5.3 -Marketing Activities
ReRun, Inc. engages in three different areas of marketing. First, ReRun, Inc. must appeal to Thoroughbred owners and trainers in order to receive horses for the program. Second, ReRun, Inc. must seek out donations of time, money, professional services and horse care products. ReRun, Inc. also must be able to reach out to the public to find new adopters for the horses it acquires.
In the beginning years of ReRun, Inc.’s existence, owners and trainers of Thoroughbreds were unaware of the service ReRun, Inc. provided. Therefore, ReRun, Inc. went to the racetracks and began to learn which trainers would be able to provide decent, sound horses for the ReRun, Inc. program. After eight years of doing business, ReRun, Inc. no longer needs to actively seek out horses. Trainers regularly contact ReRun, Inc. to take a horse that is no longer winning enough races. Since ReRun, Inc. has experience dealing with many of the trainers on the racetracks, they generally have a good idea of what shape the donated horses will be in when they arrive at the private contracted facilities. This knowledge, along with a donation application, allows ReRun, Inc. to make a quick decision about whether or not to accept the donated horse.
According to Neagle, donated professional services are much easier to find in the Kentucky area than in other parts of the United States. This is because nearly all equine professionals are dependent on the Thoroughbred racing industry for their livelihood and are willing to donate time to protect it. Having said that, Neagle also notes that farriers and equine dental professionals rarely donate their services for ReRun, Inc. horses. However, she gave the example of ex-racehorse, Thebuckstopshere, who received six month of free rehabilitation services from the privately-owned Kentucky Equine Sports Medicine and Rehabilitation Center for the bowed tendon that caused the end of his racing career. She also mentioned the generous donations of the Rood and Riddle equine clinic for their veterinary services, as well as the horse transportation company, Sallee Vans.
Although feed and hay donations are not actively sought, Neagle says that ReRun, Inc. participates in Southern States Feed’s coupon rebate program, which donates a certain amount of money for each Southern States Feed proof of purchase clipped and sent back to the company. Occasional donations of hay, concentrates and other products such as fly masks and dewormers also appear when the manufacturers have undamaged surpluses in the factories or retail stores. This is an area of ReRun, Inc. that could be improved upon. Alliances with selected feed, horse product and drug companies could have the potential to supply ReRun, Inc. with needed supplies while giving recognition and public praise to the donating companies. Neagle does mention that all donators of supplies and money are recognized both on the website and in the ReRun, Inc. newsletter and receive the usual tax deduction for their donations.
Marketing activities to recruit adopters are typically carried out at racetracks, pet festivals, tack shops and humane societies. The annual All-Thoroughbred Charity Horse Show, which has been held at Turfway Park in Florence, KY for the last three years, typically receives some press coverage. There are plans to expand the horse show to include other breeds in order to reach a larger group of horsepeople to find more adopters. However, the ReRun, Inc. website continues to be the “lifeline” (Neagle, 2004) through which nearly all adopters are found. Plans to improve the website and expand its capabilities are currently in progress.
In the past few years, countless horse retirement programs have been established. Some of these organizations, like CANTER and the Thoroughbred Retirement Foundation, Inc. serve to find homes for ex-racehorses. There are several organizations serving the so-called “Premarin mares” from Canada, along with organizations for Mustangs, Quarter Horses and other breeds. Neagle acknowledged an increased level of overall competition for supplies, money and adopters, but does not see this as negative. As long as the organizations are working to improve the lives of horses, Neagle views the competing groups as partners rather than as competitors.