Cowgirls need a 'unique selling proposition'
By Tiana Velez
ARIZONA DAILY STAR
Tucson, Arizona | Published: 04.17.2006
Despite being a donkey subject to the daily company of about 20 mustangs, paints, Arabians and quarter horses, Lola the burro doesn't appear the least bit concerned.
After all, the Northwest Side ranch where she lives bears her name - Lola's Place - giving her the ultimate braying rights among her four-legged friends.
She's also the mascot of Cowgirls & Company, a riding and training center at Lola's Place, co-owned by Sharon Boenzi and Linda Dent.
Opened in June 2004, Cowgirls "has been an evolution," said Boenzi. "We don't think small."
Friends from their past work as managers at the Lazy-K Bar Ranch, the two women started the center as little more than a place to house the horses they had acquired.
They began giving riding lessons to cover the costs of feeding and maintaining the horses - and Lola, of course.
From there, the list of activities at Cowgirls & Company has grown to include kids' riding camps, corporate and family events, and the Cowgirl Roundup - three days of riding, roping, rodeo and horsemanship training for women.
A trainer, wrangler and equestrian for more than 20 years, Boenzi can't remember the first time she ever rode a horse - because, as far as she knows, they've always simply been around.
So one of her special focuses has been helping people who arrive at Lola's Place with what may have been a negative first riding experience.
This past winter, Boenzi and Dent introduced a new element to Cowgirls & Company - Circle in the Round. It's a leadership and team-building program derived from Dent's 25 years in management and training at the corporate level.
"Horses are a mirror of our behavior," Boenzi said. "They don't understand anything other than direct honesty, strong leadership and respect."
With a list of services that range from beginner lessons for children to hour-long company training, the women know they need to market themselves carefully.
"We've found that we have so many opportunities to offer that we really need to be sure we focus," Dent said.
In spite of all the activities Cowgirls & Company offers families, individuals and companies, coach Cheryl Vallejos noted a lack of what she called a "unique selling proposition."
The proposition is the "one thing that makes the service and facility different than any other and is the one reason customers will return," she said.
In some cases, companies identify customer service as their selling proposition, but it shouldn't be the only thing, since what defines quality service can vary according to the customer.
"This unique selling proposition will be the message that Cowgirls & Company will want to get out to potential clients and have on marketing materials as well as the Web site," Vallejos said.
Once Boenzi and Dent have created a list of qualities that differentiate their business from others, Vallejos recommends they further rank them according to which qualities are most important to their target market - whether that's a business, person or family.
"Which of these factors are not easily imitated by competitors?" she said. "Pick the best 10 words that describe what sets you apart from the rest, and combine two or three into one sentence to form your unique selling proposition."
It can then be incorporated into press releases for the new programs and the Web site, which Vallejos suggested they continue updating so that it reflects the most current services, events and advertising promotions.
"Review the upcoming months and pick out the programs, titles, target audience and theme," Vallejos said. "Make this the biggest effort for that month or season."
May could be kids' month, for example, with all advertising designed to illustrate the various camps and lessons for children.
Or if the theme is corporate team-building, focus on attending networking events that month.
"Target a few organizations a month who you feel might be interested in team events," Vallejos said. "Make phone calls to the HR department or person in charge and follow up within a couple weeks to see if they received your flier or have any questions."
The idea is "to narrow the target audience for marketing dollars and advertisement at certain times of the year," Vallejos added.
This would help get the word out to the right group of people while keeping advertising costs low.
Contact reporter Tiana Velez at 434-4083 or email@example.com.
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Cheryl Vallejos, author of "Injecting the Juice into Leadership" and "Low
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