November 21, 2017
What Marketing Tactics Work for Pet Businesses? Which Don’t?
Are you trying to do it all, but you have no idea what’s working and what’s wasting your time?

Happy child playing with dog; best marketing tactics for dog trainers

As a dog trainer you probably are pretty used to saying “It depends” when someone asks you for advice — it’s the same when I get asked about best marketing tactics.

You know there are no silver bullets when it comes to dog training. That is, there is no one marketing tactic, technique, trick, or option that will solve every problem, every time.

Since most of my readers come from FDSA, most of your solutions are probably those that are kind to dogs. But you are undoubtedly aware there are also techniques that are… less kind to dogs. And other people use them, sometimes to great success.

The same is true in marketing. There are no silver bullets. In marketing, our “dog” is our potential customer or prospect. The person we are trying to teach to love us so much they want to throw their money at us and tell us to “Just take it already, damnit!”

Different techniques work for different people and different businesses.

One business may find they successfully get a ton of traffic from their Facebook page to their website, where people sign up for classes like gangbusters. Go you!

Another might have a Facebook page that seems like it’s going nowhere, but spends a couple of dollars on Google AdWords and suddenly has more students than their business can keep up with. Wahoo!

The Dark Side of Marketing

And then there is the “dark side.” I’m not going to name names, but there are some BIG NAME trainers out there (even positive reinforcement trainers) who aren’t very “kind” to their prospects. These trainers promise things they don’t deliver. They trick people into signing up for things. These trainers create frustration in buyers who spend 45 minutes on a webinar just to use it to sell a class. They only share content when they want things in return. They use marketing techniques that are generally “frowned upon” in marketing circles.

We want to be successful — without going to the dark side.

But just like newbie dog people, it can be easy to confuse the two approaches until you learn a bit more about marketing.

If you’re struggling to decide which category your marketing tactics fall into, it can help to ask yourself, “Do I think this is kind to someone who may want to work with me?” When it comes down to it, being kind goes an awful long way in marketing… just like it does in dog training.

For those interested, in my upcoming class, The Business End of the Dog, I will do my best to steer you toward things that are both kind to the people we want to convince to work with you AND that I believe will work.

So, what works? What doesn’t? And how can we tell the difference?

I want you to think about recent clients. What marketing tactics did they use to find you?

This is what I like to think of as the “down and dirty” way of measuring effectiveness. It’s a good place to start before we get more specific (and data driven).

If you wanted, you could stop here. Even just doing this exercise a few times a year will help you keep your marketing focused, help you do things that work, and stop doing things that don’t.

That said, if we dig a little deeper we may discover that there are things that work that we don’t realize work, and things that aren’t working that only look like they are…. So let’s dig a little deeper.

Using KPIs to Determine What’s Working

Sales — that is, the number of people who sign up for a class — is the ultimate “key performance indicator.”

Key Performance Indicator or KPI is a measurable metric (ie a number) that tells you how your marketing tactics, methods, or techniques are performing. As I said above, sales is the ultimate KPI, because it has the most direct impact on your bank account. But it’s not the only one we want to look at.

If we revisit our funnel, we’ll likely have different KPIs for each stage of that funnel. We may even have one for each technique or tactic within it. It’s the thing we can the customer to do at that step in our path to purchase.

Unfortunately, people often get sidetracked by “fake” KPIs. They get excited about Facebook likes or Twitter followers, without taking the time to think about whether or not those metrics measure anything that matters.

When trying to determine if a metric matters, you can generally ask yourself one simple question. “Self, is there a next step from this metric in my path to purchase?”

If you can say that 25% (note: numbers in this example are made up to keep things simple, not realistic) of your Twitter followers click on the blog posts you share from your website, and from your website 25% sign up for a class — maybe Twitter followers IS a KPI! But only so long as that 25% holds true… If you triple your Twitter followers but they are all spammers, and that 25% drops to 2%… Then we didn’t really help our business. And I’d argue that the actual KPI in this case isn’t Twitter followers, but rather the percentage of Twitter followers who click on your links.

This is why KPIs matter. Ultimately, they tell us what’s working… and what’s not.


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