Fairfield County Edition

Effectively Marketing a Pet Business

The W’s of Your Ideal Client

"Build it and they will come” marketing only really works in the movies. Add in that people need to see an advertisement 13 times before recognizing it, as well as that marketing to the masses is not cost effective, as it dilutes the message. The result is a depleted or an overextended marketing budget when trying to reach the general population.

The American Pet Product Association estimates that there are currently 66.75 billion pets in the U.S., which averages to seven out of 10 families having pets. Danbury alone boasts over 9,000 licensed dogs; add a couple surrounding towns and that number jumps to around 30,000.

There is plenty of “pie” to go around, as the saying goes, because the pet industry is a huge market to tap and most small businesses cannot accommodate that volume. Instead, spend those marketing dollars wisely by targeting the ideal clients.

Identifying the Ideal Client Demographic?

This includes type of pets, number of average pets per household, age, sex, income and spending habits. The smaller the demographic group, the more focused your marketing must become. A single mobile pet groomer needs less than 150 regular pets to be successful. Three sites to find demographic information include SuburbanStats.com, tinyurl.com/AVMAStats and AmericanPetProducts.org.

What Do They Want?

This can be approached in two different ways. The first is to find out what is needed and then provide it. The second is to offer what you are passionate about and convince clients through marketing that they want it. Figure out either or both with a client/competitor/your business venn diagram.

It’s easier to start with competition. What are they doing/selling that is working well for them? What can we do better or with a twist? This exercise can identify both similarities and differences to other local businesses. It becomes a choice to design a marketing plan that appeals to what makes us the same only better or one that highlights our unique perspective. This exercise can also help to identify types of customers that are not ideal clients.

Now you know who your clients are and want they want. How do you find them?

Tell Your Friends and Family

Practice an elevator speech with them. This is a term that refers to a brief conversation in which you describe what you do in the amount of time it takes to go from one floor to another in an elevator. It’s more than just a statement; it conveys passion and why a potential client would be interested in your goods or services. A mobile groomer’s might be: “I groom cats and dogs in a nurturing, respectful spa-like environment in my state-of-the-art mobile grooming van. Conveniently in your driveway.” These two sentences clearly indicate the benefits of what is offered as opposed to simply stating a profession.

Target Message in Niche and Weekly Publications

If you’re not sure if the publication is a good fit, contact the publisher for audience profiles. If you have never designed an advertisement, let their design team do it. It’s worth the investment to have it done right.

Optimize How People Search Online.

In any given day, there are 3.5 billion searches on Google by people looking for a website to solve their problem. While we can put up a quick and cheap website on our own, it may not be effective if we are unfamiliar with what brings our website to the top of a search. In addition, consider adding a blog to the website. Blogs can extend reach by offering sought-after information that is connected to the website.

Set Up a Facebook Business Page and Other Social Media Sites

Each platform has its own way of reaching potential clients. Research which sites will be to your advantage to spend time on. There are plenty of online programs that can help navigate through the maze and confusion of using social media effectively.

Get in the Real World and Meet People

Almost any live event may fit the bill since 70 percent of all households own pets. That means that seven out of 10 people walking past your booth are a potential client. Pet shelters usually have at least one event every year. Join a local pet or business group on MeetUp.com. While there is a yearly charge to organize a MeetUp group, it’s free to join any one already set up.

Creating Marketing Collateral is Key

Printed material, such as business cards, brochures and flyers, are needed to hand out at events. Local printing shops can offer an experienced hand in helping us design marketing materials. Services like Vistaprint can be cheaper.

Spread the Word to Businesses and Associations

Network with local business referral associations, such as Alignable and chambers of commerce, so others know about your services.

Putting the time and effort into identifying who, what and where our ideal client is can use marketing dollars more effectively.

Mary Oquendo is a Reiki Master, advanced crystal master and certified master tech pet first aid instructor. She is the owner of Hands and Paws Reiki for All. She can be reached at HandsAndPawsReiki.com. See ad, page 52.

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