Mia Wants a Dog, You Want Clients: Marketing Lessons from a 10-Year Old

You know who’s really good at marketing? 8-10 year old girls who want a puppy. Case in point, my daughter, Mia. She launched her campaign to get a dog a little over two years ago and I’ve been amazed watching her employ many of the same marketing strategies I’ve been teaching to dog pros for years. If you’re looking for tips to get more clients, Mia’s got you covered.

Tip #1: Know your potential clients
Mia understood who her potential clients are. She knew that Dad is the go-to when you want ice cream or comics, but that he wasn’t likely to be very helpful when what you want is a puppy. She understood early on that dog trainer mom would be the one making the dog-acquiring decision and that Mom’s concerns would need to be addressed. (Who are your clients? What are their concerns? Who makes the decisions, and based on what?)

Tip #2: Say the right thing
First, Mia started out with a strong marketing message by answering the question, “We need a dog because…?” She provided a list of the benefits having a dog would bring, painting a picture of what life with a dog could be like. For example, she argued “I would play with it instead of watching TV” and “It would teach me responsibility.” (What benefits do your clients experience from having worked with you? How are their lives made better, easier?)

Then she sought to understand my objections, asking “Why can’t we get a dog?” She proposed solutions (in writing) to each objection, speaking to my “pain points.” For instance, my concern about who would walk the dog was met with a schedule for each family member taking turns doing the walking. (What keeps your potential clients from committing to training? How can you address those sticking points?)

Tip #3: Enlist the voice of others
Some kids would have stopped there. But they probably wouldn’t have gotten a puppy. Mia knew that moms who’ve spent years fostering dogs are not easily swayed by the “cuteness” factor, so she needed to get creative.

Much like the power of a good testimonial, Mia figured out that having someone else tell me the benefits of her having a dog might be more powerful than telling me herself. So she decided to enlist some help. She told all of my adult friends (and a few strangers) why she wanted a dog so badly, knowing that word (and a bit of pressure) would get back to me. She understood very clearly the value of letting someone else make your case for you. (Do you actively seek testimonials? How could you use clients’ words and stories in your marketing to help others make the choice to hire you?)

Tip #4: Say it again and again
But the most powerful part of Mia’s campaign was her consistency. She never missed an opportunity to point out how wonderful dogs are and how one would benefit our family. She didn’t just ask for a dog at Christmas time or for her birthday. She did research projects for school on all of the hypoallergenic dog breeds. For her Parents Night presentation she wrote about how she wanted to get good grades so she could go to a good college and study dog training. For art class she designed a dog training / veterinary office in detail, even including a space to hang treat bags. For two years, she consistently reminded me of the benefits of having a dog. (Do you give up on your marketing too soon? Are your efforts consistent year-round?)

Tip #5: Be fearless
In the way of young kids, Mia was fearless. When one marketing project didn’t work, she adjusted her strategy and tried something else. When a move and unplanned house repairs slowed the dog-acquisition process, she didn’t get discouraged. She kept up her campaign, week after week and month after month. She was absolutely convinced that when the time was right, I would realize that we truly needed a dog. (Just as, when the time is right, if you’ve done your marketing, your potential clients will become actual clients.)

We now jokingly refer to Mia’s two-year long effort as her “Mia Wants a Dog campaign,” marveling at how it contained all the components of an effective marketing campaign. Viewing it through the eyes of a child, it’s simple really. Good marketing is all about targeting the right people, with the right message, frequently.

As you’ve probably guessed, Mia eventually got her puppy and, according to her, “He’s everything I hoped for, and more.” Good marketing will bring you the clients you hope for, allowing you to enjoy a thriving dog business that’s everything you’ve hoped for and, we hope, more!

Happy marketing! – Gina (Mia’s mom), Veronica, and the entire dogbiz team


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