We hope this Monthly Minute finds you safe and well.
We also hope it finds you busy marketing.
It’s common during times of crisis, particularly those that involve economic hardship, to pull back and tighten up. There are areas in which this makes sense. Marketing is not one of them. This is a time to redouble or even triple-down on your marketing efforts with an eye both on surviving the crisis and setting up to emerge from it as quickly and strongly as possible.
Read on about why you must market now, more than ever, and how to do it…
When I have time…
It’s a common refrain in our industry. You’ve maybe said it to yourself in the past, that you’d get to your marketing plan or a particular marketing project “someday, when I can find some time.” With shelter-in-place mandates and the related loss of work, you now have that ever-elusive “someday” of time on your hands. We urge you to put it to use for your business.
Getting through and emerging strong
Trainers, your clients and other dog lovers in your community still need you. There are a lot of dog lovers working from home who are climbing their walls. Their dogs still have whatever issues they had before the virus hit, and the extra time at home is a great opportunity to address those.
Then there are the new issues presented by sheltering in place. Many dog lovers still have their jobs to do, but now they’re home managing their dogs all day and possibly managing children schooling from home, and spouses or partners also working from home. It’s a lot of togetherness that no one is accustomed to. The dog is likely climbing the walls, too, unused to all the 24/7 stimulation and suffering from too little exercise. That doesn’t bode well for good dog behavior.
You can help. But you can only help if people know you’re available to do so, whether that’s via phone consults or video consults or virtual classes or any other creative idea you’ve launched.
Dog walkers and daycares and pet care providers, you’re in a tighter spot. You don’t have the same capacity to transform your services to meet the current reality. But that doesn’t mean you don’t have services to market—not if you intend to emerge ready to rebuild quickly.
So much of marketing is about building relationships, and when can it be more important to come together than in a time of shared crisis—particularly one that forces us into physical distance? The relationships that you forge, strengthen, and care for in time of need are ones that will serve you well into the future. This applies to current and past clients, referral sources like vets and pet supply stores, and your community at large. With time on your hands, this is the time for all dog pros to deepen relationships with clients and referral sources, and to plant seeds for new ones, too.
Marketing also has a long delay time built in. It generally takes many months for efforts to lead to results. If you stop marketing now and wait to begin again when the health crisis is over, you’ll be waiting longer for business to pick back up, putting your business on shakier ground.
How to market in this crazy time
Offer value. Share your knowledge and expertise. Find ways to help others. Marketing principles haven’t changed.
Put out a great newsletter full of ideas and insight and advice. Share training or exercise and mental enrichment tips via your social media channels. Create tips sheets vets can share with clients and pet supply stores can add to deliveries or bags, with information about your business on the back. (Trainers, use the back to explain the benefits of your virtual services. Other dog pros, use the back to express how much you look forward to being able to get back to work caring for dogs in your community.)
Trainers, a few more ideas for you: Offer vet and shelter staff virtual lunch-and-learns, and be sure they know that (and how) you’re providing training services. Offer a webinar or virtual Ask-the-Trainer session to customers of your favorite pet supply store that they can market through their email list and social media, and via fliers slipped into deliveries or bags. Offer a short free web seminar or one-off session online to give people a taste of attending a virtual class with you.
In short, think about the kinds of marketing you already do, or that you’ve seen us write and speak and teach about in the past, and adapt it to the current times. If you’re short on ideas, reach out to referral sources and simply ask what you can do for them. Don’t be shy about being and staying in touch with clients and referral sources; we can all use the connection.
One more reason to market right now
Moments of crisis often make us feel powerless, vulnerable, and afraid. There’s a lot we can’t control, and a lot of uncertainty. One of the best antidotes to anxiety is action.
Despite all that is outside our control, there remain many ways we can assert agency. For your business, marketing is one of them. And done well, your marketing efforts carry additional benefits, too. Marketing gives you a way to help others by sharing your expertise, and a way to connect to your community—both things that are likely to buoy you, too.