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Business owners who work in the pet industry are lucky to have an inherently loyal customer base of animal lovers and pet parents who cherish their fur babies and want to give them the best products and services available. Marketing your business well ensures that those committed pet owners are aware of your existence and more likely to refer others your way. Never underestimate the impact an effective marketing plan can have on your overall success as an entrepreneur. By following some basic marketing guidelines, you’ll immediately gain a head start on the competition. Identify Your Target Customers In order to launch a successful pet business, you have to know your customers. For those in the pet industry, you at least know that your customers are animal lovers and pet owners, but don’t stop there. What other businesses or organizations might use your products? Consider county animal shelters, rescue groups, veterinary offices, and domestic violence or homeless shelters (both often have clients with animals). What geographical area will you target for advertising? Will you offer special rates to certain non-profit groups? Take the necessary time to thoroughly identify your target audience and how you’ll market to each customer. Create Promotional Materials Every business needs great promotional materials like business cards, flyers or newspaper advertisements. Those in the pet industry should especially utilize these since theirs can be more creative and feature adorable pet photos or animal print lettering. Create a fun tagline for your business, and add animal sounds like purrs and woofs to radio ads. With today’s technology and available sound boards, creating an animal jingle is easily done and can help increase your customer base. Little details can go a long way when it comes to establishing yourself in the industry and ultimately standing out in the crowd. Spread the Word Social media is one of the best ways to market yourself completely free, so businesses should create accounts on Twitter, Facebook and Instagram and get ready to hashtag. In order to make your online presence as valuable as possible, post at least daily, promote any and all sales or new merchandise, and encourage shares and likes by offering discounts to those who “check in” at your business. Create a business website, allow customers to join your newsletter list, and send out emails with exclusive coupons or discount codes. In order to build your brand, reward customers who refer friends. Don’t underestimate the value of face-to-face contact either. Going around your community to share business cards or business information with potential customers is a great way of letting them associate a face with the business. Offer Incentives One of the best things that an emerging or established business can possibly do is offer rewards and perks to its customers. People love free things, so loyalty cards, email coupons, free shipping and flash sales will keep customers coming back. Some stores offer Friday freebies or featured products that are 10% to 50% off in order to target multiple types of customers. Don’t forget to offer fun incentives to first-time customers as well. 20% off coupons for an initial purchase is a wonderful and effective way of inspiring a sale. You can also encourage customers to “like” or share your business information on social media by giving additional discounts. Special discounts for rescue groups and non-profits can also set your business apart from the rest, and you’ll establish a more appreciative and loyal customer base in the process. Get Creative Not many people get the opportunity to work with animals each day, so take advantage of the exciting work environment by letting your creativity shine. In order to drum up business and free advertising, launch a community contest that lets pets take center stage. Have guest speakers on animal rights or allow local artists to regularly showcase animal-inspired paintings and sculptures. Donating any slightly damaged or unsold seasonal merchandise to local animal shelters or rescue organizations is a wonderful way of giving back to the animals in your community, and people appreciate these acts of kindness. Consider hosting pet food drives or fundraisers where donations yield discounts on your merchandise or services. Thinking outside of the box is an ideal way to generate useful connections and support other community partners, and the marketing potential is endless. Consider yourself lucky to work in such a wonderful industry. Animals bring unparalleled warmth and love to a home and your business. With the help of strategic marketing and community support, both can flourish financially and make the lives of your animal customers and owners all the better for it. Written by Ali Lawrennce from MarCom Land. Related articles Facebook and Instagram Pages Action News viewers share Halloween photos Keeping moms connected, empowered by technology Continue reading
