10 Fast Marketing Hacks for Pet Brands
If you’re like most petpreneurs, you constantly feel like there is never enough. Enough time, money, enough YOU to meet the demands of your business. I have been a petpreneur for over a decade… Trust me, I know the struggle is real!
A year ago I founded Working with Dog, this online community to help mitigate the stress, confusion, data-overload, guilt and potential burnout that often comes along with building a pet business. Here at Working with Dog we are helping petpreneurs create profit and freedom by build brands. Building a brand instead of just a business requires some marketing genius, a lot of hustle and the support of like-minded people who just ‘get it’ to help you make the courageous decisions that help you stand out in the marketplace.
For those of you who are building brands, I have treats.
In preparation for Global Pet Expo, my team of Working with Dog experts and I put our heads together to collect 10 of our best tricks, tips and tools to make the pursuit of relationships, transactions and profit, just a little bit easier.
Don’t worry, it doesn’t matter if you’re a retailer, a distributor, a product maker or a service provider… whether you run a local or international business, these tips are universal and we’re confident they will help you save time and money in your efforts to increase conversions, fill your sales funnel and fuel your brand.
10. Get Serious About Email
“When it comes to purchases made as a result of receiving a marketing message, email has the highest conversion rate (66%), when compared to social, direct mail and more” 
Many savvy digital marketers refer to their email list as ATM’s – they send an email, they get cash. Getting a potential customers’ email is the second-best thing to getting a sale – so if you’re not actively building an email list – stop reading this and go sign up for a free account at mailchimp.com right now.
Hack: Once you have an email list, go to sumo.com and learn about their suite of tools for list-building, especially the ‘welcome mat’ and the ‘heat map’. Sumome is all about optimizing your website for collecting emails, including making it super easy to add those ‘get this free gift’ opt-in boxes within your blogs, emails and other content. Sumome is your new best friend, and it’s free.
“Open rate is highest when companies send two emails per month.”
**Non-top salesy content is the WORST and your audience will stop paying attention: aim for 80/20 split of interesting, helpful value-adding stuff to salesy stuff. More is not always better when it comes to communication – stick with a consistent routine your customers won’t feel overwhelmed by. Once a week, every two weeks or once a month may be just right for your audience. Test. You can amp it up a bit during promotional seasons.
9. Organize Your Social Media
I feel like I have tried every tool under the sun to make the sharing of social media content on multiple platforms more manageable. It wasn’t until I found Buffer that I actually felt like I was saving time by using a third-party app. I cannot recommend it enough for managing your Twitter, Pinterest, Facebook pages & groups [did you know you can’t actually pre-schedule content for groups natively in Facebook?] and even Instagram – seriously this app changed my life!
Hack: Sign up to Buffer.com and use it to manage scheduling and posting your social media content. Want hand-holding to help get started? We created a walk-through for you over here.
8. Don’t Pay for Likes on Facebook
In the glory days of using Facebook for your business for free – they wanted us to post great stuff 4-5 times a day, and we wanted free reach to our tens of thousands of fans. Times have changed and reaching even a small percentage of the people who have liked your business’ Facebook page for free have gone. Now you must pay to play. But, if you’re still working on building up your community on Facebook [which I highly recommend in order to have a nice big juicy list to advertise to] do not use the ‘pay for likes’ option in Facebook Ads. Do this instead…
Hack: Regularly post your brand’s content [from your blog, or another social platform if you must] to your Facebook business page. Now and then, promote it [pay to push it to more people]. When people ‘like’ that content you have a chance to invite them to like your page. Simply click on the ‘these people have liked this’ phrase and a list will show of all the people who already like your page and those who don’t – a button will appear allowing you to invite non-followers to like the page. Your money is much better spent [your cost of acquisition will probably be much less] by promoting content and inviting the people who like it to follow your page. Two birds, as it were.
7. The Rule of 5’s
You’ve heard it before and will keep hearing it for the foreseeable future (especially if you hang out with Working with Dog) – content is king. But there are so many ‘rules’ about how to create and share great content, it can be easy to get discouraged – especially if creating ANY content at all is a huge hurdle for your or your organization. Instead of trying to do it all, start with this tip from one of my absolute favorite digital marketing exerts, Jane Harrell from ‘cause Digital Marketing.
Hack: When preparing content for your business, the most important thing to remember is to follow the rule of 5’s: Make it easy for your reader to spend 5 seconds, 5 minutes or 5 hours engaging with you and your world. Keeping them for 5 seconds means you need lots of headers and bullet points, break up all that text and make it easy to skim. This is probably the most essential tip, because if your audience is greeted with a wall of words, they’ll bounce.
Five minutes might be a full read-through of the article (although some data suggests that the ideal length of read for a blog post is 7 minutes, so plan for approx. 1300-1600 words) or full view of a 5 min. video. Keeping someone around for 5 hours would be quite a trick, but this means creating a habit of always linking to other relevant content. Make every article or video an excuse to start a new journey, giving the reader somewhere else to go, or something else to learn, download or consume once they’ve finished the first. Jane calls this having ‘no dead-endts’. Want more marketing genius tips from Jane? Check her out over at causedigitalmarketing.com.
6. What is the point of Twitter anyway?
Most of the petpreneurs I work with just simply do not get Twitter. I mean really, what is the point of it? Well, Twitter is great for a lot of things, including: customer service, amplifying content, building a platform as an expert, connecting with journalists and other influencers, building relationships, sharing news and yes, even identifying and acquiring new customers!
Hack: Using Twitter’s ‘advanced search’ function you can find your ideal customers (by searching terms like ‘my dog’) and then you can add the resulting users to a list named something like ‘cool dog owners’- this accomplishes two things:
- You can identify potential customers to engage with and begin engaging
- When they see the notification that they’ve been added to a list, they are likely to click to your profile and check out your business.
