Let’s face it – marketing may never make the list of your favorite activities. We know there are several dozen things you’d rather be doing: visiting in-laws, maybe. Or working with dogs. Still, you know that smart marketing will grow your business. And getting your marketing message right can save you time and money by making your efforts as effective as possible.
Here are some common marketing message missteps to avoid:
1. Marketing To Dogs
Too often we see dog pros marketing to dogs, promising a loving, caring experience where Spike will be treated like a member of the dog pro’s own family. But here’s the thing: dogs can’t dial phones. At least, we have yet to meet any with that particular talent.
Target your message towards those with opposable thumbs. Marketing studies show that people decide to buy based on emotion first, then use reasoning to justify the purchase. Fluffy’s owner will certainly appreciate your affection for her dog, but that runs a distant second to the fact that she works ten hours a day and is wracked with guilt over leaving Fluffy alone so long. Appeal to your clients’ emotions.
Don’t just list your services. Tell her how you’ll help solve her problems. Your message should stress why, not what: “Because a tired dog is a well-behaved dog” vs. “Daycare.”
2. Marketing To Other Dog Pros
You’ve worked hard to earn your stripes, pursuing education in positive reinforcement methodologies. It’s natural to want to signal to other R+ colleagues that you belong to the forward-thinking club. Problem is, most of your potential clients don’t know the difference between the two prevailing schools of dog training, and your message will be lost on them. Your savvy colleagues will be able to discern your methodology. Aim your marketing message at the people who’ll be writing you checks. Again, tell them first that you will solve their problems, secondarily how.
3. Saying Too Much
Yep, we hear you. Cesar Milan and the cult of the alpha dog has you down. If one more person at the dog park talks to you about pack hierarchy, you’re going to scream. It’s tempting in your marketing to try to correct them, to tell the dog owner you’re going to teach them how dogs really learn, and how to communicate to their dog, and thus strengthen the human-canine bond. But to the typical harried client, you just described what sounds like an awful lot of added work.
Traditional trainers still do well because they promise potential clients results. Save your reeducation agenda for when people have become your clients; use your valuable marketing space for messages that appeal to emotion and offer results: “Enjoy walking your dog again.”
4. Casting Too Wide A Net
Going after every possible client can be a zero sum game. Instead, zoom in on your target clients; consider lifestyle, location, and income levels. Do you want to work with families? Gay couples? Single moms? Retired folk? Busy professionals? Consider dog sizes, breeds, and behavior issues. Target your marketing message to reach the clients you really want to reach, saving yourself valuable screening time. (And when it comes to running your business, we know you could use more time.)
5. Being A Generalist
Assuring potential clients that you can do it all, especially in a saturated market, can get you lost in the crowd. Instead, focus on your specialties and niches. Give people a reason to choose you above other local dog pros. Do you excel at training pit bulls? Are you good at grooming poodles? Love walking small breeds?
Think about the services that bring you the most joy, the ones for which you feel the most passion, and grow your business around them. Are you great at dealing with separation anxiety or solving dog-dog issues? Do you prefer to take care of older dogs and animals with special needs? A niche can bring a steady stream of clients seeking your particular specialty and, as your business reputation builds around your special skills and interests, colleagues will be more likely to refer clients with corresponding needs your way.
With these tips in mind, identify your target clients, focus your services, and polish the words that’ll grab their attention. With the right message in play, your marketing will get you a better return on your investment, meaning less time wasted on unproductive marketing, and more time for what really matters. Like quality time with the in-laws. Or working with your dogs.