Posted Dec 1, 2014 at Lip-Sticking
A successful business is often about finding the right key to open the right door. Joan Rivers once said, "If I can't make it through one door, I'll go through another door — or I'll make a door." She doesn't mention anything about finding a key, probably because she'd just knock the door down. The passing of this feisty, much-loved woman brings up a wealth of knowledge on how to navigate the business realm. Here are five business tips for women based on the legacy of this dynamic business woman. 1. Know When and How to Act Ms. Rivers was a flamboyant gossip at all the right times. Good gossip catches all sorts of buzz, right ladies? Her red carpet interviews always caught attention. Instead of acting straight-laced and professional, Joan would joke and judge. She knew exactly which buttons to push to get the right kind of attention. Professionalism can mean a lot of different things. For Joan, it meant being the bull, not grabbing the bull by the horns. She knew that she had to stand out to be a successful actress, comedian, and all around Hollywood superstar. What can you take away from this for your business career? Do you need to be more outspoken or do you need to listen more often? 2. Strengthen Your Work Ethic According to Fortune Magazine, Joan made over $1 billion with QVC over a 24-year period. How did she do this? She worked her tail off. Everyone knows that a successful business involves a lot of hard work. But somehow, this all-around colorful lady found time to stretch her career fingers into publishing, acting, comedy and philanthropy, among other things. Even an introvert has to learn how to stand out from the crowd to reach new career heights. If you don't take anything else away from this, just remember that successful people are often good at more than one thing. Take some classes online or go to a seminar and reach just a bit broader with your next lesson. Learning new things can only help you. 3. Stay Relevant Do you work in the fashion world or for a scientific journal? Do you keep up with the latest trends? This fiery fashionista was never behind the times. At 81-years young, Joan was still stirring up gossip about the latest celebs. She was always in the thick of things, and she always made it clear that she knew exactly what was going on. Keep up with events in your industry and you'll stand a better chance of staying ahead of the pack. 4. Embrace Humor A sense of humor goes a long way in any business, and Joan certainly had enough to get her through some interesting events. It can reduce stress and bring coworkers closer together. Humor can also be an ice breaker — or a deal breaker, so watch the line! — and can really help you survive the business landscape. Just because you're at work doesn't mean you can't have a good time. That wasn't a joke. Honest. 5. Stop Apologizing So Much According to a 2010 study, women apologize more frequently than men. Think about Joan Rivers — she wouldn't apologize for anything. This might not always be the best tactic in the business world, but business women in particular should stop apologizing unnecessarily. Pantene grabbed on to this concept for their "Shine Strong" marketing campaign, which has some nice examples in a business setting. This isn’t a bad idea for day-to-day life, either. Take inspiration from the life of Joan Rivers. Hard work, persistence, humor and a creative mind go a long way in the business realm. Go find a key to your own business, or just kick open the door yourself! Written by Ali Lawrence. Related articles Joan Rivers Death -- Hollywood Reacts An Ounce Of Joan Rivers Chutzpah Stars pay tribute to Joan Rivers Celebrities reflect on Joan Rivers death 5 Lessons PR People Can Learn From Joan Rivers Continue reading
Posted Sep 25, 2014 at Lip-Sticking
Written by Ali Lawrence. Your audience reveals the health of your blog. When your viewers are loyal, consistent and quick to comment and share your content – and consist of more than six people - you have the ideal setting for your blog to become an online feast. The challenge is that the blogosphere is an immense place. You can easily be dwarfed and buried beneath 20,000 other dinner parties that have much more appetizing blog content. So, how do women like Gina Trapini and Tamar Weinburg do it? What makes their content so juicy and popular? Ninety percent of online content is regurgitated. Has it ever frustrated you when researching a particular topic that often many of the first page search results – which are supposed to be the “authority” sources – more or less all have the same information? For example, not long ago I researched “What humans taste like.” Every single article listed on the first page of Google said the same thing: Armin Miewes, the German man who killed and ate a person in 2007, said it tastes like pork; Alfred