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How to Use Pet Influencers to Grow Your Business

Recommendations from micro-influencers are twice as effective as paid advertising.

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This story was originally published in the November 2017 edition of PETS+.

WITH DOTING PET PARENTS setting up profile pages almost as soon as they bring their new pets home, it’s not uncommon nowadays to come across pets racking up huge followings online. In fact, 65 percent of pet owners post their four-legged friends to social media. It just so happens that, for a handful of them, those posts go on to garner thousands of dollars’ worth of monthly revenue as their pets grow from adorable internet distraction to full-blown influencers.

Our studies show that recommendations from micro-influencers are twice as effective as paid advertising. That may be why an increasing number of businesses have added pet influencers to their marketing strategies.

So, as the owner of a pet business, how do you leverage this new crop of micro-influencers to grow your brand?

Where to Find Them

The vast majority of pet influencers live on social media, so hit that direct message button and let their owners know why you should be partnering together.

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But as a small business owner, sometimes it’s about finding inspiration from what’s around you. Do you or someone you know have a pet? While not (yet) famous, having a pet be the face of your brand is a great way to share your story.

How to Use Them

Why would you reach out to a lovable Pomeranian rather than a seasoned influencer with opposable thumbs? “Human influencers might say something off-brand or that offends. Dogs are on message at all times,” Loni Edwards, owner of pet influencer Chloe and founder of The Dog Agency, told Fast Company. “People like pet content, and there’s higher ability of going viral.”

Now that you understand why you should consider a pet influencer, how do you go about working with them?

#Share the love. Ninety-four percent of pet owners see their pets as a member of the family. With this in mind, Chewy began surprising its customers with commissioned portraits of their pets earlier this year. Chewy also sent out 2 million holiday cards to customers last Christmas. This is the type of personalized service that ends up creating buzz online (along with glowing reviews of your business).

Bring them in-store. Sixty-five percent of stores noticed a correlation between experiential marketing and increased sales. For retailers, bringing in a pet influencer is a great way to engage with consumers. In my past life as an associate working at a pet boutique, the owner would regularly throw “tea parties” — a gathering for her and her top customers’ teacup Yorkies. Those events always boosted sales for the day.

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Take up a cause. Go beyond promoting your brand, and bring attention to a pet issue you care about. Pet parents are particularly amenable to this — most are aware of the plight of unwanted or abused animals and are eager to support businesses that want to help.

Why They Work

Animals evoke an instant feeling of happiness. Tap into your customer’s emotional side to drive success without making the shopping journey feel overly transactional. “People have this perception that pets generate fuzzy feelings,” Edwards told Digiday. “Brands are [reaching] out because [pets] make people happy, and they want their ads to make people happy.”

As Hubba’s millennial retail expert, helping brands connect to the world’s largest consumer demographic is where DAYANA CADET thrives. Her work can be found on Hubba.com and trade publications such as Chain Store Age, Retail Minded and My Total Retail.  

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This webinar, held on November 7, 2019, is the second in a series from PSC discussing how retailers can establish sustainable practices in their business. Moderated by PSC’s Andrea Czobor, the webinar unveils data behind the increasing consumer demand for sustainable products, what retailers have to gain from connecting with these purpose driven consumers, and a new PSC program that makes finding these products easier for retailers.

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Shawna Schuh

True Leaders Learn the Skills of Telling, Selling and Asking

Beware the overshare.

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IN AN INTERVIEW FOR a new team member, we sat down and began some preliminary chit-chat.

Admittedly, I am a curious sort; I ask more questions than most. It’s my job, after all, as a leadership coach, so when I began by asking, “Tell me a little about yourself.” I did not expect to hear what I did: The interviewee went on to share and to overshare. We found out about her marriage history, abuse, blended families, a home lost by the recession and what was wrong with her last employer.

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Video: Bush Service Dog Honored with Life-Size Statue — Take a Look

Video: Adorable Cat Melts Hearts By Trying on Eyewear for Children
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Video: Adorable Cat Melts Hearts By Trying on Eyewear for Children

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Video: Cat Surprises Airport Security After Stowing Away in Family’s Luggage

She was talking too much for us to ask additional questions.

