The increasing popularity of the internet and access to frozen semen worldwide means it’s more important now than ever to present your stallion professionally to the best of your ability.
It’s all about making your stallion stand out, by finding your stallion’s niche, and then promoting it.
Highlight your stallion’s strengths in all advertising. There could be 1000 performance horse stallions at stud, so what makes your stallion different and worthy of remaining entire? Consider the following:
- Breeding (a well-performed dam or sire, how many other stallions are out there by the sire?)
- Temperament and good looks
- Colour (dilute stallions stand out to breeders of colour)
- Height (for pony dressage and breeding ponies, height is important)
- Competition results (is your stallion an outstanding performer in his field?)
- Progeny (breeders want to know a stallion will breed on, so outstanding progeny is important)
It’s easy to fall into the trap of only advertising at the start of the breeding season, but realistically, many mare owners have a good idea of which stallion to use six months to a year beforehand. That’s why it’s important to advertise early and regularly all year round, especially if your stallion regularly competes.
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. Not everyone spends hours on the internet, so using an even spread of print media and online will ensure you cover as many potential breeders as possible.
When breeders enquire about your stallion, make sure to ask them how they found you. This will help you evaluate for the following year what advertising worked, and where to advertise again.
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. You can also promote that these special mares have visited your stallion.
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. Fertility problems 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. Consider discounts for well-performed mares, or discounts for multiple services. These discounts promote the purchases of more service fees and don’t devalue the purchase of the service itself.
Change up your 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 advertisement repeatedly. People get used to seeing the same advert and tend to scan over it; it creates disinterest.
Try to freshen up your advertising each year by using new photos. Include new progeny photos. Have his offspring done something outstanding? This can help create new interest in your stallion. Use a different headline, especially if he has recently won a major competition.
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 your stud. Investing in professional services now, including photography, could save you money in the long run. Professionals use specific tools to make 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
Pick a magazine that has a good, independently audited readership and will reach the right type of horse owners. Most magazines have seasonal stallion features with good advertising rates.
A professional designer will use creative techniques to make your stallion and your advert stand out. Too often you see adverts with hard to read text, poor quality pixelated photos that doesn’t do the stallion any justice.
If you only put one advert out, it can be easily forgotten. If your budget allows for it, try to advertise as frequently as you can, so your stallion is always in the forefront of breeders’ minds.
If you have a set budget, you might use smaller adverts frequently and then when there is a stallion feature, a larger advert for more impact.
What to put in your ads
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. Think about what mare owners want, and try to answer their needs in your advertising.
Make sure you include:
• Full registered name
• All registrations
• Sire and dam (only include further generations if it’s an important selling point)
• Height and 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
• Link to your website for further information
The photos you use in 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 example, a flashy extended trot, or jumping a large jump with a beautiful bascule.
It’s a good idea to include 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.
Think about stallion photography ahead, so you don’t leave it until the last minute. You don’t want to show your stallion with a thick fluffy coat!
Websites are still and will remain one of the most powerful promotional tools for your stallion. Your marketing should direct people to your website for further information. This leaves your advertisement free to share only the important points. Similarly, social media should only be used to direct breeders to your website, as information can easily be lost.
Your website should include:
- Additional photos of your stallion including conformation photos
- Video footage
- Additional performance results
- Full pedigree and more information on parentage
- Progeny/progeny results
Use your advertising to direct people to your website for more information.
To keep people coming back to your website, update it with your stallion’s results, details of new foals, new photos and videos. Then use social media and mailing lists to direct people to view the new changes on your website. Google values websites which are regularly updated, so it also helps with search engines.
Remember your website can be seen worldwide, so don’t publish anything less than perfection.
It’s important to have high quality video available of your stallion, espcially for potential breeders from the other side of the country who can’t see your stallion in person. The same considerations apply with videos as they do with photos.: only show the very best footage. 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.
The social media trap
Social media’s popularity is derived from its easy way to share information to many people, mostly for free, and mostly informally. It is a valuable tool to use as part of your stallion promotion.
But don’t be lulled into posting poor quality happy snaps or talking negatively about your stallion, even on your own personal account.
A common trap is to rely on social media only for promotion. But this way, you are promoting to a limited audience. In many instances, a lot of the country still has poor access to internet, especially on rural areas.
Think outside the square
We all know the traditional methods of advertising such as in relevant magazines, websites and on social media, but you could be missing other opportunities to promote your stallion you didn’t even consider.
What about a 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 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 stallion’s breed or the 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 programmes can also be cost-effective promotion.
Banners and promotional clothing
If you compete regularly, you could display a large stallion banner at your truck or at the stables/yards, promoting your stallion. This is even better if he, or any progeny, is there competing.
You could also make fliers available at the competitions you are attending.
When it comes to clothing, we are often quick to put our stud/farm names on our clothing, but how about promoting your stallion instead? Put his name on caps, give them to mare owners to wear, or to fans of the stallion. It’s a great way to get noticed at a show.
Now you have a lot of ideas to consider. Get started now by getting pen to paper, working out your budget and considerings the best way to market your stallion using a wide selection of promotional tools.
It’s easy to say no-one visits your website or that magazine advertising doesn’t work if you haven’t used them to their full advantage.
About the Author
Despina Mitrakas, of Show Pony Graphics, is a dedicated award-winning Multimedia Designer who has a bachelor’s degree in Multimedia Systems Majoring in Applications studied at Monash University in Melbourne, Australia.
She has extensive valuable knowledge of the horse industry and currently works with some of the largest brands, studs and horse associations in Australia.