When you were a kid, perhaps you got your introduction into business by opening a lemonade stand. The ingredients for instant business:
a hot summer day, a need for some spending money and a desire to break the occasional boredom of summer vacation.
Assuming no need for licensing, liability insurance and proper business zoning, lemonade stands can transform from idea to operating business in less than two hours. Locate: lemon juice, water, sugar, a sign and a card table and you are in business.
Now, that's fast food!
But, without the right weather, sufficient walk-by and drive-by traffic and the proper operating hours, sales at a lemonade stand can be as sour as a bowl full of its own lemon peels.
And before too long, frustrated lemonade entrepreneurs, parched for business, squeeze their last lemons and close the shop. The lemonade stand is barren and lifeless. A hand painted For Sale sign nailed over the Fresh Lemonade sign beckons the next extra small business entrepreneur to give it a try.
So, what lesson does lemonade stand business failure have to offer in business knowledge for a horse business owner? The screaming need for a marketing plan to keep the juice flowing.
Lemonade Stand marketing plans might include:
Flyer distribution at neighborhood events like block parties, press releases for the local newspaper, compiling testimonials about the product, street signage, articles about the history of lemonade and the health benefits of lemon.
The lemonade entrepreneur may have special charity days for donation of the profits to a local cause, a pet show at the lemonade stand and a special clinic on lemon sourcing and the proper squeezing technique for lemons.
Lemonade marketing mavens snap up opportunities to have a lemonade promotional float march in the Memorial Day and Fourth of July parades and offer free samples.
Unlike the bankrupt lemonade stand owner, the Profitable Horseman has a Marketing Plan and a Marketing Calendar in place at the start of each business year.
So how do you go about setting up a Marketing Calendar for 2008?
Sit down with your team in front of a full year calendar showing all of the months. Not the monthly-flip calendar like the feed mill gave you, or a tiny 8-1/2" X 11" calendar you printed from Microsoft Word.
You'll need an extra, extra, large calendar for this project. Two feet by three feet will work well.
- Mark the dates for the entire year for horse shows, summer camps, clinics, demonstrations, spring break, summer vacation and back to school lesson programs for youth students, events for mature students and those special events like picnics and parties related to your business.
- Identify the key dates for press releases, newsletters, electronic and direct mail promotional pieces, banners, billboards, website announcements, radio, TV interviews, telephone calls and public speaking opportunities.
- Refer to your marketing plan frequently throughout the year. These key dates will sneak up on you. Remember, the success of your events is dependent upon your marketing before the event.
"Build it and they will come" is an emotionally powerful movie line and is the marketing philosophy of all ignorant and blissful lemonade stand operators both young and old.
But, the reality of business beyond the lemonade stand is: Marketing Is Never Done. So get on with it and plan for success this year with your own marketing calendar.