Great Source for Dog Marketing Intelligence

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Barriers to entry are low in many sectors of the dog-related industry.  Which means that there are many small businesses marketing products and services for dogs and other pets.  Many dog product entrepreneurs are fueled by their passion to solve a problem they experienced with their own pets which inspired them to launch their business.   They start with an idea, develop a product or service and then start selling with limited resources for marketing support, let alone market research and analysis.

Enter John Gibbons, the Pet Business Professor.  John maintains a website where he publishes detailed analyses of public data about pet spending, discusses industry trends, and offers guidance on how to get the most out of pet industry trade shows.   This information can help pet businesses of all sizes, but I think should be of particular interest to small companies without the resources to dig into all this data themselves.   I suspect even many mid-size to large businesses are not doing this type of in-depth analysis of data that is publicly available, but not user-friendly in its original form.

You can subscribe to The Pet Business Professor blog via email to get updates when a new article is published.  The industry deep dives don’t come out very often, but they contain a treasure trove of information.  In the weeks leading up to major industry trade shows, like Global Pet Expo and SuperZoo, the Pet Professor will publish maps and attendance strategy guides to help you map out a plan of attack to get the most out of these vast displays from pet product purveyors.

I recommend that everyone in the dog marketing space visit The Pet Business Professor website, you’re certain to learn something of value.

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Promoting Michigan Dog Events, Products, and Services

The Michigan Canine Resource Guide is a unique publication targeted to dog owners in Michigan.   Beth Mitchell launched this guide to dog-related events, products, and services in Michigan in 2015 and it has steadily grown as more organizations and advertisers contribute.

Beth was inspired by the Arizona Equine Resource Guide,  published by her sister who is active in equine events in that state.  Beth didn’t have a horse, but she does have a dog, and she had spent a lot of time and energy finding the best resources to train her dog and resolve some behavior issues.  She thought there had to be other people looking for a central repository of information on dog events and dog-related services, so the Michigan Canine Resource Guide was born.

Beth started gathering content for the publication in 2014, creating a dog-themed cover and using her sister’s equine guide as an example of the type of content (with horses) that would be featured.  She had booths at dog shows and dog expos around the state and asked people she met at those events how they publicized their events, then explained how the Guide could expand their audience.  She also asked for referrals to other types of events and host organizations she should include.  She solicited ads from other event vendors and asked for referrals to canine professionals, retailers, and manufacturers to find other potential advertisers.  Many lunch hours on her day job included ad sales calls!  Event-giving clubs and organizations are encouraged to contribute dog events for the calendar to help make the publication as complete as possible; there is no charge for the listing.  Advertisers not only appear in the publication, their events are promoted through weekly emails, they are listed in an online directory, and they contribute articles and blog posts that appear in the publication, on the website, or both. Beth retains a creative director who produces ads and other content as needed and has several part-time ad salespeople recruited from the dog community.

The publication is still promoted through booths at select dog events, and every year Beth attends new events to reach a wider audience.  The guides are distributed free at dog events, participating businesses, and pet specialty retailers.  The guide can be viewed interactively online or downloaded in pdf format from the Michigan Canine Resource Guide website.   In addition to the guide itself, the Michigan Canine Resource Guide has an online calendar of events on their website, a directory listing for all advertisers,  and blog posts on a variety of canine topics.  The Guide also has a Facebook page as well as Instagram and Twitter (@MiDogGuide) accounts. It stays in contact with dog enthusiasts through an opt-in weekly newsletter and advertisers also have an option to send sponsored emails to subscribers.  As the publication has grown, Beth has upgraded her marketing tools and currently uses WordPress for the website and MailChimp to manage her email subscription list.

The Michigan Canine Resource Guide has grown steadily in event listings, advertisers, and circulation since its launch.  Beth’s goal is to provide all Michigan dog owners with the resource they need to find local businesses, services, and events that will enable them and their dogs to live a healthy, happy life together. The biggest challenge is getting ALL the dog clubs in the state to contribute information about their events in a timely manner, so the event calendar is as comprehensive as possible.  Beth hopes that as the Guide becomes more and more of a “must have” for Michigan dog lovers, every canine organization or business will feel it’s an important element in their promotional plan.

 

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Del Monte Brands Sponsor Pet Blogger Event

Blog Paws LogoMediaPost reported on DelMonte’s sponsorship of a pet blogger conference, BlogPaws,  April 9-10, 2010 in Columbus Ohio.  The conference is open to all people who blog about pets, whether personally or for a corporation. Del Monte’s Meow Mix cat food and Kibbles ‘n Bits dog food are the presenting  sponsors, and are joined by a host of other pet food, pet product, pet retailer, veterinary, and pet media sponsors.

BlogPaws conference sessions help attendees create successful blogs, covering  branding, search engine optimization, promotions, and  some of the most common pet blog topics, like product reviews and rescue.  You can follow the conference on Twitter and become a fan on Facebook.

It’s killing me that I entered dog shows on the same dates before I learned about this event – I would love to go!

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Purina Petcentric Portal

PetCentric Logo
PetCentric Logo

I recently got my first email from Petcentric with a link to their site, which launched in 2006.  In a 2008 article in Promo Magazine the site is described as a social network, however most of the content is provided by the site’s owner, Purina and select partners, such as Yahoo! Answers (pet section.) There is content galore, including news about pets, pet blogs, pet games,  reviews, a pet service locator and pet photos and videos, which include user-generated content.  The site also has its own Twitter account @petcentric There is very little overt promotion of Purina products, although Purina sponsored events are a rich source of content for the site.  Just further evidence of Purina’s commitment to digital media with this engaging site that supports pet owners interests and in turn the Purina corporate brand identity.

