Signpost Local Marketing Blog

Category: Pet Services

Attracting New Customers for Your Pet Boarding Business

October is Pet Services Month here on the Signpost Local Marketing Blog! We’ll be surfacing insights and strategies specifically for marketing your veterinary practice, grooming, training and boarding businesses while driving more new and repeat customers. 

Not a pet care professional? Don’t worry, we’ll still be sharing insights that will help you to promote  your local business, acquire new customers, and encourage loyalty. Want your industry to be the next featured month? Drop us a line, and let us know!

Promoting Your Pet Business

Let’s face it, our pets are part of our family. And although dogs were originally domesticated in order to provide protection and warmth (amongst other rational reasons!) for their owners, they’re now more likely to be treated as our children or “furbabies” than livestock. So, it may come as no surprise that the boarding and pet sitting options for our precious pets must exude attention to detail, comfort, and above all else, TLC.

In order to get your boarding business found by more new customers, you must focus on accentuating the differentiators in your approach and amenities. Follow these best practices, to reassure your target customers that their beloved pets will be in good hands.

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The Art of Local: A Conversation With Christy Seal, Owner of My Best Buddy Dog Training Studio

“We fight for small businesses.” This is the first line of our mission statement at Signpost, and it greets us on a wall in our offices every morning when we walk through the door. More than just our customers, the businesses we fight for daily are run by awesome people with awesome stories. For them, running a local business is more than a science—it’s an art. In honor of Pet Services month, we thought we’d share a conversation we had with one such local business “artist” — Signpost customer Christy Seal, who owns My Best Buddy dog training studio in St. Anne Missouri.

My Best Buddy Dog Training

Q: Tell us the story of how your business started.

A: Throughout my life, I have trained dogs at many doggie daycares, pet stores and even shelters. At the last pet store I worked for, my manager was very supportive of me andmarketing my dog training business my techniques. She encouraged me to open my own training studio, so I took the plunge and opened My Best Buddy.

Q: What’s your favorite part of being a small business owner?

A: There are a few things, but probably my favorite is the level of personal interaction I get to have with my clients. At many places I worked before I owned my own business, the management dictated how I trained, so being able to be in control of my curriculum now is huge. I also love that I get to make my own schedule.

Q: What are you most proud of about your business?

A: We work with a varying degrees of behavioral issues, and it’s always the best when a dog does something that an owner never thought was possible, whether that be a dog walking calmly with other dogs, learning to sit and stay, or anything in between. When an owner is elated about their dog’s progress, that’s always the best feeling!

11988692_845567142222803_3928267073267087508_nQ: What have been your biggest challenges?

A: Getting started. I have been open only a year and getting the word out there, growing business and getting new clients, was the biggest challenge. I’m so thankful to have invested in Signpost — I remember I was terrified to take the leap and sign up, but I believe it’s been a truly great investment. Being able to have access to clients not only through email but also through text messaging is so convenient. I love being able to send out promotions or coupons with one swift click or the have them scheduled so they get sent even if I am not thinking about it. All of these things keep my business and me in the forefront of people’s minds and have helped keep my doors open. Really, I just love all Signpost provides.

Q: What tips would you give to a small business owner just starting out?

A: Never underestimate the power of good marketing!

Q: What would you do with an extra hour in the day? (Besides more work!)

A: Read or sleep.

Q: What’s the craziest customer/order you’ve ever had?dscf0699

A: I had a woman once want me to talk to her dog, and I mean legitimately talk to him. She thought that he needed a doggie psychologist, and if he could just come in and talk with me he would be a better dog.

Q: How do you define success?

A: Helping owners gain success with their dogs. I can make all the money in the world, but if I am not doing that one thing (helping owners connect with their dogs), then I am not successful.

Q: If your business was an animal, what animal would it be?

A: Well a dog, duh!

Promoting my Dog Training Business

art of local

Want to hear more stories like Christy’s? Check out Signpost’s Art of Local channels on Facebook and Instagram!

Dog Trainers: Utilize SMS Strategy To Convert More Leads

October is Pet Services Month here on the Signpost Local Marketing Blog! We’ll be surfacing insights and strategies specifically for marketing your veterinary practice, grooming, training and boarding businesses while driving more new and repeat customers. 

Not a pet care professional? Don’t worry, we’ll still be sharing insights that will help you to promote  your local business, acquire new customers, and encourage loyalty. Want your industry to be the next featured month? Drop us a line, and let us know!

Promoting Your Pet Business

Did you know that 87% of dog trainers quit within the first two years, mostly due to the challenge of getting new clients? Chances are your decision to embark on this venture didn’t include a love of marketing yourself. Most likely, your passion for animals drew you to this vocation and you imagined days spent in the company of dogs, helping them to reach their full potential. The good news is that by wielding one of the most effective tactics in any marketer’s toolkit, SMS communications, you’re sure to maximize your effectiveness, which can save your valuable time for what you do best.