According to her resume, she had the skills we needed, but we decided we wouldn’t hire her because of her oversharing habit.

Oversharing lost her the job. Over-sharing can lose you customers, too.

What is a leader to do? Well, first, be sure you aren’t the one who overshares.

My coaching clients learn early that most leaders do three things often.

1. They tell. Usually, leaders are telling their team how to do things, what the vision is, how to handle customers. Leaders tell and tell and tell. They do this because they are the ones in the know. They are making the decisions, and to be good communicators, they tell their teams.

2. They sell. This is one most leaders don’t realize they are doing, but they do it all the time. After all, you want your team bought into your vision, and you want people to get excited. Leaders are the most knowledgeable about the product or business, and most started by selling so they sell.

When you are telling and selling, sometimes you forget and overshare. Leaders get zealous about things and sometimes that leads to oversharing.
What can you do to stop yourself from the overshare? What would have helped the interviewee land the job?

3. They ask. Leaders learn to be expert askers. When you ask questions, many wonderful things happen: The people you ask questions feel valued — like their opinion matters. You learn something. And you allow others to talk, which means you aren’t talking or oversharing.

To become an expert asker, all you need do is, of course, ask questions. This is a simple concept like dieting, and, like dieting, usually not easy.

Here are two questions most any leader or anyone will benefit from asking:

What is it you want?

This question helps the other person define their goals. For customers, it helps you help them. Note: Be prepared for some silence, a lot of people really don’t know what they want. If they are quiet, simply smile and ask them something else like, “What makes you happiest?”

What can I do for you?

This question gets to the core of need. It also shows them that you are focused on them. That’s the beauty of questions: They are outward focused, and when you are outward focused, it helps you be the kind of leader, teammate, partner, a parent that others want to be around.

If nothing else, please think before you overshare!

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Create an Empowering Relationship Between Your Business and Your Life

Avoid burnout!

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IN THE FIRST few years running my own pet business, I made mistakes that drained me physically and emotionally and almost caused me to walk away. Instead of quitting, I made major changes to my business that have given me a life I could have only dreamed of years ago. As a pet business coach, I encourage business owners through the same mistakes with the following strategies:

Burnout Mistake: Doing All the Work Yourself

Before I transformed my business, I was working 12-hour days and still felt like I couldn’t take a day off without everything falling apart. Along the same lines, I have coaching clients tell me they have hired staff members, but spend more time dealing with staff drama than anything else.

Solution: Hire staff members you trust and are excited to introduce to your clients. After an appropriate amount of training, set your staff free to do their jobs. If you don’t think someone you are interviewing will be trustworthy to work alone, don’t hire them.

Burnout Mistake: Drowning in Administration Details

When I was starting out in business, I enjoyed the phone calls and emails. As my business becomes more successful, however, returning phone calls and emails becomes one of the most stressful and time-consuming business tasks.

Solution: If you are regularly overwhelmed by client calls and emails, hire an office assistant to help with work that doesn’t require your personal attention. Then, establish boundaries for the work you do — and stick to them. For example, don’t answer your phone after office hours and only give your personal number to your office assistant. Let your assistant act as a boundary between you and your staff and clients, giving your personal life some breathing room.

Burnout Mistake: Letting Difficult Clients Run the Show

When I was running my own pet business, I noticed that around 5 percent of my clients were incredibly difficult to work with. Even though they were a small portion of my client base, I was devoting a large percentage of my time and energy to dealing with their needs and complaints.

Solution: Be understanding but firm with difficult clients. Don’t let them pay or cancel late without a penalty. The same goes for last-minute bookings — always charge a last-minute fee. The first year I charged for last-minute reservations, I earned over $5,000 that year just in last-minute fees! We teach others how to treat us by how we respond. Your clients will either change the way they treat you or take their business elsewhere. Regardless of which they choose, you’ll have more time and energy!

Burnout Mistake: Caring More for Others Than Yourself

Starting and running a business takes large amounts of energy and passion, and most pet care providers are caretakers by nature. This combination leads many pet care business owners to give their passion and creativity to their business, but at the expense of their own health and relationships.

