And, don't forget we work with a variety of equestrian publications throughout the nation and would be happy to help you put together an effective an affordable marketing plan!
Contact us to get started.
Let Silver Buckle Services help you start the 2013 Breeding Season off right with a professional image that commands attention.
And, don't forget we work with a variety of equestrian publications throughout the nation and would be happy to help you put together an effective an affordable marketing plan!
Contact us to get started.
First you might be wondering what is an effective website and how did it get that way? After I share with you our tips, I will highlight some websites we built and share how they became effective.
Lets go into a bit of background first! We have helped hundreds of clients in the horse industry with their websites. Luckily for our clients, our background is in web technology, usability and site architecture as well as rich content development. We take each project and think of the user's perspective, what do they want to do on your site, what do they need to know and how do you get them that information quickly and efficiently. We build on that foundation of usability and tie stunning eye catching graphics and themes and build them into the framework of the website. The end product is not only pretty, but functional.
Check our our list of website effectiveness tips below. Let us know what worked for you and what hasn't and we would be glad to add your ideas to our blog.
1. Get a pretty website!
Websites are like horses, they call cost the same to feed, you might as well have a pretty horse, unless you have horses like our client, Sargent Equestrian Center, they are the big clydesdale boys and cost a lot to feed! But seriously, websites all cost basically the same every month whether they are pretty or not and even if they aren't effective, you are still paying for them, so I say, have a pretty and effect website!
Having a nice looking website really helps to sell your business and frame your content to deliver the message you want to portray to your visitors.
2. Keep your website information Current
We recommend updating your website at least once a month. Keeping your website updated tells your visitors the latest information about your business and lets new visitors know that you are serious about your business and take the time to keep it current. It also helps with the search engine rankings because Google and Yahoo look at that as part of their formula for ranking and rank those sites higher if they are updated more frequently. An easy way to do this it get a do it yourself website and make the updates yourself.
3. Use other tools to market your website
Our philosophy is...... just having a website up on the interent isn't enough to market your business! You have to work hard at marketing it. It won't be enough to just stick up a website and hope that users come to it. We suggest using other tools to market your website. For instance, Constant Contact is an excellent product which we customize templates for our clients.
This tool allows you to send out attractive HTML based e-newsletter blasts to a set of names on a email list and allows you to have multiple lists so you can manage various looks for your business marketing email campaigns with different content to reach a variety of customers.
It saves trees and is highly effective at bringing traffic into websites.
4. Use Social Networking sites
We also suggest using Facebook to reach your followers and share information, sales, new service offerings and even just listing the spring foals for sale. Facebook is one of the most powerful networking tools on the planet. If you don't already have a business Facebook account, contact us and we can help you get one set up as well as help you design your timeline graphics for the Facebook page. Check out our business Facebook page to see an example. Facebook is free and easy to use.
5. Start Blogging
The word blog came from combining two words together, web and log = blog.
Generally blogs are written in journal style, like what I have been writing, they are sometimes personal and sometimes informational. If you have one of our new Weebly websites, they come with a blogging tool. You should take advantage of this powerful web tool. Your blog should not be a sales bulletin. Successful blogs capture the reader's attention, give information and provide helpful content to your industry. Blogs also provide ample wording for the search engines like Google and Yahoo to spider and index your content. Here are some tips on how to make your blog successful.
Equine Legal Solutions
I promised to share with you some of our client's websites that have been effective.
First we have Equine Legal Solutions, which is owned by Rachel Kosmal McCart, an established equine attorney based out of Beavercreek, Oregon. She has been a longtime client since 2003. Her website is www.equinelegalsolutions.com. Rachel is very diligent in updating her website and writes informative equine legal articles each month that deliver new information to her viewers. She sends out email newsletter blasts to point readers to the new articles that she posts, which directs the traffic back to her website. She also uses contests and surveys to direct traffic to her website and of course uses Facebook to post informative tips and information. Her blog provides detailed information about the newest equine legal issues facing her industry. Her clients keep coming back to her website to learn something. It isn't just a contract sales website, it is a central clearing house of information about the equine industry and legal issues which it often faces.
