The increasing popularity of the internet and access to frozen semen worldwide now means it’s more important than ever to present your stallion professionally to the best of your ability.
Make your stallion stand out
Make sure in all your advertising you highlight your stallion’s strengths. There could be 1000 stock horse stallions at stud, so what makes your stallion different? Is it his breeding? His competition results? Is his progeny outstanding? Is he a specific height or colour?
Find your stallion’s niche and promote it
Start early. It’s easy to fall into the stallion season trap of only advertising at the start of the breeding season, but realistically mare owners have usually already decided on which stallion to use 6 months to a year beforehand. That’s why it’s important to advertise early and regularly all year round.
Its never too late to plan how you will promote your stallion. Work out a 12-month marketing plan for the year ahead to suit your budget and then you can ensure you use an even spread of different types of advertising.
It’s important to not rely on one form of advertising but to use as many as possible. If you do this make sure you remember to ask how people found, you when they make stallion enquiries. This will help you evaluate for the following year what worked and what didn’t.
Quality mares + Quality foals
Your job as a stallion owner is to entice quality mare owners to breed to your stallion. Quality mares mean the better chance of quality foals. There is no better promotion than quality successful progeny
Make sure a veterinarian performs a thorough evaluation of your stallion prior to the start of the breeding season. A stallion with fertility problems that has trouble getting mares in foal could be detrimental to his reputation.
Most importantly if you are standing a stallion for his first season, ensure you get his semen tested and sperm counts done before you advertise him. If offering frozen or chilled semen, make sure mortality tests are done. Making these tests available to mare owners will give them confidence in the semen they are purchasing.
Don’t devalue your stallion
Be strategic about how you price your stallion and stick to it. If you regularly offer service fee specials, then people will wait for special offers rather than purchasing the service fee at full price. Be realistic about his price, offer an introductory fee if the stallion is young or unproven and then increase it the following year accordingly. Discounts can be a way to attract mare owners such as discounts for performed mares, discounts for multiple services or discounts for geldings. These discounts promote the purchases of more service fees and don’t devalue the purchase of the service itself.
Change up your stallion advertising
Usually in design we like to create a consistent theme, an identity / brand for the business. However, this is different to using the same advert repeatedly. People get used to seeing the advert and tend to scan over it, and it creates disinterest.
Try to freshen up your advertising each year, by using new photos, include new progeny photos, has his foals done something outstanding? This can help create new interest in your stallion.
Remember if you are advertising your stallion in a magazine or website directory, he is being advertised directly against a lot of other stallions, so you need to make sure you have a clear point of difference to make him stand out.
Invest in professionals
Your stallion is your business, it’s a representation of you and your stud, investing in professional services now could save you money in the long run. Professionals use specific tools to make your advertising stand out. Using professional design and marketing shows you value your stallion and you want to invest time and money to promote him.
Stallion magazine advertising
This should be professionally designed, a designer knows ways to be creative and to make your advert stand out, as well as using tools such as fonts, colour and imagery in complimentary ways. We are lucky that some magazines such as the Australian Campdrafting Magazine offer professional design inclusive of the advertising price. Too often you see adverts with hard to read text, poor quality pixelated photos that doesn’t do the stallion any justice.
Sometimes if you only put one advert out there, it can be easily forgotten. If your budget allows for it, you should try to advertise as frequently as you can, so your stallion is always out there in the forefront of mare owners’ minds. If you have a set budget, you might advertise using smaller adverts frequently and then when there is a stallion feature use a larger advert for more impact.
Keep the text short and focused on your stallion’s best attributes, you want to discuss key points that can be further expanded on your website. Make sure you include:
- Full registered name
- All registrations
- Sire & Dam (only include further generations if it’s an important selling point)
- Height / Age
- Colour (if it’s hard to distinguish from photos)
- Any outstanding performances
- Quality progeny / performances
- Where the stallion is located or standing at stud
- Is he available by fresh, chilled, frozen or on farm
- Stud fee / relevant conditions
- Think about what mare owners want & try to answer their needs in your advertising
The photos you use in all of your stallion’s promotion material are critical. This is the number one selling point for your stallion and it’s imperative you use quality photos that show your stallion’s best attributes.
