Binding customers, addressing the target group, making your own equestrian shop more popular – the online world offers many opportunities to fulfill those goals: Advice on how to use tools such as your own website, social media, local influencers and much will be presented here.
In Germany alone, over 20 million users communicate via Facebook every day – many more via channels such as Instagram, Twitter, etc. This potential can also be exploited for and by the stationary trade. In addition, there are a large number of influencers that can support not only brands but also local businesses. The path from online presence to local business is not so far – because many customers want to experience and touch goods before they buy them. This is especially true for equestrian equipment.
But how does it work, as a specialist shop, to have an online presence and be able to inspire clients offline as well? Personal initiative is required here and prejudices must be eliminated. After all, it is not uncommon to hear only restrained enthusiasm from managers and employees when the keyword social media marketing is mentioned. There is a lot of skepticism towards it: “Influencer marketing is only something for big companies”, “You only need storytelling to make films” or “Personal Branding? It doesn’t work. My employees don’t want to be on camera.” However there is hardly a more practical way to make your own specialty store more popular on the Internet than social media marketing. At the same time, the modern online world makes it particularly easy for businesses to handle many marketing tasks on their own.
Don´t be afraid of the online world
Google, Facebook and Co. are not only suitable for making your own specialty store known in the area, the platforms offer even more potential: Among other things, these channels can be used to address new customers, maintain the customer base and advertise individual services. The first step into the online world for a specialist equestrian shop should be an entry in Google My-Business. All you need is a Google account to create the entry, present offers and upload pictures. Every business should use this option and keep contact data, pictures and offers up to date at all time. Especially photos are very important, because they say more than a thousand words. The entry in Google My-Business is a small, digital business card for the specialist shop and often the first contact that customers have. From here, they can contact you, call up the route to your specialist shop or go to your website for further information.
Facebook or Instagram?
On which of the many online channels must a specialist equestrian sports shop present itself? The two most important ones are currently Facebook and Instagram. Which channel you use depends on your target group. Experts assume that children and young people are more likely to be reached via Instagram, while adults (from around 35 years of age) are better reached via Facebook. Basically, it is recommended to make all posts directly via your smartphone. The possibilities are enormous and you should not get into the habit of doing it any other way. This works by shooting and cutting videos with apps like Quik or KineMaster, taking pictures and everything else you need. If you want to create beautiful graphics from your pictures or add suitable captures to them, many mobile phones already offer the appropriate app. Others can usually be downloaded free of charge from the app stores. One free alternative are also applications such as Canva.
People have always told each other stories. Nowadays they do it digitally. One feature that Instagram and Facebook both offer is storytelling. It keeps friends and followers up to date and is available to them for the following 24 hours. For specialist stores, it offers the opportunity to authentically let the followers participate in everyday life and it can be ideally integrated into work processes using a mobile phone. For example, when new goods arrive, a ride to the stable for a saddle test or a new employee describes his or her first day at work. The stories can show and inspire many aspects. They should arouse curiosity, inspire and inform the customer. Basically, such a story lives from the fact that its listeners or readers can put themselves in its place. Concentrate on the essentials – everyone paints the details themselves. Build up a suspenseful arc with high and low points, because these create tension. Avoid jumps in content and explain the processes you are showing. In this way you avoid irritating the user. For example, pictures of events, portraits of employees and authentic excerpts from work are well received. Prove that your specialist shop is more than just a collection of products and services. Inspire your customers with authenticity, your personal service – things they won’t find anywhere else. Show with your story that you can offer added value to your customer, solve his problems and fulfill his wishes.
Would you like to know what your followers are interested in or want to see? Then simply ask them. This way you can create a community via stories, get new ideas for possible content and offer room for interaction.
Continuity is very important in all social networks. But there is no general rule for it. Experts recommend an interval of at least two times a week. A good rhythm for many shops could be twice a week. The effort pays off within reach. However, you need a little patience. In the beginning you should lower your expectations a little bit. It takes a certain amount of time before a page starts running.
Why should equestrian shops not only think about Facebook, Instagram etc. – but also about influencers? It’s simple: Influencers have a great impact on the buying behavior of their followers, they offer a high degree of credibility and a low wastage – because they usually address a target group very explicitly. This effect can also be used locally to promote the stationary equestrian business. However, the influencer must fit the company and the target group. They should offer authentic content – across platforms and ideally also locally. The three most important points when choosing the influencer are therefore: authenticity, target group and reliable key figures.
Dealing with criticism
Not all comments and reactions that equestrian shops receive via social networks are positive. That is why there is often a great concern about being publicly denounced or criticized. The best protection against criticism is usually a good community. It is very easy to build this online by taking people into your everyday life. A strong community strengthens your back in such situations. Hence third parties might protect the attacked business. One should not overrate the fear of criticism, however, and in any case weigh it up: Is the criticism justified? Then it is valuable. Or is it unobjective or a private attack? Then you can also block such comments from your website or channel.
Storytelling: The typical structure
– Tell the story from the customer’s perspective.
– In the beginning there is the problem.
– This is solved by the specialist shop.
– In the end there is a happy end and a satisfied customer.
Author: Kai Schwarz & Jana Riemann/equitrends International