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  1. #1
    Join Date
    Jun. 17, 2001
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    Default The wonderful world of supplement marketing. Are late nite infomercials next?

    Disclaimer...
    The following is an opinion, does not reflect a thing except my opinion as a 40+ year horse owning individual and does not reflect the opinion of COTH or any of it's affiliated publications.

    I am so over being barraged by endless claims in slick ads with pretty pictures and celebrity endorsements presented by companies trying to convince me my horse will about drop dead if I do not buy their products.

    I am a bad owner and neglecting my horse if I do not have it on an assortment of supplements, most supported only by anecdotal evidence of effectiveness. None regulated or evaluated for purity or claims of effectiveness. More then a few "off label" uses of treatments and substances used for other species.

    Just went thru the junk mail pile this morning and found what I thought was a sample of a new horse magazine-big banner was "Ten best stories of the year" or some such. It was actually Smartpak sponsored and all the"articles"consisted of endorsements of products sold by Smartpak. Just like those "talk shows" that are just radio and tv ads (today our guest expert is...).

    Even included a "top myths about supplements"-those "myths" all being something might not be needed or a cheaper alternative available. No, you MUST do right by your horse by buying, buying, buying.

    Mind you, I don't mind marketing, I use Wen, Cindy Crawford and just ordered a Lint Lizard. But I don't eat them or feed them to my animals. I don't mind the banner ads that keep coth forums free. And I take vitamins, have selected a FEW supplements for my horses and use alternative treatments for horse and self.

    But enough is enough. Big pharm and agribusiness conglomerates are on this brand new bandwagon doing it's best to make us forget...

    IF IT SOUNDS TOO GOOD TO BE TRUE? IT PROBABLY IS.

    These are ADS folks. They are selling something-don't feel guilt over saying no.
    When opportunity knocks it's wearing overalls and looks like work.

    The horse world. Two people. Three opinions.



  2. #2
    Join Date
    Nov. 4, 2003
    Location
    Douglasville, Georgia
    Posts
    17,462

    Default

    Couldn't have said it better myself. --insert clapping icon here--
    <>< Sorrow Looks Back. Worry Looks Around. Faith Looks Up! -- Being negative only makes a difficult journey more difficult. You may be given a cactus, but you don't have to sit on it.



  3. #3
    Join Date
    Jul. 13, 2011
    Location
    East Longmeadow, MA
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    3,834

    Default

    You know, I received the same mailing from Smartpak. My horse is a healthy 7 year old and on no supplements whatsoever. Others at my barn do use the Smartpak supplements. Am I a bad horse Mom because I'm not buying all this stuff for him? I really began to feel that way after actually sitting down and reading that publication. I will be interested in others' responses on this thread.
    What's wrong with you?? Your cheese done slid off its cracker?!?!



  4. #4
    Join Date
    Jun. 17, 2001
    Location
    down the road from bar.ka
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    Default

    Just to be clear, I used Samartpak when I was in big barn. Had 2 or 3 things in it (out of 6 available spaces). I discussed all with my vet (a very current and well known sport horse specialist open to alternative treatments). It was a convenient way to purchase them and be sure horse was getting them and I still find that a good service. I LIKE that concept.

    But something has changed with their approach and the way they market all this stuff. Like that "magazine" and some of the "testimonials" that are nothing but unsubstiantated claims.

    Did somebody take them over?????

    Oh, my retiree is on NOTHING except Previcox 3 times a week, rotational worming and a good diet. I can't see any difference.
    When opportunity knocks it's wearing overalls and looks like work.

    The horse world. Two people. Three opinions.



  5. #5
    Join Date
    Aug. 25, 2007
    Posts
    14,670

    Default

    Quote Originally Posted by findeight View Post
    Disclaimer...
    The following is an opinion, does not reflect a thing except my opinion as a 40+ year horse owning individual and does not reflect the opinion of COTH or any of it's affiliated publications.

    I am so over being barraged by endless claims in slick ads with pretty pictures and celebrity endorsements presented by companies trying to convince me my horse will about drop dead if I do not buy their products.

    I am a bad owner and neglecting my horse if I do not have it on an assortment of supplements, most supported only by anecdotal evidence of effectiveness. None regulated or evaluated for purity or claims of effectiveness. More then a few "off label" uses of treatments and substances used for other species.

    Just went thru the junk mail pile this morning and found what I thought was a sample of a new horse magazine-big banner was "Ten best stories of the year" or some such. It was actually Smartpak sponsored and all the"articles"consisted of endorsements of products sold by Smartpak. Just like those "talk shows" that are just radio and tv ads (today our guest expert is...).

