Starting a pet related business can be difficult. Not only is it generally a challenge to launch any business venture, but with pet industry experiencing massive growth rates, there’s a lot of competition nowadays in the pet scene. Particularly when it comes to dog businesses, finding a suitable niche, an idea for a business that isn’t already taken, can be a real challenge.
Competition is there for a reason – more and more people become dog owners every year, so the potential audience you can reach is quite substantial. If you believe you're ready to enter this business, here are 12 tips for launching it effectively and improving it.
1. Branding Matters
Branding always matters, but probably more than with most other businesses, it’s vital for pet- and dog-related enterprises because of the massive competition out there. Moreover, pet businesses rely on the emotional engagement of and with their customers.
Effective branding ensures that your company has a positive image and something your customers can relate to; it’s the process that establishes and maintains the theme and outlook of your business. This is especially important for emotion-driven markets.
Just like with children, dog owners love their pets and want only the best of them. It’s important for your customer base that the companies they shop and work with feel the same. Just compare CORE dog food to a brand like Beneful. Where the former is well-known for their high quality, diversity in dog foods and active participation in “dog scene”, the latter offers only basic dry dog food with different packaging.
2. Your Skills to Back Up Your Marketing Strategy
Good branding is not enough when it comes to pet owners – your business should obviously first and foremost offer value, at a good cost. Dog owners, especially ones that are looking for things they can purchase for their pets and additional ways they can treat and spoil them, are quite adept at looking for quality and value.
An awful lot of dog businesses nowadays are offering cheap and low-value products, poor or even bad quality dog foods and similarly low-effort pet services. Focusing on the quality of your service can get you a shoulder ahead of everyone else, and the word of mouth is the most effective marketing strategy you can never buy.
3. Increase Your Online Presence
One great thing about dog businesses is that dog owners are very active online. A recent study by BarkBox showed that adult dog owners talk about their pets online an average of 6 times a week and watch dog videos and pictures around 3 times a week. This is a very high level of engagement that you can capitalize on if you maintain online presence.
4. Create a Unique, Appealing Website
Websites are often underestimated, with a lot of business owners choosing to limit themselves to a very basic website and some social media activity. Don’t make that mistakes and dedicate some thought, time and money to make a memorable website.
Websites have a lot of different uses you can utilize, one of the most important being email marketing and your subscribers list. Many business owners don’t like doing email marketing because it's time consuming, but regardless of what your product is, email marketing is still the most cost-efficient and effective marketing tactic out there.
5. Active Social Media Profiles
Social media efforts shouldn’t be underestimated either. With most of the dog owners’ online time being spend there, a well-executed social media strategy can skyrocket your business as soon as you launch it.
Pet related memes, pictures, videos, GIFs and other similar postings become viral much more easily than those that don’t have a cute puppy on them, and if you can pair that with your business and/or products, that's a very cheap and effective way to get your brand in front of many people's eyes.
6. Launch and Maintain a Company Blog
Blogs can be a huge help as well, especially if you find an interesting subject for your blog or a unique voice for your writing. This has to be something related to your business but shouldn't be used only to promote your brand or products.
A lot of dog owners are constantly looking for things to read and learn about their pets, or other ways to entertain themselves through “pet/dog theme”. If you can give them a rare, useful and fascinating information in blog form, or share your funny and interesting company related doggy stories, you can gather a lot of long-term following.
7. Consider Vlogging
Video has become the go-to source of marketing for many companies over the last few years. Vlogging platforms rack up a lot of traffic and can gather you a large mass of long-term subscribers. Especially if you or your team members have charisma, humor and a way with words, vlogging can be an amazing tool for building your following on platforms like YouTube which can later be used for business.
8. Develop a Local Doggie Network
Depending on the type of pet business you’re tackling, your local network of dog owners can either be helpful or extremely important. Either way, you really need to utilize it to your benefit. Dog owners spread word-to-mouth news very quickly when they meet in the dog park or online forums, so make sure that word-to-mouth is working for your benefit.
9. Host Dog Events
If you’re really dependent on your local dog owners network, than consider organizing some outdoor doggie events. Most dog owners love taking their dogs to new playgrounds, to friendly local competitions, the pageants, or to outdoor vet check-ups. Yet, there's never enough dog-friendly events happening. If you do it right, events like these can build a great name for your business and establish your brand.
10. Offer Discounts, Coupons, Promotions, Samples
Everybody likes promotions and coupons, so don’t forget about this easy old-school tool that’s applicable to most businesses, dog related or not. Even if you have an entirely online business, you can still find ways to give out promotions.
Cheaper online courses, discounts on dog products for email subscribers, a cheaper book with dog related advice and information for participating audience, a cheaper video series, samples of your items, or anything else can work. The fact that dog owners tend to go for quality doesn’t mean that they don’t keep an eye open for good deals or free samples.
11. Collaborate with Other Pet Businesses
A huge part of networking is working in collaboration with other businesses. There are an awful lot of different types of services for dogs and dog owners today. With that in mind, most types of dog-related businesses won’t be as much of a competition for you, but be potential partners instead. With an established relationship, both parties will benefit.
12. Demonstrate Your Appreciation of Dogs and Owners
It sounds silly and clichéd, but it’s important. Dog owners love their dogs and want you to care for them as well. This can be viewed as a part of your branding, but it goes beyond that – it should be at the core of your business.
There are many things to consider – make sure that you only hire people that share your passion for dogs; make sure that your own public image reflects your business’ position; take active stance for pet-related causes, even if they are not directly intertwined with your business.