Dr. Tammy Powell hosting a table at AWAI's Job Fair and Bootcamp

Make Your Pet or Veterinary Business Stand Out in 2019 (My Top 5 Takeaways from the 2019 AWAI Bootcamp)

It’s that time of year again!

Well actually, this year it came earlier than usual — AWAI held their annual Bootcamp and Job Fair in May rather than October.

If you’re not familiar, AWAI stands for American Writers and Artists, Inc. They’re the industry’s standard for training direct-response copywriters, and they’re the ones from whom I obtained a lot of my training as a pet and veterinary copywriter.

Each year, their Bootcamp and Job Fair brings together A-list copywriters, marketers looking for writers, and top-notch speakers.

The picture above is yours truly working at a Job Fair table about B2B copywriting, talking to other writers who want to break into the industry — it was great fun!

But, here’s what you really want to know from the event…

With all the powerful, insightful information offered this year, it was hard to choose just 5 tips for pet and veterinary marketing…

But, I believe these are the ones that could have the biggest impact on your business in 2019:

  1. Newsletters

A lot of speakers mentioned newsletters this year, and told how valuable they are for marketing your business (especially through content marketing). But, the first (and most enthusiastic) proponent was Ann Handley.

Ann is the founder of Click-Z and MarketingProfs, co-author of the amazing book Content Rules, and a content marketing expert.

And according to Ann, newsletters are a crucial component of your marketing efforts this year, for one very important reason…

Newsletters are not subject to algorithms.

So, compare this with social media marketing through Facebook or Instagram, or even more “business-focused” platforms such as LinkedIn…

What do all these platforms have in common?

Basically, they all have underlying algorithms. That means that when you post your content, your audience may or may not actually see it.

It’s all up to the “Algorithm Gods,” who decide whether or not your post will be prioritized in your prospects’ feed… and, whether or not it will even show up at all.

Frustrating, isn’t it?

However, newsletters on the other hand – particularly email newsletters – have to be opted into.

That means, if someone is receiving your newsletter, it’s because they asked to receive it.

That also means, they’re a well-qualified prospect for you.

And finally, it means they’ll actually see your email. Excluding any mishaps with spam folders, your newsletter WILL arrive in their inbox.

For that reason, it’s one of the most effective types of content to invest in.

That’s especially true when you factor in what I’m about to tell you in Tip 2, below…

But before that, let me mention one more very important point from Ann. And that’s this:

Remember that a newsletter is about the “letter,” not about the “news.”

In other words, make it personal. Not personal in a creepy, too-much-information type of way… but rather, in a very human way. It should sound conversational, like one human being talking to another human being.

Here are a few ways you can do that:

  • Include personalized greetings. Write it like an actual letter, with warm and friendly salutations like “Hello” or “Have a great weekend!”
  • Include a personal angle. That doesn’t mean you have to treat it like a diary and include all the nitty-gritty details of your life… but, include some updates of interest like a new home, a book you’re reading that you’d like to recommend, a hobby, or more. Ann mentioned a great example of a copywriter who includes posts about her cats and being gluten-free. If you find a prospect who shares those interests, it will help to put a face on your business and build trust.
  • Don’t make it just about updates. Even though it’s technically a “news” letter, try to include content that is interesting and of value to your audience. Posts about company changes can get very boring.
  1. The Power of Email

Another enjoyable session was all about online copywriting, from experts Nick Usborne (of Conversational Copywriting and Coffee Detective) and Heather Robson (of Wealthy Web Writer).

Nick and Heather talked about four different online opportunities that are growing and need skilled copywriters to maximize their effectiveness, including: content/SEO, emails, social media, and mobile marketing.

It was all very interesting, and there are certainly opportunities to market your pet or veterinary business through all of these channels. But, one thing they said really stood out…

Email marketing still has a higher conversion rate than search and social media combined!

And with returns on investment of 3,800%, it’s clear that they were not exaggerating!

