I was just reading Entrepreneur (October 2011) and came across a fabulous article about Animal General Hospital in Port St. Lucie, FL.
It seems that the owner of this veterinary practice figured out how to engage local-community clients and prospects online, using the practice’s website in combination with free social networking, email and YouTube plus a modest paid-search advertising campaign (Google Adwords and Facebook ads).
The result: instead of spending $27,000 over 18 months for Yellow Pages and getting lame results, his online strategy only cost $3,600 plus staff time, but his business grew with 250 new clients and $75,000 in additional annual revenue. Can you say “WOW”???
Here are 3 ideas your local pet business can take away from this as you plan your fall and winter pet marketing strategies:
1. Interactive is IN!
As a follower of local marketing efforts, I’ve seen great results from Facebook Fan pages and other social media techniques that start a conversation with local customers. These businesses are all about sharing news, discounts and fun stories with customers and fans, and inviting questions or ideas.
Why not do the same? For example, why not post photos of your new products or invite fans to an open house celebration or a “Doggie Halloween Costume Parade.” People love to see photos of their pets online and will share them with their friends.
If you’re too busy running your business to communicate with customers and prospects online, find someone on your team who’d love to do this for you. And be sure to always remind people where you’re located and the communities you serve.
2. Let your local voice “freely” lead the way.
With social platforms such as Facebook, YouTube, Twitter and others being all-free… why not make the most of them? For my own business, I have found that using free social media resources is a great way to get referrals and share the conversation with people interested in what I offer. The same will go for you, too.
As your current customers “like” your Facebook page, for example, their friends will see that. And the potential to reach more community members — your potential customers — will just grow and grow.
3. Jump in now and own your local market.
Don’t worry about the local competition and what they may or may not be doing to promote themselves online… because no-one else is quite like you. That’s what is so great about social networking, sending personally-written emails, and having a locally optimized website.
It’s your business’s unique personality, approach and offering that attracted your current customers. Naturally, it will be that unique and fresh approach that will bring in more business.
If you ever get stuck, take a look at the websites and social media activities of similar businesses in other regions. For example, if you run a local pet retail business or veterinary practice in Chicago, check out what great local pet retailers and practices are doing in San Francisco, Boston, or Minneapolis.
For further tips or guidance on how to find more customers in your local market, contact me anytime.
Until next time, here’s to a prosperous website!