Packer, the guy who killed and ate his prospecting party in the Rocky Mountains in 1883, said it was the sweetest meat he’d ever had; Omaima Nelson, who killed and ate her husband in 1991, concurred with Packer; the journalist, William Seabrook, who researched an African tribe and then himself in the 1920s and ate a fresh cadaver, had the most reliable report, likening it to veal. Every single article on the first page of Google had the exact same information. While you could certainly become famous overnight if you were to research and report original information on what people taste like, it’s an ill-advised strategy. William Seabrook was the most reliable source, because he performed original research and reported an original story – and also because he wasn’t a psychotic killer cannibal. The point is, this is also the best method for creating blog content. It doesn’t always require in-depth research or ground-breaking discoveries, but it does require originality. Here are few suggestions to help produce or nurture original content: Surveys: Surveys are one of the easiest, most simplistic ways to obtain original information and form a story around it. Survey reports are the types of content reported in news and industry articles, and they are likely to acquire no small amount of backlinks. With tools like SurveyMonkey and Google Consumer Surveys, creating surveyed content is pretty easy. Become an Intersection for Related Industries or Niches: You can do this by creating additional pages on your actual site or blog. Whether you want to call it a “Resources” page, a “Helpful Links” page or something entirely different and original, by creating an online intersection on your blog where two types of businesses can benefit, you’ll naturally draw traffic and links to your site. Do you write about food? Create a job listings page for restaurants hiring cooks. Do you have a contracting business? Create a page of regional links that provides information for project managers. Do you run a niche marketing company? Create a page where creative or marketing project managers can list freelance jobs. If you provide legal consulting, create a page where clients can find specific legal advisors or attorneys. True, it may require time and energy to do this, but you’ll likely acquire backlinks from some of the companies that you are referring, and you’ll increase your traffic by offering helpful information in addition to the content you already provide. Use Visual Content: Whether it’s an infographic, some animated GIFs, a chart, a graph, a photo slide show or a video blog series – it is a tried and true fact that visual content causes people to stay longer on a given web page. As it turns out, both men and women are intrinsically engaged by visual candy. Get Creative with Your Audience: Reach out to them and engage them directly, via a call for photo or content submissions, hosting a small contest with the winner’s photo and name featured on your blog in a blog post or even simply asking your audience what topics they would like to know or read about. Podcasts: Creating a good podcast takes time and effort, but it can be a fantastic tool for growing your audience. Podcast subscribers are often very loyal listeners when they find one that deeply engages them, so be prepared to research your audience. Remember that it should be centered around a topic that has a natural renewal of content to cover. For example, there are thousands of podcasts dedicated to movie and/or TV series reviews, because there is always another movie or new episode to cover. Your podcast could be as short as five minutes or as long as half an hour, but the most important factor is the content itself. Request Guest Writers: While you don’t want every Jane, Jill or Jan sending you guest-authored blog posts on a daily basis, having experienced or authoritative guest authors regularly featured on your blog can boost its credibility and readership, especially if that guest author links to your blog from their own blog or site. You can network and request a short guest blog from other influential women or industry authorities, or you can solicit for inquiries about guest-authoring right on your blog. There are plenty of things that anyone can try in order to get people to read her blog post – social media networking, social media backlinks, guest authoring for related blogs, YouTube videos, etc. However, simply getting more people to read your blog post is not a true goal – or at least not one that will last. Instead, the goal should be to produce fantastic content, which will then produce a fat and healthy readership. Related articles 4 Ways to Evolve Your Content Marketing Strategy Don't forget...The Readership Survey ~ The Ultimate List of Content Marketing Tactics: More Than 35 Ideas {Small Business Tech Chat} Behind... Continue reading
Posted Aug 11, 2014 at Lip-Sticking
