You only get what you measure

Measure

How often have you had the question: how’s the business doing? Your answer, of course, will be: “doing great, thanks”… but how do you know what ‘great’ is? Do you measure your performance backed by solid data or gut feeling?

When I was still working in a large multinational corporate environment, one of my senior managers would go on and on about how “you only get what you measure”, and although we didn’t always want to hear it, we knew he was right. Now I also see that this does not only ring true for large-scale corporations reporting back to their investors, but also for small businesses.

Here are some business situations in which gathering solid business data and measuring success accordingly could be of real importance to your (small) business:

Getting that start-up cash investment

What’s your launch plan vs buying plan: buying in bulk or staggered? How much is your warehousing facility going to cost? What’s your revenue projection: when are you planning to break even / turn a profit? What % are you willing to part with for the support of potential investors? What will you projected marketing investment be as a % of turnover? Yeah, I know, all very “dragons den” but nonetheless extremely important data in order to secure that much-needed injection of start-up cash.

Best sellers vs Non movers

Which items are your top sellers vs non movers and what are you going to do about it? Shuffle your online shop around to increase visibility? Run a promotion on the items that are selling the least or if they are really just gathering dust in the warehouse and cramping your online style then simply scrap from sales and start afresh with the new collection? You will only know this if you keep a close eye on your sales data and do a regular 80/20 assessment of your stock

Sales are down 40% vs YA…. ehhh why?

Well done!!! In order to know sales are down 40%, you’ll already be tracking your sales data in the first place… but now the big question is WHY? Do you have your marketing activities and investment tracked vs Year Ago (YA) as well as your sales? Do you know the size, value, and volume of your current offering vs YA? Ahhh maybe it was the huge 20% OFF on all items promotion or that shared stand at Badminton Horse Trials that boosted the sales last year? Make sure you plan for either the same level or increased visibility, promotional activity and offering to ensure a smooth growth of your business.

Choosing the right promotional support

This one offers 2 sides to the data measuring story. First, in order to know which type of support, visibility, and promotion works best for your business, you’ll have to measure the previous activity’s performance in the first place. This way you will know if that social media influencer or the facebook add brought you a better return on investment. Second, in order to make any kind of activity succesful, you’ll need to know who you want to reach and where: the better you know your potential target group, the better you can select who sees and interacts with your promotion, the better your return on investment will be.

There are many more examples of how measuring and using data can help your business run at its full potential. Here at The Stylish Equestrian Consulting we have a genuine love for a good excel sheet session and a bit of number crunching, so if this thought is a bit daunting to you or you have no idea where to find this kind of data and you’d like to focus on the creative part of designing your new collection, then feel free to get in touch for business coaching and support.

 

GET IN TOUCH!!

 

Spring cleaning for Equestrian business owners

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Springtime is always a good time to do a thorough sort and clean. Not only for your tack room at the barn or your wardrobe but also for your business.

Often us entrepreneurs find ourselves bogged down by all the little things that need to get done to keep the business up and running, so every once in a while it’s really good to do some spring cleaning of your everyday activities.

Take a little time to sort through all the elements and activities required to your business and make an assessment if they fit in either one of below categories:

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URGENT – IMPORTANT

Do it now type of activities, like answering suppliers/clients or sending over approval of your final designs to get them done in time for production.

NOT URGENT – IMPORTANT

Things you can plan for and still have ample time to work on i.e. your annual marketing plan, an upcoming event/tradefair, photoshoot planning or updating your e-commerce platform.

URGENT – NOT IMPORTANT

Things that have really got to be done, but that are maybe not necessarily leveraging your key strengths as an entrepreneur: can someone do your weekly bill paying for you? Maybe someone would love to help you pack your orders? Can you get some help sorting out your warehouse in a more logical way?

NOT URGENT – NOT IMPORTANT

The ultimate spring cleaning category: do you really have to spend an hour google searching a new font for an Instagram post? Is that part of your website adding any value or just bogging it down? Have a good think, and if it’s neither urgent nor important then simply don’t do it!

In an ideal world most of our working time would be spent in the NOT URGENT – IMPORTANT category, but most of the time we find ourselves in neverending URGENT – IMPORTANT mode. A little spring cleaning can help you declutter your activities, focus on what really drives your business and have more time to work on the fun stuff.

Need help with your spring cleaning?

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On barn time

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Us equestrians are very familiar with the concept of ‘barn time‘: that unique phenomenon in which time seems to magically disappear when at the barn. We have all heard ourselves say: I’ll be home at 9 and find yourself still rolling up polo wraps at 10 o’clock, knowing very well that your start-up admin for the day is waiting for you or you are now running frightfully late for that important business appointment (breeches to the office anyone?).

Now, why do we always run into this magical web of ‘barn time‘? Is it procrastination (putting off the things we know need to be done… but don’t necessarily like to do) or is it simply because when we enjoy what we do we seem to lose track of time while doing so.

Still, we then all know that sinking feeling when arriving back at home or the office and realizing there’s not enough time left to get done what needs to be done that day.

