Part of having a good remuda is knowing how to sell the horses you’ve raised. Create a message, communicate it and be consistent — that’s Marketing 101. When you’re out and about in the equine industry, names of prominent ranches pop up in conversation right and left. Everybody can converse about the famous Pitchfork, King and Four Sixes ranches. They are among the ranches that helped create the cowboy, the working ranch horse and the stereotype of our western heritage. If you want your name at the tip of people’s tongues, here are some marketing tips that work well for ranches in the United States.
The question is, how do ranches become household names? How does their legacy continue? What marketing tactics work? From the ground up, these ranches learned by trial and error what works and what doesn’t. Now the question is, how can you market your ranch horses?
While they have different marketing tools and ideas, the experts agree about two things:
The best way to establish a good, well-known remuda is to be honest and fair to your customers.
Satisfied buyers will always come back, and more times than not, they’ll bring a friend.
Haythorn is one well-known name among ranch folk. Just 17 miles north of Ogallala, the 90,000-acre Haythorn ranch is centered in the rolling sandhills of Nebraska. Haythorn Land and Cattle Co. received the first AQHA Best Remuda Award in 1992.
“It was one of the biggest plusses for us,” says Craig Haythorn, president of the ranch. “We had the best sale we’ve ever had in 1994, right after we won the Remuda.” The Haythorn Land and Cattle Co.was also presented the AQHA Legacy Award in 1996 and 60-year breeder award in 1999.
Craig suggests advertising one year in advance when planning a production sale and using as many media outlets as possible. He also notes that including a photo of every horse is well worth the cost.
Just Tell the Truth
Craig says the best, easiest and cheapest way to promote your product is by word of mouth.
“I don’t think there’s anything better than word of mouth,” he says. The Haythorns found that telling the truth is priceless advertising.
“We try to stand behind everything we sell. We try to represent the horses the way they are. If the horse is cold-backed, or will kick you or whatever the problem is, we tell you up front. Whatever we do, we just tell them the truth — honesty and quality.
“We have a lot of repeat customers. For 23 years now, we’ve had sales. And today, we have customers that we had at the first sale,” he says.
It doesn’t make any difference what the truth is, Craig says. People appreciate honesty.
Hospitality is also an important aspect to the success of the ranch. Usually, 12-14 cowboys train and prepare the horses for the sale. Craig encourages visitors and customers to talk to the cowboys. “I tell people they are welcome to ask any individual here that’s wearing one of our shirts,” he says. “And not just one of them, but all of them will tell you the truth or find someone who can. Nobody here is going to keep anything from you. We are here to help you.”
Craig suggests preparing your horse trainers to be ready and available for questions from potential buyers.
Marketing can be as simple as word of mouth or as detailed as an elaborate Web site. The advent of the Internet has created a wealth of opportunity for savvy sellers who know how to take advantage of all the Web has to offer. Sellers can reach a larger audience who might otherwise be inaccessible, and information can be disseminated in a more timely manner.