Has your horse been sitting on an ad site forever without getting any calls? Maybe your ad needs some tweaking. Check out these tips for creating better sale ads and attracting more buyers.
Let’s start with a quick question…where are you on the horse sales spectrum? There are 4 types of sellers:
- Well Connected: The big name trainers with a huge network of buyers. They’ve been in the biz a long time and have well established reputations. They sell most of their horses through their extensive network and typically don’t use the traditional ad sites and forums. They may make videos but don’t have to market to the mainstream like the other 3 categories
- Middle of the Road: You’re a trainer or owner that is still building your business and network. You’ve bought horses from the well connected, but they don’t buy from you…yet. You use all the online tools available, YouTube, traditional paid ad sites and Facebook groups, to sell horses and to buy them.
- Breeder: As the title suggests, you have weanlings through young prospects and generally don’t have seasoned horses for sale. You are also using all means necessary to get your horses out there. You want them in good show homes, making a name for your mares and/or stallion.
- Single: You’re an owner that sells your personal horse or is looking to buy a horse. You typically don’t use an agent and rely heavily on sale sites, YouTube and Facebook groups for buying and selling.
So, which one are you? When I was training full time, I was Middle of the Road. I made a lot of sale ads and looked at a lot to buy. I actually loved coming across a horrible sale video and photos because I could really spot a diamond in the rough. I had an advantage because I could tell a great one just by 3 steps of each gait. A bad video meant less people would go look at the horse. Then, and now, looking for horses for sale, I am constantly shaking my head at how terrible sale ads are.
Here are some ways to make a sale ad everyone will respond to.
- Make the horse look beautiful. They don’t have to be show ready, but giant stains and completely unkept says to a potential buyer you might not take care of your horses in other ways. Most seasoned horses will have a quality show picture, use one of those.
- Be aware of the environment surrounding your horse. I notice this most in prospects. With prospects, most pictures are taken in a field or paddock, occasionally an arena. You don’t have to have the fanciest barn, but super muddy paddocks with falling down fencing raises a red flag to buyers that it might not be just your property that is unkept.
- Make sure that the horse’s head and neck are in a natural position for it’s potential discipline. Or for the seasoned horse, if you are showing it in action, have it performing it’s most prominent event. For example, an AQHA pleasure prospect should have it’s head down, while an Arabian would have it’s head more up and neck arched, not the other way around.
- The horse should take up the entire frame of the picture, not look far away. You can do this when you take the picture, or use a photo editing tool to bring the horse into full frame.
- Keep in mind rules 1, 2 and 4 from the photo section, they also pertain to videos. The horse well turned out, in a clean environment, and close up. The video should not be shot from far away, video from a position where you can have the horse fill up the frame.
- The most common mistake I see in sale videos is they are too long. With everything in life now, people want their info NOW. If it’s a hunter/jumper, I want to see it jump first, then add flat at the end. Don’t have 10 minutes of flatting before it ever gets to the jumping. Whatever that horse’s “money shot,” have it within the first 20 seconds of the video. Consider making 2 videos, a long version and a “highlight” version. When I had all-around AQHA horses for sale, I used simple video editing software that I created snippets of everything it did, while making the longer version of single events available on YouTube as well. The highlight version is what I attached to the sale ad. Keep the highlight under a minute or as close to it as you can.
- Blurry or too dark. I once watched a video that the whole thing was dark green and you could just see the horse as a shadow except when it passed through one light spot by the door to the indoor. I actually did end up going to look at that horse and buying it, but I paid half as much of what they wanted. I knew no one else was coming to look off that terrible video, it gave me a ton of leverage.
- The horse is lame. Believe it or not, I see this a lot. If your horse looks a little funny or off, ask SEVERAL honest friends if they see the same thing or better yet, your vet. Never, ever post a video of horse even slightly lame. Not only will it get passed by, the stigma will stay with it as long as it is for sale and even after. The horse world is a small community and they love to gossip, don’t fuel any fires!
- If you are selling prospects, don’t make the only video of it on the lunge line or round pen. Horses don’t move as pretty in a tight circle. It is better to have it in straight lines, either a smaller paddock or arena, I’ve even seen savvy sellers pony them. Again, consider having 2 videos or shorter snippets of each if your really want to show it lunging. If it is a jumping prospect, have a free jumping video, shot from the side, so buyers can see the horse’s form over the jump. Again using video editing software, you can easily still shot pictures of the horse at the top of the arc of a jump for added effect.
There are 2 schools of thought on this one and you just have to decide what works best for you. I prefer the every thing but the kitchen sink method, others want to feel their prospective buyers out. So you can either:
- Give them every possible piece of information they could possibly want, including price, so you can weed out wasting both your time or,
- Give them either nothing or very little so everyone must contact you to get any information on the horse.
I don’t think either one makes or breaks a sale. But if you are one of those that likes to keep info to yourself, times they are a changing. People do a lot of research before they even reach out to sellers. Think of the last time you bought a car, you probably had your criteria really narrowed down by googling and research before you ever started going to car lots. This holds true with any purchase now-a-days. I would strongly recommend giving all the information you can if you aren’t doing it already.
By putting out quality ads with great photos, video and description, you can ask full market value for the horse. Think about it like selling a house, if you took horrible pictures and just wrote 3 bed 2 bath, you’d have no traffic. But, if you slapped a coat of paint on everything and made sure the house was tidy for pictures, then write an inviting description, you are going to get a bigger audience and higher offers.
In conclusion, know your market! If you don’t know anything about hunter/jumpers, but think you have a horse that will excel at it, ask an honest professional. Make sure they are well versed in the discipline you are looking into and either have them help you sell it, or get some advice on how to put together your sale ad.
Do you have tips for selling or specific things you look for when buying? Leave us a comment, we love to hear your thoughts!