The Ultimate Gift Exchange

“I’ve been thinking about working with you since I saw you speak at the PPG Summit,” she told me.  

“Oh, wonderful!” I replied. “How did you enjoy Portland?”  

“Unfortunately I didn’t get to the Portland summit—I saw you back in 2016. I turned in a card for a free webinar at your booth and I’ve been reading your Monthly Minute ever since.”

Two people holding gifts in their hands.This conversation isn’t unusual. At its core marketing is about relationships, and good ones take time to build and nurture. While marketing your dog business doesn’t require the same lead time as ours might, it’s still best played as a long game. Building loyalty, trust, and connection means dog lovers who instinctively reach out to you when it’s time to hire a dog pro.

One of the best ways to build potential client relationships is through an email list. Growing your list is key, because the more relationships you’re nurturing, the bigger your pool of potential clients.

Lead magnets are an effective, fast, and fun way to build that email list. Here’s how lead magnets work, and how to put one to work for you…

What a lead magnet is, and how it works
Think of a lead magnet as a gift exchange. You offer something of value in return for a potential client’s email address. It could be a dog-related e-book or a PDF article or a video or a webinar, for example. Visitors to your website are asked to input their email to gain free access to your offering.

In addition to featuring your magnet on your website, you can (and should) do additional marketing to drive people to it there—social media posts, postcards in local pet supply stores, a call out for it in your print newsletter, etc. This also helps drive more traffic to your site.

An extra benefit
We R+ dog pros love to educate dog guardians in our quest to improve the lives of dogs. Lead magnets are not only a powerful marketing tool—they’re also an opportunity to use your knowledge and expertise to serve dogs and their people.

Choosing the right lead magnet
Start by thinking about the service you’d most like to drive people toward.

Looking to get more students into your puppy class or more clients into your puppy day school? You might produce an e-book or video on house training for your lead magnet.

Need to generate interest in your trail hikes? Perhaps a nicely designed PDF article or infographic to share your favorite local trails and top tips for safe, enjoyable weekend trail adventures.

Specializing in serious behavior issues? You might create a webinar or e-book on living with an aggressive dog, in which you provide insights and management tips while sharing client success stories to illustrate the value of working with a professional trainer.

Don’t forget the CTA
Your lead magnet has two end-goals. One is to educate. The other is to sell your services—so don’t forget to include a clear CTA or call-to-action. What do you want people to do when they’ve finished reading your e-book or watching your webinar? Be sure they understand you’re there to help, a bit about how your services work, how they can find out more, and how to reach you.

But don’t be discouraged if you don’t see a flood of inquiries right away. Remember we’re playing a long game. Some people will be ready to reach out right away. But most will require a longer period to get to know you—that’s why the next step is so important.

Take care of those relationships
Think of your lead magnet exchange—someone giving you their email and downloading your offering—as an initial introduction. It’s the moment you say hello, shake hands (well, maybe not these days), and tell each other how nice it is to meet. It’s just the beginning. If you want the relationship to progress, you have to keep in touch.

That’s where your email newsletter comes in. As part of your side of the gift exchange, let people signing up for your lead magnet know they’ll also be receiving your newsletter—or you can give them the choice of opting in.

Continuing to be helpful, share your expertise, and entertain through your newsletter not only keeps you in potential clients’ center field of vision, it deepens their interest, trust, and loyalty to your brand over time. When the time comes to hire a dog trainer or dog walker or choose a dog daycare, you’ll be their default choice. (And they’re more likely to think to refer you to others in the meantime as well.)

You can also use email to offer your followers additional perks from time to time, like special offers or new lead magnets you’ve put together—because once you start using magnets you’re likely to get hooked!