I had a rough night last night and was up and about at 4am. You see, despite doing all I can and what looks like a great job at helping owners help their horses, I am simply struggling to survive in today's economic climate with a niche business less than 12 months old.. It can interfere with sleep and my stress levels are threatening to move from that of a healthy stimulus to an unhealthy one!
So the first thing I did was check emails. I often get emails from owners who are having trouble with their horses from topics ranging from swollen testicles (I kid you not) to treeless saddles to laminitis. Every morning I answer emails before breakfast and before seeing to our own 7 horses. Mostly this takes around half an hour per email and I offer this advice freely. More times than enough I never hear from the owners again and I often don't receive thanks either (not that I'm doing it for the thanks!).
But this morning I remembered a client sending me an email with a testimonial the other day but I somehow forgot to open the attachment and read it. I have to admit, I nearly shed a tear and was so moved by the story! Click here to go to the testimonial (March 2011).
I do not have a budget for advertising and promoting myself is therefore down to my website and word of mouth. I do post frequently and promote Holistic Equine on my Facebook page but despite having a decent number of 'fans' (I hate that word...it sounds too egotistical!), it doesn't generate revenue; or at least it hasn't so far! But it is well worth the effort as I hope I have managed to spread the word about kinder and better ways to look after horses and help keep them healthy and help them heal.
Testimonials are I feel the best way to help promote what it is I do and what to let other owners see the benefit it could be to help their horses. I do ask customers for them and they say they are keen to write them but as you will see I have very few testimonials on my site! All my AEP customers have been generated through word of mouth, which is also the best form of advertising. However, Holistic Equine's services and products are very little understood and are still very rare in the current equine world.
I feel I do my best and I am around all weekdays and evenings for calls and will answer messages and emails always on a weekend if they are emergencies or if not; if time allows. I don't charge for this time but maybe I should? Or perhaps happy clients could help me to continue offering this service by writing testimonials and telling people what I do and how I have helped them. Social networking can help and word of mouth is great but you can't beat 'putting it in writing' and sharing your views in a testimonial!