Time to Ride Contest Rewards Top Marketing Strategies

Time to Ride has announced the winners of its 2017 Best Practices Contest, a written-entry contest that rewards Time to Ride Challenge contestants for innovative and effective outreach strategies.

The judges awarded first place to Blue Heron Riding Academy, in Chandler, Indiana; second place to Rusty Bar Ranch, of Roy, Washington; third place to Suncoast Stables and Riding Academy, in Odessa, Florida; and fourth place to Nova Quarter Horses, in Mokena, Illinois.

Judges evaluated entrants’ creativity and innovation; effectiveness at reaching new horse enthusiasts; experience quality for newcomers; and efforts made to reach beginners.

Jill Ingram, of Blue Heron Riding Academy, said the facility worked hard to create interactive and relevant advertising.

“We ran Facebook ads and targeted our local area and parents with kids that are the ages we would like for our programs,” she explained. “We also built up lots of intrigue and interest by posting sneak-peeks and teasers on our Facebook page.”

This led to television features on two news stations about their events and riding programs. Blue Heron won $400 in the best practices contest.

Meanwhile, Rusty Bar Ranch brought their horseback rides to a different, but relevant, event: a recreational vehicle and motorhome show. Although this was a new and different experience for Kathy Richardson and her crew, she says, “this gave us the opportunity to meet people completely outside of the horse world who were looking for different experiences.” Rusty Bar Ranch received $300 for their efforts.

Krystle Lee, of Suncoast Stables, represents an example of intentional relationship building and marketing and how that can produce successful events. The Suncoast team invited two local daycares to participate in a half-day of learning about horses, grooming, and riding.

“This wasn't just an event that we posted about on Facebook or through word of mouth,” Lee said. “We contacted these daycares to give these kids an experience they may have never had before and may not have had ever if we didn't put this together. Most of these daycares do have a few field trips during the summer and we wanted to be a part of that.” The stable earned $200 in the contest.

Finally, Tiffany Ossowski and Nova Quarter Horses hosted an event at a “cool” location … literally. Nova took their equines to a location that moms and kids frequent, particularly during the Challenge’s hot summer months: an ice cream parlor.

“We believe teaming up with our business neighbor, The Creamery, made our event unique as well as successful,” Ossowski said. “Everyone loved the horses and ice cream combination. We planned to stay for two hours but, because our line was still strong near the end, we extended an additional hour. One little girl stayed the entire time. She would ride and get back in line with her ice cream and wait to ride again. Nova gained many new friends that day and we established a great new business relationship. After a successful day of sharing the large crowd of customers, The Creamery agreed to do this on an annual basis and are now advertising our upcoming events in their store window.”

Nova Quarter Horses won $100 in the best practices contest.

Event ideas, promotion tips, and successful outreach strategies from the contest will be shared with future Challenge hosts in the marketing toolkit that is provided to all registrants. The Challenge continues to encourage and incentivize hosts to try creative marketing strategies that effectively welcome new equine enthusiasts while growing their own businesses.

More information is available at timetoride.com or facebook.com/timetoridehorse.

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