Host Lauren Abbott talks with Aimee Robinson, Content Marketing Manager for Valley Vet Supply. Abbott and Robinson discuss content creation, marketing, PR and best practices for equestrians and businesses to pitch story ideas to publications. They also discuss why content marketing helps develop credible brands and how it helps engage prospective clients and current customers.
Aimee Robinson is a lifelong equestrian. Her parents raised Appaloosa race horses on their Oklahoma ranch when she was a very young girl. She evolved into a Three-Day-Event rider and rode off-the-track Thoroughbreds. Her life with horses at a young age made a lasting impression on her as an equestrian and animal lover.
Going into college Aimee knew she wanted to be a journalist and her horse trainer at the time encouraged her to consider a career with horses. Her trainer told her, “You know the equine industry needs writers who understand horses, who understand the industry and what the horse needs. You should really think about that.” She has always kept that in the back of her mind, as she reflects on the beginning of her desire to work in the equine industry.
After graduating from Oklahoma State University with a degree in journalism, Aimee got a job with one of the largest printing companies in the world. She worked on the floor of the print house, learning the insides and outs of how publications and magazines came to fruition. She even learned how to drive forklifts and found herself working 12-hour shifts.
As soon as she graduated from that corporate training program she got on with Milwaukee Magazine as a staff writer. She loved to write about the city, its history, the architecture, and the culture in Milwaukee. But from there she took a position with Bader Rutter, a national advertising and marketing agency that worked with Zoetis, a global animal health company. That shift from a staff writer to a marketing account executive catapulted Aimee to work alongside her lifelong passion for horses and animals. “It was just like a dream come true. It wasn't even something I was really looking for, and I'll be very honest, I really wasn't. I think I knew that it was a possibility (marrying her love of writing with horses) that the need was out there, but it honestly just kind of fell into my lap and I couldn't be more grateful for that,” Aimee recalled as she explained how she found herself working in the equine and animal health industries.
In 2019 Aimee became Valley Vet Supply’s Content Marketing Manager where she has built Valley Vet’s content library from the ground up. She works in a three-prong approach. They work on byline articles to be published each month. They maintain their content library which benefits SEO (search engine optimization) and it serves as educational content for the many products Valley Vet Supply has for their customers, and they work on news releases that are editorially formatted and go out to their beef and dairy and equine publications they have relationships with.
Outside of overseeing and managing educational, SEO driven, and news release content for the national brand, Aimee also oversees thousands of product descriptions on their website, and manages all social media content. She explains, “there is really never a shortage of content to be created.”
Aimee encourages equestrians and equine business owners to utilize content to help increase their brand awareness and position themselves as a thought leader in their community. “There's so much information that needs to be shared, no matter the topic, so in the case of if you own your own veterinarian clinic, or if you own your own tack store just think about what would you want to read if you were your customer. What are some key points that you would have concerns about. If you are a tack store owner, maybe discuss buying a new saddle. There are a lot of questions when it comes to buying a new saddle: how do you fit yourself, how do you fit your horse, what do you need to know, what are some different and newer features that are around today that maybe weren't around ten years ago when someone might have bought their last saddle.”
This kind of thought leadership content has been hugely impactful for businesses and developing personal brands. Equestrians have a very specialized wealth of knowledge and expertise when it comes to the industry. This kind of educational content helps build trust with customers, and also social media followers. Aimee shared that there are many different ways to share content. It does not always have to be in the written format. Video is hugely popular on social media platforms and can reach a wide audience.
Aimee and her content team have found Facebook live to be a very powerful tool, especially when getting live questions from their customers and social media followers. It is something that has been a huge resource for them in developing content, but by also connecting with potential and current customers. E-newsletters are also another excellent way to connect with customers. And she encourages everyone in the equine industry to not forget about print media and publications. “You can absolutely pitch story ideas to an editor. You can look at different formats and some tips I would share, above all, keep it newsworthy, timely and accurate,” Aimee encourages. She also mentions that self promotional articles are not articles most editors will publish.
If a business owner does not have a newsworthy story or a timely news release then most publishers and publications do offer sponsored content where a brand and business can align their expertise and thought leadership within the publication to reach a targeted, existing and established audience. This can save a business owner a huge amount of time because they do not have to slowly build their own audience, but can position themselves and their expertise in front of a publication’s existing audience for a specified rate. Sponsored content articles are controlled by the business owner or marketing team as opposed to editorial articles, which are controlled by a publication’s editorial team of editors and writers.
Aimee encourages young equestrians to look at careers in the equine industry, “no matter where your passion is, whatever your skill set is, I fully believe there's a job available in the equine industry. Don't be afraid to sketch a web and see what opportunities for internships might be available. Talk with your professors at your college, but don't be afraid to go above and beyond that and use a resource like LinkedIn to connect with a professional at an equine company you respect. I guarantee that if you were to reach out to someone in the field you will most likely get a response.”