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5 Overlooked but Impactful Ways to Stay in Front of Pet Business Customers During the COVID-19 Pandemic

Pinterest, surveys and more!

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THE QUARANTINE crazies are here, and whether your pet business was already virtual, or you typically work out of a brick-and-mortar storefront, suddenly your online communications are more important than ever. But what should you do and how exactly should you do it?

I’ve collected five creative ways you can stay top-of-mind, build your online audience and even drive sales for your pet business 100 percent:

If you’re in pet retail, get on Pinterest. While this platform made a big splash when it launched in 2009, it sat on the back-burner for many brands until recently. Now it’s heating up to a boil. In 2018, the ’cause Digital Marketing team reviewed which social media channels were driving traffic to pet brands. Pinterest outpaced all but Facebook for most pet businesses we reviewed. Now we’re seeing it overtake Facebook for many. 

Combine this strong website traffic with the news that visual searches on Pinterest for small business information is surging AND Pinterest’s launch of The Pinterest Shop – well, you have a beautiful trifecta that could mean magic for your brand.

Go live. There’s never been an easier time to get online and let your customers see the real you via live videos. Your customers are craving social interaction right now, so they’re more likely to pay attention to whatever you do. 

Start small and simple, do a short Facebook Live where you show folks what you’re up to and that Corona hair. You can also invite customers to a Zoom webinar, or even do a virtual Happy Hour. Whatever you do, don’t worry too much about making your background perfect or saying the exact right thing. Yes, you should be showered and the house clean, but perfectly manufactured video is not the goal here. Instead, let yourself be more relatable – canine cameos and kitty headbutts and all.

Invest in audience growth. If you have a bit of cash you can invest, consider running social media ads targeted to your ideal client base. Ad rates are currently looking a lot like stocks – very cheap to buy – so it could cost you a lot less than a few months ago to get in front of new people and get them acquainted with your brand. If you’ve never run a social media ad, they’re simple to set up, but buggy, so check out my step-by-step walkthrough.

Do audience research with surveys or simple questions. Are you suddenly considering a business pivot, but unsure of how your customers will react? Go ahead and ask. Pet parents are looking for ways to engage and stay social, and a simple survey or quiz can be a fun distraction. Plus, your loyal customers will feel good about helping you out in a way that’s simple and no-cost. Just keep in mind how you choose to write your questions. Are they leading? Do they make assumptions about which answer you’ll receive back? This can skew your results, so try your best to stay impartial.

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Create great content with your customer’s help. Of course, if you’re surveying your customers, it’s not hard to take the info you’re collecting and put it back out there. For example, if you write the question on social media: “What’s the one biggest surprise about sharing your office with your canine co-worker during COVID? Tell me below and share a pic!” 

You could then take the best responses you get and turn THAT into a blog post about the top five most-surprising things about having canine co-workers. In it, quote the social media responses and use pictures (with permission). This same format can be used for photos of pets with your products, or pets in quarantine who really need your services (Doodle photos, anyone?) It helps show your audience you’re listening, while providing a fun opportunity for some new website content for you!

Keep in mind, not every social media channel will reach the same audience or yield the same results. Do make sure you’re using the right social media channels to reach your audience and achieve your goals before investing a lot of time and money in them. You can find out by downloading my free workbook.

Stay safe. Stay sane. Stay in business!

Hacks for making your live video look good:

Not all home-shot live video is created equal. While your video doesn’t need to look professional, there are a few small secrets to helping you put your best face forward:

  1. Place the camera on a hard surface – don’t try holding it by hand unless you’re going for a rocky Blair Witch style. (No thank you.)
  2. Position the camera to be slightly above your head, angled down, to get a more flattering view.
  3. Use soft, natural light whenever possible and have most light behind your camera.
  4. Look into the camera, not your video screen, to give more of an appearance of speaking to your customers.
  5. If you’re nervous, help yourself speak more naturally by having a person behind the camera. Speak to them as though you’re having a normal conversation.

Jane Harrell is President of 'cause Digital Marketing, a boutique marketing firm focusing on delivering real ROI for pet businesses of all breeds and pedigrees. Jane is also co-owner of WorkingWithDog.com, the marketing club for petpreneurs and small pet businesses. In 2013, Jane won the Rising Star Award from Women in the Pet Industry for her work with Petfinder.com. She’s a regular contributor to many pet-industry publications, focusing on topics that bring tangible results with less work. Jane's enjoying a busy COVID-19 quarantine living with her partner, their six animals and their foster son in Maine.

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