Speaking personally, I find marketing quite difficult and have often felt frustrated with the BHS, that they do not promote our qualifications better. I am very proud of my qualifications and really want them to be recognised as the best training system for instructors/trainers in the horse industry. I also feel like I have wasted a lot of money on useless advertising over the years and don’t want to continue doing so! When this day was advertised I put it in my diary straight away and came along with an open mind!
Lynn Petersen gave an introduction to the day speaking ‘off the cuff.’ It was refreshing to hear about the new BHS website and that we are taking marketing and customer service more seriously now at head office and that we are planning to promote the register of instructors and all its members. I was also pleased to hear the new website is due to go live imminently and in fact it has done this week!
Emma Day, Director of Marketing, Membership and Communications was next up. She had some interesting results from the recent Instructors survey. Basically it showed word of mouth and networking are currently our favoured marketing methods. She strongly advised that when we have new enquiries we record where they came from so we can measure results. Emma was able to give us a sneak preview of some of the website features, which should include the ability to search for a specific instructor close to you, rather than produce a list of everyone in the region! Emma spoke briefly about setting up your own website, search engine website optimisation, blogging and using google maps and EMAGIN to flag your business. These are all relatively easy to do but most people seem to avoid them as it is time consuming to get set up and considered to be technically challenging! It was suggested this could be an area where people may benefit from more help.
Liam Killen from Abbeyview Equine followed. www.abbeyview.com . He gave a very interesting presentation on creating, growing and engaging with social media such as Facebook, Twitter, You Tube and Linked In.There are now 955 million acive users on Facebook and 340 million tweets per day on Twitter, so to cut a long story short we should all be using social networking to market ourselves! He gave a lot of very helpful tips and tricks and I think he inspired most of us to try a bit harder to use Facebook. This was validated by Jo Winfield who has had some success with advertising/marketing clinics using Facebook. If all this sounds a bit much I would look at the websites Abbeyview are producing- they look very good!
In the afternoon we Gill Reindl gave her presentation on ‘Effective Marketing.’ This presentation was a bit more interactive and Gill encouraged us to look more closely at our own businesses so we could be more focussed in our marketing strategy. We looked at SWOT (strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats) and PESTEL (political, economic, social, technological, environmental and legal). These were good exercises to round up the day and focus us back onto our own businesses.
Since the day I have certainly been thinking about marketing more and have started to set up a Facebook page for my business. I have also joined Twitter, although the problem for me is I keep forgetting to Tweet!
Looking at the statistics and the evidence all around us I think we do need to have a stronger presence on social networking sites- if we don’t keep up with the times there is a risk that the value of our hard earned qualifications will diminish and be forgotten.
Thank you to Jo Winfield, Judith Murphy and the speakers for an interesting and informative day.
F&I Conference Supported by the BHS
Report by Fred Hodges BHSI