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Petco is all over Social Media

Petco Logo
Petco Logo

An article from the San Diego Union Tribune talks about the social media strategies of two area businesses, one of which is Petco.   Petco learned that employees were talking about the company on both Facebook and Twitter and decided to leverage those tools for the brand.  On Facebook, Petco has both a fan page and a group; the group encourages people to become a fan.  Petco also has an official Twitter account a YouTube channel and a blog on their main site; links to their social media accounts appear on the blog page. Not only does Petco use popular social media sites extensively, they also promote a pet-centric online community with zootoo.com through the Petco.com site.

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Dogtime Media’s Save-a-Dog Facebook app

MediaPost reports that Dogtime Media has just launched the Save A Dog Facebook application with the support of Frontline as its exclusive advertiser through September. The application allows users to check out adoptable dogs by breed and location, and then virtually foster, walk, and send dogs to their friends. Points are earned for downloading the app and all virtual interactions with the rescue dogs.

For every 2500 points earned, DogTime will donate the equivalent of one cup of food to rescuegroups.org, a technology provider which creates online solutions for rescue groups and will use the funds to lower the costs of their services to those groups.  This is the first time I’ve seen an organization looking for volunteers to provide technical services rather than the traditional food, toys and pet supplies for rescue.

A comprehensive campaign is planned utilizing DogTime’s network of advertisers, bloggers, and newsletter subscribers as well as its Twitter stream. Partners Frontline and rescuegroups.org will also participate in campaign extensions.

A personal criticism of the application’s functionality: The breed selection tool could be better, as my search for Bull Terriers near my zip code yielded hundreds of pit bulls, but I saw no actual “English” type Bull Terriers such as I own. Which reflects the balance of those breeds in rescue, I’m sure, – I just wish the listing “Bull Terrier” was better targeted to match the dogs.  This problem may be limited to breeds with similar names, but it reduces the attractiveness of the app for people who can’t find dogs like the ones they own to send to people who also own those dogs (who happen to make up the majority of my Facebook friends.)

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AOL PawNation

MediaPost reports that AOL has just launched a pet portal named PawNation.com.  This news comes just shortly after Yahoo! closed its Pets section, integrating that content into its Shine lifestyle section.  Purina, noted as the launch sponsor seems to be the only display advertiser at present, although text ads also appear in some sections. The photo gallery section offers pet owners opportunities to upload their photos for integration into the site.

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Smucci Fashion Pet Beds

As promised,  I’m returning to my Detroit Kennel Club vendor interviews with a profile of  Smucci custom pet beds. The owner/artist Debi Kahn was doing interior decorating when she got the idea for making beautiful furniture that doubled as pet furniture. She blogs about her DKC experience and includes some great photos from the event. Some of the inspiration came from her own pets; one of her cats likes to nap in the bowl shaped washbasins in her home, so she created wooden bowl beds for cats.  Debi used some of her own photographs to create the fabric designs used in most of the beds; the photos are transferred to fabrics using a very high quality printing process that retains that photographic quality feel. The wooden bases for the beds have an artistic flair as well. Most have a high fashion modern art look, but one resembles a manger and the accompanying pillow is printed with a design based on a photograph of a slice of straw bale.   Most of the beds unfortunately would probably not withstand the presence of a young Bull Terrier, but I’m sure  many smaller and older pets would enjoy these artful comforts. Wonderful to see another person making pet furniture that fits in to a stylish decor.

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#woofwednesday

A dog-twist on the Twitter phenomenon called #followfriday. Pawluxury, a dog products site that really gets social media launched this new hashtag today. They’ve asked their followers to recognize quality dog-topic tweeters with the hashtag signifier. According to Real Time Trends, it’s been in the top 10 hashtags (#7) today.  I’ll  be checking them out to find interesting new tweeps to follow myself.

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#Barkhunt – Twitter contest drives traffic

This past Thursday evening I participated in a Twitter scavenger hunt called Barkhunt (or #Barkhunt, the hashtag in front signifies a common tag to be used to share info on a topic or event.) The event was sponsored by four dog online businesses who tweet (send messages on Twitter), FourLeggedMedia, Best Bully Sticks, Ask Spike Online and Paw Luxury.  Starting at 9 PM EST and lasting for an hour, every five minutes a clue would be given by one of the sponsors related to something on one of the other sponsors’ websites.  All participants were asked to retweet (RT) the clue  and the first one to direct message (DM) the answer to the sponsor relating to the clue won.  It really was fun to participate, although it took me a few rounds to figure out the best strategies for actually finding the answers. HINT: it would help to familiarize oneself with the website structures and where the search box is in advance! I didn’t win anything, but I’m game to try again.  Prizes were what else – dog related items, mostly around $10-$20 in value. In follow up tweets, I learned that Twitter contests are just emerging and have been pretty successful in driving traffic and results for the sponsors. The Barkhunt RT traffic got up to the 3rd or 4th most RT’d post at one point during the contest; pretty impressive!  Especially given that the sponsors tweet about nothing but dog topics – word about the event spread through the sponsors’ dog enthusiast followers who publicized it via RTs to their followers.

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