May 29, 2024
Marketing Copy 101 for Dog Trainers: Writing Copy that Connects

dog dressed in human clothes sitting at a typewriter; blog post on effective marketing copy that connects

Have you ever wondered why one dog trainer is so much more successful than another? Let me tell you a secret… it’s probably not because they’re better trainers or are doing more marketing. No. It’s most likely because they’re connecting with their prospective clients in a way that’s hard for them to ignore.

So, if you’ve been quietly steaming because the local trainer down the road (who doesn’t have your experience or credentials) has a waiting list longer than an flexi at full stretch, this may be an area you’d like to explore further.

What is “copy that connects”?

If you’ve read any marketing blurb at all you’ve probably seen this term flung about: copy that connects. But what does it really mean?

It means that when your audience reads your words, they go “you read my mind!” “That’s me!” “Wow, you really summed up my situation perfectly”. They feel heard and understood.

When your audience can see themselves in your copy, they’re immediately more likely to:

  • Read more of what you have to say
  • Understand what you can do for them
  • Reach out to you for help

If they don’t see themselves in your marketing, they’ll disengage quickly because it just won’t seem relevant to them. Ouch!

How to craft copy that connects

Whether you’re writing words for your website, creating blog posts, or planning social media captions and stories, you need to put yourself into your ideal client’s mind. 

If you mainly work with average pet owners, that means forgetting you’re a skilled dog trainer for a moment. Why? Because skilled dog trainers have very different reasons and goals for training their dogs. You aren’t your target audience!

So how can you get into your audience’s mind — assuming telepathy isn’t a skill you’ve developed yet? 

Competitor analysis

A great place to start is with some competitor website analysis. Try to find 5 sites belonging to successful trainers. Don’t worry about the competitor being a specific type of trainer — if they work with a similar type of client to you, that’s all you need worry about. Have a dig around their site. Ask yourself:

  • How are they describing the problems they solve? Do they describe them in terms of what the client gets (e.g. 6 lessons and an eBook.) or in terms of the outcome the client can expect? (e.g. Your dog will listen to you in exciting places. No more running off or jumping on guests.) Hint: it’ll probably be the latter.
  • What are they not mentioning? (Methodology is often a big part of what’s not said on the home page. Why? Because how do you train? isn’t usually the first question a pet owner asks.)

Now look at their social media and do the same thing. 

This process alone can give you some insight to what works for their audience — and will also work for yours.

Customer research 

Copywriters talk about voice of customer research, and it means finding examples of the actual words used by people who would be in your audience. Let’s assume your audience is pet dog owners.

What you’re looking for is places where your audience has left feedback on a service or product that solves the same problem that you do. In this case, pet dog training.

There are three main places to look for suitable phrases you can steal:

  • Competitor testimonials
  • Amazon book reviews
  • Social media

Competitor testimonials

Check out the testimonials left on another (successful) dog trainer’s site. Read the site reviews, their Google reviews, and any left on social media. 

Note how people phrase the problems they were experiencing before they went to the trainer. Also note how they describe the outcomes they got. 

Dog training book reviews

Next, take a look at the reviews for popular dog training books, aimed at the average pet owner, on places like Amazon. Again, note the way the initial problems are phrased and what the reader valued from the book.

Social media

And finally trawl some dog owner groups on Facebook. Most towns and cities have a local Facebook dog owners’ group where members of the public ask questions about a wide range of topics. Note the language that’s used to describe the issues you solve.

Analyze what you found

What you’ll see is most owners use very concrete language when describing their problems. Trainers, however, often fall into using trainer jargon — the phrases we use between ourselves. 

Here are some trainer jargon examples, with the owner-speak translation, so you can see what I mean:

Speaking the language of your audience

The best way to make your audience feel heard and understood is by integrating the exact terms they use into your marketing.

Your aim is to make your writing as relatable as possible — you want your readers nodding their heads as they read! Don’t be afraid to use humor, slang, or local colloquialisms if they fit your brand, so you sound both human and empathic. But avoid dog training jargon at all costs. Unless your audience is dog trainers, then use it as much as you like.

It’s not just about problems

When you’re writing your marketing, you don’t just describe a client’s problems. Hopefully you’re painting the picture of the outcomes they can expect after working with you, too.

You can use the same process as I’ve laid out to help your readers see themselves in the transformations you describe. 

Here are some examples to get you started:

By painting vivid pictures of the outcomes your client can expect — and using the same phrases your clients would use — you make it easy for them to imagine how great life with their dog can be after working with you.

And finally, your process

When you’re describing what it’s like to work with you, it’s important to emphasize how easy, simple, and pain-free your process is. No one wants to sign up for a service that sounds hard work, labor-intensive or long-winded. Sure, people have to put the effort in, but you don’t have to belabor that point. (Excuse the pun!)

So how can you make your service sound silky smooth and apparently effortless? Well, you can’t outright lie. That’s a no-no. But you can choose your words carefully. And you can emphasize the amount of compassionate support they get.

It’s easier if you keep in mind that people who hire dog trainers don’t want to be dog trainers. They want the pain from their dog’s annoying or dangerous behavior to be gone. 

Be careful of words like “learn” or “science” (words that lots of science-based trainers use) as they can put people off quickly. Your readers don’t want to expend effort learning, and learning “science” can be daunting. They just want their dog to stop doing the thing they don’t like. And they want you to hold their hand while the transformation happens. 

When you look at your service through the eyes of your clients, you can see why there may be a mismatch between how you describe what you do, and what people want from you. For successful marketing, you need to minimize that perceived mismatch.

Now you have a good idea of the sort of words that’ll light up your reader’s brain, go do some digging. Then review your website and marketing to see how you could make some small tweaks for big results. Let us know how you get on in the comments.

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