Guest post by Ali Lawrence Though these two women had very different backgrounds, they actually had a great deal in common. They were both performers, and they were both seen as fonts of wisdom and honesty, Angelou based on her incredible series of beautifully written autobiographies and Davis because of her role as a no-nonsense housekeeper. They were both role models to me growing up. I appreciated their strong sense of self and their commitment to their art. And they both, surprisingly, taught me lessons about marketing. Maya Angelou’s Honesty Perhaps the thing I admired most about Angelou was her unwavering self-confidence. She was unapologetic about her past, which included a stint as a prostitute in a brothel. She believed it was important to acknowledge your past, and not to cover it up, because there’s simply no point in it. People will figure it out sooner or later. Wouldn’t, she argued, you rather explain to your children why you made mistakes, and in turn offer them forgiveness and understanding for theirs, rather adopt a fake piety? The same is true in marketing. Any attempt at dishonesty is eventually uncovered. Whether you’re dealing with a PR crisis or trying a new marketing technique, honesty is always the best policy. Despite your past or what you’ve done, people will respect you if your honest about it. Nobody likes to be duped. Ann Davis’ Sense of Humor What always came across about Davis on screen was her genuine funniness. She did not put on airs in her performances. The Bradys’ longtime housekeeper, Alice, shared many of Davis’ finest qualities. She was funny and caring and forgiving. She was also tolerant. Though Davis was an accomplished actress who had won Emmy awards before “Brady Bunch,” for most of her career she was recognized as only “the Bradys’ housekeeper.” She kept good humor about it and appreciated that she had brought people happiness in the iconic Alice role. The ability to bring a smile to your audience is also appreciated in marketing. A campaign with a funny theme or message really resonates with people, because they like to laugh. You’re much more likely to respond to something that makes you smile than frown, and tickling someone’s funny bone is a great way to form a connection that can last much longer than the campaign itself. Taking a Cue from Real Life Marketing is like anything else: There are lessons to learn from life, you just have to be paying attention. Maya Angelou and Ann Davis are two outstanding examples of what you can achieve when you work hard. We’d be wise to emulate their approach to achieve our own success as well. Related articles Ann B. Davis, 'Brady Bunch's' Alice, Dead at 88 How to Be More Creative in Your Online Campaigns Continue reading
Posted Jun 6, 2014 at Lip-Sticking
Guest post by Alicia Lawrence If I Google your business right now, what will I find? For most companies, the honest answer is “a mix of mostly good stuff… and a few bad things, too.” This is a problem in a world where people get most of their information online. It’s also the impetus to start considering how to “spring clean” your organization’s web reputation. When a potential customer checks you out using Google, Bing or Yahoo!, he or she has a tendency to believe what is read. This makes it imperative to do everything in your power to ensure that the first 10 search engine results are positive. After all, most people stop looking after the initial page. So how do you start spring cleaning your company’s online reputation? In her new book called “Spin Sucks,” Gini Dietrich tackles a number of public relations and marketing items, including the notion of telling your story and being authentic along the way. As an expert in the field, Dietrich is all about understanding that public relations has changed dramatically in the Internet era. She’s right, of course. Fortunately, you can start sprucing up the “first impression” you make whenever visitors investigate your business right now. #1: Start by evaluating your website. Your website is a major factor in your online credibility. If you haven’t edited it in a while, take time to update your information and make sure it is free of any errors. Don’t forget to add a page – or pages – dedicated to testimonials. As this site clearly shows, you don’t just have to use written testimonials, either. Video testimonials can help showcase how much people love your products, and they’ll put a genuine “face” to all the kind words! #2: Check what’s being said about you on social media channels. Although you can’t necessarily change what people are saying about your company on social media, you can begin to address their concerns publicly. For instance, if someone has complained about your customer service on Twitter or Facebook, you can respond to them. The more responsive you are, the more open you’ll appear to anyone viewing the comment thread. #3: Take a look at review sites to see what’s being said about you. Review sites like Yelp and Angie’s