Here are a few tips and tricks to manage that inevitable ‘barn time‘ effect a little bit better and still get things done:

BE REALISTIC

How long does it really take to prep a horse, ride and take care of all the other daily barn things, while still feeling like you’re not rushing around and you can focus on your training plan for the day? Time yourself for a week and lock down the average time you will need in your agenda as a fixed appointment with yourself (including travel time!). This way you can’t double book yourself, will have plenty of time to take care of your four-legged friend and still be back in time to join that important conference call.

PLAN BACKWARDS

How long does it really take to write that business plan, get the design in for a new collection or train for that upcoming competition? Once you know your deadline, start planning backward with all the steps that need to be taken to achieve the set goal: realize you need more time? Either postpone the deadline or prioritize the really important milestones that need to be done and delay other projects. Especially if you are an equestrian and are juggling work family and friends, you are at some point going to have to make some difficult choices on what you can really squeeze into your 24h day.

GET THE NASTY DONE FIRST

Set ‘barn time’ as reward time: get the things done that might otherwise get pushed to tomorrow and then enjoy your time at the barn (however long it might take…)

 

Need some help to prioritize what’s really important for your equestrian (start-up) business?

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A little help from your friends

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One of the most challenging things about being an equestrian entrepreneur is that often you’re embarking on this exciting business journey alone. Which of course has many advantages when it comes to quick decision making, flexibility in working time and location and a sense of ownership among many others.

Sometimes though, you might need a little help from your friends. If you feel like you do, the don’t be afraid to ask! More likely than not, your friends will be very happy to give you some feedback, like to feel part of your entrepreneurial adventure and come up with some expertise and input that even you the google expert might not have been able to come up with.

What kind of help can you easily ask your friends? A few examples:

  • Growing your social media presence: don’t be ashamed to ask everyone in your network on both Facebook, Instagram, LinkedIn and wherever else you are showcasing your business to like, follow, comment and share. There is no obligation for them to do so, so if they don’t want to, they won’t, but there is no harm in asking… It’s a great way to get that slow-moving social media snowball rolling!
  • Financial / legal expertise: zero budget and want to do things right? There might be someone in your network that can help you with the basics or refer you to the right person fitting your needs and budget.
  • Testimonials and references: chances are, you will have worked with some of your friends in the past. Ask them for a referral relevant to your current business, or for them to test your products and provide feedback, which you can then showcase on your website or social media profile (#credibility)
  • Business opportunities: if you are starting any kind of equestrian business, it’s highly likely a lot of your friends are either interested in or already have a network in the business. Ask around: anyone looking to list new technical breeches? Anyone who would like to host an equestrian wellness clinic etc etc anything that will get you started will fuel your business and create momentum.
  • Monday motivation: ohhh it’s so hard to stick to your guns, keep going and plow through those inevitable entrepreneurial dips. Have a friend on speed dial whom you know will help you get your priorities straight, remind you that you’re doing the right thing and provide that much-needed #mondaymotivation.

 

Of course, for all other business and brand building topics, an extensive equestrian network and years of sales and marketing experience, you can always give The stylish equestrian consulting a call.

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Work, ride, sleep, repeat…

IMG_7412Starting an equestrian business on the side of a full-time job: is it really possible?

If you’ve read my previous post how best to focus on what’s important for your business, then adding a start-up business to an already full-time job while juggling horses, family and friends is not ideal, to say the least. But it can be done!

Many young entrepreneurs I speak to, are in fact, forced to “do it all” in order to self-fund their business as well as paying the rent and treating themselves to at least one cup of expensive coffee a week.

So, if you’re thinking of starting a business, and want to keep your day-job and a little time for your love of horses too, then here are my top tips:

Throw your business plan out of the window, or better yet, don’t write one

Unfortunately, business plans are an interesting theoretical exercise, but hardly ever reflect the reality of actually starting a business: change one metric (i.e. price or product) and you’ll need to start the whole thing again from scratch. This doesn’t mean that you shouldn’t do some thorough research into the market that you are planning to enter, the consumer you are trying to reach and the (price) positioning of what you are going to offer, but this can be done in a much more practical, hands-on, faster way than going through the traditional time consuming ‘business plan’ motions. I call it ‘getting the brand fundamentals right’ and would be happy to help you with a simple template and a few coaching sessions to make sure you lay the base for future success.

 Is your Employer ok with it?

Are you starting a business that might cause a conflict of interest with your current employer? Best to browse through your contract again and have that conversation with your employer. Who knows, they might be incredibly supportive and allow you some flexibility to follow your dreams while still being able to perform at your day-job.

Partner up

A shared load is half the load, right? Why not look for a trusted business partner, who might be at liberty to spend a little bit more time on the day-to-day running of the business. Or, talk to a business coach on a regular basis. Someone that can help you structure your plans, prioritize what you should and should not be spending your time on, answer those burning business questions or simply help you connect to a broader network of people that can positively influence your fledgling business.

