How to market your products to the pet industry

At last count, I’ve written for more than 70 different industries in my career. Many of those have been during my 18 years in marketing. I know more than most people about everything from airlines to dietary supplements, and from beer and wine to churches. And while I love learning about all manner of new things, nothing holds quite the same excitement for me as marketing products to the pet industry. Americans spent an estimated $95 billion on their pets last year. How much of that did you get?

Most of the people at Media Relations Agency are passionate pet lovers. One or two are even pet trainers. And we’ve got 30+ years experience in product marketing. That combination is a big advantage when you’re trying to sell a product in a very crowded industry.  

I’ve shared my life with birds, fish, cats and dogs. Lots and lots of dogs. I also have some veterinary technician training which comes in handy because, as I mentioned, I’ve had lots of dogs. I volunteered for a breed-specific rescue group for a dozen years. I currently share my home office with a dog who came from a responsible breeder.

So, when I was asked to offer advice on marketing products to the pet industry, I jumped at the opportunity. I’m about to tell you how to reach your dream pet owners: Those who treat their pets as family members and are willing to part with their money if it makes their pets happy.

The six steps to Strategically Aimed Marketing 

It’s smart to be strategic so you can make the most use of your time and budget. There is a free companion guide and free tools on our website to help you with each of these steps. 

Step 1: Learn the basic marketing concepts and principles. There aren’t that many, and understanding them will help you start to frame up your marketing plan. For example, you’ll want to know where you are in the Product Life Cycle. How you market your product will depend on whether it’s in the introductory, growth, maturity or declining stage. 

Step 2: Fill in code sheets. Here’s where you capture your company’s vision and mission, what makes your product unique, your target audience and your product’s top value points. Maybe you’ve developed a no-pull harness that doubles as a life vest, or a high-tech interactive cat toy. Is this something a brand new pet owner will understand the need for? Is your product geared to people who want to indulge and pamper their pets? This step helps you focus your energies on the right things. 

Step 3: Select the channels. The gold standard is earned media. It can’t be purchased and therefore has a lot of credibility. Pet people are all over social media, so you’ll want to be visible there as well. You may need a marketing agency’s help deciding where to go first, and how much to spend in which channel.

Step 4: Create a schedule calendar. This is how you’ll organize what you want to say, with what frequency, to what audience. For example, if you sell an omega-3 supplement for dogs and a version for cats, and one group spends more money on this supplement than the other, you will want to plan your marketing accordingly. You’ll talk to each group slightly differently. 

Step 5: Develop a control template. This step is for your creative team, whether in-house or an outside agency. It outlines all of the elements you want included in everything they produce. Start by using these two acronyms: AIDA (Attention, Interest, Desire and Action) to outline the content flow; and WIFM (What’s In it For Me, as in the audience). 

Step 6: Engage your creative team. By providing your creative team with all of the above, they’ll be able to stay on point with their messaging every single time. That ultimately saves you money and avoids costly mistakes. (We’ve all seen ads for restaurants with no addresses, for example.) 

You can dig deeper into each of these areas by reading the best-selling book by our CEO Lonny Kocina called, “The CEO’s Guide to Marketing.” Or, call us at 952-697-5269 or use this form to get our honest opinions about whether you’ve got a story worth sharing through the media. 

I guarantee you’ll get an honest appraisal because we’re a performance-based agency. We’re focused on results. And if we don’t believe your product or story is mediagenic, we’ll be the first to tell you. Of course, we’ll also give you ideas for fixing things so we might be able to work together at some point in the future. 

Written by Robin Miller

Robin will coordinate the writing for your newsletters, social media posts, website, blogs, newsletters and press releases. “I like interviewing clients and spokespeople, hearing their stories, getting to know their personalities and listening to how they phrase their thoughts,” she says. “It’s fun to transform what I’ve learned from those conversations into media-grade content.” Robin enjoys shaping content to ensure that the message will be clearly received. “When someone understands the relevance of what they’re writing and can position it properly for their audience, their work tends to be more convincing and on point. I’m fortunate to have a very diverse background, which gives me a good perspective whenever we bring on a new client.” An IABC- and Mercury-award winner, Robin says her practical experience in the health sciences has proven particularly beneficial as she interprets clients’ scientific information for mainstream media. “But it’s no longer sufficient to write well,” she cautions. “As marketers, we must now comply with the intricacies of digital marketing. That involves a whole set of rules, which are constantly evolving.”

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