Some Final Thoughts on Marketing
Individual attention to promoting and marketing when the associations just can’t make it all happen ….
When it’s difficult for associations to make sizable commitments to promotion, individual members need to step up to the plate. Fortunately, that is just what some are doing. There are dedicated forums & websites as well as new affordable outlets like Society Pony Online that can help spread the word about programs, shows, farms, etc. More individuals are paying attention to marketing. More farms are starting to have a presence on social media outlets and more are making sure they have good websites. Let’s face it … whether current association leadership engage with social media and online resources … these ARE the future. Those who don’t jump in now may well be left behind.
Last fall, one group of society pony enthusiasts talked about establishing independent foundations or marketing boards. Perhaps we need to revisit that.
It’s possible for smaller sub-groups in an association to pursue their own targeted promotion. The American Show Pony Registry’s breed committee has its own website in addition to the official breed and program information they have on their parent association’s website. ASPR enthusiasts coordinate sponsorships, show awards and even their own group advertising from donations or their small breed committee budget.
However, you can’t just talk the talk when it comes to any area of promotion or marketing. You have to actually walk the walk. That means doing what you say. Simply stating breed promotion professionals aren’t needed to find corporate sponsors because some other volunteer could easily get 50 or 60 sponsors means absolutely nothing if the person making that claim never follows through or produces.
Thank goodness, some folks are doing more than just giving lip service to what they could accomplish for promotion and support.
Recent efforts by those involved in the American Shetland Pony Club’s Super Gelding Program highlight just how much can be accomplished with small budgets and targeted messages. Trace Anderson, the dedicated chair of this program committee, has worked diligently to find economical ways to promote and reinvigorate the program. Anderson has spent a great deal of her own time spreading the good news of this program’s changes and upgrades through today’s growing electronic news and media outlets. Participation in the ASPC’s Super Gelding program is already rapidly increasing.
There you go … proof that the right kind of promotion definitely produces results!
It’s exciting to hear folks like Michelle Barcus of Dreamland Shetlands talk about establishing an independent program to introduce more youth to society ponies. Individuals like Barcus can establish foundations and structure programs outside the red tape of an association. Yet by introducing more youth to ponies and exposing more folks to showing ponies via local shows, such individual efforts can eventually translate into more members and little more business for the main association.
I am excited to talk to Jay Kennedy to learn more about the great work of the AHHS Foundation. I think it’s encouraging to see some folks reaching out to other pony divisions or promoting alternative activities such as Combined Driving Events or other ADS pursuits. It’s refreshing to hear about new folks attending the big shows like the American Royal for the first time. I hope the big boy players were kind and welcomed these new exhibitors. After all, these newbies could be the big guy’s next major customers. It’s also encouraging to hear that new folks are going to be trying out USEF for the first time.
Clearly, the old ways no longer provide the ONLY answers. It’s the 21st century. There’s new technology. There are different attitudes. There are more diverse needs.
We can’t keep digging in the same pockets, going to the same folks or trying the same things. Thinking creatively, targeting small but worthy audiences through inexpensive means, having individuals recognize the marketing need and then pursue viable and workable efforts in their own area can all help promote breeds and build association business. Virtual marketing and promoting outside the establishment’s known comfort zone can all have positive effects on business, but these efforts may have to be down through non-traditional channels.
Traditional outlets like breed publications or industry news sources are still important and should be utilized when practical. However, new venues like Society Pony Online and the American Society Pony ezine provide great options, too. Undoubtedly, other non-traditional outlets exist, too. It’s unfortunate that the tough economy and reduced business may mean that registries no longer have marketing entities to flesh out all of the new promotional avenues. After all, we need to be taking advantage of as many as possible.
There are more things that individuals and small groups can do to help promote than ever before. I’m ready to start. Are you? I hope so.
If it’s going to be up to us as individuals to promote when the associations can’t, then there’s no time to waste. New outlets, excited volunteers and established external committees and groups are already paving the way. Let’s all join those efforts. After all,we’ve got some great products worth promoting!