Have a little help from your friends

Although you should certainly trust your gut when it comes to decision making regarding your own business, it can’t hurt to get a second opinion or two. What most entrepreneurs say they miss the most about working alone, is being able to bounce an idea off of your colleagues and get some instant feedback. Use your family, friends, business coach or anyone else in your close network for this: you might be surprised how engaged they will be in your new business and the wide variety of types of ‘help’ that might be on offer within your network.

Passion is key

If you’re going to do it, then DO IT with all your heart. It’s going to be hard work and you’re going to have to love it, otherwise, there is a chance it might not work. If you do what you love, you’ll love what you do and probably be very good at it too!

Drop a bit o’ cash

Yep, you’re going to have to invest to get something in return… unfortunately that is just the way the business cookie crumbles. But, invest wisely! Your business coach can help you in the decision-making process on what you should or should not be spending your hard earned money on, or you can have a look at below list of basics that are worth the investment:

Do

  • Invest in a strong, easy to use URL and website
  • Invest in people, whether it’s a partner, an employee or a business coach
  • Invest time and money into a social media marketing strategy that brings your target consumer to your shop/brand and is measurable (i.e. help you learn what works and what doesn’t and adapt as you go along)
  • Invest in some legal advice, especially with regards to trademarking, brand establishment, product quality, safety, and shipping regulations

Don’t (or try to limit as much as possible)

  • Invest in costly overhead like rent or a fancy office (work from home, or Starbucks?)
  • Market research studies/reports – spend some quality time becoming google’s best friend instead
  • Service providers like accountants (easy to do yourself, plus loads of e-comm sites will have built-in reporting)

Become the master of Multi-tasking

I’m one of those people that can’t simply just watch TV, I’ll always be doing something else on the side. If this is you too, then use that time! Work on your next design while watching Netflix, do your finances on the train on the way to work, do your market research at your own barn or read up on the latest trends while your kid is having their Saturday morning karate lessons.

Act as if you’ve already made your first million

Yeah, you’ve heard it all before: the whole fake it until you make it principle. Well, I’m not saying you should fake it completely, but a little bit of confidence and envisioning of success goes a very long way. Never profile yourself as ‘just a start-up’ or ‘it’s just what I do on the side’, always already introduce yourself as an established flourishing business and let that passion for what you do shine through.

 

Get in touch to see what role we could play as your partner/business coach to help you kick off your business successfully.

 

Focus

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If you’ve been part of one of my coaching series, or free call sessions, then you must have heard me going on about the importance of focus at least more than once. It is so tempting for entrepreneurs, especially if you are working alone, to get caught up in the never-ending ‘to do’ list, trying to do everything at the same time and end up getting… well… not getting a whole lot done.

Here are some TOP TIPS to help you focus on what’s really important for your business:

If it doesn’t fit… don’t do it!

Of course, we all need to pay the bills, fix the bug in the website, call the plumber to get that leak fixed, scroll through the latest Instagram posts or work on the technical drawings of the latest design about to launch, but does it all have to be done right now at the same time? And, is what you’re doing really contributing to your long-term vision, or is it just fun / a distraction? Focus on what’s really going to drive your business, prioritize a few essential to do’s and go for it 100%.

When in doubt, ask yourself the question: what would my boss tell me to do right now?

“nerd hour” vs “play hour”

OK, so 100% focus and doing everything in line with your business vision sounds great, but we can’t be all-in all the time. Carve out two separate time slots in your busy agenda: one for “nerd hour”: the time in which your only priority is to get those bills paid, update the database, work on your long term marketing plan or sort out your office. Then, plan another one for “play hour”: the time in which you let your brain rest a bit, get creative, have a coffee in a new place, be inspired, go to a museum, anything that gets you to think about your business from a different perspective, and helps you relax and re-charge for another busy day of being a best-in-class entrepreneur.

Get it done, then time for fun

Getting ahead in business and staying motivated to reach your seemingly impossible goals can be really hard, you might find yourself losing focus of the really important things that will really drive your business…. especially if you are in the start-up phase. One thing that I’ve learned myself is that if I get the hard, annoying, difficult stuff out of the way first and then allow myself to work on the things I really love, I get a lot more done in the day and it feels like a little reward every time I do so. And, make sure you celebrate your little victories (website live, first product shipped, first 100 followers on Instagram…..) with your friends, loved ones and/or business coach.

Need help structuring your time, finding what’s the most important thing to focus on for your business or just start-up support in general?

GET IN TOUCH 

for a free of charge 30 MIN start-up call

Four seasons in one day

Kudamono

You’d think I was referring to the current European weather conditions, but no, actually, I’m referring to one of the branding workshops I recently ran with German Equestrian premium casual fashion brand Kudamono.

Kudamono, founded in 2016 by experienced fashion designer and avid equestrian Nele Obst, offers a unique point of view to the equestrian world by providing immaculate styles, casual street to stable looks and technically top-notch garments hero-ing all-time favorite: denim.

Although they already have an established brand with a very distinct voice, story and point of view, they got in touch with ‘The stylish equestrian consulting’ to help take their business to the next level.

