Last week I came across this tweet that sent me down a rabbit hole of researching (and eventually strategizing). Air Horse One is the name of a plane owned by Tex Sutton Equine Air Transportation and is transporting horses to the Olympics in Tokyo.
During my rabbit hole research session, I discovered that Tex Sutton’s online presence could use a bit of an overhaul. While perusing their website, I realized they do not have a marketing strategist/position listed as a crew member so it all began to make sense. While laying in the bed scrolling to find out as much as I could about this company, I developed a sample brand strategy for Tex Sutton (and Air Horse One) based on information I could find online.
Just found out the plane that will take the equestrian’s horses to the Olympics is named Air Horse 1 and I can’t explain how happy that makes me.— Simon Holland (@simoncholland) July 17, 2021
This is how I would establish their digital hoofprint.
*DISCLAIMER: I am not currently affiliated with or connected to Tex Sutton Equine Air Transportation. All recommendations made in this blog post are based on external observations and are in no way indicative of their current processes or procedures.*
If we take a look at the customer journey, we can see who is responsible for the different steps in acquisition.
Awareness → Marketing
Consideration → Marketing & Sales
Decision → Sales
With only regional sales teams as a part of the crew, it is evident that a marketing team put in place could have a significant impact on the first two steps of the customer journey. Marketing attracts leads and gathers information about their buying behaviours while sales help prospects move into a buying decision.
The three facets of a Digital Hoofprint are:
Let’s get into how we can improve these areas for Tex Sutton.
Tex Sutton’s website was designed by Hammond Communications Group so we would work with them to do a complete overhaul of the website to improve the user experience and guide visitors to the desired outcome (joining their email list). The navigation should be intuitive and tell a story about how visitors should interact with the page.
Next, I would make sure a Facebook Pixel and Google Analytics are installed on the website. As marketing and sales professionals it is important to understand where the sources of your traffic are coming from so you can make informed decisions for future marketing efforts.
Updating the website with a call-to-action (CTA) on the homepage will increase Tex Sutton’s access to warm/hot leads (customers REALLY interested in booking flights) and allow for segmentation of the list so they can target particular customers with specials, promotions and company updates.
I joined their email list and haven’t received any emails yet. This potentially means there is no automation set up for a welcome series. Having a 3-4 email welcome series for new subscribers would improve the initial brand experience and keep Tex Sutton top of mind. For the welcome series I would write an email sequence like:
- Welcome email – Intro to business/brand story
- Offerings – Services/pricing guide
- Invitation – CTA to book sales call
- FAQ – Any additional questions?
This 4 step welcome series will funnel visitors into a sales sequence, increase the number of sales calls and inform Tex Sutton of content that can be produced to answer their audience’s questions proactively.
Ex. On February 10th, 2021, Tex Sutton posted on their Instagram page that they had an opening for a flight. If they had a segmented list based on discipline, customer type and event type, they could see a higher conversion rate than via email then they would via Instagram (because to be honest, the customers that can afford to fly their horses around the country are not scrolling on Instagram, and that’s OK). Segmenting their email list would also allow Tex Sutton to target previous clients or warm/hot leads prior to big events and during the times they would be looking to book flights.
Social media may not be where the majority of Tex Sutton’s customers come from, but with a trademarked name like Air Horse One, they could have so much marketing fun and increase brand awareness and engagement immensely.
Facebook – ~3.1k likes
If BUC was hired to establish Tex Sutton’s digital hoofprint, we would focus on producing original content to boost organic engagement. This would include:
- Behind the scenes footage
- Testimonials from clients
- A “Spot Air Horse One” campaign
- Expert interviews on travel and recovery for horses
This would greatly impact the awareness and consideration phases of the customer journey, increasing the number of people to be directed to the sales team.
Instagram – ~1k followers
On Instagram, Tex Sutton could make several improvements to facilitate intentional growth. These improvements include:
- Hashtag strategy (location, event, horse names, disciplines)
- Tagging instagram accounts in the posted content, not in the comments
- Reposting user generated content from #airhorseone
- Live Q&A once a quarter with owner or COO (can be repurposed for Facebook & Youtube)
Youtube – ~790 subscribers
BUC’s strategy for Youtube for Tex Sutton would include:
- Monthly recaps of touchdowns, flight and accommodations upgrades, promotions, location options, etc.
Their content right now has a few promotional videos and features from news outlets, but producing original content will increase traffic and could be repurposed on other platforms.
Tik Tok is a video platform that has taken the world by storm. Tex Sutton could maximize video content by sharing behind the scenes videos of horses being loaded, unloaded and in transport. @equine.transport on Tik Tok is an amazing example of how this could work (boasting over 148.3k followers and 1.7M likes).
Additional Content Ideas
- Behind the scenes (photo and video)
- Highlight stress free environment/accommodations
- Interviews with staff/handlers/pilots
- Brand story w/ owners
- Influencer marketing
With approximately 325 horses needing to travel to Tokyo for the Olympics, Tex Sutton has a huge market share in the transportation space for horses coming from the USA. When I googled “air horse one + Olympics” I only came across 4 articles sharing the story. Although I am not a PR aficionado, if Black Unicorn Creative was hired to improve Tex Sutton’s digital hoofprint, we would run an Olympics campaign with the slogan “Want to get to the top? We’ll take you there. ✈️”
A few other PR/Marketing moves we would employ:
- Giveaway (1 flight/year)
- Air Horse One merchandise (t-shirts, hats, stickers and decals)
- Brand partnerships (“Official Airlines of [insert Event here])
- Client testimonials
- Care packages upon delivery (partnerships with equestrian brands like Corro, Smartpak, equine wellness brands, etc.)
- Partnership with Olympic publicity team for brand spotlight
Tex Sutton has been around since 1969 and offers an amazing service for horse owners. Updating their brand strategy with authentic content that will grow their online presence will require some elbow grease in the form of strategy and execution.
TLDR; Watch the Case Study breakdown below
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