There’s a lot of business opportunities out there for pet lovers, and seemingly no end in sight for what the market will bear. Like any industry, however, you need to break in before you can start raking in money. While the details vary depending on exactly what you plan to do, the basic marketing principles of growth are always the same.
Let’s dive in, and we’ll show you how to keep up growth over the course of the next year.
Focus on your Target Audience
The pet industry’s client base is a wide range of people. It’s also a crowded niche, so you’ll need to have something that makes you stand out from the competition.
Your “thing” should be decided upon with a lot of marketing research. Existing client data is required for a realistic picture of who’s buying what, but you can do some pre-analysis of who buys what you’re selling if you haven’t launched yet.
The key is to find a tight audience. Target someone the competition isn’t targeting, or that they aren’t targeting specifically.
Chances are your current target is “anyone who has a pet” and that’s far too broad. Do you want to have to compete openly with companies like PetSmart? You can try, but despite the professed love for small businesses in the United States, you’re probably going to fail.
That’s just the odds. It’s the same as trying to open a small e-commerce site and compete directly with Amazon.
You might go one step further, most people do. Using retail as a model, let’s look at a few possibilities.
You may, for instance, specialize in selling accessories for small dogs, like Toy Poms. That narrows the market down quite a bit and gives you some structure to your marketing. The problem? Small dog owners are a diverse market and there are millions of possible customers out there.
It’s still too broad.
Now, how about male owners of small dogs? It roughly eliminates about half of the market, but it allows you to focus tighter. We’re getting somewhere, but it’s still too broad.
Now, how about male owners of small dogs that have a preference for “tough” accessories? That’s a much better target, and it will give you ideas for easy future marketing campaigns. That’s about the level of granularity you need to make a splash and keep expanding.
Smaller audiences don’t necessarily lead to lower revenue. Instead, you should be working on converting viewers or readers at a higher rate. Maximizing your cost-per-conversion is the end goal, and a detailed buyer profile is an excellent way to start getting there.
Content Marketing and On-Page SEO
Google has changed the landscape a lot from the Wild West days of PBNs, white text footers, and massive amounts of keyword injection. And the internet is better for it.
Searches are even “looser” than ever, with LSI and keyword matching showing up on almost every search. Google’s push has always been the end-user experience, and their end-goal with the algorithms is just to bring the best information forward.
And they’ve largely succeeded these days.
A blog is a lot of work to maintain, especially with a good editorial schedule, but it’s a way to bring in traffic from obscure places. The problem for many business owners is simply that their expertise doesn’t lie with words.
If that’s the case, then find a freelance agent or an agency to take over SEO for you. A blog that posts multiple times per week will have a snowball effect over time, especially if you make sure your writers are focused on quality rather than tricks.
There’s far more to content marketing than simply putting a blog on your business page, but it’s a great start that even a layman can implement.
People love their pets, which means a well-written article can garner further views even if they don’t convert at the moment. It’s a built-in advantage for the niche: it’s naturally engaging and can lead users down a rabbit hole. The longer they’re looking at your page, the more likely a reader is to become a customer.
Put Customer Service First
If there’s one thing that will reflect poorly on your business, it’s a lack of customer service. Whether it’s long response times or a snippy person on the phone… Either can spell doom for a business in its early stages.
The problem here is that one irate customer can ruin your reputation across multiple platforms. If you’re still expanding, this can put a serious dent in your plans. It’s doubly important for local businesses, where your reputation can live-and-die by word-of-mouth.
On the flip side: if your customer service is always efficient, unobtrusive, and helpful you’ll score a great reputation early on.
It’s almost always worth it to eat a loss and garner a good review from someone.
Online advertising has made marketing easier than ever, but it’s also made reputations a lot more fickle. You never know which customer will go on a rampage and hurt your averages, or which one will send all their friends your way… so make customer service a top priority from the beginning.
There’s a large gap in some industries when it comes to digital marketing. Almost everyone does the usual, and they may even run paid advertising on major social media networks.
But that’s only part of the battle when it comes to social media advertising. You also need to be responsive on your pages, and if you do so then you can set the tone for customer interactions before they’ve even started buying from you.
You don’t need to pull a Wendy’s and find a snarky genius to handle your affairs, often just being helpful, friendly, and responsive is enough. Your goal for direct social media advertising is rather simple: you want the customers to consider you as a person and not as a business.
Shared articles can tie in very well with a content marketing plan. After all, if your target audience is engaged you’ll be able to find customers who’ll read up on your business, whether it’s the benefits of grooming or how to turn their dog into a model.
If you can accomplish that consistently then you’ll have an ever-growing base of clients or customers.
While the pet niche has its own challenges, you already have a built-in and engaged audience when you use the right channels. Growing your pet business is easier than you’d think as long as you’re on a solid foundation for digital marketing.
So, start engaging the right audience instead of just hawking your wares. Growth is right there, if you’re willing to go down the road to take it!