After a few initial phone calls determining the exact challenges Kudamono was currently facing and goals they wanted to reach, we decided that a full day workshop would be the best option for them.

In this 1 DAY workshop we covered four seasons in one day:

1. Branding health check and (re) positioning

2. Marketing communication strategy and planning

3. Social media marketing strategy

4. Retail / B2B marketing strategy

A super intensive, but fun and productive day I would say!

 

Need help kick-starting, re-positioning or branding your business?

Interested in a brand health check or intensive workshop?

Get in touch with The stylish equestrian today for a free 30min call

 

Brand coaching + visibility​: a winning​ team

EQ Athletica Product review 3I’ve had the pleasure over the past few months to work with a young entrepreneur to start up a new line of technical riding breeches: EQ Athletica. Manon Schuten, the founder, is the visionary behind the brand, the designer and the one with the drive to launch an innovative new product into a difficult and saturated market.

I’m incredibly proud to say that this week the brand has gone live and is ready to sell via their online shop thanks to an intensive coaching process including the definition of the brand story, the USP, defining the communication strategy and determining a long-term growth strategy.

One of the benefits of working with The stylish equestrian consulting as your brand growth partner is that we can offer not only tailor-made start-up coaching or brand re-positioning, but also immediately offer a platform for visibility to a targeted equestrian audience by leveraging The stylish equestrian social media (Instagram, Facebook and blog): Brand coaching + visibility: a winning team

Go have a look at the latest product review for EQ Athletica’s first line of technical breeches and get in touch if this could be an option to help boost your brands’ awareness and visibility.

The stylish equestrian consulting collaboration with Equitrends Magazine

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Equitrends is THE magazine for retailers, producers, and service providers in equestrian sports. With a focus on the German, Austrian and Swiss market, but with a reach going far beyond the Germanic countries in Europe, Equitrends is the ultimate business to business equestrian platform.

They not only provide a monthly magazine, but are also actively present at the bi-annual SPOGA horse trade fair in Köln with their SPOGA awards program recognising excellence in a variety of categories, but also have a strong collaboration with E-Horses working on providing social media and marketing support.

Screen Shot 2017-06-30 at 08.43.35The stylish equestrian consulting teamed up with Equitrends initially on a style post for their April 2017 issue (read the April article here: equitrends_0417_Archiv country style), which is all about contemporary country style. They have since extended the collaboration to a regular column about winning with social media in the equestrian world. (read the May article here: equitrends_0517_Archiv social media schule )

 

The June issue will be out any day now, you can go to their website and order your trial edition for free right here.

Special thanks goes out to journalist and contributor for Equitrends magazine Jeannette Aretz.

The stylish equestrian shooting with Kathleen Keller

IMG_9430The stylish equestrian had the opportunity to collaborate on an exceptional project together with Kathleen Keller.

Kathleen, a pro dressage rider with an eye for style, had the ambition to share her love for fashion with her followers on her social media platforms in a more elaborate and professional way. This is where The Stylish Equestrian came into the picture, quite literally into the picture as I acted not only as stylist, artistic director, but also photographer.

DSC_1009Kathleen and I worked together closely on finding her the best styles, brands and looks for her blog posts and she invited some of the people she has been collaborating with in the past to join in on the shoot as well. Working closely together with Maaike from No Concept, Tanja from Tau Stiland Ina from Bella Mo was an absolute pleasure.

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We kicked off the 2 days with some rigid planning of sets, horses and locations, then we went full steam into shooting and ended up with over 1500 quality pictures from over 20 outfits / situations.

 

The project resulted in 2 amazingly fun and productive days providing not only the desired content for Kathleen’s blog posts, but also an abundance of content for the brands involved.
Screen Shot 2017-05-30 at 17.51.54A special thank you to the participating brands: Kathleen Keller’s main sponsors Euro Star and Roeckl, but also KEP Italia, Asmar Equestrian, Aztec diamond Equestrian, Ariat, Uhip, Petrie and Donani.

Make sure to keep a close eye on Kathleen’s blog, Instagramand Facebook feeds to see all of her style and equestrian lifestyle posts.

Would you also like to book a styling session, photoshoot or does your small business need commercial business support, please get in touch contact@thesylishequestrian.com.

Have a stylish ride!

Influencer Marketing: The importance of finding the right story teller

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Influencer marketing is THE most time and cost efficient way to get your brand seen and known fast with a large target audience. Combine this with the ever growing need for brands to tell a story and be able create a personal, emotional connection with the target audience… and you have a bit of a marketing paradox.

There is quite a big risk that your brand story might get lost in the viral storm created by the latest Instagram star, but it is the best way to get to the brand out there, right? So now what?

Here are a few tips and tricks to make sure your brand story isn’t lost the viral storm:

1.         Choosing a person by follower/social reach alone is not always the best decision making criteria (the follower numbers are not always true…), rather look for a few smaller accounts, with very high engagement that really fit with your brand identity.

2.         The influencer of choice should be able to co-creatively design original content with the brand, not just use a product for a selfie. This will ensure more personal involvement, engagement and endorsement of the brand and it’s story.