    Even included a "top myths about supplements"-those "myths" all being something might not be needed or a cheaper alternative available. No, you MUST do right by your horse by buying, buying, buying.

    Mind you, I don't mind marketing, I use Wen, Cindy Crawford and just ordered a Lint Lizard. But I don't eat them or feed them to my animals. I don't mind the banner ads that keep coth forums free. And I take vitamins, have selected a FEW supplements for my horses and use alternative treatments for horse and self.

    But enough is enough. Big pharm and agribusiness conglomerates are on this brand new bandwagon doing it's best to make us forget...

    IF IT SOUNDS TOO GOOD TO BE TRUE? IT PROBABLY IS.

    These are ADS folks. They are selling something-don't feel guilt over saying no.
    +1

    Or, put another way, "A fool and his money are soon parted."

    G.
    Mangalarga Marchador: Uma Raça, Uma Paixão



  6. #6

    Default

    Hi guys, my name is Sarah and as you can probably guess from my user name, I work at SmartPak :-) I want to start by saying that I really appreciate this discussion and 100% respect your opinions. I’m not here to change your minds, and I’m absolutely not here to argue that every horse needs to be on every supplement, or tell you why you should buy our products. But I did want to join the conversation as there were some questions about the intent of our Guide to Supplements and Horse Care that I’d really like to address.
    First and foremost, this guide isn’t simply sponsored by us, it’s actually written and designed entirely by the riders at SmartPak. Our Creative Team worked with our Equine Health Team and industry experts to create articles and features we hoped horse owners would find helpful and informative. All of our Success Stories were written by customers who’ve experienced great results that they wanted to share, in hopes of helping other horses and riders.
    At SmartPak, we’re all about solutions – it’s the reason the company was founded and it’s our goal every single day we come to work. One problem we’re very sensitive to is the fact that shopping for horse supplements can be really confusing. There are a lot of choices out there, and deciding what to feed and when (and most importantly, understanding why) can be really tough. So our goal with this guide is to help riders who are interested in supplements make the best choice for their horse (and their budget). Pushing supplements on those who don’t want them, or “guilting” horse owners into buying products they don’t need is not something we’d ever do. We simply want to make helpful information available to those who are interested.
    Finally, I just want to say thank you. Thanks for reading the guide and for sharing your comments. Listening and responding to the opinions of real riders is what makes SmartPak so great, and I really appreciate the role the COTH community plays in that dialogue. If you’d like to chat further, you’re always welcome to message me on here.
    Thanks so much and have a great ride!
    -Sarah-



  7. #7
    Join Date
    Apr. 6, 2006
    Location
    Northern Virginia
    Posts
    2,992

    Default

    A friend of mine who has owned a horse for a long time, but is still not that horse savy, called me after she received this mailer.

    (I am her go to person for all questions equine related)

    She wanted to know if I thought her horse needed any supplements since he is now in his late teens.

    My response: Is he on anything now? (No). Is he having any problems? (No). Does he look good? (Yes).

    Then why do you need to change anything? (The magazine said that old horses need supplements)

    Sigh...

    Don't get me wrong - I adore SmartPak and use them, but I think that mailer was a little too much.



  8. #8
    Join Date
    Jun. 17, 2001
    Location
    down the road from bar.ka
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    36,872

    Default

    Thank you Sarah, I do appreciate you coming in. And, as I said, I have used SP and still think it's a good choice for purchasing supplements.

    But...sorry, your intentions may be good but your marketing department is overboard.

    The "Supplement and Horse Care Guide" with "Best Of Edition" at the top corner in pink and "Best of" banner looks just like a year end recap cover of any other horse magazine published on a regular basis, as surely intended.

    The "articles and features" are just ads for a variety of products, not a "how to care for your horse" guide. This is a catalogue and should be clearly market as such.

    But, congrats, you made me open it and look. And post this so I guess you win.

    I suppose we can look forward to a whole bunch of posts condemning corn oil now, based on advertising disguised to look like the conclusion of clinical research reported in a respected publication.
    When opportunity knocks it's wearing overalls and looks like work.

    The horse world. Two people. Three opinions.



  9. #9
    Join Date
    Dec. 7, 2001
    Location
    Cullowhere?, NC
    Posts
    8,788

    Default

    The one I liked was the gal who claimed to be showing "indoors" on Smart Calm Ultra. That's stretching a cute story a bit far, methinks. (I'm guessing some of her local and breed shows were, indeed, held "indoors" but one would think the breed organizations at least would have drug rules).

    Yup. Good, old-fashioned slick advertising. Way to go, SmartPak.
    "One person's cowboy is another person's blooming idiot" -- katarine

    Spay and neuter. Please.