Ful - O - Pep
Ful O Pep is a feed company in Texas who's website is www.fulopep.com. They work incredibly hard at keeping their website current. They create new and interesting ad campaigns for their feed lines and feature sales and dealers on their website. They also make use of e-newsletters and send out various emails a couple times a month to the various lists they carry for their ad campaigns. They also advertise heavily in traditional print marketing such as magazines and regional and statewide horse, cattle and sheep magazines to promote their two retail stores and feed lines. By using the combination of Facebook, e-newsletters and traditional print advertising, they have become very effective in their market. We would like to congratulate them on 30 years in the business!
Did you know that over 10% of your website traffic visits come from a mobile device?
At Silver Buckle Services, we aim to stay ahead of the curve and stay current with the latest technologies available to provide to you. We're happy to announce that all our new websites made with Weebly are mobile optimized.
With our new Weebly website solutions, when someone visits your website from a mobile device, (Smart phones, iPhone or ipad or Android Tablet computers) they are automatically shown the mobile version of your website.
If you don't already have a Weebly website with us, we encourage you to contact us to upgrade your old site to this new system to provide the mobile friendly website capabilities to your website viewers. Last but not least, with our Weebly website solutions, you will be able to update the website yourself!
We also have mobile friendly e-commerce solutions available to our clients. If you want your on-line store to be accessible from Smartphones, ipads, iPhones or Android Tablet computers, contact us to learn more about our mobile store solutions.
Like owning a horse, Marketing a horse-business requires a multi-level approach. Contributed by: Kasha Ford
Next time you take your horse out consider all that's required to keep him. In that one creature you have a multitude of chores, activities and expenses all rolled into a single package. Your horse requires, housing, veterinary & farrier care, feed, grooming, tack, transportation, training and more. Your horse-business is very much the same - only with a different set of chores, activities and expenses.
We had a prospective client contact us the other day lamenting that they weren't getting very much business AND they already had a website. Well, just "having" a website isn't enough. What are you doing to promote your website? How do you expect customers to find your website? Is your website set up in such a way that, if customers do find it, they're easily able to get to the information they need or are able to purchase what you're offering? Is there a need for what you're selling? You can't just "build it and hope they will come." Your website serves a specific purpose: to inform or educate, to refer, or to sell. It is only one part of your marketing strategy, or back to my horse analogy, just one item, albeit an important one, in your horse's tackroom.
Marketing a business requires a multi-level approach, you need to advertise and promote your site both in print and on-line. You need to promote your business in person at appropriate events, even if it's just a matter of a shirt on someone's back at a local horse show or event. In today's world it's necessary to promote your business in every way possible. Not just build a website and hope for the best. You have to reach and target your audience in every way possible.
When you acquired your first horse, you likely didn't run out and purchase everything you needed all at once. You probably started out with a few key items like feed, basic tack, modest housing and grooming supplies. Over time you added more specialty items and upgrades. Think about where you were the day you brought your first horse home and where you are today. Treat your business the same, start with core basics, but be sure to steadily add, change and upgrade from there:
Here at Silver Buckle Services, we would like to thank all our loyal clients for their business and friendship over the years. We are so lucky to have the job of serving you with your websites, ads and marketing and would like to take a moment to thank you for it! We are living our dreams and working with the equine industry has been an incredibly rewarding experience. We get to help people start their equine businesses from the ground up and nothing can be better than empowering other people in the horse industry, especially helping women to achieve their goals.
We are giving a 15% off discount on all new projects in December to our existing clients. Give us a call to start your next project.
Author: Melissa Berschens
3rd party e-commerce solutions such as Volusion, Big Commerce, Pro Stores, Network Solutions, Yahoo Small Business, Shopify, Open Cart, 3D Cart, Tomato Cart, Zen Cart, Foxy Cart, have all the bells and whistles that you could imagine. We wanted to find a great e-commerce solution to offer our clients so we went on a mission to find the easiest shopping cart system out there. After months of free trials and testing, we have found a couple of great solutions for you.
Shoppe Pro Stores
1) Shoppe Pro ($12-$25 per month depending on level of service purchased)
Shoppe Pro is a women owned company and has what I call, Girl Power! It allows customization of the "do it yourself" template which will enable us to make your shopping cart site look fabulous. Entering categories and products is very easy and intuitive. Shoppe Pro is a great choice for our clients because it is easy to use and isn't overwhelming like some of the more major store solutions available. It has just what you need to sell online. Shoppe Pro has great customer support available by email or by phone. This system allows for adding in a multitude of products and product variations like color and size and adding images to the products is very easy.
