You've seemingly done it all:
You've created a Facebook page and try to post on it every day.
You've set up a website on Weebly or another website builder.
You've printed out flyers and handed them out at local community events.
You've even tried a hand at Facebook advertising and Instagram.
What else is there to do? What are you missing?
As we go into 2018, the way you market yourself as a pet store could be the difference between your open doors and the upcoming "retail apocalypse". Simply doing the bare minimum is going to work less and less as consumers turn to convenience and what they know best.
The best way to stand out is to put together your marketing plan now. This way, you'll ensure a better chance of being successful in the year ahead and moving forward.
Believe it or not, pet store marketing can be simple. Instead of trying to do it all, simply choose a few of the following methods that work best for you and put your heart into them. Trust us when we tell you that your customers, and your business, will thank you for it in the end.
Focus on Millennials (Or At Least One Target Market)
Over the last few years, millennial pet owners have been the highlight of discussion across every channel in the pet industry. Not only are they becoming the number one source of buying power in America, but they're also changing the face of how the industry operates.
As pet food becomes more varied and sustainable and pet containment gets more stylish, the pet industry is clearly reacting to the needs and wants of what is now one of the most economically powerful generations of pet owners.
Millennial pet ownership will continue to grow even more so in 2018. This begs the question: how on earth do you attract and keep the attention of this demanding generation? Winning over millennials drills down to three things: product selection, brand messaging, and customer value.
When targeting millennials, focus on:
- Product selection - No more getting away at sub-par quality products at a premium price!
- Brand messaging - Who are you to your customers? What makes you stand out from the competition?
- Customer value - Millennials want more than just a decent experience; they want to feel like they got value out of it
What about Baby Boomers? What about Generation X? These generations are certainly still going to be a large part of your customer base for at least a few more years. Your best customer might be different than the store next door: so before you switch up your marketing efforts, ask yourself which demographic is bringing you the most business.
If your best customers aren't millennials, don't force it; play up your marketing to your current audience and it will grow from there! Just keep these tactics in mind for the future, as millennials are sure to become your primary customer base within the next 5-10 years.
Add Customer Value (Even When You Can't Compete on Price!)
Because of their size and ordering capabilities, online retailers can afford to knock down the retail prices for brands so low that little to no money is made per sale. While these companies are able to sell other products at a higher margin to make up for it, this technique is impossible to imitate offline.
With the option to compete on price out of the equation, brick and mortar retailers must do everything they can to promote other benefits. The question then becomes: how do you add customer value without being able to compete on price?
Follow these steps to add value to your customer's experience:
- Incorporate technology into your strategy - i.e. promoting product reviews on your store's shelves
- Provide valuable resources - Supply engaging and education content to prove yourself a necessary hub for pet owners in your area
- Create the ultimate customer experience - Keep them coming back with more than just a few coupons and loyalty cards by providing an experience they'll never forget
- Invest in top-notch employees - Although easier said than done, hiring and training high quality employees is a part of the whole package; after all, your product is the best marketing tool, and your "product" is your store
Optimize Your Facebook Advertising Strategy (And Budget)
Let us guess, you've tried Facebook advertising but it just didn't seem to work for you? In this case, we hate to break it to you, but you just might not be doing it right.
If this sounds familiar to you, you're not alone. Over the years, organic reach (i.e. the number of people who will see your post without you paying for it) has been in decline on the platform and has nearly hit zero. Facebook is such a powerful platform because of its over 1 billion daily active users, but only 14 of them get to see what you have to say.
These days, creating and promoting on Facebook is one of the best ways to customers in your area to come into your store. When partnered with high quality engagement on-site, it's a valuable tool to build a loyal customer base within your community.
Although the ad manager may seem daunting at first, it's actually easier than it looks. Simply follow the steps in this article to ensure you find success in promoting your store on the popular social media platform.
Stay Engaged on Social Media (You Don't Have to Be On All Platforms!)
Everyone’s on social networks these days (even grandma!), and if you’re not taking full advantage of it, you’re missing out on some real opportunities to create loyal customers for your brand.
Stay engaged with your customers on social media by:
- Choosing which social platform(s) you want to be present on - You don't have to be on all of them! Find out which ones your customers frequent most often. In general practice, Facebook and Instagram are two good ones to go with
- Creating a social media calendar - This will help you stay organized and on track with your social media efforts. No more last minute "I don't know what to post!" freak outs. Plan it all out ahead of time so, when the time comes, you already know exactly what you're going to say.
- Using relevant hashtags - OK, you have an Instagram profile and 2 followers; now what? Use relevant hashtags that customers can use to find you! There are many online tools such as Hashtagify which will help you find the best hashtags to use.
- Monitoring social media for the latest trends - Find out what's trending and, if it fits the pet industry or your business model, post about it! For example, #NationalDogDay is August 26th. Posting on this day will help give you more exposure to dog lovers all over the nation!
Manage Your Website Presence (Go Mobile-Friendly)
Managing your website presence is a crucial part of pet store marketing in 2018. Not only will your leads and customers be able to find you online with ease, but it will also allow them to discover resources and learn more about your company. It’s this touch of online engagement that will get them to remember your business in the long run.
Unfortunately, we’ve noticed a lot of pet businesses aren’t completely up to date on the latest trends in managing a web presence. Although the upkeep of a modern website may seem daunting at first, it has actually become much easier than in the past to stay up to date and incorporate key elements of a successful site.
To get you started, these are the basic elements of a well-managed website:
- Mobile-friendly website - It's crucial to have a website that works well on any device, especially smartphones and tablets
- Search engine optimization (SEO) - Optimizing your site for search engines such as Google is the best way to build trust both online and within your community
- Publish content consistently - A well-updated website is a well-found website. Not only will you start ranking for more keywords, but Google will know that you're an active business and will make it easier for you to be found by prospective customers.
There you have it! Following any of these steps is sure to boost your business and help customers find you in 2018 and beyond, especially if they've just moved to the neighborhood. Don't miss out on potential customers by foregoing these marketing methods.
Need help getting started? Contact us and we'll get you in touch with someone who's able to help you kickstart your marketing strategy for 2018.
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ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Ashley Hoffman is a freelance content marketer in the pet and design industries. Growing up in the pet industry, she has keen insight on market trends and a passion for helping small businesses grow. Her portfolio includes various topics from pet food trends to using technology and marketing strategies to boost pet business sales. When she's not writing articles or working her day job, she's playing with her two cats (Kitty and Chewbacca), reading a book, or hiking one of Washington's many trails.
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