March 31, 2021
Early Dog Trainer Survey Insights: Marketing to Make Money
Tried-and-true marketing strategies from high-earning trainers.

couple with dog sitting on grass; article about marketing to make money for dog trainers

While there are plenty of reasons why a business might do really well, the simple truth is that marketing is a major factor to make money.

That’s a big reason why I re-launched my survey for dog trainers. I wanted to see how they’re running their businesses, what kind of marketing strategies they’re using (or not), and, ultimately, what’s working for them.

And there’s plenty of information to dig into! I’ll be releasing a report with deeper insights a little later on.

But I figured I’d give you all a sneak peak of some of the early trends I’m spotting among survey responses — and what you can start changing in your marketing strategies in order to bring in more clients… And, ultimately, make more money.

Here are some big trends I’m seeing:

Most Dog Trainers Aren’t Trying Most Marketing Strategies

Depending on how you look at it, this may or may not be very surprising. After all, running a small business means it’s usually just you handling everything. If you’re spending all of your time managing clients, finances, emails, a brick and mortar location (or your home office), and more… How could you possibly find time to plan or even write a series of blog posts?

I get it. It’s not easy.

And marketing is a tricky part of business to convince yourself is worth your time. You won’t always see instant results. You may not even see results at all if you don’t know how to look for them.

(Which explains why a lot of people answered “unsure” when asked about the success of their strategies.)

That said, here are some 2021 marketing statistics from HubSpot:

  • SEO drives 1000%+ more traffic than organic social media. While I didn’t specifically ask about SEO on the survey, a lot of responders said they had not tried blogging. On the other hand, a lot of people wrote in that they’d found Instagram to be successful for marketing. So if you’re using Instagram — and finding that it works — just think of how much more successful you’d be with… *drumroll please*… blogging!
  • 49% of users say they use Google to discover or find a new item or product. Yet another reason why you should use SEO to get your website highly ranked on the popular search engine. Also a solid argument for trying out Google AdWords, and for making sure your Google listing is up to date.
  • “Where to buy” and “near me” mobile queries have grown by over 200% in the past two years, and 60% of smartphone users have contacted a business directly using the search results such as the “click to call” option. More arguments for the previous statement!
  • From a study of 1,000 small business owners, email marketing was ranked as the second most effective medium for building brand awareness, and email marketing has the highest return on investment for small businesses. Some pretty convincing data for why you should have a newsletter, right?

If you’re not convinced yet that this applies to you, maybe the next insight from my survey will…

Dog Trainers Making the Most Money Try the Most Marketing Strategies

When I sort surveys by dog trainers who made at least $60,000 in 2020 (including several who made $175k or more), there is a serious correlation between the number of marketing tactics they’ve tried and how much they made last year. While there are still some “I haven’t tried it”s, the highest earners had, on average, tried more marketing strategies than those who said they made $30,000 or less in 2020.

And yeah, some of those high earners answered that they tried something and it didn’t work. But there certainly seems to be a correlation between being willing to try different techniques and making more money.

So we’ve established that marketing is important for making money. And we’ve established that you probably don’t have a lot of time to devote to testing things out.

So, what are the most effective strategies? Every business’s needs are different, but here’s one standout insight:

The Best Marketing Strategies Might Not Require Extra Work

The majority of survey responders said that referrals of any sort — from clients, vets, or other industry professionals — were successful. While that might mean figuring out referral incentives (a discount or free swag for a client who gives a successful referral, for example), and doing some networking, a big part of getting referrals is about making your clients happy enough to want to spread the word about you.

Whether you’re doing that through excellent customer service or using authenticity in your marketing — hopefully both! — happy customers are key to generating more and repeat clients.

Another popular (and successful) marketing strategy is to use branded materials in public settings. You can do this by putting a sticker on the side of your car, or wearing a t-shirt with your logo while training dogs at the park. You can easily design materials on websites like Vistaprint for a good price, making this a low-cost, low-lift strategy that’s sure to turn a couple of heads!

The Bottom Line: Get Creative

For the reasons I highlighted above (and more), I always recommend using SEO, blogging, newsletters, and social media to drive clients to your business. But that doesn’t mean they’re the only ways you can do so.

Though these are some tried-and-true marketing tactics, the best thing you can do is be creative with how you get attention. And don’t be afraid to try new things out! Even if they don’t work, they could lay the foundation for new and better ideas.

There are more survey insights to come — In the meantime, if you haven’t taken it yet, please do! It only takes 10-15 minutes to complete. You can find it here, and stay tuned to the Click & Repeat blog for more!

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