Don’t get lost in the shuffle. Send birthday cards (and offers) instead of Christmas cards.

Keith Ferrazzi, author of Never Eat Alone, probably didn’t send you a Christmas card last year. He concentrates his energies on birthdays. Why? Many businesses send Christmas cards to their clients, but few send birthday cards. And, says Ferrazzi, “Everybody cares about his or her birthday!” If you have a limited marketing budget, consider skipping holiday cards this December. Instead, try handwriting birthday cards to your favorite customers ... and include a cash-off coupon for products or grooming. Or call them. Or leave a voicemail. Your customers won’t forget it when you remember the one day a year that’s truly theirs. 


BRANDING

Show Your Vanity Plate

One way to increase your local visibility is with a personalized license plate. Don’t be shy: 9.7 million American cars have them. Your plate can make a basic statement of enthusiasm like 4DBIRDS or N2 CATS or DOG LYPH, or emphasize your pet-related service with K9GROOMR or even POO B GONE. Have fun with it. It’s a simple way to be recognized wherever you travel around town — especially when coupled with a distinctive vehicle. (Note that we said “distinctive” — not “expensive”.)

ONLINE

Reveal Your Interior

Want to give customers the feeling of being inside your store? Have your business photographed and added to Google’s “Business View” program. These 360-degree tours of your location cost will cost around $300 to $700 to shoot and get online, depending on the size of your business. Also remember that once your interior business view has been added to Google, there are no renewal fees. Check out the Google Business View of Blue Collar Working Dog in Los Angeles, CA at tinyurl.com/jbc2492. To get started, ask a local photographer if they offer this service, or search for a “Google Trusted Photographer” in your city or state.

TECHNOLOGY

Sneak In an Ad

If your free wi-fi network isn’t already called “acme-animal-care-loves-your-pets” or “incredible-pet-grooming-at-acme-animal-care,” it ought to be.

MARKETING

Eschew Surplus Words

Pro copywriters avoid bogging down their marketing messages with overly long sentences. But how long is too long? Exactly 17 words, says author Rudolf Flesch in The Art of Plain Talk. And be sure to mix things up with shorter five- to 10-word sentences.


A GOOD APHORISM TO REMEMBER FOR ALL THOSE WAFFLERS OUT THERE:

You don’t make a right decision — you make a decision and then make it right.


Two Bostons Pet Boutique of Naperville, IL offered special screenings of “The Secret Life of Pets” for customers.

MARKETING

Create Movie Magic

One cool idea to try this year? Hold a private screening of an animal-themed movie. Such showings are simple to arrange with your local cinema. Last year, dozens of pet businesses held private shows of the blockbuster “The Secret Life of Pets” for their top customers. So what’s on the cinematic schedule this year? At press time, we don’t see any “Secret Life” mega-hit equivalents, although there’s a planned November 2017 release called “Show Dogs” that has promise.

MANAGEMENT

List Your To-Don’ts

OK, just about everybody regularly creates “to-do” or “start doing” lists. But Jim Collins, author of Good To Great, wonders whether you have a “stop doing” list. Think of all the harmful, unproductive behaviors you engage in ... and put them on your list. Let your “stop doing” list help you focus on the things you need to do to make your business great.

CUSTOMER SERVICE

Yessify Your Yesses

There is always a better answer than a mere “yes,” says author Dale Dauten, author of The Gifted Boss. He gives the example of asking a number of auto repair shops if they repair Lotuses. Most say “no,” a few say “yes,” but then one says, “Absolutely, we specialize in imports and the shop’s owner drives a Lotus.” Who do you think got the business? So the next time somebody asks you if you carry no-bark collars, find a better answer than just “yes”. 

STAFF

Time for Oops!

Another good job interview idea from Selling Power magazine is to have a little accident. Tip over a trashcan, or spill a cup of coffee on your desk. If the job candidate immediately leaps up to help ... well, then they have cleared another hurdle in the interview process.


This article originally appeared in the Jan-Feb 2017 edition of PETS+.