lead her way because I know I’m not for them but Jamie might be! 

4. Networking doesn’t mean selling. 

While I wasn’t there to present or host a booth, Equine Affaire was definitely an opportunity for me to do some networking and meet new people in the industry. 

And, I realize that for some business owners that’s the last thing you want to do. Maybe it’s just intimidating because it’s not natural – you’re good with horses but people scare you. 

I get it! But, I have good news. 

Networking is really just relationship building. 

At your next event or show, make it a point to get out and meet new people. 

5. As a business owner, you are what makes your brand unique. 

I’m going to go out on a limb and guess that I’m not the only who deals with imposter syndrome. 

Those thoughts and feelings that say, “If I were just more __ then I would __.” 

How’d I learn this lesson at Equine Affaire? Two ways. One, I had to do my own personal work to keep imposter syndrome at bay and lean into who I know God made me to be and who He has called me to serve right now in my business. 

Two, I met a lot of different people and watched a fair amount of clinics. And no two business owners or clinicians are alike! Even more so, two businesses can have similar products or services and still be different as night and day because their owners are different as night and day. And as a horse business owner, you are your brand. 

Lean into what makes you unique and leave imposter syndrome at the door. 

6. Take advantage of every opportunity. 

There are lots of education sessions at equine affaire. And, while I’m sure the presenters are under strict rules to not turn it into a pitch so that is fully educational, I only sat in on two sessions where they invited the attendees to come back and visit them in their booth if they wanted to learn more. 

I get that some may be there to “just” host a clinic and teach. But, it’s important to remember as a business owner that there are people in the audience who are genuinely interested in your topic. Why not let them know how they can learn more if they want to? 

If you market yourself well, and from a place of service, rather than look at me, look at me, there’s nothing wrong with it – promise. 

This is also why it’s so important to have multiple ways for people to connect with you online. Some people are going to type your website into their phone or at least google you right there during the clinic. 

Others are jumping straight to Facebook or Instagram to find you. 

Either way, if you don’t have a cohesive strategy for your social media, website and email marketing then you’re missing an opportunity to guide those right people on their journey to becoming your customers. 

Of course, you'll want to listen to the full episode to dig into each of the insights I shared and discover how you can apply each one in your horse business!


Links Mentioned In This Episode

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