If using photos of the stallion competing, ensure it shows the stallion at its best. For campdrafting photos make sure the stallion is close to the cow – their heads close together, has a pleasant expression and shows athleticism.
It’s a good idea to include a conformation photo of your stallion if you can or have this available on your website. This should be a professional quality photo, with your stallion standing straight (not under himself) looking alert, ears forward, neck relaxed and coming out of the shoulder cleanly. The horse should look like he is in good health with a clean shiny coat. Make sure the photos you use are of a high resolution, clarity can also affect how the horse looks in a print advertisement. The advantage of using a professional photographer means they can take care of this for you.
Promoting on the Internet
Email / mailing list
This can be an easy and cheap way to keep your stallion in the forefront of people’s minds. Use your website, social media and social gatherings to build an email list that you can promote to later. There are lots of popular free mailing programs on the internet you can use to send bulk emails to.
Don’t be fooled, websites are still and will remain one of the most powerful promotional tool for your stallion. Your marketing should direct people to your website for more information. You shouldn’t be cramming as much information as you can into an advert or social media. The idea of a website is to answer questions mare owners might have, helping to reduce unnecessary enquiries. Use your advertising to direct people to your website for more information.
Your website should include:
- Additional photos of your stallion including conformation photos.
- Any video footage available of the stallion
- Additional performance results
- Full pedigree and more information on parentage.
- Progeny / progeny results.
Keep your website updated
Keep people coming back to your website, update it with your stallion’s results, details of new foals, new photos and videos. Use social media and mailing lists to direct people to view the new changes on your website.
Remember your website is seen worldwide, don’t publish anything less than perfection.
Seek out popular websites such as horse classifieds, even general websites to do with the discipline you compete in. Ensure you are getting value for money by checking how many people visit the website vs the quality and pricing of the advertising.
With artificial insemination so common it’s important to have high quality video available of your stallion for interstate viewers. The same considerations apply with video’s as they do with photos. Only show the very best footage of your stallion. Edit out scenes where he is not performing at his best. Have a professional create a video presentation for your horse that can include a collage of your best photos and footage into a promotional presentation. You can then add this to your website and promote it via your advertising.
Social media’s popularity is derived from its easy way to share information to a large number of people mostly for free. It is a valuable tool to use as part of your stallion promotion.
The social media trap
Your stallion is your product, don’t be fooled into posting poor quality happy snaps or talking negatively about your stallion. Even on your own personal account, it’s easy to share photos and comments without you even realising. A common trap is to rely heavily on social media only for promotion. By only promoting your stallion using social media you are promoting to a limited audience. In many instances a lot of the country still has poor access to internet especially on rural properties.
Think outside the square when promoting your stallion
We all know the traditional methods of advertising such as in relevant magazines, websites on social media, but you could be missing other opportunities to promote your stallion you didn’t even consider.
Social meet and greet Is your stallion competing at an event? Why not organise a social meet and greet at his stall? People can interact with the stallion, see him presented outside the stable, you can hand out flyers, have drinks available and be there directly to answer any questions mare owners might have. Make sure you collect people’s emails so you can make a list, to send material out to them later.
Consider sponsoring events related to your stallions breed or disciplines he competes in. You could offer a free service and potentially get a great performed mare to your stallion. Ask the show committee if you can put up your stallion’s banner in the arena, or put flyers in the competitor’s information packs. Putting your stallions advert in relevant show programs can also be cost effective promotion.
If you compete regularly you could display a large stallion banner at your truck or at the stables promoting the stallion. This is even better if he or any progeny is there competing.
You could also make flyer’s available at the competitions you are attending.
We are often quick to put our stud / farm names on our clothing, but how about promoting your stallion? Put his name on caps, give them to mare owners to wear or fans of the stallion. It’s a great way to get noticed at a show.
Now you have a lot of ideas to consider before the breeding season starts. Get started now by getting pen to paper, work out your budget and consider the best way to market your stallion using a wide selection of promotional tools.
Remember: If you only use one form of advertising to promote your stallion, then that is the only form you can measure your advertising success on. It’s then easy to say no one visits your website or that magazine advertising doesn’t work when you haven’t used them to their full advantage.
As published in the 2016 June/July Australian Campdrafting Magazine.