When I made the move from the heavy wifi and wired areas of Silicon Valley to Austin, Texas, one of the main requirements we handed our Realtor was to find us a Horse Property or Horse-friendly property that offered cable-DSL service. This proved to not be that trivial of a request... ag friendly properties are not, necessarily, truly "wired". We did finally find a property in a horse-friendly subdivision, but we had to do all the equestrian improvements (partially because I'm particular as to how my horses, and animals in general, are housed) - it was not as easy as I had thought it would be, and some digital compromises had to be made - even in a Tech-friendly place like Austin. In the end, I got lucky because Time Warner had JUST put in a line to the neighborhood.
So, when I heard recently that Newsweek magazine was going completely digital and would not be doing traditional printing I thought "wow, that's a major cost-saving measure" and didn't think too much more about it at the time. As a family, though we're not readers or subscribers of Newsweek, we do a great deal of reading, shopping and interacting on-line. In our family of 4, we have 4 laptops, I have my main work desktop, 2 "old-school" Kindles, 1 Kindle Fire, 1 Galaxy Tablet, 2 Smartphones (1 Android & 1 Blackberry) and 2 Ipod Touches - that's alot of technology! But, that being said, it's only as good as the service it receives. If we're in a storm (even a light one!) or its windy and internet goes down, we're sunk - all that technology is worthless. If we're not in town where there's a wifi hotspot or 3G/4G cellular coverage it's just one more thing making my purse heavier than it needs to be.
Why is this relevant? If you think about it, horse-owners really fall into two categories: (A) those that board their horses and live in town or (B) those that keep their horses at home. Since the average metropolitan area doesn't allow livestock in city limits, boarding stables and horse-properties are out of city limits. Typically, those areas are notorious for poor internet and cellular coverage. In my own neighborhood-which literally starts where the City Limits sign is, depending on whose plan your on, you may or may not receive a cellular signal. Furthermore, only because I have made a complete pest of myself with our local internet provider, demand their "turbo service", and because of the nature of our business, invest in the best technology, do I have the semi-robust internet connection I have. Consider again the average horse-owner...unless they also happen to be major technology buffs, with many you're lucky if they even do the required updates their computers and smartphones require (my husband is one of these non-update types), they're not likely to have a "great connection" all the time. Many are on strictly cellular (SLOW!!!) or dial-up (SLOWER!!!). And, how long do you think a laptop or tablet will last in a barn environment? Have you ever dropped your cell phone in the water trough, or dropped it in the sand while schooling your horse only to have it stepped on? I have.... it's an inconvenient and expensive accident. Computers and horses are just not a good day-to-day mix. So, how is this relevant to my Newsweek example? In addition to Newsweek going completely digital, there are numerous other Equestrian Publications that are either Digital only or have merged from Digital/Traditional to Digital only. I recognize that this is simply a cost-saving measure, however it's a short term and unwise solution for horse-people. Where, for Newsweek, most of their demographic exists in a mostly "wired" environment but for Equestrian Publications, many of their readers are not.
Though I think having an online presence on both digital publications and websites is critical, it's equally important to maintain an active presence in traditional media, as well. When at major equestrian events like World Shows in Fort Worth, TX or at Equesrian Expos like Pomona or Sacramento, CA - typically the attendees are on bleachers and in stands reading not from their Kindle's, Nooks, Ipads or Smartphones, but from ACTUAL newspapers and magazines. Even in those metropolitan areas - wifi connections in facilities such as those are sketchy. I was "camping" in the horse trailer with my younger daughter who is the owner of the Kindle Fire. We were at a local equesttrian trail riding spot and she was frustrated because she couldn't "log on" and download something.... most parks and trail heads don't offer wifi and cellular is not very good there either! Even for horse-owners who embrace technology and are in fast-paced jobs - they just plain get tire of being "wired". Of these types, many have horses to "un-wind" and get back to nature with. The last thing they're going to want to do while relaxing in a campsite or cabin after a trail ride is go pull an Ipad out of the trailer - which will likely have a ton of emails from work - but they're likely to go pull out a magazine that covers their favorite subject: horses.
Moreover, local feed and tack stores as well as many stables continue to carry the regional magazines and like them - why? Because their practical. Their customers continue to utilize traditional media for news and information. How frequently do you sit down on a tack trunk or in a dusty tackroom and pulled out your expensive Ipad or Laptop? It's the same reason I don't wear a white silk blouse to go throw the horses a scoop of grain - in 10 seconds flat someone "boogers" on me! I recently heard of 2 regional equestrian magazine that went completely digital: one in New Mexico and one in Louisiana - both are sorely missed by their traditional reading public-and some of their advertisers have pulled out. I realize for the magazines it was a cost-saving or profit motivated tactic. But, in my opinion, it's foolheardy because they aren't really looking at the lifestyles of their customers (or their advertiser's customers). Our most successful clients allocate their marketing resources accross all channels: traditional print, some (though limited) targeted direct mail, on-line (their own websites and advertising on others), digital publications (or traditional that also offer digital), email and social media.
Though digital marketing offers alot of bells and whistles and is a vital part of your complete marketing mix, your traditional print advertising continues to have an important place and inpact in the Equestrian Market, as well. Managing your marketing, it's a balancing act for sure.
Let us know if we can help you more directly reach your customers!