Here is a picture of a product category page listing the products available in that category. Here, both descriptions, photos and price shows with the items in the category list. The category pages can be designed with unique header graphics as shown in the graphic below with the belts. They have documentation and tutorials available and best of all, we know how to set up the stores for you and are experienced with this already with previous clients so we do all the hard work of making it look pretty and you can enter the products on your end from the web. No software is required and no HTML knowledge is needed to manage your store.
Here is a picture of a product display page. Note the photo can click to enlarge and product item variations like size are shown. The system allows both Paypal and other credit card processors such as Link Point and Authorize.net. There is no free trial but at $12 to start, you can sign up and if you don't like it, they can cancel your account.
Here is a list of how to choose if Shoppe Pro is right for you:
2) Wazala Store ($9.99 - $29.99 per month depending on how many products you have in your store)
Wazala is a very simplified e-commerce solution. You can insert it into an existing web page and it appears embedded in the page. It has a unique navigation system where you click on an arrow to slide to the right to view products and categories. It has only one look and feel that you can apply on either a white or black background.
The look is set for every page. The admin system is very simple to use to add products and categories and you can have multiple click to enlarge photos and options for your products like size and color. Wazala is simply one of the best carts I have worked with. The only downside is the look and feel and style of the cart is pre-set and you can not change it or the way it behaves. No software is required and no html knowledge is needed. Wazala has email only support, but they do get back to you fairly quickly. Wazala has a 15 day free risk trial.
Here is a list of how to choose if Wazala is right for you:
How you get started
Both solutions above are really good, they both have their different purposes and levels of complexity. If you aren't sure which one is best for you, let us know about your project plans and we can help you decide and tell you which would work best for your online store solution. Whether you have an existing store, or are starting fresh, Silver Buckle Services can set up your online store for you and get the ball rolling for you. We are Wazala affiliates so if you decide on that option, please sign up through our Wazala page to become a customer under our affiliation.
Here are some things you will need to have first before setting up a online store:
How long does it take and how much do you charge to set them up?
With Wazala store, about 2-5 days depending on how many products you have $65 an hour, typically Wazala stores take about 5- 10 hours to set up ($325 to $650)
Shoppe Pro Stores
With Shoppe Pro store, about 2 weeks - the longest part is the design process, Silver Buckle Services will custom code your store design and make it have it's own background, left nav bar color and graphics and header graphics. We also will set up each web page for you and set up a general template theme for your entire store and website. Typically these projects run from $1200 to $2500 depending on the number of products and categories you have.
Why the difference in price?
Wazala's design is already preset, there is no designing work needed, the store is already set, we just set it up and enter in the products and categories and insert it into your existing website pages. With Shoppe Pro, we have to custom design and code a template for your site and incorporate that on each page and set up the categories and information for your site design on a per site basis. Typically there is more involved with a Shoppe Pro site.
Contact us to get started on your e-commerce project.
Time and time again, we are being asked by clients for websites that they can update themselves. Silver Buckle Services has been building websites for over 10 years and for 8 of those years, we have been building them by hand and completely manually. If clients wanted slide shows, drop down menus or photo galleries, we had to custom code them by hand. This is not only time consuming on our side but expensive on the client's pocket book. It used to be that if a client wanted to update the website themselves, they would have to buy expensive software and have to learn how to make updates and ftp files back and forth to the webserver. If a client wanted to do it themselves, it required quite a learning curve.
Thankfully, times have changed. In the last two years, we have been working with several web based content management system tools out on the market that allow users to maintain their own websites right from the web with no software on their computer. We have set up tools like Wordpress and Joomla for our clients that wanted to update their own sites. While these tools are powerful and flexible with free available plugins, they are not the easiest to work with. Many clients have become frustrated with the quirky behavior that these programs can exhibit.
Bailey's 8 Page website
On a mission to find a better solution!
We have been on a mission to find a better solution for our clients, lucky for you, we found it! We now have a easy to use web based system to offer clients and both Kasha and Melissa can set them up for you. Clients can not only add pages themselves, they can add their own drop down menus, and control the order of the menu items & menu titles. Adding photos, photo galleries (with click to enlarge features) and slide shows is a matter of dragging and dropping an element into the page and presto they appear! Clients can add paragraphs with photos and control the angle, border and size of the photo that appears. Some templates allow for custom headers graphics on each page and the client can add any photo they want to in the header and can write text on top of the photo. Videos and downloadable files also can be added easily. There are also elements for adding Google Maps, audio files and simple shopping buy now buttons.
