The Birth of A Shoestring Marketer

In setting to work to generate as much free publicity as possible for the rocking horse business, I focused on the unusual nature of the occupation and skill-set required.  I began by pitching local press and relevant magazines. A rash of local newspaper articles ensued, plus profiles in Australian Country Collections, Rick Rutherford’s Country, The Land, Sydney’s Child, Australian Country Style, Australian Woodworker, Australiasian Toymaker and Retirement Living.

Once I had some success and a taste of free exposure, I got brave and began pitching suitable TV shows. Appearances on “Our House”, “Totally Wild”, “Burke’s Backyard”,  “The Morning Shift”,  “Sydney Weekender” and “Huey’s Cooking Adventures” came in fairly quick succession. There is very much a snowball effect in media. Once one journalist/producer judges you ‘worthy’ to do a story on, you show that story to the next one and they tend to follow. It’s works like a ‘media testimonial.’

When we restored the Westmead Children’s Hospital 126 year old rocking horse for free, this brought a new round of articles in the Telegraph, Parramatta Advertiser and others.

The story of our treechange, senior’s tours, the property itself, the small business angle and particularly the classes as the ultimate hobby holiday for baby boomers added to the variety of attractive angles for the media. How many angles has your product got?

Being bound to the workshop most every day meant my partner listened to a lot of radio.  He would call into to talk back shows and the Saturday morning “Woodies” show when the topic was relevant to what he did. It was surprising how many people told us they heard him on the radio at some unusual hour. All this as a result of a spontaneous share on talk back radio.

The seniors and special interest group tours were great public relations for the business and consumed much less time than say having 20 individual visits. Over a two hour tour groups of 15-50 persons could visit the workshop and learn about old horses and construction techniques of new horses, visit the B&B, pram collection and hobby farm and enjoy an old fashioned morning tea for $15 per person.

We developed an annual open day to be held at our property in October. It had lots of stall holders from the region with the theme “Handmade Homegrown”. This capitalised on pre-Christmas rocking horse ordering habits, impulse buying and provided another opportunity to promote class bookings for the following year.

The year we had Huey cooking at Rocking Horse Lodge we had 105 people on our waitlist for classes for the coming year and got 7 subsequent TV appearances from the filming that was done!

In a later blog I will talk about the pitching process for press, magazines and TV.



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