Opinions expressed by Entrepreneur contributors are their own.
The pet care industry is on a tremendous upward growth curve. More frequently than ever, human beings are bringing furry friends into their lives and discovering how quickly they become family. The business of pet care doesn’t end once someone stops by the shelter or pet store and comes home with a cute puppy. It’s far more complex than that, so it stands to reason that marketers should approach pet parents intricately.
A common marketing trend in the pet care industry is to throw all and sundry at the market and see what sticks. But, as with any other industry, understanding your customer and their needs is everything. You will miss the big catch if you’re casting your net too broadly.
Sharpen your focus with four specific strategies, and you’ll soon see your pet care company grow:
Understanding the customer persona each of your products serves and crafting your brand to fit those customer profiles is key to reaching the right pet parents. Your customer may be a cat person, but is their feline friend a kitten or a senior? Do they have long fur that needs grooming or an easy-to-manage short coat? Indoor only, or do they have access to a garden? Drilling down to the depths of your customers’ needs is undoubtedly the best start to transforming your marketing strategy.
2. Understand the pet life cycle
Puppies and kittens are wonderful, but that time makes up a very short period of the entire life cycle of our pets. If your pet care company markets only to this stage, you’re missing an entire segment of the market.
As pets grow, their needs change. Their food requirements are different and they interact with different toys. Dogs may attend training classes and teenage cats may need scratch posts when they start to flex those claws. Senior pets, especially, have very specific needs. Older pets have no use for toys or training clickers; the focus is on keeping this pet pain-free and relaxed in their old age. If need be, consult a veterinarian to understand the life cycle of the various types of pets you’re marketing to. Especially if you’re focused on exotic animals who may have a far shorter or longer life cycle than an average dog or cat.
3. Track like a hound
The pet care industry is quite unique, but one thing it has in common with all other industries is the need for accurate attribution. It is vital to understand how each pet parent came to be your customer, what channels they used and what marketing action causes them to move through the sales funnel.
It’s also important to avoid making any assumptions about your customers based on their last known interactions with your business. Monitor their movements and reactions to your campaigns carefully to understand what drives them.
If there is one aspect of attribution that is almost always forgotten, it is telephone calls. Pet parents have questions. They want to be 100% sure that what they’re buying for Tiger or Fido is the right fit. And you can be guaranteed that a vast majority of these customers will want to speak with a human being to assure them of this. Telephone calls are a vital part of the sales process, regardless of whether the person on the line is inquiring or complaining. If you aren’t tracking phone calls, you’re missing an entire leg of your customer’s journey.
4. Get creative
There are no one-size-fits-all marketing campaigns in the pet care industry. What resonates deeply with one pet parent may mean nothing to another, so getting creative with your campaigns is vital.
Just like human parenting, parts of the pet parent journey often don’t get discussed. You might be surprised how many customers will resonate with a campaign around less-discussed issues like separation anxiety or bladder weakness.
The tail end
Although these marketing strategies are particularly helpful to the pet care industry, they apply to most industries with a few slight tweaks.
By implementing these marketing strategies, you can increase your ROI dramatically and put your marketing dollars to good use.
Pet care is an exciting and fulfilling industry to work in. If you learn to focus on your customers as individuals and understand their needs, you’ll build lifelong brand relationships with them and their furry companions.