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.