3.         Do a quick intent check: Does the influencer of choice want to truly represent the brand or is it just an opportunity to boost their personal image/numbers/fame?

4.         When choosing your influencer strategy, always ask yourself  “What personal value does my target customer get from the created content other than a pretty image to look at?” i.e.  Is the content a one-off cute pic or can it be used for a future local campaigns or online activity?

6.         When choosing your favourite influencer, did you provide them with a briefing? Is your brand story clear enough for them to ensure they are telling the same story?

Need help getting your brand story across? Need help identifying the right partners for your brand?

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Post content inspired by Linkedin articles from Cornelius McGrath: 2017 The year to tell your story and Valerie Ox: This is why most influencer marketing campaigns fail – and how a bad strategy destroys authentic storytelling

 

Boosting your brand visibility with targeted social media collaborations

4 seasons in one day

You want a very select group of consumers to get to know your brand, but you’re not sure how to go about it?

Why not work with a select group of social media influencers who can not only showcase your brand to an extremely targeted audience, but also endorse your products with genuine support and product reviews for increased credibility.

A good example is thestylishequestrian.com: a platform that showcases the latest trends and provides daily inspiration for the ultimate street to stable lifestyle. Working with the stylish equestrian has brought small businesses new distribution opportunities and large brands the targeted visibility they require for growing their brand with the right audience.

The stylish equestrian provides tailored visibility packages that include visibility in the signature sets on multiple social media platforms, but also brand ambassador programs that include product reviews, Instagram endorsement to over 31K followers and the option to run give-away competitions.

Want to work with The stylish equestrian or need some advice on how best to increase your brand visibility?

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Customer in the spotlight: Malatopia

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Swiss made, authentic, bespoke, inspired by nature and available online: a unique point of view towards the Yoga lifestyle inspired jewellery called Mala’s.

Malatopia has a range of 108 bead malas and a small selection of bracelets designed and created in Zürich, Switzerland. Each mala is created with loving care using quality materials from around the Globe. Malas and bracelets can be made to order according to your choice of style, colour, materials and intention. Whether you’re a dedicated yogini, mindfully meditating or simply enjoy the beauty of the beads we have malas to suit every occasion on and off the yoga mat.

The founder, Rachel Sundström, has been a dedicated yogini for over seventeen years and draws her inspiration from yoga, meditation and the surrounding Swiss nature.  Rachel continues to share her love of yoga through teaching from her beautiful yoga studio situated up on a hill overlooking the Zurich lakeside, and when she is not on the yoga mat she is tapping into her creative spirit.

The Stylish Equestrian Consulting is helping Malatopia reach their full potential online and prepare for future growth with a business consultancy program tailor made to the business’ individual needs.

Want to make sure your (equestrian) small business reaches it’s full potential too?

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Digital detox

Screen Shot 2017-03-07 at 07.38.40.pngWhen vacationing in the Philippines, our phones decided to go for a surprise swim in the South China Sea. Imagine the shock and horror of someone who lives off of being a social media influencer and consultant: losing your phone is pretty much like having your right arm chopped off.

 

Well, actually, that’s how it felt the first 12 hours, but then, slowly, it gave me time to have a little think about how much posting is really needed and made me realise that checking the instagram likes and website stats every 20 minutes might not be necessary, especially not when vacationing on a magical Island like Palawan.

Of course I could have used all kinds of pre-scheduling apps like Hootesuite or solve Instagram posting problems with a solution from your pc to Instagram like Gramblr, but me being a bit of a spontaneous, spur of the moment, what’s good right now kind of poster, didn’t think I would need these during our holiday.

So, my forced small scale digital detox got me thinking: how much online activity is really needed and how much is too much? Ironically, I found myself discussing exactly this query earlier this week with a couple just starting their Stand Up Paddle Board business in Ibiza (check’m out here – a must do when on the island!). Well, it depends…. are you intending to become a social media influencer and want to get noticed by brands, then probably there really is no limit to how much you post, as long as you retain the quality over quantity rule. Are you a small business and want to attract customers, then relatively slow is probably the way to go, focusing more on generating website traffic and loyal followers, but even here, quality over quantity is the golden rule.

Island vacationing has given me ample examples of when the digital addiction might be taking the upper hand. A few 20 something girls for example, were with us on a magnificent tour of the Bacuit archipelago and spent most of their time checking their selfies and their likes in insta: seems like a bit of a pity to not enjoy the magical location and moment a bit more. Hey, I was also guilty of a selfie or two and posted a quick update to my Instagram stories (with a back-up phone), but that was it, for most of the time we just enjoyed the view.

Over dinner we encountered a few more 20 something ladies taking pictures of their food. Everyone does it, and if you’re writing a foodie or travel blog, then by all means go ahead. But, if like in this case, you’d like to gain some likes and followers on your social media profiles, maybe a pic of a plain pasta in the wonderful Pilipino Islands is not what’s going to boost it for you.