My 12 year old daughter, Bailey wanted to learn what I do for work, she was very interested in building a website for her animal collection, did I mention we have a small farm in her room? I signed her up for a account with the new website system we offer and she was able to create a 8 page (Bailey's Farm) website to display her photos of her fishes, chickens, hermit crabs, horses, dogs and lizards with custom headers, slide show and photo gallery all by herself, without me teaching her anything. Trust me, if my 12 year old can do the updates, you can, is just that easy! If you aren't comfortable with doing your own updates, we can always do them for you. The beauty of this system is it is web based so we can log into it anytime and help you.
Silver Buckle Services is offering special website setup packages for the new system. We design the website to match your marketing materials and come up with a custom look and feel for you and enter in all your content and set up the pages. Then we let you do the updates from there. Contact us to get started!
Author: Melissa Berschens
Submitted by: Kasha Ford
Have you seen those funny square bar code boxes that seem to be showing up everywhere from CNN to fashion magazines, to a smattering finding their way into the horse world? They're called "QR Codes." QR Codes have been popular for many years in Japan and then made their way throughout Europe before landing here. Though they have been around for some time, they've only increased in popularity in the United States in the last couple of years.
QR Codes are fascinating! Codes are electronically generated via special software and can be printed in or on virtually anything flat(ish). QR codes are scanned by a special "app" that is typically downloaded free on most systems. These universal app's work over a number of tablet and smartphone platforms, and as would be expected, work particularly well on iPhone, Android and Blackberry phones. QR codes take the "scannee" to a specific message (e.g. Chaps on Sale at ChapsR'Us) on a voyage through cyber space straight to a particular website, to a Facebook/Twitter or other social media page, or (drum roll please) to Youtube video's or video's imbedded in websites.
Yeah, that's cool... so how does that help us horse people? It helps us immensely! Unfortunately we now live in an instant gratification society, QR Codes work right into that-marketing wise. These little codes can be placed on your next Stallion ad. Said ad can be put up at your next show or published in a mazine (either print or digital). Mare breeder comes by, see's your stallion ad/flyer, notices the code, scans it and is taken to voila: an amazing video of your horse. This is also a great tool on horse-for-sale-flyers. Take a potential buyer directly to your sale horse's video placed either on a website or, on Youtube itself. No more emailing back and forth or hunting for a link. As a trainer or clinician you can drive potential clients to a cool video of your last win, or your last clinic or fun event. For products and businesses it's a useful method to include coded messages about sales and make an ad more fun and interactive. And best yet, they can take a "scannee" directly to a "Buy Now" or Paypal button on your website. Talk about shortening the sales cycle!
Yeah, but are they reliable? These codes work surprisingly well. I have a Blackberry Torch and as a test all summer long I've been scanning every code I find on various platforms to see if they'll work for our market. So far, I'm glad to report I've had excellent results. I have scanned codes off my computer monitor, off my TV (it was dusty, too), off a t'shirt, glossy print brochures, newsprint ads, and last night off the back of a ketchup bottle during dinner. Bottom line, they work pretty darn good. I'm a believer.
If you're ready to start promoting that Stallion for next season, have a horse for sale, or want to offer an interactive experience in an upcoming ad or promotional campaign, consider adding QR Codes. Let us know if we can help you get started on a marketing project!
Many of our clients have requested do it yourself websites, where they can update their own photos and content. We collected a list of top 5 mistakes people make when updating their own websites and offer some tips to keep your site fresh and current, yet not spinning out of control.
1. Over use of font options. People go crazy with the new found formatting toolbars we have given them to update their sites making their text in a rainbow of colors ending up lookinglike last year's Christmas tree. Too many sizes of fonts, bolding, itallics and different styles of fonts make a site look busy and unorganized. Don't worry too much about your font being too small on the other person's end, you can't control the font size that a person chooses to keep their browser set to and their settings will override yours. Keep it simple, just use one font and one or two sizes and not more than two font colors. If you use too many, your site will quickly go from looking like a professional site, to looking like a amateur site. Can you see how this paragraph isn't as easy to read as the others?