List are very popular, and they can sway a potential customer towards or away from working with your business. Like it or not, perception is reality; if individuals see bad reviews, they’ll tend to believe them. However, if you have a chance to combat what’s being said, or to try to make things right, you can fix your reputation. #4: Look at your Better Business Bureau rating. A lot of people go to the Better Business Bureau before they make the decision to work with a company. If your rating is less than “A,” you can contact the Bureau to find out how you can work through any of the complaints or issues. That way, you can ethically boost your rating so you don’t lose future clients. #5: Get people talking about you online for all the right reasons! Finally, take time to create some positive buzz about your brand. Look for potential brand ambassadors and send products to bloggers for them to review. A pitch a few relevant journalists about what your company is doing to help the community. Don’t let a poor online reputation affect your bottom line any more. Start being smart and taking care of any misconceptions by spring cleaning your web rep! Related articles Join Gini Dietrich for a Special Livefyre Q&A Today Eight-Step Process to Clean-up Your Online Reputation Book Review: Spin Sucks, by Gini Dietrich 7 Spring Cleaning Social Media Tips Continue reading
Posted Apr 14, 2014 at Lip-Sticking
With the start of a new year also comes the usual speculation about trends and changes in the fast-moving world of online marketing. Here are 7 trends to be on the look-out for in 2014. Continue reading
Posted Dec 20, 2013 at Lip-Sticking
Guest post by Alicia Lawrence Your canine may be one of your most loyal friends and able to instantly brighten your day, but have you ever thought carefully about how your dog’s behavior could educate you about the advertising and public relations industries? Read on to see why Fido may be able to help bring out your inner advertising superstar. Simple Language Speaks Volumes Regardless if your dog is extremely well trained or still a little rough around the edges, you probably already realize how straightforward commands are the only route to take when you want your dog to understand you. It might be tempting to launch into a diatribe about how angry you are that your pooch decided to dig through your freshly planted flowers, but it’ll probably be more effective to simply say “Bad!” in a firm voice. The same is true if you’re trying to teach your dog basic commands like sitting or staying near your heel during a walk. Just as dogs respond best when you keep the language simple, the recipients of your advertising or public relations messages should behave similarly. Don’t confuse them with big words or flowery prose. Instead, try the 4 Cs model to measure how well you’re making an impact—Comprehension, Connection, Credibility, and Contagiousness. When audiences can comprehend what you say, feel a connection to the message, and see it as credible, whatever you’re promoting can become contagious. Using Repetition for Results Repetition is the best teacher. We had a motion sensor sprinkler in our yard and every time Merlin, our schnauzer, got to a certain part of the yard it would spray him. He quickly learned not to go over to that section. Even after we removed the sprinkler, he still stayed clear of that area. Though we don’t like to admit it, the same goes for humans. Repeat a message enough and we’ll start to believe it. For most companies, it’s a mistake to change your slogan every six months for a different campaign. McDonalds has stuck to their I’m Lovin’ It motto for 10 years! Be a Friend to Everyone Dogs, especially puppies, break the awkward silence between people. Dogs bring people together, makes them smile and get in a better mood. As a PR professional, you really have to do the same. Being that person that’s easy to get along will help you in developing relationships with investors, media and customers. Of course, there are some people who’ve had bad experiences with dogs and, therefore, will stay away. Don’t force yourself on them but instead be a shining example of what a PR pro should be. Clearly, your dog can be much more than an enjoyable companion, and may even serve as an inspiration for your career efforts. The next time you’re hard at work on a campaign and feeling like you’ve hit a plateau, look to your dog to get out of the slump. Bio: Alicia Lawrence is a content coordinator for WebpageFX and blogs in her free time at MarCom Land. Her work has been published by the Association for Business Communication, Business Insider, and Spin Sucks. Related articles PR Pro in HuffPo: Don't Call Us 'Marketers,' Dammit PR Lessons from America's Favorite Characters PR practitioners and academics working together Festive season and your dog Continue reading
Posted Oct 31, 2013 at Lip-Sticking
