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Advertising a lesson program

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  • Advertising a lesson program

    I recently decided to make the switch to becoming a full-time instructor. I finally have a small string of great lesson horses and I have a good reputation in my area. But I was wondering what type of advertising others have used and what has worked best? I especially would like to hear ideas on how to get students that are new to the sport and aren't currently with another trainer (I don't like stealing students). Let me know what you all have used previously or just thought would be a neat idea!
    Windy Meadows Farm
    http://www.windymeadowsfarmcny.com

  • #2
    Don't know if you have one of these in your area, but it seems to work for a local saddleseat barn because they've been doing it for years.

    We have a local advertising flyer that comes in the mail once a month and only advertises locally owned businesses - no chains. This barn offers a free introductory lesson. Of course, no one that actually rides or is in a program signs up, but it seems to generate business for them. I have had some friends that signed their kids up and some of them have continued the lessons.
    'Computers are useless. They can only give you answers.'
    - Pablo Picasso

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    • #3
      Non- Profits

      Check with your local non-profit who may be hosting a silent auction to raise money. You can donate a riding lesson or series of lessons to be auctioned off. I have done this twice and both times the person who won the bid continued to take lessons long after their "free lessons" ran out. It is a good way to get a new client and help out a cause you believe in and support.

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      • #4
        I live in an area surrounded by lesson barns, so what I did is find a niche that was missing. I choose to cater to adults and have been very successful! There are plenty of kid-type barns but none that cater to the adult rider - whether new or advanced.

        Look at the websites - there are at least twenty that I was able to advertise on for free! Also, check out yahoo, google, phone book ads that are also free & will come up if someone looks for "riding lessons...". Polocenter is a good place to start. I didn't have much luck with bullentin boards though - but you can try! Word of mouth has been my best so far. Good luck!
        "A lie doesn't become truth, wrong doesn't become right, and evil doesn't become good, just because it's accepted by a majority." Rick Warren

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        • #5
          Ditto on trying to cater towards adults! I know when I was searching for a barn I found that seriously lacking. Also, its more fun when I have lessons with older people at my level. Doesn't make me feel as lame as when the 11 year old is more advanced.

          I did much of my searching via Google, so if you can get a free website up and running that has all your info. Also, try Craigslist, local tack stores, feed stores, etc. I know in CA we have a great website called Bay Area Equestrian Network, I don't know if there's anything like that in your area. Anything where you can get a free classified, post away! Try other horse forums to help spread the word too.

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          • #6
            Well, I always advertise in the local horse magazines, as well as put an ad in the local equine directory, a great free to the reader booklet of all the local horse businesses from stall cleaning, insurance, boarding barns and trainers.

            Some of the odder things I've done is advertise in the college newspapers that are close to me.

            I also had a program with the Parks and Rec for a while. It was an intro to horses type program that lasted a month (4 lessons). Those first 4 were all unmounted and covered grooming, leading, tacking, SAFETY etc. I had to put the cap at 8 people per intro class for my own sanity. Because of it being unmounted, I could take a that many people, and teach it as a group, so for those four lessons it was a real money maker and easy for the horses.

            After that initial month, they had a choice to continue on to beginner riding lessons, which I did privately for the first few until they were able to stear etc and then I grouped them up in pairs. Almost all of them continued on to this point.

            I'd say out of an initial group of 8 that took the intro class, at least one kept riding for at least year. Some for longer, and even though I haven't done it in years, I still have a few clients that came from that program who now own horses and show with me.

            The people that called regarding the Parks and Rec program that already had riding experience (you'd be suprised, many adults who hadn't ridden in years were interested in getting back into it when they saw it listed) I'd just point them to our regular lesson program and do an evaluation lesson with them to see if they really should spend the money/time on the intro to brush up or if they could just start in the regular lesson program.

            I was unbelievably busy during the summer, when kids usually go to camp. During the summer we usually had at least 3 full intro classes of 8 each month. It was a great way to build a client base and get my name out there.
            "Aye God, Woodrow..."

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            • #7
              Our area has a free kid/family magazine that is available monthly. That is a great place to advertise a kid activity.

              Don't overlook the yellow pages - it's the first place novices will look.

              Put up flyers at tack shops, and consider where else parents might be. In our area, there are bulletin boards at supermarkets and the library also.

              Consider looking for a girl scout troop in your area - perhaps you can offer to host a meeting where they come and meet the horses and learn about their care.

              Have a website and make sure you're listed in any local directories that are appropriate.
              If you are allergic to a thing, it is best not to put that thing in your mouth, particularly if the thing is cats. - Lemony Snicket

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              • #8
                Many of the barns in my area run summer day camps -- I know my coworkers put a significant effort into finding camps for their kids to attend -- They're looking for babysitting, but they're also looking for their kids to explore new activities -- These campers can turn into once-a-week lesson students in the fall -- Try to participate in summer camp fairs to attract this business --

                Rather than host your own camp, there's the option of supplying horse activities to established camps -- I know 2 of the sleep away camps I attended as a kid sent campers off site for riding instruction -- The barn I boarded at last summer hooked up with a large day camp -- The camp has name recognition and a large number of young campers -- They bussed groups of kids to the farm where barn staff ran the activities -- Highlight of the day was a pony ride -- Each kid left with a coupon for a discounted riding lesson -- You could offer a similar program for birthday parties --

                Check out the Girl Scout requirements for their horsemanship badges, and offer programs to allow girls to earn the badges --

                As an adult, I started taking lessons through the local community college -- They offered non-credit courses, and I stumbled on the riding class when flipping through their catalog looking for a cooking course -- Of the 8 adults in my class, 3 continued with lessons after the class ended --

                I've seen riding lessons advertised on a roadside billboard -- Have no clue if that got much response -- I've also seen that barn advertise in a local coupon flyer --

                One local barn posts flyers for their summer camp in my supermarket -- Every barn within 20 miles seems to advertise their summer camp on the bulletin board at the local tack shop --

                A riding club I belong to has offered pony rides at township carnivals -- So many parents asked us about riding lessons -- If there are any local family-oriented activities where you could offer pony rides, that could really bring in beginner children --
                "I never mind if an adult uses safety stirrups." GM

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                • #9
                  marketing

                  you are me 20 years ago. If your going after new beginners its easy. Dont wast any money on horse mags, Your people are noy there yet. you need to getto the kids. go to your parks and rec departmentand offer classes,Any were moms go, hair, shops, middle schools, you can do all these things with posters and brochures, use the web thereare thousands of free sites. but go to were kids are dont worrie about horse people worrie about people with kids.

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