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Equine Storytelling in Marketing

Storytelling has become quite the buzzword circling the business world, so let’s unpack what it looks like to use equine storytelling in your horse business’s marketing efforts. But first: stories. What’s the big whoop? Our brains are wired to connect with them. Think about it. Stories have been in your life for as long as you can remember. From novels and movies to bedtime stories and cartoons, our imaginations concoct elaborate stories that take us on exciting adventures.

Storytelling generally serves three main purposes: 

  • Stories are how family legacies are shared across generations. You know that story you’ve heard about your grandfather that you’ll tell your children for years? This is the kind of story that we honor by passing along to future generations to cherish long after an individual has passed. Some of the most beautiful eulogies are quilted masterpieces of stories woven together to create a picture of a person’s life.

 

  • Stories are how we learn complicated things. Think about your favorite teacher or professor. They probably didn’t teach the easiest subject, but they had a knack for turning complicated lectures into captivating stories. They helped you understand something a list of data in a textbook couldn’t do. Beyond that, you likely retained that information long after the exam was turned in.

 

  • Stories are how we connect with others. What was the conversation like last time you enjoyed a trail ride or happy hour with a friend? If I had to guess, it was likely taking turns telling stories of things happening in your lives at a given time. It’s the easiest way to relate with those around you.

Why Your Business Needs Equine Storytelling

Storytelling doesn’t just serve a purpose in our personal lives. It has a lot of power in our professional lives, too. In fact, equine storytelling can be the key to a successful content marketing strategy for your horse business. Stories are what it means to be human. By creating a brand story, you breathe life into your product or service that invites potential customers into that story. The most authentic and interesting stories create emotional connections between your offering and potential clients. Now more than ever, people want human brands. Brands are sharing imperfect user-generated content and real testimonials. They are limiting their retouching and PhotoShopping efforts. And they are ditching the Barbie-like models of the past and replacing them with real people of all shapes, sizes, and colors. As they should, because you want to give your hard-earned money to real brands with real missions, right?

When you weave stories into your marketing strategy, you give your brand a personal voice. You differentiate yourself from other companies offering similar products or services. When that story is told to the right people (aka your ideal clients), you spark genuine interest in them because you communicate why your product or service should matter to them.

Let’s Talk About Using Equine Storytelling in Your Marketing

I am a big fan of the StoryBrand framework created by one of my favorite authors, Don Miller, and his team. In this simple, yet powerful concept. A character has a problem and meets a guide who gives them a plan and calls them to action that ends in success and helps them avoid failure. Let’s break those down.

A Character

The main character, or hero, of the story is your customer, not your business. I think this is the most powerful component of the StoryBrand framework because a lot of businesses seem to get it wrong. If your marketing is all about you — the business — people are going to get bored. Fast. These characters have unique wants, needs, and goals. Throughout the story, they embark on a quest and experience a character arc. The basic character arc flows as setting up the story, rising action, climactic event, falling action, and resolution.

Has a Problem

If a character in a movie had a perfect life and never experienced a problem, it would be a truly boring story. There are always three different types of problems. I like to think of these as layers of an onion.

  • External Problem: This is the obvious problem. It’s the tangible reason your customers need your product or service.
  • Internal Problem: This is the not-so-obvious problem. This is what lies underneath the external problem and usually deals with an internal battle your clients are facing.
  • Philosophical Problem: This is the overarching problem and why it should matter to others. These usually look like a statement starting with “You shouldn’t have to…” This is bigger than a single customer.

And Meets a Guide

This is where your equestrian business comes in to save the day! To be selected as the guide, you must focus on three things:

  1. Use empathy to connect with your clients. By understanding the problem your customers are facing, you can connect with them and build trust.
  2. Display authority. As an expert in your field, you must communicate why your clients should trust you to solve their specific problems.
  3. Focus on your customer and their problem. The best guides are relentlessly dedicated to serving their clients and solving the defined problem.

Who Gives Them a Plan

Simple plans are always more powerful than complicated plans. The best marketers believe in providing potential clients three easy steps to solve their problems. Always remember that people are busy and focused on multitudes of things at any given time. Anytime you can make a process more simple, your business wins.

And Calls Them to Action

It’s no secret that your marketing efforts need a call to action. When it comes to calls to action, keep them as direct and simple as possible — and repeat it often! I’ve also seen marketers break these into two categories: direct and transitional. This is colloquially referred to as “marry or date”. If your customer is ready to work with you (“marry” you), this is likely booking a consultation or a purchase. If your customer is intrigued but not yet ready to work with you (they’d prefer to “date” you first), this is more like downloading a free guide or attending a free webinar.

That Ends in Success

No one likes a cliffhanger. We are wired to crave resolution. As a business, you must paint a clear picture of what your customer’s future will look like if they choose to work with you. Once they purchase your product or invest in your service, how will their life be better? I think story-based testimonials are a great way to communicate this. Instead of just a simple “I helped me”, try obtaining a full paragraph narrative from your clients detailing where they were before your product or service, how it helped them, and where they are now that they invested. Wouldn’t that build a lot more trust in potential clients?

And Helps Them Avoid Failure

This is when you get to communicate what your product or service represents. It might be having more confidence in the saddle or getting back in the show ring for your customers, but this goes beyond just your offering. This is how you helped the hero go from _ to _. 

How To Incorporate Stories into Your Equine Marketing

Whether your horse business operates in the English disciplines, the Western disciplines, or both, the goal of your marketing is to inspire. It’s to inspire customers to invest in your offering. Remember that your company is the empathetic and expert guide who supports the hero on their quest. As you craft your marketing (big and small campaigns alike), it’s important to continually ask yourself ‘who is the Hero of the story you’re writing?’

 

Here’s the bottom line: Your business is product or service-centric, but your brand’s story should be people-centric.

 

Are you struggling to get clear on your brand message? Click here to download your free guide. “Branding Your Equine Business” will guide you step-by-step through getting strategic about your brand so you can experience serious growth in your equine business.

Business

CATEGORY

7/26/2021

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Equine Storytelling in Marketing

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