Marketing Mondays: Patti Colbert

I kicked off Marketing Mondays last Monday with a post on the crazy world of social media. We'll have more on that on future Mondays, but this morning I wanted to introduce to you, someone who I completely admire as a marketing genius.

Should you ever be in the frame of mind that you could never be an equine marketing professional because:

– you grew up in a small hamlet in Saskatchewan;

– you were conveniently playing hookie and devouring french fries and gravy in a downtown cafe in same said small hamlet, during business and marketing oriented classes at high school;

– sort of skipped out of most college marketing and business classes;

– equally and conveniently missed University (entirely);

– possess a phobia of public speaking and, or, speaking your knowledge to a general public;

– are scared as dickens of pushing yourself out of your safe little corner of the world;

– really only want to hang around your place petting horses, walking the dogs, photographing migrating birds and growing tomatoes.

Wait – I think I just described me.

Well, if you're in the same wagon train, believing you'll never get anywhere in today's fast-paced marketing world, I encourage you to take a look a look at a small town ranch lady and riding coach, who grew up to capture an enormous mainstream America following through her visionary Extreme Mustang Makeover. She then took a cue from American Idol and together with Tootie Bland, creator of Road to the Horse, went forth with another phenominally successful program, Project Cowboy, a television reality show, focusing on a search for “The Great American Horseman.”

Primarily because of her work with Extreme Mustang Makeover, Patti Colbert caught the attention of the western world in a big way, and in 2009 was named one of the “Top 15 Westerners to Watch” by American Cowboy magazine.

Here's a short interview I found of her discussing the genus of the wave of support behind that project.

Canadians had a great opportunity to listen to Colbert this January when she spoke at the Horse Industry Association of Alberta's, Horse Owners & Breeders conference, and I want to share some of her excellent insight into the horse industry with you.

Patti Colbert believes the equine world as we know is on the cusp, indeed, in the centre of great changes. Change which is due to the generational, cultural and world influences of this new century. She knows these changes present a huge challenge to an industry which is steeped in tradition, but she insists, if we equine business owners of today wish to survive, we had better learn to not only understand, but embrace these monumental changes.

As she related, “My personal opinion is that the horse show industry, as we know it, is in a downward spin and if we don't pull our heads out, our numbers will continue to decline and our customer base will decrease.”

This former director of the American Quarter Horse Association, suggests we all need to learn to love, “non-horse owning people, because they will grow your events and business. Just because their horse IQ isn't as high as yours, or they don't give a darn about showing, or will never own a horse, they can still generate growth in the horse industry.”

She certainly proved that with Extreme Mustang Makeover.

She suggested it is time for all of us to put on our thinking hats, and “kick the side out of the box or arena you live in. It's time the horse industry evolves into an aggressive well-marketed outdoor life experience.”

During her presentation, she gave some excellent advice and insight on generational trends and how they apply to the industry. She suggested there are three major demographic section's in today's society.

1) Baby Boomers: according to Colbert, “these are our biggest market. Everyday 8,000 of them turn 65. We need to realize that not all of them will want to ride, but may want to be involved at another level.”

She noted that this generation “demands respect” and wants to feel welcomed in our barns and businesses. They'll want to bring their grandkids, and might even buy them a horse.

2) Generation X: Colbert calls this your businesse's “sweet spot.” The mid-30's woman – and a target market for many equine businesses. She suggests you remember this segment of society is busy, so flexibility in your program and schedule will go a long way to accommodating them.

3) Generation Y: And, finally, those we may have the most difficulty understanding – the generation of cell phone texters, and video gamers. Colbert notes this demographic requires a quick connection and “your program had better be exciting.” Really great points: Generation Y has empathy for the rescued horse and they are typically into “green” practices.

Read more of Patti Colbert's marketing and equine industry advice in the April issue of Western Horse Review. We're in production now and it's shaping up to be a great issue. Subscribe this week and you'll still catch the mailing list for it.

Hope you enjoyed this week's Marketing Monday. See you next week!