2. Photos in various sizes and borders and styles. The new website tool we offer our clients has a variety of photo editing tools, you can crop a photo, add a border, choose a tilt option, even add a fade over a picture or give it a cute Polaroid look. Using too many of these styles on one website is a tell tale sign of a "do it yourselfer". Pick one style, one tilt, one border choice and stick with that for every photo you add. Don't go overboard, it just looks tacky. You can see below, I used three different photo effects, each by the themselves are cool, but together........ well, you get the picture!
3. Not enough text. Text is the most important thing on your website, it is what sets your site apart from the rest and it also is what search engines use to find and index your site and rank your site above or below others. We see people just putting up one paragraph on a page and it just isn't enough information to make it useful. We always suggest that you put yourself in your customer's shoes and think, what would they want to know about my business and how do I need to explain that to them. We also see clients who have websites that the text never changes on. This becomes the kiss of death for your clients and the search engine placement. Stale text is a no no! Use the blogging tool to keep your content fresh, it is so easy!
4. Photos too big. Sometimes when you take a photo off your camera, the files are HUGE. If you load those photos right up from your camera, to your computer, to your website with out resizing them, they will be very large files, taking both a long time to upload into the system, but also a long time for a user to download them and view on the other end when they view your website. We use Adobe Photoshop products to optimize images to smaller sizes suitable for the web before we load them onto our client's sites. We suggest if you are going to do it yourself, you get some kind of photo editor, like Adobe Photoshop Elements which isn't too expensive and use that to optimize your images before you load them into your websites. Having too big image files will be painful for both you and your website viewers.
5. Headers, headers headers. Header graphics can be really pretty if done correctly. The website tool we offer allows clients to update their own header files. Use this tool wisely, do not over do it and keep your style the same on every single page. If you use a header graphic with a type tool overlay, make sure the font you choose is the same on every header, make sure the border color and effect is the same on every one and you will have a fabulous looking site that you can change yourself.
After the dust settles on your new site, we are always there to help you just let us know if you need a any hand holding or help with updates. We are proud of our "do it yourselfers" and excited to share our new website solutions with all our clients. Give us a jingle if you want us to revamp your site so you can too be a "do it yourselfer".
If we look back at brands in their most basic terms as horse-enthusiasts, brands were used to identify groups of livestock from one another when pastured or moved collectively. Each ranch had it's own brand and each critter was stamped with it. As we all know, livestock branding continues to this day and in some cases, particular brands give added value to those animals bearing that ranches mark. Think of the horses that bear the King Ranch's brand. Those animals have a perceived added value, do they not? Product or business branding really isn't that different- it's putting your own unique stamp on the items or services you sell to identify them from the competition. Eventually, as your brand becomes better known, it will carry along with it certain identifyers, for example, you're reputation for customer service, product or service quality, pricing or even if you're environmentally friendly along with other factors that pertain to you or your business.
The American Marketing Association (AMA) defines branding as follows: "A brand is a customer experience represented by a collection of images and ideas; often, it refers to a symbol such as a name, logo, slogan, and design scheme." It's important that when you promote or advertise your business you not only develop a consistent look and feel by your choice of colors, fonts and images but also that you use those elements consistently. It's okay for your look to subtly evolve over time, but don't change the look completely too often. Their's definite equity in consistency. Humans are creatures of habit and don't take to change that readily-think of the Classic Coke fiasco of a few years back. The formula changed, then the packaging changed to accomodate the PR fallout from the perceived taste difference. All the same, Coke consumers were not pleased and I suspect product sales were effected.
The AMA goes on to state: "Brand recognition and other reactions are created by the accumulation of experiences with the specific product or service, both directly relating to its use, and through the influence of advertising, design, and media commentary A brand often includes an explicit logo, fonts, color schemes, symbols, sound which may be developed to represent implicit values, ideas, and even personality.*"
It takes time and effort for a brand to develop and then ultimately readily recognized. It is not an overnight process. Budget for it and be prepared to stay in for the long haul. We say over and over visibility and consistency breeds credibilty--or in other words, you say something to the same crowd (YOUR demographic) often enough, eventually people will believe and respond to it.
There is definite value when a customer recognizes your look, maintain that look consistently throughout your marketing efforts. Let Melissa or I know if there is anything we can do to help with your business branding efforts either in print, online or via social media, only don't ask us to physically brand livestock....that's were we draw the line!
*Source: AMA, SEMPO and Wikipedia
Silver Buckle Services - Horse Marketing Blog
We use this blog as an example of the type of blog we can set up for your site. Contact us for more details. It is easy to edit your self.