Updated: Nov 9
This article was originally published in November 2020. It was updated in November 2023.
Christmas presents a major opportunity for equestrian businesses. Retailers, yards and even service-based businesses can use the festive period to boost their sales. This article outlines a few things to bear in mind as you look to take your equestrian business through the Christmas and New Year period.
My Three Top Tips for Marketing Your Equine Business at Christmas:
Think Ahead and Have a Strategy
Having a festive sales and marketing strategy is key to success over the Christmas season. Setting out your goals, having a marketing budget and noting down any key dates (e.g. Black Friday; last order dates) will help you to build your strategy.
Starting early is key. Every January, I look at my Christmas sales figures for Purple Horse Planners (my e-commerce business) and work out what went well, what I've learned and what I might want to change for next Christmas. I usually start thinking about the festive season in July and have a rough plan in place by the end of August.
16th September marks 100 days until Christmas, and this is when I usually kick off my seasonal campaigns. This allows me plenty of time to test and adapt my strategy before Black Friday and the late November / early December peak.
Here's a few things to consider when developing your Christmas sales and marketing strategy:
What products are your bestsellers?
What images do you need for your website, socials and email campaigns? One of the first things I do is a Christmas photoshoot (usually in August!)
How can you make your products or services festive without over-committing to festive stock? Imagery, packaging and product bundles are great ways to make your existing products feel gift-worthy, without having to take the risk of buying in a load of Christmas-themed products that you will be unable to sell in January.
Can you offer gift vouchers? This works well for product and service-based businesses.
What channels will you use to promote your business over Christmas?
Are you going to run a Black Friday / Cyber Monday offer? There are pros and cons to this and the offer you choose to run must work for your business as well as your customers.
Planning ahead also gives you the chance to be creative. Think about how you could make your products more appealing to Christmas shoppers. Hampers, gift sets or bundles are visually appealing and can be created using your existing products. They can be a great way to introduce new customers to your business and upsell to existing customers.
Gift vouchers can make great Christmas gifts. Your customers can choose the amount they wish to spend, and it takes some of the indecision out of gift buying! Gift vouchers can also help with your cash flow because you will be taking payment in advance. This makes them especially effective for service-based businesses such as riding schools, freelancers and facilities-based businesses.
You can email gift vouchers out to people, and this is ideal for those last-minute buyers. Alternatively, having them printed and packaged in a fancy envelope or small box tied up with ribbon will add an extra special touch.
Getting a bit creative with your marketing can also help you to stand out from all of the other Christmassy content! Think about early behind-the-scenes teasers, product reveals, email subscriber offers and getting your brand in front of the right people.
Keep it Simple
There is already so much to do at Christmas, so keeping your festive campaign simple will allow you to focus on the things that will make the biggest impact.
Focus on the products that are your year-round best-sellers, and promote them. If you are going to create Christmas hampers or bundles, use your best-sellers as the main products.
If you build your whole strategy around what you know works, the whole thing is more straightforward and lower risk - essential when time is limited and you don't have a huge budget.
When creating your marketing content, don't speak to anyone and everyone. Each piece of content should speak to a specific buyer. In my e-commerce business, I'm usually speaking to a very specific group of people: riding school clients, happy hackers, non-horsey other halves, amateur riders, horse owners whose horses are retired, etc. This helps you to focus your content and make it more impactful.
I like to use Christmas to experiment a little. Most of my effort and budget will go into what I know will work (i.e. my best-sellers and most effective marketing channels) but I will usually try one or two new things as a trial run. This is because the September-January period is when I make most of my sales, so I can really see what is worth pursuing after Christmas. This year, I am trialling gift bundles, which feature socks and other little luxuries. If they sell well (they are), then I'll look to tweak and improve them in the spring and summer, ready to go again next Christmas.
Finally, remember to make it as easy as possible for people to purchase from your business. The Christmas gifting market is an incredibly competitive market and you will be competing not only with other equestrian businesses, but also with the likes of Amazon and the supermarkets with their online ordering and next day delivery! Christmas buyers are also time-pressured with a lot on their plates (especially once December arrives) and they will value a smooth and enjoyable shopping experience.
I Can Help You With Your Christmas Marketing
If you want help with your Christmas marketing, I have a range of options available. My VIP SEO packages are available for equine business that want to work with me on a six-month 1:1 basis. I can help you to get your website visible in Google Search and ready for the busy festive period, but you'll have to book early as I stop taking festive bookings after 1st August! Book your free consultation today to discuss your requirements.
Alternatively, I am working on launching a range of small and equine business and marketing courses at the Purple Horse Marketing Academy, and a range of marketing planners and guides over at Purple Horse Planners. Keep an eye on my socials @purplehorsemarketing for further details and new launches!