So, if you really want to grow your pet business in 2019… email marketing, including email newsletters, is a good way to go.

Just be sure you work with a writer who understands effective content and email marketing, so that your investment is well worth it.

  1. The New Way to Blog

One of my favorite speakers this year was Jon Morrow. What an inspiration!

Due to a fatal neuromuscular condition, he’s confined to a wheelchair, and unable to move any part of his body other than his eyes and face. But, this doesn’t stop him from earning $100,000 PER MONTH in passive income from his website.

So, if you’re looking for real-world, practical advice about blogging, Jon is one of the industry’s go-to experts.

And note, his advice was mostly about passive income for writers who create a blog – but, since he’s an expert on creating effective content and getting traffic to your site, his advice is certainly applicable for those looking to increase their business’s online clout, too.

Here are two key pieces of advice:

  • Blogs are not appropriate for all businesses and industries. In fact, there’s a select list of 10-20 “niches” that Jon says are the main categories of blogs that do well.

And there’s good news here for you… because PETS were one of the categories!

  • You don’t need to master WordPress right off the bat… you also don’t need to know what to write about right away… or, even to have a domain name when you first start!

Instead, you can use a website called Medium. It’s free to use, and it’s a great place to not only read blog posts, but also to post your own.

You can then see the response to each of your posts in order to know what type of content gets the best response. Really engaging posts will even be highlighted and featured on the main page.

It’s a great place to experiment and get comfortable with blogging, BEFORE you spend the time or the money setting up your own blog. Then, when you’re ready, you can migrate the posts over to your own WordPress site.

  1. Your Ulterior Motive

Another inspiring speaker was marketing expert Yanik Silver.

Here’s a prediction of Yanik’s that was quoted by Forbes:

“Businesses without a core IMPACT will be at a competitive disadvantage in 4-7 years (or less).”

What he means by this is that businesses need a higher purpose in order to do well. Nowadays consumers – especially Millennials – are choosing to purchase from businesses that do good in the world.

And, a charity donation as an afterthought doesn’t cut it… it has to be a mission that is authentically aligned with your company.

As pet and veterinary companies, this should be an easy target for you, and one that will probably make you feel good about helping even more animals!

Consider donating money or supplies to a local animal shelter, for example. And, you can get creative and sell a small add-on product (such as a bracelet with a paw print charm) where the profits of sales go directly to that charity.

It will help both you and your customers feel good about doing business together – and, help some animals along the way!

  1. Kaizen

This concept was enthusiastically presented by copywriting great Bob Bly. And I’ve heard the concept before, but it was a good reminder.

Kaizen is a Japanese term that means “the art of continual improvement.”

It means that, no matter where you are in your journey of doing something new – whether you’re an expert, or just starting a new venture – you can benefit by doing something every day to improve and learn more.

And it doesn’t have to be something big – because even small steps really add up over time.

Let’s take an example here…

If you’re trying to improve the effectiveness of your content marketing… or, trying to increase your online presence with greater conversions and engagements…

It can feel overwhelming to try to do everything at once (blogging, email newsletters, social media, etc.)…

So, just start with one thing at a time. Maybe email newsletters would be a good place to begin, considering what I learned at the conference… but, every business is unique, so something else might work better for you.

But, whatever you choose for growing your pet or veterinary business, just stick with it and learn a little bit at a time.

This is an arena where slow, consistent efforts and a genuine message are starting to trump make-money-quick, hyped up type of content.

In other words, slow and steady – and AUTHENTIC – win the race.

So, just be you, and learn over time – and, it will be time well spent!

If you’re looking for a copywriter to help you improve the effectiveness of your content, you can also contact me, here.

In the meantime, wishing you the best of luck for your pet or veterinary business in 2019!

A photo of sunset at Delray Beach in Florida, where the AWAI conference was held
An evening shot of Delray Beach, where the AWAI Bootcamp and Job Fair is held each year.