It’s sales closing week for the March issue of Western Horse Review, and because this issue is smack-dab in the middle of breeding season, many of us are either contemplating breeding strategies, or engrossed in the promotion of a stallion.
I had the opportunity to interview Katie Tims, editor of Quarter Horse News just prior to Christmas, and asked her about marketing strategies for breeders in this changing world. Here’s a snippet of that interview. You can catch the entire piece in the Jan/Feb issue of Western Horse Review. We’ve nearly sold out of print editions of that issue, but if you’re missing it, you can order a digital copy here.
Katie, what are a few of your key tips on marketing strategies for breeders/ranches in this changing world?
No. 1: Breed for beachfront property.
“By this I mean breed the best horse possible. It’s where marketing begins. In the real estate market, the average house in the average place is selling below average – at least compared to prices realized a few years ago. However, the special real estate – the beachfront property is just as much in demand now as it was in 2006. Buyers are willing to pay high prices for the best real estate, and the same goes for horses. Whether you’re a big breeder with several foals born per year, or a person with just one mare – breed the best that your budget can accommodate. Do your homework and be clear about what the market is demanding. Don’t breed for sake of creating the average horse that will bring a below average price. You’re better to breed one great horse than four mediocre ones. In this tough market, it’s all about quality, not quantity.”
No. 2: Market, market, market.
“In the horse business, marketing means much more than placing an ad or paying an entry fee. Stallion owners must promote their horse and get him paired with the best mares possible, even if that means giving away breedings. Likewise, mare owners need to book to the best stallions in the business – ones that are part of aggressively marketed programs. Once the foals arrive, stallion and mare owners must get them into solid programs and into the hands of trainers who will give those young horses the best possible chances. Black type means everything in this performance horse market, and the only thing to bold that ink is to start with pedigree and follow up with performance. Yes, there’s a surprise every now and then. But it’s far safer to stick with proven breeding and a sound training program.”
No. 3: Think worldwide.
“The cowboy and Western horse used to be a North American phenomenon. Not anymore. The Quarter Horse and Western way of riding has spread across the globe, and it’s gaining traction with larger purses, more opportunity and better breeding. For instance, Brazilians purchased a number of the highest sellers at last year’s reining and cutting sales, and you can bet they’re going to show and market those same horses inside the United States and Brazil. The Level 3 Open Reserve Champion at the 2011 NRHA Futurity was a horse born, raised and first shown in Brazil. Don’t limit yourself by thinking domestically – look to Europe, Australia, South America and beyond. Realize there’s a worldwide market for performance horses.”
No. 4: Take the multi-platform approach.
“Yes, advertising in print publications works and is still the best way to communicate your message to a target audience. But your marketing program must also reach out to potential customers through multiple sources. The Internet, social media and smart phones – they’re all important. As the next generation rotates into our horse market, they’re expecting information at the tip of a few keystrokes. Get a website for your ranch. List your horses. Make a fan page on Facebook. Sponsor online postings of stories/articles/updates published by magazines and newspapers within your industry. Make sure search engines, such as Google, know you’re online. If you are not comfortable with any or all of the above, see what you can do to learn. A mix of print and digital – that’s where the media business is going, and your program needs to be on board.”
Thanks to Katie Tims for these insightful and articulate ideas on the subject of marketing for those of us in the breeding business. A couple of other links to pieces we’ve done in the same genre include:
We also have this classic available in our bookstore:
and these other great books and videos on breeding and foal raising.
Finally, be sure to peruse the Stallion section of this site.
Best of luck with your breeding hopes for the season!