When writing press releases as I do in my day job, there is a general formula that seems to work; for example, a standard layout, and recognized list of essential information that constitutes what makes a ‘good’ press release. I got to thinking that there must also be a formula for the perfect horse advert, so I conducted some research, drawing on the opinions and thoughts of 100 relevant subjects. In essence, some market research!
So what were the results? Well, there were certainly a few things that are guaranteed to put people off that can be easily avoided. As a buyer, there is one thing that always makes me skip right past the advert without a second glance; POA or no price listed. Well it turns out I’m not alone in this; this was the biggest turn off, with 65% of people citing this as a negative. I’ve always felt POA stands for ‘Probably overpriced actually,’ and others who responded felt the same; if it said POA or price wasn’t mentioned, people automatically assume they can’t afford it! General consensus is – if the price is reasonable there is no need to hide it. Next time you write an advert, make sure you consider this; can you really afford to put off 65% of your audience? Even if the remainder (35%) did decide to call, how likely is it that they will be looking for a horse of that price? Surely getting the right target audience is better than fielding calls from people who instantly decide the horse is not for them upon hearing the price.
As mentioned before, essential information is what we assess suitability on; like matching a job description and a person specification, if you like. The amount of times I’ve seen press releases and posters where people have forgotten vital information such as contact details, location or dates etc! Likewise, with adverts, vital information is often forgotten as you get wrapped up in describing how great your horse is; ensure you have a checklist that includes things like height, breed, age, location and contact details. 62% of people said this information was essential, and many of those said they would never call about a horse if their advert didn’t state those points. This kind of information, along with the description, helps you to identify your target audience so don’t miss the opportunity; you want people to read your ad and know straight away that this horse is ideal for a young rider, for instance. I can’t tell you the amount of times I’ve read an advert that says; ’ideal first event horse,’ or ‘perfect grassroots eventer’ and immediately decided I need to buy that horse! Believe me, it works.
They say a picture is worth a thousand words; well, apparently that also to applies to advertising! Poor pictures, or none at all would put off 62% of your audience. Always make sure you include a photo, and one that is relevant for the type of horse you’re selling. For instance, if I’m looking for an eventer, I would ideally like to see a picture of the horse in all 3 phases. If it’s a pure showjumper, a head shot doesn’t really help me very much; with showing I’m likely to want to see the horse’s conformation and a picture that demonstrates movement.
Being of a communications background, I am always irked by poor spelling or grammar. In the same way as I am terrible with numbers, some people will never be winning any prizes for their writing or spelling. The good thing is you don’t have to be a Nobel Prize winner; just take a few moments to use spell checker, and ask someone else to check what you’ve written is coherent, and that you’ve not missed anything out. This isn’t just me being picky; the survey results indicate that you could lose 54% of your audience from poor spelling or grammar. People feel that presentation matters, and they want to know that you’ve taken time and care over writing your ad. Personal bug bears for me? I would say never write all in capitals, which gives the impression you’re shouting at your reader, don’t forget to include punctuation, and don’t write in txt spk bcoz it lks like u can’t b bov’d. Soz. It jst sux.
Some other issues that emerged as a theme include riders with no hats on; I’m not sure if this is something people do to demonstrate how safe the horse is, or just how they ride at home, but many people see this as irresponsible – just as with photo’s of children standing on a ponies back. This kind of thing should be avoided if you don’t wish to alienate 22% of your audience.
Of course there are plenty of other variables that must be considered, such as things like where you have advertised; is it the right target audience? Are you asking too much money? It’s always worth checking the market; have a look round for something similar to what you’re selling, find a few examples and take an average of those prices if you’re not sure what you should be asking. Oh, and it goes without saying that you should always be truthful and honest!
There is no exact science, but the survey results do demonstrate that the above issues can have a significant impact upon whether you receive phone calls or not. Selling a horse? I might be able to help...as a communications professional, and committed obsessive horse hunter(!), I could help to market your horse in a more targeted and professional way. If you’re struggling to sell your horse and would like to have the advert checked, or are not sure where best to advertise, drop me an email via my ‘contact’ page and see if I can help.