  10. #10
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    Jun. 17, 2001
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    Default

    Quote Originally Posted by PaintPony View Post
    ...
    Then why do you need to change anything? (The magazine said that old horses need supplements)

    Bingo. Designed to look like a magazine full of helpful hints for horse owners provided by people who want to help new or less savy owners take the best care of their horses. And convince them all horses need supplements.

    Things like the article "Nutrition 101-Your horse may be missing more then you think" certainly suggest feeding programs HAVE to be supplemented to be effective and it's sure no guide to feeding or nutrition.

    I don't know which irks me the most. It's either "8 Supplement Myths Busted" that debunks claims that not all horses need supplements all the time-which is where that gal got the idea all old horses need help from SP products. And that corn oil for the coat is bad, you must buy Omega 3s from them.

    The other that gets me is "Out With The Old, start 2012 off the smarter way", which states horses ignore old style salt blocks. Then go on to push Himalayan Salt (starting at 11.95 a month) and other salt additives. And, of course a little corn oil for the coat is bad, you need to buy...
    Right at the top of the page they state not doing away with the old ways is like wearing a velvet cap instead of an approved helmet to jump 6' fences.

    Sooooo...you are old fashioned and not doing right by your horse unless you follow these guidelines. I'll keep my velvet hunt cap, thank you...and pass the corn oil.
    When opportunity knocks it's wearing overalls and looks like work.

    The horse world. Two people. Three opinions.



  11. #11
    Join Date
    Jul. 28, 2003
    Location
    Elmont, NY
    Posts
    462

    Default

    You know what amazes me the most 'bout all of you?? That you actually are reading all those mailings. lol, I guess I'm just lazy in the recycling they go without more than a quick glance.

    I'm guessing that most of you, like me, get on average 3-4 mailings a month from Smartpak, in addition to the utter waste of paper that is a new catalog with every order. I honestly NEVER read them, so I can't speak to what they are pushing, but I feel like some of the feed companies are just as bad/if not worse with their marketing.

    A fool and his money is right

    BTW, you know what I would truly love SmartPak to offer? The ability to opt out of the catalog with every order, and to be able to receive their mailers through email instead of paper mail. For a company that touts recycled/environmentally friendly packaging, they are sure killing a whole heck of a lot of trees to send out the full glossy junk mail every month



  12. #12
    Join Date
    Jan. 16, 2002
    Location
    West Coast of Michigan
    Posts
    36,325

    Default

    In case anyone remains in doubt of my opinion on this topic, I refer you to my signature line.

    But...sorry, your intentions may be good but your marketing department is overboard.
    They obviously can afford it because it works. Or it works because they put out the money. One way or the other, I think I'll keep my dollars where they are . . . oh, umm, yeah, the mortgage company has them all.
    Click here before you buy.



  13. #13
    Join Date
    Feb. 19, 2012
    Posts
    50

    Default

    I have been involved in marketing, horses and the equine medical world for a very long time. I love this discussion. There are good and bad supplements and a whole lot of marketing. The BS is phenomenal. BUT you have to be a insider with a chemistry degree to know! I find the information to be very trite at best. Give me independent studies on the ingredients on your site. Give me clinical data. There are some great stories and products but the simplistic information provided does not satisfy me. I use some Uckele products. I am pleased with the ones I have used. Probiotics are so lame in my opinion that there are only a few worth a damn. If they don't have billions of cfu's, they probably are marginal at best. (Univ. of Toronto study) Better yet, Equine sourced bacteria is the coming storm as is starting to be available. Just not to the masses.

    The key is do some research. There are tons of papers on line that you can read. Take a night and select one subject.



  14. #14
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    Jun. 17, 2001
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    down the road from bar.ka
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    Default

    I'd love to OPT OUT and be removed from the mailing list. They are the only catalogues I get that lack an easy way to do that plainly marked somewhere on one of the covers.

    And I do get at least 3 a month and they go right to the recycle bin...until this one that I thought was an actual magazine.
    When opportunity knocks it's wearing overalls and looks like work.

    The horse world. Two people. Three opinions.



  15. #15
    Join Date
    Feb. 28, 2011
    Posts
    520

    Default

    I do love smartpaks when I'm feeding for people who use a lot of supplements. It makes feeding time so much easier.

    That said, pass the corn oil, and calf manna. 40+ years in horses and those are the two things that work and have stood the test of time.



