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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Facebook Pages for Dogs

Dogs in Social Media Infographic

While strictly speaking this post is more about dogs in social media than marketing per se, I just couldn’t resist a post about an article on Mashable which reported on a Lab 42 study and infographic about the number of dogs on Facebook.  It seems that about 14% of the people in the Lab 42 study had created Facebook pages for their dogs,  consistent with a UK study also reported on Mashable, which found that 10% of all UK pets have some sort of social media profile, including not only Facebook, but also Twitter and YouTube.  No mention of dogs on Linkedin, I’ve seen a number of dog-business interest groups, but no canines yet.

When I first saw these articles, I wondered how this squared with Facebook’s Terms of Use, which I thought limited profiles to real people, who are also permitted create pages and groups for other entities.  When I read the fine print, it just prohibits people from creating profiles without permission from  the person being profiled; given the large number of dogs on Facebook, I assume they fall within the rules.

Checking a couple of the dogs I’m associated with on Facebook , Rufus has a personal profile, while Satchel has a page.  I’m also friends with a few profiles that represent Bull Terrier kennels, an entity that I think is more human than canine, but perhaps a gray area. The most popular Facebook dog with over 1 million fans for his page,  is  Boo the Pomeranian.

NOTE: I recently noticed a thread on the Facebook group “AKC Judges Report Card” discussing whether judges should friend dogs, specifically dogs that might be shown under them, on Facebook.  The thought that the dogs might want to be careful who their friends are never crossed my mind when I created this post!

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Puppy Tweets from Mattel

Mattel logoAn alert on the Eurodogtraining blog led me to news of a new product announcement from Mattel: Puppy Tweets, a device that allows your dog to send tweets via a collar tag.  The tag responds to noise and motion and sends one of several tweets in response to your dog’s activity (or lack thereof.)   Details on how the device works were a little sparse, apparently the collar device sends data on sound and motion to a USB sensor mounted on your computer, and you leave your dog’s Twitter account signed in while you’re out.  I find it similar in concept to the  sensor-based TweetingBar account which reports on the beer keg’s status in the New York office of digital agency 360i.

Puppy Tweets allows your dog will join a number of other tweeting canines, most of whom have more than a few canned responses to share.  The only practical use I can see is to check on a dog with barking issues when left alone.  I don’t as a rule follow dog accounts that only tweet items of interest to dogs  and I don’t plan on signing up any of my canines when this product launches in the fall.  For $29.95 it might be an amusing novelty to some, but for I can’t see it catching on with anyone who is serious about either dogs or Twitter.

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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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HBH Pet Products Social Media outreach

Petfood Industry reported on promotional efforts by HBH Pet Products on behalf of their No Grainers dog treats. These include a photo contest  co-sponsored by WalMart which is offering a $200 gift card as one of the prizes. They also ran a Twitter contest; consumers who follow HBH pet products and re-tweet (RT) a message about the contest were entered into a daily drawing to win a clicker and some treats.   The company has also launched both Facebook group and a Facebook page, allowing consumers to join or declare their fandom, respectively. I know I’ve seen debates as to which is better for commercial promotion and MBH seems to have come down squarely on the side of trying – both.

At the time I checked, which was after the Twitter contest concluded, the company had 200 followers, 17 group members and 6 fans, so I can’t say they’re getting the word out effectively. I often see promotions like this mentioned in MediaPost, but this one I have so far only seen mentioned in Petfood Industry, which has deeper coverage of industry promotions, but I would not think is as widely read. Of course, pet treat BUYERS are the ones who really need to know in order to improve these numbers.

Putting my consulting hat on, I’d recommend creating branded identities for No Grainers apart from the manufacturer in social media and also putting more investment into mass media to get the word out to dog owners about the treats – and the contest.   Grain-free products are riding a trend in pet food at the moment so there seems to me to be an opportunity to better leverage PR in support of this brand even if ad budgets are limited.

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Social Dog Marketing: Oh My Dog Supplies

Oh My Dog Supplies Logo

I recently encountered an online dog supplies company called Oh My Dog Supplies on Twitter.  Since following them, I’ve been impressed by their use of social media.  I checked out the website, which features an interesting collection of  premium quality dog products with a guarantee that you won’t find any of their items at a pet superstore.  They sent me a direct message on Twitter inviting me to their Facebook site, then from Facebook alerted me to gender-segregated Manly and Sexy dog photo contests which even offer prizes on top of your bragging rights!  Since I’m pretty set in my ways and dog purchase habits, I think they’ve done a good job getting me this engaged. Time will tell if I convert to a customer . . .

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Affiliate Marketing comes to dog training

A new follower on Twitter looked like a dog person, so I followed back and then she sent me a direct message (DM) which is not uncommon.  She invited me to contact her for dog training advice, again not that uncommon, especially since  you’d have to dig through my Linkedin profile that I reference on Twitter to realize that I already know a great deal about the topic.  But I was surprised to find the link she provided was to “Secrets of Dog Training” written by an entirely different person.  Affliate marketing, gotta love it!

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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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Interesting Follower: DogShedding

One really interesting thing about Twitter is checking out my followers.  I’ve been deliberately looking for and tweeting to attract other people interested in dogs, and who should follow me but DogShedding.  DogShedding has only updated their account twice, both times about 12 hours before they started following me.  The Dog Shedding website is pretty intensely focused on – you got it, dog shedding. Non-shedding dogs (in 3 parts) the heaviest shedding dogs (also in 3 parts) how to deal with dog shedding. Everywhere you look, the phrase dog shedding is there.  Browsing the site I saw a number of statements that did not ring true to me, such as that Maltese needed to be bathed daily and you need to brush an Irish Setter “thrice weekly.”  The site was created in WordPress; curiously there’s very little advertising on the home page, but plenty of text ads on the interior pages, some about anti shedding products (I knew I’d see the Furminator!) and also general dog topics like puppies, rescue dogs, and training.

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