And, if you’re new to SMS marketing, you can check out our getting-started series for a good foundation.

Getting Started With SMS Marketing: Part One

Provide multiple opportunities to subscribe to your SMS list

Great SMS marketing relies on a solid list to send to. If you’re new to SMS marketing, check out this post to learn more about how you can grow your SMS lists. You can start by incorporating your opt-in info into every marketing or promotional material you create for your business. Plaster it on your website, across multiple pages, including your homepage and contact page (if you have one). If you have a physical location, include it on any signs you display around the check-in or waiting area, or in your windows. Add it to any printed materials as well, including flyers, coupons, and business cards. This should also extend to your other digital assets, on every email you send, as well as in your personal email signature, so that anyone you communicate with will be reminded to subscribe. Similarly, you can include on any vehicles that bear your branding.

Stay top-of-mind by sending out a text blast following a networking event

Attend networking events in your area, and meet other entrepreneurs and local professionals. Chances are that your business will be the most fun to discuss in what can be an otherwise dry atmosphere. There are bound to be dog owners in the crowd, and as you already know, for entrepreneurs time is one of their most valuable resources, and one they already have too little of. Explaining the value of a training program implemented by a profession is bound to raise some interest. Not every type of business is able to find direct customers at such an event, so be sure to take advantage and start planting the seeds. When you swap business cards or contact info, ask for a mobile number, if one isn’t clearly listed, and if they wouldn’t mind if you followed up via text message the following day. Don’t be afraid to clearly talk through your target audience. Do you specialize in small or large dogs? Dogs that have anxiety, or are aggressive? Or, are you more focused on puppies and the training that goes with that (housebreaking, minimizing barking, basic commands to “sit”, “stay”, etc.)? Speak to that that expectations are aligned and also consistent your website and other marketing efforts.

Try sending out a blast to all the contacts you spoke with the previous day. Include a link to your site so that they can find out more about the types of services you offer, and read case studies or testimonials from your happy clients. Your site should have a contact form, or even allow them to book directly there. You can also try including a special offer or a code on your business cards for a discount or free consultation or session. One of the advantages of SMS marketing is that 90% of them are read within 3 minutes of being received, so you can be sure that you’re reaching these new contacts while your meeting and discussion are still fresh in their mind. This approach makes it really easy to pass along to other friends whose precious pooches might also benefit from a bit of discipline.

Use SMS training tips to add supplemental value to your target audience

If you don’t already, you should try creating resources either on your business’s blog and through email newsletters to provide training tips that will help your audience of dog owners. This is a great way to add value for those you hope will one day become customers, while also showing off your areas of expertise. You should target the same behavioral issues that you’re looking to focus on in training to ensure consistency and strength of brand message.

Once your audience grows accustomed to turning to your business as a source of authority on the subject, you can start sending out quick tips via text message. These should be condensed, bite-sized lessons or exercises for owners to practice at home with their pups. You can also send these daily or weekly to current customers to keep them on track and ensure that they’re continuing the regimen after they leave you. This will help improve the overall experience for your customers, and amplify the results and progress their pets make under your guidance.

You can also use SMS marketing to link to longer pieces on your blog, or to short “how-to” videos that can help illustrate the techniques and tactics you employ in your sessions and how they can be modified at home.

Send out text blasts to follow up with leads

If you have a contact form on your site, advertise online, or host any in-person events, you can wield the power of SMS marketing to nurture these leads and aid your efforts to convert them into paying customers. How do you usually acquire new customers? If you  hold free workshops at local dog parks, at shelters in your community, or even in your own space, you can send a text message blast out the next day to keep the conversation going.

Following any event or other lead magnet, you want to continue to connect with this audience, while the great experience they had with you is still fresh in their minds and they feel like they’ve already taken the first steps towards their training goals. Consider sending them a follow-up SMS with a special introductory offer or discount can help motivate them to take action.

Finally, you can send out text blasts to both current and prospective customers with links to your business’s profile on popular third-party review sites like Yelp. For prospective customers, it can provide reassurance that others have found success with you, and for current customers it can be a good reminder to leave you a five-star review if they’re satisfied with their pooch’s progress. These sites increasingly influence purchasing decisions, and their impact is tangible on your revenue. So be mindful of these, and include SMS as part of your greater reputation management strategy.

Grow Your Grooming Business By Focusing on These Top Retention Tactics

October is Pet Services Month here on the Signpost Local Marketing Blog! We’ll be surfacing insights and strategies specifically for marketing your veterinary practice, grooming, training and boarding businesses while driving more new and repeat customers. 

