Get Them Out the Door

Creative approaches help sell weanlings and yearlings even in soft markets.

In 2006, Kim Behrens, a successful Quarter Horse breeder, gave some advice on how she markets her American Quarter Horses despite a wavering market. Her goal at that time was to sell the youngsters she raises before they were 2-year-olds.

Applying sound marketing strategies from other areas of business has been one of the keys to Kim’s success.

For years, her husband, Bill, has been a successful real estate broker and investor. When she first started her horse business, he taught her how to build an image and market successfully and creatively.

Here are some of the techniques she uses.

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Target a Specific Market
Kim has shown as an amateur, which gives her the edge in knowing the needs of nonprofessional riders.

“I’m selling more to people who are just getting into the business or those who have been showing novice amateur for a while and want to step up to a better horse. That has been the focus of my market,” she says. “It is my niche.”

In the case of upgrading novice amateurs, Kim has created a network by showing with them and building rapport. They spread the word to others, and Kim has built a reputation for knowing what they need.

Horseman of days gone by talked about swapping horses with cash to boot. This, Kim says, is part of what she pegs as creative marketing.

“You just have to be able to put a deal together. My husband loves to do that. I can tell him, ‘Hey – these people have this kind of horse, and they want this other one. Here is how much cash they have (but it’s not the full purchase price of the prospect). How can we swing it?’ We’ll be creative and think about it until we can put a deal together. Sometimes it takes me longer to get the final outcome of the money, because I might have to resell another horse for the buyer.”

Still, she says, it works out well for everyone concerned and helps buyers upgrade.

Direct Mail
In the Internet age, some people have forgotten that good, basic direct mail is an effective way to market horses. Kim does both – Internet and direct mail.

Through the years, she has developed what she calls “a huge database of people who want to buy a horse or breed one.” She has gathered information from the directories of Quarter Horse associations in Oregon and Washington.

Also, she says, “Every time somebody calls me about a prospect or about breeding to one of my stallions, I get their name and address and put them on the list. This is something I’ve done for years.”

During the holidays, she puts a newsletter inside each Christmas card.

“We stay connected this way. The newsletter tells about the horses I’m showing, horses I have for sale and gives information about our website.”

The newsletter, she says, has been a real boost to her business.

Stay Visible
Kim has also written articles for horse publications on topics ranging from breeding mares to handling young horses. By doing so, she keeps her name and her farm name constantly visible. Her articles mention her website, which helps prospective buyers see what she has for sale. They can view photos of her stallions, as well as pedigrees and sire information.

Web Site
Kim updates her website often. “Most of my horses are on it,” she says. She also has a featured horse of the month. This keeps people checking back, to see who the newly featured horse will be.

By presenting the accolades of a featured horse on the website, Kim can show that the horses she raised are winning. This information gives confidence to someone looking for a prospect by one of her stallions.

Internet Sales
Kim uses several websites to list her horses. A large percentage of them are sold online. Kim uses a professional approach with her listings, posting quality photos that clearly show how a horse profiles. She takes the photos when the horse is slick and shiny, when the true conformation can easily be seen.

Avoiding hard-sell tactics, Kim puts in pertinent information about each horse and a complete pedigree. She also puts in the line, “Check my website” and gives the address.

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When people ask Kim where to price their horses, she asks them how fast they want to sell.  She tells them that in a soft market, the key word in pricing is “realistic.” Ego has no place in pricing horses.

“Our philosophy is to price our horses reasonably,” she says frankly. “I try not to mark them up. I price them so that they should sell within 60 days.”

She says the horses don’t always move that quickly, but they do move faster than horses that are grossly over-priced.

A lot of Kim’s decision on where to price a horse has to do with just how much time and work she has had to put into a prospect.

Quality Counts
Kim has realized that to be competitive, quality is an important consideration. Think of this from a buyer’s viewpoint: You want a pleasure prospect. You are looking at two weanlings or yearlings. The dam of one has no show record and hasn’t produced any point earners. The dam of the other was shown successfully and has produced winners – maybe even some Superior western pleasure horses. Even if both youngsters move equally well, which one are you most likely to consider?

Riding on Reputation
In today’s market, it’s especially important to maintain integrity. If you do, you’ll have repeat customers.

“That’s been very important to us, to do what we say we will. We stand on our morals,” Kim says.

Kim says she works to disclose everything she can about a horse.