Word of mouth is a highly prized and sought-after commodity, and few things are better for building and maintaining a strong dog walking business. Problem is, you need a lot of people talking before WOM reaches an effective tipping point and, sensational media stories aside, that rarely happens magically. Word of mouth must be actively cultivated.
Here are 7 ways to get people talking about your dog walking business…
Do community marketing
People have to know about you to talk about you. Without a huge marketing budget you’re more likely to get noticed with community-based marketing. Share your expertise by writing articles for local publications or distributing a branded newsletter around your service area. Make a splash with customized trading cards of the dogs you walk—your clients are likely to pass them around, and you can leave them around town as an attention-getting alternative to business cards. Or do something for your community, like organizing a dog park clean-up day or arranging weekend meet-ups for specific breeds or small dogs or dogs who love to play group fetch.
Provide excellent customer service
When you take good care of people they’re more likely to do the same for you. Doing your job with the highest of standards gets noticed. You already take awesome care of the dogs—make sure you’re doing the same for your human clients. Check in, share notes from the day’s walk, post pics and videos so clients can see their dogs having a great time, leave an occasional extra, like a framed copy of a particularly great photo of their dog, or a stack of those trading cards. Give your clients plenty of reason to talk about you!
Ask for reviews
When a client tells you how awesome you are, how much their dog loves you, or how grateful she is for your dog walking service, thank her and then ask if she’d be willing to write an online review, or provide a testimonial for your website, or share a post on a neighborhood site or on social media. It’s not just okay to ask for word of mouth, it’s imperative—people are much more likely to share their feelings about you when you ask.
Join online conversations
Find and join any neighborhood boards, sites, or social media groups for local dog lovers in your area. Same with local pro groups. Then get in on the discussion. Answer others’ questions, share cool resources, respond positively to others. Post often enough that fellow members begin to recognize your name and what you do, adding this whole local network into your pool of potential referral sources.
Use Google Alerts
Set up Google alerts for your business. This is a free service that will let you know anytime your business is mentioned anywhere online. When someone says something about you, respond!
A link from another website to yours is essentially online word of mouth; that site is suggesting its visitors stop over at yours as well. And links have the added advantage of increasing your page ranking, making it easier for others to find you. Read about strategies for collecting links in our post Got Website Links?
Engage your followers
Done well, social media is an active, engaged conversation designed to draw others into the discussion. Post pics and videos of clients’ dogs that they’re likely to pass on to others, share fun and useful tips, ask questions, get others posting with polls and questions and photo or video challenges that invite people to share about themselves and their dogs. People are more likely to talk about you when you give them the opportunity to talk about themselves.
Word of mouth generally takes time to spread. But it’s a powerful way to build positive associations with your dog walking business, and time and effort spent cultivating it will come back to you in referrals, new clients, and happy dogs. So get out there and get people talking!
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