Not a pet care professional? Don’t worry, we’ll still be sharing insights that will help you to promote  your local business, acquire new customers, and encourage loyalty. Want your industry to be the next featured month? Drop us a line, and let us know!

Promoting Your Pet Business

When it comes to pet care, owners can be as sensitive and worrisome as any doting parent. Once you accept this, it then makes sense that they’re especially picky and maintain high standards when it comes to selecting a grooming specialist for their beloved pets. Therefore, it’s essential to create a strong first impression and use all your soft skills to cultivate the care and affection for your animal customers, so that it becomes a tangible element central to your business that exudes trust. We’re laying out tips to establish this crucial first step, as well as others that will ensure you maintain a healthy pipeline of repeat customers.

Continue Reading: Making a strong, first (digital) impression…

Making a strong, first (digital) impression

You might be surprised to find out that when a new customer walks through the door, they’ve most likely already made up their mind about your business. Or, they’ve at least drawn conclusions that have informed a memorable first impression before they even got out of the car. Few consumers decide to do business with anyone without conducting at least a cursory amount of online research. And not only are 88% of them trusting the reviews and comments that strangers post online, but an increasing majority is vetting even those recommendations that they are receiving from trusted family and friends with an online spot check.

Even with such solid referrals, chances are potential customers will take a look at your site and be typing your business’s name into their favorite search engine. They’re on the lookout for any issues or problems that may have evaded their friend. The decision often comes down to three factors: Your website, Third-party review sites, and any press or local articles that may have been published about your business. While it’s always great to have positive press, and difficult to outrun any perceived scandals or unfavorable press, that’s a subject that would require its own very long and dedicated post (for another time!). The other two, however, are prerequisites to the success of all businesses, as well as the key to sustainable growth.

Your business website

If you’re reading this and thinking, “But this doesn’t apply to me. Our business doesn’t even HAVE a site!” then it’s even more necessary for you to read on. Not having a site can hurt your just as much (or even more). When potential customers are performing this digital due diligence, oftentimes what they’re looking for is to build a sense of credibility and trust with your business. They want to make sure there are no surprises and that the services will be performed, as expected. They’re looking to avoid risk and uncertainty. Your site creates a strong, first impression for them; it reassures and defines these expectations. When you have no website, your business remains one giant question mark, and they’ll be unlikely to take such a risk, especially when it comes to their precious pets.

Now, for those of you who already have sites or are building one out soon, it’s important to put your best foot forward. It can be difficult to tackle this on your own, so it may mean making an investment in people and services who are experts (website platforms, like Weebly, offer free tools to help you here). A really great website should be a balance of information and a less tangible reflection of who you are as a business, why you exist, and what your mission or promise is.

As far as information, you should include your business hours, address, contact info including email and phone number, directions, services offered and even pricing (as long as it’s up to date. There’s nothing worse than having old pricing details when a customer comes in and feels as though they’ve been tricked). Take care to convey this in a way that makes sense, without simply dumping it all on your home page. Think about sites that you frequent and the way they’re architected. Learn from their best practices and try to organize your site in a similar manner. Avoid busy sites, or too many strong, assaulting colors, which will prompt visitors to bounce from your site sooner rather than later and potentially before getting the info they were looking for. Check out this Forbes article on the psychology of color for brands for some further explanation and tips.

So much of our impression of a particular brand or business is driven by visual imagery. So again, a site that feels clunky, outdated, or disorganized can lead to similar (albeit unfair) impressions about how your business is run or operates as well. Try using this visual aspect to your advantage by showcasing some of your best looking and adorable clients! Think about adding a gallery, or linking visual, social pages (Instagram or Pinterest is usually best here!), to display some of your latest posts, automatically, so you won’t need to worry about maintaining this element.

Online Review Sites

This has become increasingly more important for businesses, especially as it pertains to digital relationship management. If you’ve ever consulted Yelp, Facebook, or even Google before selecting a restaurant, then you’re already familiar with how much influence they have over the customer journey and purchasing decisions. Being an impartial source, people tend to place an overwhelming amount of stock in these reviews, requiring constant diligence for every local business.

There is no shortage of data to convey the impact these reviews have on your bottom line. Our favorite of which, is that Harvard Business School found that a change in rating of just one star can boost your revenue anywhere from 5-9%.

 Free Seminar: Tips to get started with creating and implementing a comprehensive Online Relationship Management strategy!

When you do receive 5-star reviews, be sure to share them in newsletters, on your site, or across your social pages. This prompts others to also leave reviews after they see how much you read and care about them. It may also serve as a good reminder for those who intended to leave you a review and forgot or got distracted. Provide links to your business profile across these sites, on your website, social pages and even in your email signature. Try to make it as easy as possible for clients who wish to sing your praises!