Quality over quantity, my golden rule. Maybe taking this forced mini digital detox has helped me realise this even more. Taking a few days off (you are on holiday after all) isn’t really a a bad thing. It gives you time to relax, reflect, regroup and come back more focussed and energised.

Would you like to know more about how to find your ideal quality over quantity ratio for your business or social media profile or how to schedule posts so you can enjoy a little digital detox yourself?

GET IN TOUCH

 

How to get more likes on Instagram – equestrian style…

Screen Shot 2017-02-16 at 17.12.26.pngData tells us that colorful pics, particularly those predominantly washed in blue, get the most likes on Instagram (blue, really?). But it takes more than a fast filter to attract, and engage, a dedicated following on instagram.

I’ve done some searching to find the magic formula… which unfortunately doesn’t exist. I did however come across some top tips from the fashion industry and have translated them into equestrian relevant instagramming tips and tricks.

 

1. Be you

If you want to build a real presence on Instagram, you must first and foremost “be you” or keep it real (read more on that here….), and although you should keep your followers engaged with a regular flow of relevant and curated content, there should not be an overdose of you. Most successful instagrammers and bloggers mix it up with a few personal posts and other original content. So maybe mix up the horse selfies or Eskadron sets with a spontaneous snap or an impression of your beautiful barn surroundings.

2. Find your groove

Finding your groove applies to how you pace your posting to the general ‘theme’ of your stream. Being consistent helps followers to get a sense of who you are and really get connected to your point of view. It took me over a year to find my groove, but paying close attention to what your followers want to see, is worth the time spent and the homework done. Find what they love and suits you best and stick with it. This takes time and there will always be a pic with a little less engagement, but keep going. Do you have great shots of you and your horse at competition, or are you best at artistic seat shots, and do your followers respond to these? Keep’m coming!

3. Connect

Want to gain engagement fast without compromising your account by using one of the many like-follow bots out there? Connect! Connect with accounts you love and the ones with followers that you think would be a great fit for your account. Find a creative way to collaborate (don’t just ask for a shoutout, there needs to be a benefit for both of you!) and be active on their accounts. On my own account (@the_stylish_equestrian currently at 28.4K followers) a major growth boost has come from my collaborations with larger accounts in the form of special edition blog posts. This not only got me noticed, but also landed me some great new Instagram friends.

Would you like an objective editing eye to have a look at your Instagram and help you find your groove?

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Sell me this pen

horse-penRemember the famous ‘sell me this pen’ scene from the Wolf of Wallstreet? No? Watch the clip here. It’s all about the seemingly simple equation of supply and (creating) demand.

Now, how is this in any way relevant to social media influencers in the equestrian industry?

I’ve received many emails from equestrian social media influencers looking for collaborations or sponsorship deals on my ‘the stylish equestrian‘ social media platforms. Unfortunately, what many ‘hopefulls’ do not tell me when seeking partnerships is why I really need to work with them (what’s in it for me… or why I really need the pen).

A good personal PR sell contains not just a ‘product description’ of the proverbial pen (it’s blue, it lasts long, it’s pretty…) but focusses mainly on providing a solution to a business need (you need to sign a piece of paper, you don’t have a pen, I have a pen for you, buy it…).

Translated into equestrian social media speak: what makes you an interesting partner for brands to work with, is of course your profile fit, style and personal brand, but is mainly when you can provide a solution to their business needs. For example, you believe that a US based brand that you love is should be interested in expanding their business and visibility in Germany and the majority of your followers are actually from Germany. Then ‘sell’ exactly that when you get in touch with the brand: alert them to their need, for which you have the solution!

Want to know more?

Need some help on tailoring your personal sell?

Still working on defining your personal brand and could use some input?

Finding it all a bit scary to contact brands directly and need some support?

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To #hashtag or not to #hashtag

hashtag-horseWelcome to the wonderful world of the #hashtag. What was once upon a time the key to press to indicate confirmation on a dial phone or representing a number in written text, is now THE symbol for social media communication.

#confused? No problem, here’s the lowdown on what it is, why and when you should use it, and … when to cool it on the #hashtag usage (i.e. when it becomes #awkward)

 

#WHAT

A hashtag is a type of label used on social media platforms which makes it easier for users to find messages with a specific theme or content. Users create and use hashtags by placing the “#” in front of a word or unspaced phrase, either in the main text of a message or at the end.

#WHY

Searching for that hashtag will yield each message that has been tagged with it. A practical example, on Instagram, the hashtag #horse allows users to find all the posts that have been tagged using that hashtag.

#WHEN to #hashtag and #WHEN NOT to #hashtag

You can use hashtags on a variety of social media like Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, Google+, Vine, Pinterest etc etc. Let’s focus on two examples:

Twitter: This is really where the whole hash tagging phenomenon got started, and Twiter offers a bit more versatility in hashtags than with other social media. Twitter hashtags are used to denote topics of conversation, which can then become ‘trending’. In the ‘trending’ sidebar you can find a list of popular hashtags you might be interested in. Recent ‘trending’ hashtag examples: #trump, #beyonce or more relevant for equestrian businesses #horsehour.

