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Effective Marketing: Marcella & Nessi

“It is imperative that off-track Thoroughbreds are marketed correctly and efficiently to show that they are the right choice for the job or they will easily be bypassed for a more common selection.”

For 673 accepted trainers, the journey to the Retired Racehorse Project‘s 2019 Thoroughbred Makeover has begun! Over the training period, three of those trainers will blog their journeys, including their triumphs and their heartbreaks, successes and failures, for Horse Nation readers. Marcella Gruchalak discusses how to best market her Makeover horse, Nessi. 

Photo taken by Marcella Gruchalak

The Retired Racehorse Project Thoroughbred Makeover is fast approaching. With less than two months until the competition, it’s time to really start evaluating my plan and what needs done before approaching the Kentucky border. Nessi is in solid work, filling out nicely and showing promise in many different disciplines. Her Retired Racehorse Project Marketplace Sale Ad is published and she’s now available to a great home.

It’s a bittersweet time as I have grown fond of this little mare, but I know that she will excel with a new owner. The question is how to effectively market her so that she strikes buyers’ interest enough to pay her a visit. It will come as no surprise that I’m stating that off-track Thoroughbreds are hard to market and sell. It is no fault of their own. This breed has an amazing work ethic, good brains and they are extremely athletic, but sellers tend to pass on them due to a stigma associated with the breed. It’s unfortunate that we continue to battle the societal norm of choosing a Quarter Horse when there is a Thoroughbred that is more equipped to complete the job.

It is imperative that off-track Thoroughbreds are marketed correctly and efficiently to show that they are the right choice for the job or they will easily be bypassed for a more common selection. I’ve read numerous sale ads and the information in each ad varies drastically. What is effective? What catches the buyer’s eye? Is there an ad that gives too much?

There are three methods to effectively present information in a sales ad: written description, pictures and video. Here are the different edits of my ad and their effectiveness.

My first attempt at an effective sales ad:

“Up for sale is my six-year-old, bay, off-track Thoroughbred, American Lioness, or “Nessi.” I purchased Nessi to compete in this year’s Retired Racehorse Project Thoroughbred Makeover. We are slated to compete in barrel racing and are still determining if we will compete in western dressage. If you’re looking for a bold, brave and athletic mare, look no further. This mare is small, but has enough athleticism to keep up with the taller horses in the show pen. She’s been hauled to shows and trailers well. In the pasture she gets along with mares and geldings and respects the fence. She’s up to date on all farrier work, coggins, teeth floating and shots. She is microchipped.

Nessi’s training is focusing on a consistent W/T/C with nice collection. We are also working on stopping, side passing and yielding the hindquarters and forequarters. Nessi is a forward moving horse and would do best at events with speed and/or endurance. Because of this, she would be best suited for an intermediate to experienced rider. Nessi has been started correctly and would excel in multiple disciplines.”

With this ad I included the following photos and no video:

Photo of Nessi at her first show. Taken by Marcella Gruchalak

Photo of Nessi trail riding past odd areas. Photo taken by Kat Procyk

Photo of Nessi hanging out with the girls. Photo taken by Marcella Gruchalak

After learning from critics and horsewomen who are experienced in selling horses, it was brought to my attention that Nessi’s sales ad was not as effective as it could be to reach potential buyers. Some of the feedback I received suggested trimming my description to make it short and sweet, showing better conformation photos and inserting a video that is no longer than three to four minutes. I was also instructed to put price and location in the ad (I don’t know how I forgot to put those two important details in the ad).

Looking at the photos I had chosen I quickly realized the constructive criticism was positive feedback. Sure, I had pictures of all the cool things Nessi has been exposed to, but I failed to show potential buyers what she looked like. This change in her ad was a justified one.

The description was a harder for me to tweak. I was a bit leery to cut out anything of my description as I thought the more to read about this fantastic girl the better, but with some example ads I was able to come up with a more condensed ad.

Here is Nessi’s second, and much more effective, ad:

“American Lioness

Brave and athletic six-year-old mare, standing 15.1hh. Started correctly, working off of pressure and becoming sensitive to cues. Has great work ethic. Brave to the fences. Forward mover. Current on trims/shoes, dental, deworming, vaccinations and has a negative coggins.

Located in Plum, PA

$3500, but negotiable to a great home. Price will increase as she continues training.”

With this ad, these photos were added:

Photo taken by Marcella Gruchalak

Photo taken by Marcella Gruchalak

Photo taken by Marcella Gruchalak

Video attached to ad:

Since posting this ad, I have received more inquiries and potential buyers interested. Nessi and I are excited to be preparing for the Retired Racehorse Project Thoroughbred Makeover, but I understand and it is of utmost importance for Nessi to find a great home. If Nessi does happen to find her next partner before the Makeover I will be excited to see her grow in her new surroundings while I make the trip to the Kentucky Horse Park horseless to be all the other trainers’ biggest fan. Until that point, we’re going to continue working hard and prepare for one of the best experiences an off-track Thoroughbred lover can attend.

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