  16. #16
    Join Date
    Nov. 10, 2011
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    920

    Default

    Smartpak is just doing what every other business is trying to do and that is make money. I have a tremendous amount of respect for Smartpak as a company. They have made huge waves in the supplement/ horse care industry that was, IMO, very stagnant before. Smartpak does send a lot of direct mailers, I agree, but how else are they supposed to market themselves? It's not like they can buy a TV flight to run on NBC during primetime and expect that to see ROI. Their niche market is so small and so spread out, they cannot focus their efforts the way many other companies can. If they were able to do that, it would take such a huge chunk out of their marketing budget that your direct mailer quantity would decrease. Thumb through any woman-oriented magazine and count the cosmetics ads. Then watch TV for three hours and count the cosmetics ads. Because it's in two different forms of communication, you may not realize how much marketing you are seeing. And maybe that's why you feel like you are being bombarded. They do what they can do, and they do direct mailers, email blasts, catalogs, FB. Is it overkill? Maybe. Is it working for them? Absolutely.

    Smartpak does an excellent job of getting information out there; but of course they are going to have a Smartpak slant, they are trying to sell you something! I go through everything Smartpak sends and do I feel bad that my horse isn't on their multi-vitamin, joint supplement, calming supplement, etc. etc. Well, yes. But then I remember that horses survived millions of years without Smartpak and will continue to do so.

    As far as the anecdotes go, and the scientific study piece of the conversation. Many people respond to anecdotes, people want to know how these things have worked for other human beings, not just a vet and a select group of horses in a very controled environment. Paintpony gave a great example... her friend came looking to her for advice first. She didn't go culling through the internet looking for a scientific study about supplements and old horses. There is so much information out there that people are looking for a quick 'yes this worked' 'no this didn't.' If I get a 'yes it worked' from a friend/ vet/ farrier, great, then I go do my reseach on why it worked. If it's a 'no, it didn't', I just saved myself a few hours on the internet. Not everyone can understand scientific papers. We are all on this forum because, to a degree, we like anecdotes. We ask questions to our peers in hopes of getting real world, easily digestable advice/ answers. I think that's what Smartpak was trying to acheive with its recent 'supplement solutions' mailer. I, for one, never got the impression that it was anything but another Smartpak mailer designed to sell products.

    In this day and age, it's every man for himself, buyer beware, dog eat dog. Sorry to say, it's the consumers job to cull through the information and make an informed decision. It may not be ideal, but it's how this country and its businesses operate.

    PS- I do wish you could tailor how much they are sending you (save the trees!!). Or send the 'extra stuff' to the barns that are on their 'barn budies' program. We always put those in our sitting room. That way people that order from Smartpak aren't seeing the same mailer in two different places.
    Last edited by fatappy; Feb. 23, 2012 at 06:24 PM. Reason: it was way too long....



  17. #17
    Join Date
    Jul. 10, 2001
    Posts
    6,847

    Default

    Their marketing is one reason I refuse to give SmartPak a single dime of mine. Of course I pretty much refuse to support the nutraceutical industry as much as possible (OK, I give a probiotic to the ponies over the winter).

    In direct response to Sarah, while I understand and support your statements from your business point of view, those "articles" still appear to have little real validity in terms of showing a product has proven efficacy for a condition/treatment - e.g. any silica based supplements where recent scientific work shows that even DIRECT implantation of silica is has no effect on tissues. So how does one even trust the statements made in your advertising?

    Reed



  18. #18
    Join Date
    Jul. 31, 2007
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    19,576

    Default

    Quote Originally Posted by findeight View Post
    Thank you Sarah, I do appreciate you coming in.
    And is that post marketing or customer service or both?

    Look, SP is wrestling with or exploiting the same phenomenon everyone else is: The narrowing gap between advertising and information.

    The problem is that once you step over that line into biased-information-presented-for-economic-gain, I won't trust any of it. I also won't be ready to receive your junk mail. I can only assume that when I do buy a product from you, I'm paying for the privilege of having you broadcast your message.

    So if you take nothing else from this thread, SP, know that your mailers might not be producing the ROI you expected.
    The armchair saddler
    Politically Pro-Cat



  19. #19

    Default

    Quote Originally Posted by fatappy View Post
    They do what they can do, and they do direct mailers, email blasts, catalogs, FB. Is it overkill? Maybe. Is it working for them? Absolutely.
    Not always.

    Their supplement wizard cooled my feelings towards them considerably, and they went from the first place I checked to the last. All things being equal, I buy elsewhere.

    And I never buy supplements from them anymore.

    Dover is known as the company with exorbitant shipping.

    Does SmartPak really want to become the company with questionable (at best) advertising practices?

    More advertising isn't always better. Sometimes, it loses you customers.



  20. #20
    Join Date
    Oct. 18, 2000
    Posts
    22,498

    Thumbs up

    Quote Originally Posted by Guilherme View Post
    +1

    Or, put another way, "A fool and his money are soon parted."

    G.

    Brothers and sisters, I bid you beware
    Of giving your heart to a dog to tear.
    -Rudyard Kipling



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