Entrepreneurs frequently ask me about how to advertise their pooper scooper business. Advertising can be tricky at times because it is part art and it is also part science. The art is in crafting simple ad copy with compelling graphics to persuade buyers to take action. The science is found in testing different marketing channels, frequency and repetition, and gathering feedback from your customers.
Advertising can also be one of the biggest expenses for new business owners. Because of this, you’ll need to monitor which channels work the best to ensure a good return on investment.
Publicity is the best advertising. In November 2008, I was honored to have The News-Enterprise reach out to me to write a feature story about PetCorps. From that one story, my customer base grew fourfold within a few short weeks.
You’ll be successful at getting publicity when you first open your business. You can also get publicity by participating in community events, promoting special events (like National Scoop the Poop Week), or passing significant business milestones.
By far the easiest way to advertise your business. Post a classified ad to the pet services category in your area. To get the best results, post a similar ad every other day for about a month. You will have to tweak your ad since Craigslist does not allow duplicate ads. Be sure your post includes a picture as buyers look for posts with images.
One drawback of using Craigslist is that they removed the ability to use <a> anchor tags to link prospective buyers to your website. You can still include this information within the body of your ad, but users will need to copy and paste the URL into their web browser.
Another possible drawback is attracting the wrong type of customers. Because Craigslist is a free advertising tool, it may attract buyers who are looking for a bargain.
Print up half-sheet flyers and distribute them door-to-door in your target neighborhood. To minimize your cost, create your flyers using Microsoft Word and take the file to a local print shop to have copies made. You could print them yourself, but you’ll have to pay for ink or toner and the print quality will not be optimal. Besides, it only costs $10 to $15 to make copies at a print shop. Often, professional printers will cut your flyers as a courtesy to you.
Identify your target market and find neighborhoods where they live. Distribute the fliers door-to-door and avoid going to houses where “No Soliciting” is prominently displayed. Do not place fliers in mailboxes. Instead, put them on doors. Also, ensure the neighborhood does not have a no solicitation policy.
Networking with Local Businesses
Take some fliers, posters, brochures, and business cards around town to local veterinary clinics, groomers, pet stores, and the like. Post your business cards on community bulletin boards.
Bring a gift, too. Businesses like donuts, bagels, and other snacks their staff can enjoy. It creates a sense of goodwill between you and the business.
Classified Ad in the Newspaper
Try dropping a three- or four-line classified ad in your local newspaper. Be clear and to the point. Be prepared to run the ad several weeks in a row, though.
When I first started my business, this tactic worked for getting new business. In today’s world, print media is becoming less reliable as more consumers take to the web to find information about companies. In today’s world, having an online presence isn’t enough, but it’s a good start.
There is a considerable investment in starting and maintaining a website; however, it is really easy to get up and running. For tips on creating a website that performs, we recommend following the StoryBrand Framework. For quick tips by Donald Miller, visit fiveminutemarketingmakeover.com.
Google’s AdWords is a great way to drive traffic to your website; however, it can get expensive if you don’t know what you are doing. To maximize the effective use of your investment, check out Kissmetrics’ blog post How to Create a Profitable Google Adwords Campaign (from Scratch).
A few years ago, I started hearing about content marketing. Content marketing involves developing and distributing quality content that your customers find interesting or useful. As a marketer, you get to freely share your knowledge with your audience which helps build trust and credibility with your target market. The willingness to share the content freely builds good will with customers who are prime candidates to make a purchasing decision.
For tips on creating great content for your blog, visit ProBlogger and subscribe to the ProBlogger podcast.
Once you have built up a repository of great blog content, it’s time to share it on social media. On some platforms, you’ll need to pay-to-play, meaning that the only way your content will be seen is if you promote it. We have social accounts on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, LinkedIn, Google+, Pinterest, and Snapchat. Presently, we have found Facebook and Twitter to be the optimal platforms for sharing content and converting customers.
As soon as you start your business, you’ll start getting cold calls from several companies that say they’ll be able to help you grow your business. One of those calls will come from telephone directories. I once spent over $600 for a year-long phone book ad and never received one call from someone saying they found me in the phone book. Do I think it’s worth the investment? Absolutely not. You’ll be better served using that $600 in another advertising medium.
This is a great advertising medium…when you can afford it. To run a successful radio campaign, you must know that repetition is key. You’ll want to make sure your ad plays when your target audience is listening. If you only run one spot per day, you most likely won’t see a return on investment. Three or more spots is best, and I recommend 30-second spots. This will average between $15 and $25 per spot based on your market.
These are some of the ways we have reached new customers. What are some other ways you have tried? What has worked best for you?