Business owners who work in the pet industry are lucky to have an inherently loyal customer base of animal lovers and pet parents who cherish their fur babies and want to give them the best products and services available. Marketing your business well ensures that those committed pet owners are aware of your existence and more likely to refer others your way.
Never underestimate the impact an effective marketing plan can have on your overall success as an entrepreneur. By following some basic marketing guidelines, you’ll immediately gain a head start on the competition.
Identify Your Target Customers
In order to launch a successful pet business, you have to know your customers. For those in the pet industry, you at least know that your customers are animal lovers and pet owners, but don’t stop there. What other businesses or organizations might use your products? Consider county animal shelters, rescue groups, veterinary offices, and domestic violence or homeless shelters (both often have clients with animals).
What geographical area will you target for advertising? Will you offer special rates to certain non-profit groups? Take the necessary time to thoroughly identify your target audience and how you’ll market to each customer.
Create Promotional Materials
Every business needs great promotional materials like business cards, flyers or newspaper advertisements. Those in the pet industry should especially utilize these since theirs can be more creative and feature adorable pet photos or animal print lettering. Create a fun tagline for your business, and add animal sounds like purrs and woofs to radio ads.
With today’s technology and available sound boards, creating an animal jingle is easily done and can help increase your customer base. Little details can go a long way when it comes to establishing yourself in the industry and ultimately standing out in the crowd.
Spread the Word
Social media is one of the best ways to market yourself completely free, so businesses should create accounts on Twitter, Facebook and Instagram and get ready to hashtag. In order to make your online presence as valuable as possible, post at least daily, promote any and all sales or new merchandise, and encourage shares and likes by offering discounts to those who “check in” at your business. Create a business website, allow customers to join your newsletter list, and send out emails with exclusive coupons or discount codes.
In order to build your brand, reward customers who refer friends. Don’t underestimate the value of face-to-face contact either. Going around your community to share business cards or business information with potential customers is a great way of letting them associate a face with the business.
One of the best things that an emerging or established business can possibly do is offer rewards and perks to its customers. People love free things, so loyalty cards, email coupons, free shipping and flash sales will keep customers coming back. Some stores offer Friday freebies or featured products that are 10% to 50% off in order to target multiple types of customers. Don’t forget to offer fun incentives to first-time customers as well. 20% off coupons for an initial purchase is a wonderful and effective way of inspiring a sale.
You can also encourage customers to “like” or share your business information on social media by giving additional discounts. Special discounts for rescue groups and non-profits can also set your business apart from the rest, and you’ll establish a more appreciative and loyal customer base in the process.
Not many people get the opportunity to work with animals each day, so take advantage of the exciting work environment by letting your creativity shine. In order to drum up business and free advertising, launch a community contest that lets pets take center stage. Have guest speakers on animal rights or allow local artists to regularly showcase animal-inspired paintings and sculptures.
Donating any slightly damaged or unsold seasonal merchandise to local animal shelters or rescue organizations is a wonderful way of giving back to the animals in your community, and people appreciate these acts of kindness. Consider hosting pet food drives or fundraisers where donations yield discounts on your merchandise or services. Thinking outside of the box is an ideal way to generate useful connections and support other community partners, and the marketing potential is endless.
Consider yourself lucky to work in such a wonderful industry. Animals bring unparalleled warmth and love to a home and your business. With the help of strategic marketing and community support, both can flourish financially and make the lives of your animal customers and owners all the better for it.
Written by Ali Lawrennce from MarCom Land.