As a busy pet professional, you may struggle with understanding where to start with your marketing. What can you do that will be effective, attract new customers, and not take so much of your time? You need an easy, step by step plan that you can follow, repeat, and get results from.
In 2018, my dog walking and pet sitting business was growing steadily. I had to make a decision. Should I turn away customers or grow? I decided to grow.
The road ahead was scary. Full of obstacles, unknowns, and uncertainty. However, with a plan to guide my journey, I was able to scale my business to a level I had never reached before.
The professional pet industry is nothing short of a beast. A powerfully growing industry that economists and researchers feel will be mildly affected by a recession. Of course, no one planned for a pandemic.
Now, pet pros are picking up the pieces and wondering what comes next. The way you marketed your business pre-covid was very different than how you need to market yourself now.
Before covid changed the face of the pet industry, you were perhaps very busy and contemplating adding more employees or hiring your first employee. Times were good. Maybe you didn’t have a marketing plan because customers were plentiful and business was good. Now, you may be wondering if you will be able to keep the doors open and the lights on past the end of the year.
Its when times get tough that having a marketing plan for your business is so critical. There will be more tough times ahead, but having a solid marketing plan in place…a road map you can follow…will help ensure you can weather the next “storm” that hits the pet industry.
Preparing Yourself for What Comes Next
In the summer of 2000, I left the traditional working world for good. The company I gave my heart and soul to for the past 5 years when out of business. They grew too fast, could not make product fast enough, and the company folded.
I started my marketing and PR firm in 2000. 9/11 hit a year later and I rebuilt. I grew steadily, hired employees and then in 2008, the recession hit. I quickly had to pivot once again if I was going to survive.
Again, I reinvented myself and my company. Eventually, I left the world of marketing and PR consulting behind, and started my dog walking and pet sitting business. In late 2016, It Takes a Village Pet Care was established.
I have picked myself up and dusted myself off after a company closing, a national tragedy, a recession, and now a pandemic. Each time, the reason I was able to easily pivot and survive was due to a strong business foundation which included a marketing plan.
5 Tips to Successful Marketing – Knowing Where to Start
The following 5 tips will help you build (or rebuild) your pet businesses’ foundation and give you a clear understanding of where to start with your marketing.
- Brainstorm your business goals. You need a place to start, but before you can start, you need to brainstorm goals for your business. Goals drive the marketing process. You must learn to walk before you can run and goal setting is that walking process for your business. Grab your journal or a notebook and begin letting the ideas free flow. Write down your thoughts, dreams, and concerns. Write down anything you feel or think about your business. Drawing and scribbling is also a creative way to express your ideas. Take 1 hour of uninterrupted time and jot down everything and anything that comes to you. Now set this journal or notebook aside for now. It is an important component to tip #5.
- Define your True Personal Brand. As a pet professional, your brand is a critical component of your marketing success. A true personal brand revolves around what other people say about you. By clearly defining your brand, you will be able to clarify the emotional connection you want to have with your audience. Anyone can take pretty pictures, and hire a great designer to create an eye-catching website – but that’s just surface-level branding. I want you to dig deeper and hone in on your authentic message, which comes from building a true personal brand. Write down six character traits by which you would like your true personal brand defined. Use this list of positive character traits to get you started.
- Create an ideal customer avatar sketch. Who is your ideal customer and what do they believe? What challenges do they face? You cannot market to a customer you do not fully understand. Start with our ideal customer avatar worksheet to guide you in defining everything about this person. Once completed, draw or find a picture to represent this person you have created, and write a detailed bio for them. This will serve as a constant reminder with your marketing outreach of exactly who you are servicing.
- Perform a SWOT Analysis. This step looks at four key aspects of your marketing – Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities and Threats. Existing businesses can use a SWOT Analysis, at any time, to assess a changing environment and respond proactively. If you have started a new business, this is the perfect time to use a SWOT Analysis as part of your planning process. Draw a large plus sign on a piece of paper. In the left-hand quadrant write the word Strengths, on the right Weaknesses, below, write Opportunities and then next to that, Threats. Ask yourself the following questions:
- What do I do well? (Strengths)
- What areas need improvement? (Weaknesses)
- What opportunities exist in the pet industry that I can benefit from? (Opportunities)
- What factors beyond my control place my business at risk? (Threats)
- Establish SMART Goals. If you have completed all the steps listed above, congratulations! You did some great foundational research that will now prepare you for creating your marketing goals. Goal setting is a critical part of the marketing planning process. When developing goals, write them in the S.M.A.R.T. format to ensure accountability. SMART stands for Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Realistic, and Time-bound. Writing goals in this format also holds you accountable for achieving them. Grab your notebook from tip #1 and begin breaking your business goals down into small weekly bite size nuggets. For instance, perhaps in your brainstorming session, you wrote down “get more customers”. Let’s take a look at this as a SMART goal.
- Goal = I want to attract more customers to my business.
- SMART Goal = increase mid-day dog walking customers from 5 to 7 by the end of this week.
- Specific: increase mid-day dog walking customers
- Measurable: from 5 to 7 customers
- Attainable: based on past success, an achievable goal
- Relevant: relates to overall business goal for growing business
- Timely: complete by end of week
Once you write out your SMART goals you will have a roadmap to guide you to marketing success. Remember to include your true personal brand, ideal customer avatar, and SWOT analysis research in the goal implementing stage. This critical information helps you to understand what is possible and where obstacles may appear on your road to success.
Join the 5-Steps Marketing Plan Challenge
Take the next step in your marketing planning process and join our 5-Steps Marketing Plan Challenge which takes place over 5 days in our private Facebook group. This challenge will guide you step by step through each tip listed above. You will be provided with a detailed workbook that includes worksheets, and weekly/monthly goal planning sheets. Through a combination of live videos, group posting, Q&A, and in-depth discussion, you will complete a plan for your business that will be easy to follow and get you results. JOIN THE CHALLENGE!