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Jim Ackerman

Pet-Business Owners, It’s Time to Stop Using Those Outdated Marketing Tactics

The world is changing. So should your marketing.

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IT’S A WHOLE NEW world out there, especially when it comes to marketing and advertising. There are the big, obvious casualties in the advertising world — Yellow Pages and newspapers, for instance. Now, we market using websites, email and social media. But it’s how we use them that I believe is silly.

From observing pet business ads delivered via email, I notice most of them look like print ads that ran in newspapers.

Is there something wrong with that? Well, yes, as a matter of fact, there is …

The medium is email. The name implies that it’s mail, delivered electronically. So instead of making it look like an ad, you might do better to make it look like mail!

Direct-mail tests continue to prove that a snail mail piece in letter form (versus a designed postcard or brochure) will outperform other formats. In head-to-head split-run tests with several of my clients each year, this rule holds up.

Correspondingly, email that looks like a letter tends to be more successful in producing responses in the forms of click-throughs, conversions and sales.

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At least try the letter-looking approach in your email marketing: Conduct your own split-run test.

The other area where pet businesses are doing the same old things — just using new media — is in the aim of their ads.

Almost all pet businesses seem to be competing using the same offers to the same prospects for the same reasons with the same-looking ads. We’re all attacking prospects that are ready to buy today, tomorrow or at least this week, trying to get their dollars now.

Problem is, people — millennials in particular — aren’t buying that way anymore. They have changed, but your marketing hasn’t. People take more time to make decisions now. They do their research and they go through a process.

While all of your competition is frantically focusing on the last week or two of that process, the digital age has made it possible for you to get in early and market to these people in the tranquility of an uncluttered cyberspace and an unencumbered mind.

Use both traditional and digital media to drive “suspects” to a landing page instead of your store or even your website. On that page they’ll be able to sign up for a free something that will signal they’re now more than a suspect. They’re now a true prospect.

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Before the competition gets to them, you have the chance to establish a relationship, render value, help them establish their own buying criteria that favors you and pre-empts the competition, invite them to make an initial purchase (converting them from prospect to customer) and ultimately get them to make the purchase from you … without ever seriously considering doing business with anyone else.

This takes planning and system development, but it recognizes the digital reality of the new world. It’s a new way of marketing, and while it may take a while to build the marketing program to exploit that reality, it will surely lead to new and higher profits when you do.

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