Why, now more than ever, pet businesses should conduct market research

No matter how wonderful you think your pet business product or service is, the most important questions you need to ask are does your market want it and are they willing to buy it?

As we've discussed before, pet business marketing doesn't start with a great idea for a product or service, it starts with the consumer. If your target pet business market doesn't want or need your product, then you have no market and your business is doomed to fail.

Market research is important for every pet business, and should not be a marketing activity you do only once. Market research should be an ongoing and important part of your marketing efforts.

Successful businesses conduct research on a regular basis to keep up with market trends, to maintain a competitive edge, to understand the growing wants and needs of their prospective customer, keep focused on how they market their pet business, reduce risk, help them be more cost effective in their marketing tactics, understand their competition, and more.

Whether you are just starting your pet business, redirecting your pet business, or expanding your pet business, market research is imperative in helping you understand your market and increase sales.

What types of the information can you garner, and should obtain, from a market research project?

Let's explore....

Market research can be divided into two types - Quantitative research and Qualitative research. Although, making in-roads into market research is a third category of  'Observation'.

Quantitative research is all about hard facts, including market share, potential market numbers, demographic data and more.

Qualitative research is about exploring why people do what they do, garnering opinions, exploring ideas and issues, understanding likes/dislikes, etc.

Observation research is about gathering and tracking data including website visits, social media likes, click throughs and more, and understanding who is interested in your pet business product/service.

Within these types of market research are two very important aspects of information you need to obtain:

Demographics - Understanding who your prospective customer is, their likes and dislikes, how old they are, what income and educational level they obtained, gender, their lifestyle, and more can provide you with valuable information about how you can actively satisfy and target your intended market.

Psychographic information - Pschographics include the study of opinions, lifestyle, personality, values, interests and more. This type of information can help you understand a prospective or current customer's purchasing habits and trends, shopping preferences, lifestyle choices and more....all helping you specifically target and speak directly to individuals who are most likely to purchase your pet business product/service.

As Baby Boomers (the generation who created our booming pet industry) age, and other generations become the new pet business market, we see demographic information becoming less and less important to pet business marketing efforts; and see psychographic and observational information as key information to help pet businesses create marketing tactics to specifically target the new pet business prospective customer and increase sales.

To learn more about how your pet business can utilize market research to more effectively market and sell your products and/or services, contact Pawsible Marketing today for a free 30 minutes consultation.

Tools coming for Instagram pet business marketers and advertisers.

Instagram is quickly becoming one of the hottest social media sites. If you're not on Instagram as a pet business, I highly recommend it.

The popular social media site recently announced it will be instituting key brand business tools for the marketer and advertiser to provide insights and value to brands.

There will be three main tools according to Instagram:

1. Account insights will allow businesses to see how they’re increasing brand awareness on Instagram through impressions, reach, and engagement and will look somewhat like this:

2. Another coming addition will be ad insights that show the performance of paid campaigns with brand analytics (impressions, reach, and frequency) for each individual ad delivered to the target audience; and will look like this:

3. And thirdly, ad staging will allow advertisers and their creative teams to preview, save, and collaborate on ad creative for upcoming campaigns.

With these new tools pet business will be able to monitor their posts and campaigns by seeing and evaluating information on time of day reach, overall reach, impressions, and engagement, consequently gaining a better understanding of how their target audience is responding to their sponsored photos.

These features will roll out to Instagram marketers and advertisers over the next few weeks and months, so keep an eye out.

I now leave you with a little of my dog YoYo (Johann) on Instagram....enjoy!

10 great ideas for posting on social media to get your pet business the attention it deserves.

I get a lot of questions from pet businesses about how to grow their Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest and Google+ fan base, how to engage their audience and most importantly increase sales.

It's not easy to come up with creative, engaging ideas of posts to share to accomplish the above tasks.

So we're sharing today some of our top ideas:

Post a recipe

One of the posts I find most engaging for my audiences on my dog sites are recipes, whether for humans or for dogs, cats, ferrets, horses and more. This type of post is one of my favorites for building a fan base.

Post a fun cartoon

But remember, don't just find any cartoon on Google images and repost it. Do it right and don't violate copyright laws....find your favorite cartoon site (like we did with Off The Leash) on Facebook and share images from their site, giving them full credit.