Instagram & Facebook: : Hashtags can be used to complement photos shared on Instagram (& Facebook) and help you discover new accounts and pick up followers. Some hashtags were created specifically for Instagram photo challenges like #tbt (throw back thursday – THE retro photo #).

Hashtags can help you gain awareness and followers if used correctly, within context and sparingly: #do #not #over #do #it #because #it #makes #you #look #a #bit #silly….

In order to be successful with (Instagram) hashtags, it’s important to be strategic about your hashtag usage. The “most popular” Instagram hashtags are just simple words, and while tagging #love #happy #fun may get you a few more likes, it’s not going to do much for your growth long term. Instead of using the most popular Instagram hashtags, it’s better to use the top Instagram hashtags that have an engaging community behind them and are specific to your audience i.e. #equestrian, #oldenburger #dressage.

In fact, the narrower the scope of the hashtag, the more engaged the users usually are. You can even go as far as creating your own # and continue using it a on all your communication.

screen-shot-2017-02-02-at-17-29-02The maximum hashtags you can use on an Instagram post is 30. But, 30 really is overdoing it a bit. Posting a wide variety of hashtags in your caption doesn’t look great, and could come across as a bit too promotional and slightly inauthentic. Instead, try choosing a few relevant hashtags that are most representative of your photo to use in your caption, and if you’d like to add more, then you could choose to add the rest in the first comment.

Here’s a list of a few popular Equestrian hashtags to get your started:

#equestrian #stallion #horsesofinstagram #andalusian #instahorse #horse #grateful #olympics #twohearts #horses #equine #horstagram #caballo #pferd #cheval #dressage #horseriding #pony #horselover #love #equinelove #horsetagram #horsebackriding #jumpinghorse #jumping #horselove #equestrians #equestrianlife

Still a bit lost? We can help you find the best ‘hash tagging strategy’ to build your business or grow your personal branding.

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Tips on how to become an (equestrian) social media influencer

equestrian-social-media-influencerSocial media influencer marketing has become one of the most effective channels to reach modern day consumers. This tricky ones, that are increasingly hard to catch through conventional channels. Ironically, one of the oldest tricks in the book has become the key player in modern day marketing: word of mouth…. social media word of mouth that is: customers often prefer to research a brand on their own and only rely on feedback or recommendations from someone they trust. The impact of social media influencers on marketing campaigns is ever increasing as they are seen as experts in their particular field (i.e. Equestrian) and effective partners for sharing a particular brands’ message.

So, if you’ve been dreaming of becoming one of those respected social media influencers, how do you get there? Here’s a few top tips to get your started …

1.Be active, be selective and focus 

If you’re starting out with any social media channel, it’s best to have some content already up and running before your start ‘pushing’ your presence (for example 6-9 posts on Instagram). Post regularly to keep your followers engaged and interested and be active on the peoples accounts to show your own interest and alert them to your online presence. Keep in mind as a golden rule: quality over quantity. Don’t post for the sake of posting, rather wait a bit and post quality content of which you are proud, fits with your personal branding and really represents what you stand for. Only then will you be an attractive partner to the brands that feel like you could be a great spokesperson for their brand. Focus on finding your voice, your niche and speciality and stick with.

2.Engage, interact and build meaningful relationships

Despite that fact that, or maybe because, social media is not live personal interaction, there is an increased need to create meaningful relationships. A great way to get loyal followers is to engage in conversations with other social media influencers, like peoples work, work on collaborations and follow others. Most importantly: be real and be you. Nothing beats authenticity and genuine interaction. Read more about this here.

3.Keep going!

What? Only 2 followers gained today? Don’t give up! Rome wasn’t built in a day and neither was Kylie Jenner’s social media empire. Give it some time to build up a credible quality presence across multiple channels.

Still a bit lost? Get in touch, we can help you with your social media presence and personal branding!

Commercial strategy… equestrian style

Ever wondered what makes up the different aspects of a commercial strategy?

Here’s an overview the helps demystify the magical world of marketing, PR, advertising and branding…. equestrian style….

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Get in touch if you need help on any of these aspects: The stylish equestrian consulting is here for all your equestrian (social media) marketing needs, can boost your PR with a network of equestrian social media influencer, sort out your advertising strategy for you or help you create a (personal brand).

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Size matters

size matters horse.jpg

Size definitively matters when getting the right social media influencer to represent your brand, but bigger is most definitively not always better.

The 300K+ Instagrammers and Youtubers of the social media world might seem like the perfect spokespeople for your product (shoutout marketing). You know that influencer marketing is the way forward, you did your homework, you found an account that has relevance to your brand, you agreed to a feature fee and boom, you’re in business.

But, what seemed like the perfect fit, all of a sudden turned out to have resulted in very limited return for your brand. Fine, the account you choose has over 300K followers, which on the surface seems huge, but the engagement on the posted content turns out to be very low and there is little to no additional traffic nor an increased follower count on your social media profiles.