Similarly, be sure to reach out to those who have had negative experiences to see how you can improve in the future and how you might be able to find a resolution. Signpost’s Mia does this for you automatically, and “intercepts” negative reviews before they’re even posted! Find out how she can help you safeguard your digital reputation, today!

Ensuring success during first meeting

Again in this line of work, it’s important to make sure you’re broadcasting the right sensory signals. When customers walk through the door, they shouldn’t be accosted by the stench of wet dog, or lay eyes on an unsightly scene that appears disorganized, messy, dirty, or dangerous. Customers will be hasty to interpret first impressions and jump immediately to unfavorable conclusions that will often prove impossible to mend. You might think that surely, customers understand that a place that shampoos dozens of dogs a day might have an eau de canine in the air, but sadly that is often not the case. People will still hold it to high standards, and expect some pleasing odor which evokes cleanliness, or tranquility.

Again, these “intangibles” are important factors in creating a winning experience for customers. Staff friendliness and “warmth” needs to be conveyed, to position them as people who will love and treat their pets carefully and with TLC. Be as congenial as possible and let them know that their pup is in good hands! If you have time, offer to give a tour to new customers, allow them to voice any concerns, and be sure to ask them about anything you should know about their pet or their pet’s personality. Being thorough here will speak volumes of your attention to detail and commitment to delivering a high quality service.

Loyalty is about the entire experience

The days of punchcards and cookie-cutter loyalty programs have passed for most businesses outside of retail. It’s important to think about the entire experience for both the pets and their people. Think of ways to make this experience more enjoyable or convenient for both and you’ll find great success. You can do this with a combination of exclusive events, rewards, and communication.

Events: Maybe an introductory event for new customers where you offer owners free manicures while you’re busy beautifying their pets. Equal parts pampering might be just the thing they need to become an advocate. Plus, it helps the more nervous, “helicopter parents” by easing their anxiety over leaving their furry companion in a strange place for the first time. You can also offer this every so often as a reward for loyalty. Consider monthly contests, such as “best Halloween costume” throughout the month of October where owners tag your business in their social posts with the contest hashtag. This allows you to show off the entrants, and showcase your customers pets, which they’ll love!

Rewards: Think about what makes sense for your business, based on your pricing structure and customer data. It’s important to do the math here, and calculate the value of your customers, so that you don’t end up paying more in rewards than you receive in customer value. You can create a program that is governed by tiers or points, or completely create your own. If you’re looking to get started, we’ve put together an entire series dedicated to loyalty programs, you can check out here!

Communication: Try naming a “Pet of the Week” or month and award them a free service.  Additionally, try encouraging owners to post pics of their pooches in their post-groom glow with specific hashtags and tags so that others will want to become customers or sign up for your loyalty program. Give some sort of “upgrade” or reward for pet, owner, or both anytime they share on social. (Maybe consider getting a pup-sized step-and-repeat that they can use to make their furry friend feel like a celebrity, while including your business’s branding. It’s a win-win!)

Social: Again, we’d recommend sticking with a visual platform that already has a large network of pet lovers, like Instagram. You’re more likely to be discovered by users and potential customers if you use applicable hashtags. You can test this frequently, and see what works best, but don’t be afraid to have fun with it! This will be conveyed to your audience and make them want to follow your business.


Veterinary Marketing 101: Gaining Exposure To More Pet Owners and Keeping Them Engaged

October is Pet Services Month here on the Signpost Local Marketing Blog! We’ll be surfacing insights and strategies specifically for marketing your veterinary practice, grooming, training and boarding businesses while driving more new and repeat customers. 

Not a pet care professional? Don’t worry, we’ll still be sharing insights that will help you to promote  your local business, acquire new customers, and encourage loyalty. Want your industry to be the next featured month? Drop us a line, and let us know!

Promoting Your Pet Business

Like anything in the medical field, it can often seem unpalatable to consider the important work that a veterinary practice does to be reduced to a “business”. Unfortunately, every practice needs patients in order to be sustainable and fuel the vital work you and your team does every day. So although marketing your services, technical expertise and care may seem distasteful, it’s imperative to the future of your efforts.

As you already know, trust is unparalleled when it comes time to decide who we feel comfortable treating our beloved pets to in their time of need. Many clients treat their pets as their furbabies, and as such, do not take this due diligence lightly. It’s important that your marketing messaging and efforts speak to your qualifications, technical expertise and experience, and embody trust and credibility. Beyond that, empathy and bedside manner are the other driving force behind putting them at ease and feeling secure in your abilities.

Continue Reading: Position yourself as an expert by providing educational resources

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