Solution: Value your health and future by giving yourself even a few minutes each day for self care. Knowing that you should make yourself a priority is simple (and obvious to most business owners), but making it happen is not always easy and takes commitment. Disconnecting from screens and going to bed on time, budgeting money and time for nutritious meals, and getting yourself out the door for exercise can be difficult adjustments at first. The payoff in energy and health will be worth the effort.

If your business isn’t working for you in its current state, you may find that it isn’t really working at all. Make the changes you need to establish more balance and peace in your business, and that will have a ripple effect in your personal life.

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CBD ABCs: Know the Differences Between Full Spectrum, Broad Spectrum and Isolate

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CANNABIDIOL (CBD) PRODUCTS REPRESENT a rapidly growing category of pet products, and retailers are on the front lines when it comes to educating their customers on the benefits, usage and expected results. As the category matures, pet owners are becoming more sophisticated in their understanding of these products and the vast range of options. One area where many questions arise has to do with the difference between products labeled as “full spectrum” versus “broad spectrum” CBD, or “CBD isolate.”

To guide your choices and meet customer needs for education, here’s what you need to know when it comes to the different varieties available.

“Full” versus “Broad” Spectrum — What’s the Difference?

When it comes to the “full” versus “broad” spectrum labels, it’s all about what ends up in the final product.

The “spectrum” refers to a product’s range of included cannabinoids, which are compounds extracted from the cannabis plant. These include cannabidiol (CBD), tetrahydrocannabinol (THC), and more than 100 other naturally occurring compounds. In particular, THC is the compound known for its psychoactive high that many associate with recreational marijuana. CBD, on the other hand, does not produce a psychoactive effect.

To create a CBD product, cannabinoids are extracted from the cannabis plant, and the product is refined until it contains only the specific compounds desired. In full-spectrum products, this includes all compounds found naturally occurring in the plant, including CBD, terpenes, essential oils, and other cannabinoids — including, notably, THC. Broad-spectrum products contain a similarly wide range of cannabinoids, with one important exception: They contain no THC.

What About Isolate?

Isolate takes the refinement process even further, distilling the product to the purest form of CBD. That means removing all non-CBD compounds found in the plant, including THC, terpenes, flavonoids, plant parts and other cannabinoids.

But Wait — Is the THC in Full-Spectrum Products Legal?

It is. Under the 2018 Farm Bill, which made CBD purchase legal at a federal level, full-spectrum products are legal if they contain less than 0.3 percent THC.

OK, So Which Product Is Better?

As you might imagine, there’s no simple answer to this question. It all depends on a given pet’s needs and the pet owner’s preferences. While it was once thought that isolate represented the most potent form of CBD treatment, a 2015 study debunked this perception when it found that full-spectrum CBD provided higher relief effects within the body. However, pet owners who are most interested in a concentrated dose of CBD, or who fear their pet might be intolerant of other cannabinoids, might still prefer the pure nature of a CBD isolate.

However, there are reasons to direct pet owners to full-spectrum and broad-spectrum products over isolate. Certain studies show that the blend of multiple cannabinoids produce what is known as the “entourage effect,” which refers to the way in which cannabinoids magnify the effects of one another when combined. Both full-spectrum and broad-spectrum CBD products produce this beneficial effect, leaving the question of THC as the main discerning factor between the two.

Full-spectrum products that adhere to the legally required limit of less than 0.3 percent THC should not produce a psychoactive effect within pets. However, some owners are wary of administering any amount of THC to their pets — and there is some basis for this concern.

Simply put, the production process used by some CBD suppliers isn’t precise enough to ensure THC concentrations within full-spectrum products remain uniformly and consistently below through the 0.3 percent legal threshold. Until quality control in this realm improves, sticking with broad-spectrum products is the best way to alleviate concerns that a CBD product might inadvertently get a pet high.

Ultimately, as with so many categories of product, the best results will be seen when a retailer discusses the individual needs of a pet with its owner and recommends the appropriate product.

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