From all the big-box pet aisles  to thousands of online stores, and from direct-sales companies to subscription boxes, it’s getting easier for consumers to spend their money anywhere but your business. The pet marketplace is cluttered. How are you going to compete with that?

YOUR ANSWERS, YOUR STORY

Answer EACH of these questions. After your initial response, think about the story behind why you answered the way you did. Uncover your history and experience with each. After your initial response, think about the story behind why you answered the way you did. Uncover your history and experience with each of the answers.

  1. When you do business with me I want you to feel ...
  2. When you’re unhappy with a product or our service, I will ...
  3. My closest friends think that I’m ...
  4. When I throw a party I make sure ...
  5. Something I really love is ...
  6. I started this business because ...
  7. What makes my business special is ...
  8. What makes me special is ...
  9. I’m different from my competition because ...
  10. Causes or issues I care deeply about are ...
  11. My favorite memory with my pet is ....
  12. If I could be anywhere or do anything it would be ...
  13. Something that had a positive impact on me was ...
  14. Something I overcame and that made me stronger was ...
  15. The vendors I work with are special because ...
  16. The products I carry are special because ...
  17. The services I offer are special because ...
  18. I have made an impact to my community by doing ...
  19. If my business had a personality type or characteristics, those would be ...

If your business is missing the mark, I can’t help but wonder, Do you know who you are? And how are you communicating it to potential customers?

You are bigger than just “pet boutique selling high-quality, unique items” and you’re better than “the best natural pet supply around.” Boring! I’m snoozing over here. Put some life into it! Get excited about you and what you do.

Even though it might seem like the internet is taking away your business, it’s actually not. Less than 8 percent of pet-product spending is happening online. People buy from people. So, it’s not that people don’t want to buy from you — they aren’t connecting with you.

How do you connect with people? Through stories. The stories of your life and business. The stories of your pet parenthood. The stories of products you choose. The stories of manufacturers and partners you decide to work with. The stories of your clients and how their lives have changed for the better because of you. Your story is everything and connects you to your ideal clients.

What Do People think of You?

Take a look at your brand (that is,  your image, your marketing style). What do people think, and how do they feel when they encounter your brand? If you don’t know, survey customers and non-customers in your area. This will help you determine where you need to pivot and what you should enhance through story.

Uncover Your Story

Wondering what they heck happened to your brand or why you don’t have one? Don’t panic. It’s time to become the face of your business. Let’s uncover your story. Answer my list of questions below. Pull stories from your life experiences that enhance the brand you want, and give people a reason to buy from you instead of your competitor. It doesn’t have to be a perfect story. Remember, people buy from people. Be true to you.

Use It As Your Road Map

Pick out the best story lines from your answers and use them in your social media posts, email campaigns and ads. Integrate them throughout your business in-store and online — touching as many opportunities as possible through signage, video, conversations and more. These stories can guide everything from company culture to customer experience.

 

Candace D’Agnolo owns successful pet business Dogaholics and offers business consulting at Pet Boss Nation. For help creating a customized 90-day plan to tackle all your business goals, download a free worksheet, at petbossnation.com/petsplus. Contact her at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..


This article originally appeared in the February 2018 edition of PETS+.

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