It’s easy, fast and free! Want to know more? We did a complete write-up with screen shots over here.
5. Get on that Video Bandwagon
“Adding video to an email can increase click rates by 300%.”
Video is not going away, so you might as well embrace it. Did you know that YouTube is the second largest search engine? Did you know that everything you SAY in your video gets transcribed and becomes searchable? That means, it’s not just the keywords you use, or the title of the video, but the content itself that adds juice to your SEO. Not only that, but it will elevate your click-rate in email too. Video can grow just about every metric you’re measuring!
Hack: Consider making videos instead of writing blogs. How-to videos, or a ‘vlog’ which is a bit more personal, take your audience ‘behind the scenes’ at your business, or simply share a weekly tip – whatever! Although video may feel a bit daunting at first if you’re not used to it, most of my clients find that after the first couple tries it’s a MUCH FASTER and more efficient way to create content than writing. It can even be fun – like having your own TV show J What’s more, is once you’ve created the video you can have someone (check out upwork.com for great resources for this) transcribe the video (now you have great written content), and you can easily convert the video to MP3. Uploaded the YouTube like to your blog post, throw in the link for the MP3 and now no matter how your audience likes to consume their media, you’ve covered it! Equally, Facebook is rewarding videos uploading natively to their platform with more views, so you can go ahead and upload it there too and have your content be seen by a LOT more people than if you post words or a link to your blog.
Want more growth hacking tips like this for social media? Check out our Animalhaus podcast: episode #6
4. Promotions. Go Big, or Go Home.
Unless you already have insane demand for your product, it’s super premium and you NEVER discount it, I don’t ever want to see you advertise a ‘10% off’ coupon. Ever. It’s just not compelling.
Hack: Even with all the content and nurturing in the world, you will have to sell to your audience and some point. You’ll have to give them a reason to buy NOW instead of staying perched up on that fence. When you run promotions – go big. Go 50% off, or ‘Buy One Give One’ or ‘Get this free gift worth $100’. Promotions only work when they’re compelling, which means making the offer a total no-brainer AND adding pressure with urgency and scarcity. Then not only are they buying, but they’re sharing your offer with others too, because they can’t believe what a good deal it is!
We go in-depth into the topic of conversions and how to add ‘urgency’ and ‘scarcity’ pressure effectively to increase purchase without damaging the value of your brand in this article here. Join us and have a look.
3. Build Relationships on Instagram
“74 percent of consumers use social media to make purchase decisions.” 
Instagram might just be the last great free way to build and reach a captive audience on social. Get going now before Facebook messes with it! Marketing at its core is all about influencing behaviour – getting your people to click, like, comment, share, or buy. For most pet brands, the best way to do this is to build a relationship over time [with those that want them] and the best way to build relationships these days is via a combination of content, email and social media. Instagram might just be the king daddy of all social for relationship building.
Hack: Use the ‘story’ feature as often as possible. This is a short snapchat-esque photo or video feature that you take live, add text too and share. It doesn’t live in your regular insta feed, it lives at the top. Word on the street is that the more you use it, the more priority your photos will get to show up in the feed of your followers. Although, like all things digital, this may change tomorrow!
*** On Instagram you need to be visually dynamic. Don’t throw any ol’ photo up there [chuck the boring stuff on Twitter]. You need to have a visual plan if you want your following to grow faster.
Check out our instagram to see how we’ve used our brand colors to create a pattern of quotes: @workingwithdog Here are a few other dynamic examples of great pet brand instagram feeds that we love: @earthrated @zeedog @thelabsand.co and @unleash.dog
2. Influencers are the next big thing
“92 percent of people trust recommendations from individuals (even if they don’t know them) over brands.”
If you’re not yet familiar with what an influencer is or does – it’s time to get clued in. An influencer is a passionate, perceived expert in a niche; a person with social power that amounts to influence over an audience. They are living, breathing ‘social proof’ creators that through their influence, can help send eyeballs and buyers your way. They are also VERY affordable compared to traditional marketing channels like print and most often, they offer a far more targeted, measurable and effective marketing opportunity.
Hack: If you want to become an influencer or find influencers that might be a good fit for your brand, visit Hubba.com. You can sign up here as a pet retailer, brand or influencer and access their massive pet business community. Want to know more about how to work with influencers or become one? We covered this in February in Working with Dog, in collaboration with the experts at Hubba.
1. Optimize your Why
“80% of consumers said “authenticity of content” is the most influential factor in their decision to become a follower of a brand” 
Ok, I admit it’s kind of like cheating to put this on this list because it is NOT fast, but it was too important to leave out. If you don’t do this step first, all of your marketing efforts will be much less effective than they could be. In Working with Dog and in my book Million Dollar Dog Brand I teach a framework called the ‘6 Marketing Senses’. These senses are a step-by-step guide to shaping your business into a brand, and the first marketing sense is your ‘sense of self’: your why. Why do you do what you do? What do you believe in? You need to first KNOW this [not as easy as it sounds] and second, communicate it expertly everywhere, all the time. This means leading with ‘we believe…’ rather than ‘we offer…’ or ‘we are….’ or ‘we make…’ – making this slight change speaks directly to your ability to show up authentically, and with a purpose.
Hack: If you want help finding or crafting your ‘why’ into a delicious brand statement or brand pillars that can provide focus for your communication strategy – consider joining Working with Dog where we can teach you how and help you along the way.
Global Pet Expo
If you read this before Global Pet Expo (March 22-24, 2017) – I am speaking at 9am, 12pm and 2pm on Thursday March 23. For more details about all the events we’re hosting and attending at Global + extra goodies, check out this page here.