The Business of Horses – Promoting Your Stallion
Stallion owners seem to believe that if they own a stallion, people will breed to him because he is there. What often happens is stallion owners' breed to the mares they own or to their friends or neighbor's mares, and as a result, their stallion never reaches his full potential. In this time, where we have cooled or frozen semen available to mare owners throughout the world, you must actively promote your stallion at all times.
You can be successful with your breeding programs and horse business if you do some planning followed by aggressive action.
Advertising! Everyone knows that they should advertise the stallion if they want to get outside mares to breed. So, they get a web site and figure everyone will see it and it was cheap, right? But, there are thousands of sites just like yours and the people that may be interested can't even find yours without hours of cruising the web. The way to alleviate this problem is to use the print media to your advantage to get your web address to the public.
Some print advertising should be in regional or national magazines depending on your budget. Local classifieds should also be used. Every print ad should have your web site address and e-mail address as well as your phone number, mailing address, etc. You will increase your likelihood of getting mares to breed immensely.
You have to be consistent in your advertising. Most magazines have sections devoted to business card ads or a directory at a reasonable yearly fee. Using that will keep your stallion in front of the public at very little cost.
Use of photos in your advertising, whether it is print or electronic, should always present your stallion, his foals and mares in their best light. They should be groomed and clipped with a show halter or no halter. The background should be unobtrusive. If you can't see the outline of the horse for the trees, most people will think you are trying to hide some fault.
From a business standpoint, if you want to impress the government, your banker, your accountant or your attorney, it makes sense to advertise your stallion and his progeny. It shows that you are serious about being in the horse business and you are creating a market demand for your product.
Your advertising is a deductible expense. If you have a photographer do the pictures, an ad agency create the layout or place the ads for you, that is an expense that you can deduct. Most magazines have a person who can create the ad with your photos and information at little or no cost to you, just the cost of the ad itself.
Advertising should have a budget amount each year. If you are promoting an unproven or little used stallion, you are going to want to have a bigger budget than if he is a proven stud with progeny on the ground that is competing.
You should also track your ads to see which ones are read and responded to. When someone inquires about your stallion, ask them where they saw the ad or heard about the horse. Record the information so you can make a knowledgeable decision about which media to use and how often. Strategically placed ads are less costly than the shotgun approach to advertising.
Have a pedigree available to send out to potential clients. It should be at least five generations with a list of each horse's accomplishments, outstanding individuals that have been produced, what your stallion and his progeny have done, what crosses you think will work if they breed to your stallion, etc.
It is important to be competitive about your breeding fees. Do not set your fee based upon what you read or what others charge for their stallions. Do your homework. Compare what others do for their fees, what their stallions or progeny have done in the show ring or what their immediate ancestors have done. Set a reasonable fee that will entice mare owners to consider your stallion. If you have a world class stallion, set the fee at what others are charging, not lower or higher just because you think your horse is better. You can always offer enticements to get clients such as no chute fee, live foal guarantee, reduced fee if they show the get, etc. These enticements should have a cutoff time or a set of rules so if your horse becomes popular you can adjust the fees and enticements.
I think stallion owners should be willing to breed to any mare, registered or not, that the owner wants bred. The more get you have on the ground, the more likely you are to have performers in some area. You just never know where that foal is going to end up. It can be a regional or world champion out of a mare that you may not of liked for one reason or the other.
When you present your horse to the public at home, your surroundings should be neat and clean as well as the horses that you are presenting. You don't have to have white fences and brick barns to be presentable. Obstacles, broken boards, stalls that are not kept up are things that detract from your stallion even if he just won the world.
Donations of breeding to stallion service auctions are another way to get your stallion and his progeny in front of the public. You may have to purchase the breeding yourself but it is advertising. Choose the best mare in your program and hope that the resulting foal will be all that you hope for.
M. R. Bain has been a horseman all his life and a professional trainer since 1955. He is an owner and breeder and has been employed as a breeding and stable manager. His intent on writing these articles is to educate horse people on how to operate a successful horse business. You may contact him at MRBAIN@msn.com with your questions and comments.Also, look for his upcoming book, The Business of Horses–Creating A Successful Horse Business.
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