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