Everything’s digital these days. Even a good portion of our relationships have moved to the web. Word of mouth spreads differently than it once did. Where women use to talk up products over tea, they now spread the word over social media. Businesses have taken advantage of this mass communication by using Facebook, Twitter and other social networks to reach their audience. Pinterest is also becoming a must-have tool for companies to disseminate information about their products. But very few companies have been able to tap into the viral opportunity the platform creates. What’s Different About Pinterest Women. We hold the majority of purchasing power and Pinterst is predominately a female audience. Women also have a need to share. We love to help other women find the best in life. This leads to our attraction to Pinterest where we can both share and be shared with. It’s the ultimate word of mouth group. Intent. I rarely go to Facebook to look at products, and if I do it’s usually to complain to the company. I go to Facebook to catch up with friends, talk about my life, and stock people (don’t judge, I know you do it too). Facebook for me is more like a diary. I want to record my life and it just so happens I can view everyone else’s diary, too. I hop on Twitter for news. It’s a great platform to start relationships and learn from others. Again, I don’t follow many companies and if I do their message is usually drowned out by the tweets of my other thousand followers. But Pinterest. My mindset when I go to Pinterest is usually to find products. Even when I go on to get a recipe I pinned, the design of the site inevitably places appealing products on my home page. I end up spending hours looking at awesome products and tips and pinning what I want to remember down the road. Trust. There’s a certain level of trust on Pinterest. If someone pins an item and places in the comments that it was the best thing ever, I’m going to repin it. Third party endorsements, like that comment provided, are the most power decision makers in a women’s mind. We even place endorsements over price tags. It’s worth the money to know you are getting a great product. And we know we’re getting a great product because a stranger on Pinterest said it was. Three Ways to Encourage Word of Mouth on Pinterest Pinterest presents companies with a new way to do word of mouth marketing that works. While creating a company Pinterest account is good, there are much better ways to use the power of Pinterest. 1) Find Ambassadors If you’ve read The Tipping Point, you know every company should find a handful of mavens to tout their brand. You can find your target audience’s influencers on Pinterest through the tool Pinpuff. You can also find influencers just through Pinterest. Look up your industry niche in the search bar. Find pinners who have a large following and pins similar products to your company’s. It’s best if these popular pinners also write on blogs. Email them about doing a product review on their blog, make sure your product is relevant to their site, and ask if they don’t mind sharing the product with their Pinterest followers. Not only do you get a very influential pin that targets potential consumers but you get an extended review to go along with it! 2) Pay for the Pin Pinbooster is a relatively new site that allows companies to pay influential pinners to pin their product. The cost depends on how many followers the person has and a few other factors. Make sure to thoroughly check them out to confirm they will reach your target audience. After finding the right pinner, put together a viral pin. If you don’t have any amazing products as is, think about how the product can help the user. Ask yourself why they would repin it. A mosquito trap may not be on someone’s top list but positioning it as the best mosquito trap and including a snippet of a testimony from one of your consumers will make a large difference in the repins. Remember, a personal testimony in the comment section of a pin plays a significant part to making your pin go viral. 3) Create a Contest Everyone loves free stuff. Make the contest extremely easy to do. If it’s too difficult, has too many steps, or is confusing in any way it won’t catch on. The contest should bring your products to the forefront. Make sure you have a goal that can be easily measured like increase Pinterest followers, referral traffic, number of repins on a product. Create a page on your website just for the contest with an attractive image to pin on Pinterest. Spread the word about the contest on all your social sites. You can even hire a few pinners through Pinbooster to give your contest a little more fire. Related articles How to Use Pinterest To Drive Traffic Getting Visual with Pinterest Marketing Strategy: Part II A Pin For The Future How To Get More Followers On Pinterest and Boost Your Traffic Continue reading
Posted Sep 12, 2013 at Lip-Sticking
Alicia Lawrence is now following The Typepad Team
Sep 11, 2013