What happened? Bigger is better, right? Not always. These mega influencers (300K and up) often have either artificially grown accounts with a generous portion of fake followers, or have started on an already established 100K+ account with non relevant followers. This results in a big followers count, but not necessarily followers that care.

Still, social media marketing and working with influencers is defectively THE way for forward for 2017 and onward. It could however be more effective to work with a few smaller, yet REAL and very specialised accounts with high follower engagement as opposed one big one.

Smaller ‘micro influencers’ (20-150K) will often have a more authentic and specific follower profile within a certain region or demographic that can be very relevant for your brand or product.

When choosing the right accounts to represent your brand look for signs of high engagement (likes, comments, shares), authentic pictures and a real person behind the account as opposed to ‘just’ followers.

Need help finding the right influencers to represent your equestrian business? Are you a successful micro influencer looking to represent your favourite equestrian brands?

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Keeping it real

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One of the most recurring questions that comes up when discussing social media marketing  is why some accounts ‘work’ and some just don’t. I was reading a few interesting articles on this topic as part of keeping myself up to date on the latest social media marketing buzz  and found that most of them agree that a major success factor to social media profiles is when they keep it real.

In a world of filters, photoshop and apps to pimp your insta pic, an overall appreciation for authenticity seems to be the way forward. Studies suggest that ‘behind the scenes’ posts, and pictures that include people in them get more likes than almost any other photos on instagram. Psychologically this makes sense because seeing other people allows us to relate to each other and connect. (We are social animals after all!)

This appreciation for authenticity rings true whether you’re a start-up, and established brand or are building a personal PR profile.

Yes you have to curate your content, you really should limit the awkward ‘I just woke up with a hangover and am eating a hamburger for breakfast’ selfies.

Yes, it needs to fit with the overall concept of your (personal) brand,  would you really want to see fishing tack from an equestrian brand?

No, not all quick snaps should end up unfiltered on your profile. A filter or two can really make you or your product POP, there is really no need to avoid the tools of the trade altogether in the search for authenticity, there is a reason why they exist.

Key is tough, to find the balance between what makes commercial sense while communicating in tune with your concept and going overboard to the point that you might not be approachable and authentic anymore.

An example of a very successful -REAL- profile is the one of my client Nicola Baur. Have a look at her Instagram, Facebook, youtube channel and website for inspiration.

Happy to help you or your brand find the right tone of voice for your social media profiles. Want to know more? Get in touch here!

Read one of the articles that inspired me here by Kendra on Mad Media

Little victories: a website is live

screen-shot-2017-01-11-at-13-07-18In my 10+ year sales and marketing career I have learnt to be thankful for seemingly small achievements as part of a larger scale project. The celebration of these little victories are what keeps us going on a day-to-day bases and gives us entrepreneurs the kick we need to keep going, even when times are rough.

As part of one of The stylish equestrian consulting rider personal PR projects, we have recently launched the website of Nicola Baur: Nicolabaurdressage.com.

A website is one of the many elements of personal branding and social media presence we can use to help the rider gain more visibility, offer a platform to showcase work, provide background information for possible collaboration opportunities and provide fans a place to learn a little bit more about their favourite rider. The website functions as the HQ of all of the social media outlets: a place where all links can be found in one place.

Reason for the celebration of this website launch is that once communicated that it was live through targeted posts on Instagram and Facebook, the website collected over 7000 views in 1 day. A very promising start of an already amazing project. Hopefully the first of many little victories.

Are you a brand and would you like to collaborate with Nicola Baur? Get in touch!

Are you a rider and would you like to understand what is possible for you in terms of personal branding or looking for representation in partnering with brands? Get in touch!

The ultimate partnership

An exquisite example of how social media can support and elevate a rider and brand partnership is the collaboration of Jessica von Bredow-Werndl with Hermes.

A collaboration that goes far beyond the conventional boundaries of sponsorship and is a true balanced partnership between a famous, respected and renowned dressage rider and a French heritage luxury brand with strong roots in the equestrian world.

Mid 2016 Hermès released a stunning short film, featuring German dressage rider Jessica von Bredow-Werndl.

“When you experience those magical moments, you feel as if you’re watching a dance, an actual dance between the horse and the rider. That’s what dressage means to me.” Bredow-Werndl says in the film.

And more recently the perfect partnership related another stunning video celebrating the Hermès Arpège Dressage saddle.

Hermès has a multitude of other collaborations broadly shared via social media reaching a very targeted audience of luxury loving equestrians.

Jessica is not the only one with an admirable partnership with Hermès, another great example is their collaboration with Rodrigo Pessoa, among others.

 

Contact us for more information on leveraging social media as a growth accelerator for your brand or personal PR and creating the perfect partnership between brand and rider.

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The millennial question

If you have 15 minutes to spare today, I would sincerely recommend want to watch Simon Sinek’s perspective on the millennial question. Not only how to work with them, to connect with them, but also about the effects of social media on the younger generation.

Reaching your customers through social media should be your #1 priority in 2017.

Get in touch to see what we can do for you!