Post a wise saying or a quote

People love sharing quotes that speak to them with their audiences allowing you to be exposed to a much wider audience than your present fan base.

Make a book recommendation

Whether it's dog, cat, ferret, horse, snake (or more) related, share some of your favorite reads with your readers. Pet lovers love to purchase based on recommendations.

Wish your fans a happy holiday

But remember, make it personal as we did here with my dog YoYo. Your fans will love getting to know you and your furry friends.

Celebrate company milestones

Get a new distributor? Make a deal with a big pet store? Earn an industry award? These are just a few of the key company milestones your fans would love to hear about your pet business. Don't be shy about bragging.

Celebrate fun days with your fans

There are a lot of holidays dedicated to our four legged friends. Share the celebration with your fans in a fun, engaging and interesting way.

Re-purpose relevant content

A lot of the blog posts you've written over the years may still be relevant today. But many of your fans may not have known about that wonderful, educational and entertaining blog post. Feel free to re-purpose some of your relevant content from years ago.

Participate in some of the fun #HashTag events

Nearly every day there is some type of pet related hash tag event...from #MeowMonday to #TongueTuesday to #WoofWednesday (or #HumpDay) and lots more. Feel free to share in the fun and engage your readers with a great photo, promote a pet in need of adoption, and more.

Hold contests

Holding contests on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Pinterest and more can be great fan base increasers. Just be sure that you follow each sites rules on how you are allowed to institute contests for your fans.

These few ideas that should give you some fuel for your social media fire.

For more ideas, feel free to contact us to discuss how we may work together to make your social media program achieve the ROI you want and need.

What exactly is marketing, and how can it help my pet business?

What is marketing?

Over the years I've been asked this question time and time again, from former heads of tech companies with which I consulted, to the CEO of Blue Cross and Blue Shield when I was head of their community relations, to many of my current and prospective clients.

Many people believe that public relations is marketing, that advertising is marketing, that SEO is marketing; and they are partially correct. All of these elements are part of marketing, but they aren't the end all, be all of marketing. And they shouldn't be all you concentrate on in your marketing efforts.

In my view marketing is at the core of the critical point between your pet business offerings and the pet business consumer. It's the go-between, the arbiter, the middleman and the mediator.

Marketing has two goals, 'make the phone ring' and get sales; and that involves not only promotion like public relations, advertising, social media, SEO, communications and more, but it also involves pricing, product development, packaging, sales and customer service.

Pet business marketing doesn't start with a great idea for a product or service, it starts with the consumer; individuals who want or need your product and will actually buy it.

Marketing firms need a full and complete understanding of your market, who your customers and potential customers are and will be, what they want and need, what price they are willing to pay, what information they want to know to be 'blown away' by your product or service; and they need to know how your customers learn about potential new products and services, and what messages and forms of communication they like, understand and with which they engage.

Product developers and entrepreneurs are passionate individuals. And they have to be! That's what I love most about working with these individuals.

But what many believe is that their latest pet related product or service idea is the best idea to be offered to the pet loving market in years. And they innocently assume that everyone will feel the same way.

I hate to tell you, that's not reality. Pet lovers are unique individuals, they have their own perceptions of their world and they have their own ways of thinking. The most passionate of entrepreneur or product developer can have the most innovative ideas, the greatest product since 'sliced bread,' or the best idea for servicing pets; but these ideas only succeed when they fit with the pet business market ideas, perceptions, wants and needs.

Pet loving consumers don't just buy a product or service, they buy the concept of what that product or service will do for their pets, and help them do for themselves.

Marketing is your strategy for allocating resources (time and money) in order to achieve your objectives (a fair profit for supplying a good product or service).

Marketing involves all aspects of your business, it's not successful created in a vacuum. And it's not successful if you only performing parts of the marketing mix.

Without a full and complete marketing plan touching on all aspects from product, to packaging, to pricing, to customer service, to various forms of promotion, with all of these aspects working together, you will not advance your agenda for increased business and increased sales.

A good marketing plan can help you focus your energy, time and resources.

Peter Drucker once said, "The aim of marketing is to know and understand the customer so well the product or service fits him and sells itself.”

That's exactly how we help our clients. Feel free to contact us today to schedule a free 30 minute consultation to discuss your pet business marketing needs and how our full expanse of marketing services can help you achieve your goals.

