Quality is Key: Learn from Equine Design and Photography Professionals
Originally published in April 2014 issue Show Horse Today magazine
By Gabrielle Sasse, PleasureHorse.com
How often do you find yourself flipping through your favorite horse publication (Show Horse Today, of course) or delving into Facebook looking at horse and trainer ads? Some are very eye appealing…others, not so much. Perhaps you have your own ad for your own horse or business, or a website or banner… even just a professional photo. We spoke to several different photographers, graphic designers and web designers to learn what makes a great ad and photo, and how you as the horse person can develop your own effective marketing plan with dynamic and professional advertising.
We chatted with Jennifer Horton of Bar H Photography, Kelly Barnes with Kelly Graphics, LLC, Stephanie Moore with Sure A Winner, and Chris and Kristin Martin with CERTIFIEDimages about the highs and lows of their business, and what you can do to help yours.
What advice you would give to equine business owners when creating a video or an advertisement?
Jennifer- “Don’t skimp on quality. Using a professional ensures that your business or horse is presented in the best possible way with the goal of improving your business. There is more to marketing than just knowing how to use software. And don’t use licensed music or images without permission.”
Kelly- “First, you can’t create effective promotion without good photos. That is the number one problem with every stallion owner/breeder that I have ever dealt with. They all say the same thing down the road: ‘I wish I would have gotten photos when the horse was younger.’ Get as many photos as you possibly can from every angle, gait and with personality. I try to bring the essence and personality of a subject into my photography. People tell themselves they will get that great shot at a show, but it never happens. Get photos when the horse is fit and clean, and get new photos every year, because people want to see something fresh. I would tell everyone who has a stallion to invest wisely and get good photos. That’s why I’m on the road eight months out of the year doing photo shoots.”
Stephanie- “Videos should be uploaded at the highest resolution quality possible, as grainy videos hide the horse’s movement. Additionally do not overuse slow motion, as it too hides a horse’s movement and does not compliment the horse. If a horse is finished, be sure to include all transitions and focus on each gait equally and in both directions. When someone shows two minutes of the horse jogging but only 30 seconds loping, it always makes me think they are trying to hide something. If you are trying to videotape a foal, I have always found it easiest to lead the dam and let the foal follow. This usually helps keep the foal from playing or running around a lot. Buyers cannot tell potential movement if all the foal is doing is running and bucking no matter how cute it may be! Ads should utilize quality high-resolution images. If the background is being removed, make sure the edges are completely cleaned up. Do not use overly-skinny fonts or overly-fancy cursive fonts, as these are hard to read when someone is quickly flipping through a magazine. I often see ads that are too flat, with no depth either through lack of creativity, no borders, drop shadows, or gradients.”
Kristin – “Less is usually more when it pertains to ads. Often, people want to use every photo of every class they won, and it just makes things look cluttered and lowers the quality of the ad.”
Chris – “Having the right software and equipment is very important. The newest phones and tablets actually have quality cameras and for most videos they can probably get the job done for you, but it depends on the size and quality level you are trying to achieve.”
What are some of the biggest equine marketing mistakes you see?
J- “In print ad design, I’ve seen several people that like to play with Photoshop and design their own ads. They don’t know about print resolution, live area, bleeds and trims. Magazines and professional publications have specific technical specifications that ensure the quality of your ad. In photography, again it’s a lack of knowledge. It’s not the camera that you use but knowing lenses and lighting, as well as horse conformation that is critical to professional images, especially with stallion images and advertising. A poor image will speak louder than a good one.”
K- “Putting too much information on one page. You’ve only got a few seconds to capture your audience’s attention, and you can’t do that when someone turns the page and it boggles their mind. You have to get the reader in a couple seconds. That’s the biggest problem- you need readability in your marketing. Just because someone has a computer and can use it does not make them a marketing genius. Publications will get the wrong size, or resolution, or it looks like it was cut with scissors.”
S- “Poor quality photos, bad Photoshopping either when trying to clean out a background or alter the horse, ads that are muddy with graphics and fonts that are not professional, videos where resolution is too low to clearly see the horse’s movement or videos that are completely in slow motion, websites that are not professional, graphics and fonts that do not look clean and high end, color schemes that do not compliment the graphics, and too much text on a website with not enough photos or graphics.”
C – “Just running an ad is not enough. If the ad is not of a certain quality level then it can actually have the reverse effect – it can be a negative.”
To read more about how to get great ads, photos and more, click here to continue reading and flip to page 62!