Let's make some pets happy!

Photos courtesy of: GollyGforce, funkblast and MollyStevens.

Two big Facebook changes that will affect how you market your pet business.

Awwwww.....those super cute puppy photos posted on Facebook with little links encouraging you to visit a site. You know the ones....

Well, Facebook is cracking down on those 'Click Bait' links. What is 'Click Baiting?'

According to Facebook, "Click-baiting" is when a publisher posts a link with a headline that encourages people to click to see more, without telling them much information about what they will see. Posts like these tend to get a lot of clicks, which means that these posts get shown to more people, and get shown higher up in News Feed." But Facebook and people on Facebook consider them 'spammy."

We've watched over the years as some pet business Facebook pages have utilized click baiting as a way to build their follower base, some into the millions of followers. But those days are gone.

How is Facebook cracking down?

They say, "A small set of publishers who are frequently posting links with click-bait headlines that many people don’t spend time reading after they click through may see their distribution decrease in the next few months. We’re making these changes to ensure that click-bait content does not drown out the things that people really want to see on Facebook."

In addition, and as part of cracking down on click baiting, Facebook has announced their preferred method for you to share links on your Facebook page. Here are two examples they have showcased:

This image, above, is the correct way Facebook would like for your post links to be shared. You can see that the individual added the link in their status box, allowed Facebook to populate the image, headline and description, and then they added a message in the status area (without another link).

This image above is showing the incorrect way (ala click baiting) to post on Facebook, according to their new standard. You can see that the individual uploaded a photo, and then inserted a message and link into the status update area.  (As a side note, if you use Hootsuite or similar, you may have to tell the app not to include a url within your status posts, to comply).

There was a time before Facebook improved on populating images, that many, including me, would post a photo and then write in a description in the status update box and link to the specific page with an article, or similar. But now, if your blog or website images and descriptions are set up correctly, you shouldn't have any problem with images and information populating correctly when posting to Facebook. I have noticed with my blogs that I do need to add a 'search description' to the blog post, so that a correct description is showcased when I post (and that post is shared) on Facebook.

Now the second big change is that Facebook is doing away with is 'like gating.'

What is 'like gating?'

For years, many Facebook pages have run contests that involve having a user like the page to gain entry into a contest or giveaway; resulting in a contest that ultimately achieves more likers for that individual Facebook page.

But Facebook now wants to stop this. They say...

"You must not incentivize people to use social plugins or to like a Page. This includes offering rewards, or gating apps or app content based on whether or not a person has liked a Page. It remains acceptable to incentivize people to login to your app, checkin at a place or enter a promotion on your app’s Page. To ensure quality connections and help businesses reach the people who matter to them, we want people to like Pages because they want to connect and hear from the business, not because of artificial incentives. We believe this update will benefit people and advertisers alike."
Therefore, Facebook is stating that developers and page admins who use the like gate tactic must come into compliance by November 5th of this year.

So how do you get noticed and build your Facebook fan base?

The real key to building your Facebook followers and 'likers' is authentically. Here are just a few of our golden rules for managing your Facebook page:
  • Don't buy Facebook likers - it will hurt your Facebook page in the long run, especially when you institute an advertising campaign.
  • Don't 'click bait' - Facebook may find this offending and decrease your visibility with your fan base.
  • Don't create contests with the sole purpose of gaining likers, ala 'like gating.'
  • Be authentic! Post about interesting, entertaining, fun, educational and engaging content, either your own or shared from another well respected Facebook page or website.
  • Get to know your audience; speak to them the way they want to be spoken to, teach them, entertain them, engage them and provide them with valuable, worthwhile information.
These basic authentic tactics can help you build your Facebook fan base and ultimately help you market your pet business.

Inside Facebook
Facebook Newsroom

Tips to get creative with your smartphone to help with your pet business marketing.

Standing out in your pet business marketing can be very difficult. It takes creativity, persistence, trial and error, the ability to take risks and more.

One way to stand out in your pet business marketing efforts is to be different. Different always stands out more than the same old, same old; especially in social media.

The follow video share some great tips and tricks if you are looking for a way to help your pet business promotional photos and videos from your smartphone stand out among the sea of competition in the pet business space. Not to be missed...

You can bet that we'll be using a few of these in the coming months.


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