COVID-19 has certainly caused a ripple in the pet industry as well as virtually every other industry across the country. Whether you’re a brewery owner, a car company, an online dating site, apparel company or any other business in between you’ve had to find ways to pivot to stay viable and vital in the eyes of your customers even if you’ve had to shutter your physical doors.
Staying in touch, and staying in front of your customers is not as easy to do when you can’t open your doors, shake their hands and welcome them in to browse your products. We know. Our team is scattered, working from home and not able to travel to meet potential partners for our dog and cat products.
We have tips for staying in front of your customers even when you can’t be there. It’s more important than ever to stay front-of-mind and let them know you’re thinking of them, you’re there for them and you will be there when the country opens back up.
Whether you were running a virtual business with an online shop or if you had a brick-and-mortar the quarantine means you have to amp up your online communications. How can you do that and what should you be doing?
Dogs Help You Connect With Your Customers
Get in front of the camera. We know not everyone loves being in front of the camera, but going live let's your customers get to know you and what you’re doing. Truly haven’t you loved taking a peek behind the doors of the news anchors’ in their “natural habitats”? Most people do. Let your customers see you at your home, with your pets. Show them your home office. Empathize with them; we’re all in this together. There is a reason that Zoom meetings are blowing up – people are craving human interaction because of social distancing. Do a Facebook live, invite trusted customers and colleagues into a Zoom meeting for a “happy hour” or a discussion group.
This isn’t meant to be scripted or edited or “prettied up” this is a pandemic virtual get together – keep it real. Your customers will appreciate it.
Are you on Pinterest? We know, you’re probably not looking to jump into a new social platform right now, but we’ve found that pet retail businesses are thriving and driving traffic back to their sites when they post on Pinterest. Stuck-at-home shoppers may look on Pinterest before they get their credit card out. What can you do to make your pet retail items “pin worthy”? Show products being used by your pets. Offer ideas on how to use items from your retail pet site – go beyond the “buy a leash and go for a walk” to “here are ways to enjoy your pup, your free time even when you’re social distancing” then show the leash, the pup and a few suggestions on where to explore. Pique their interest with your pin.
Spend some of your marketing dollars. We know that’s not what you want to hear right now, but if you have a small amount of cash, invest it in targeted social media ads. Carefully choose your demographic and target the ad to them. Right now, ad rates are at an unprecedented low, so your ad spend will go further.
Send out an eblast/enewsletter. If you have a list, you should be reaching out to them. Let them know you’re there. Don’t sell to them when you send your eblast. Since they know you, they know who you are and what you sell BUT seeing you in their inbox will REMIND them you are there. Offer tips on how to survive the quarantine. Show them your home office. Get your pets involved in the photo shoot. Connect on a personal, not a business, level with your customer. Offer them tips on how to connect with their friends, bond with their dogs, alleviate quarantine boredom. Be funny. Be personable. They will appreciate that you’re not selling them something, and will be more likely to remember you and your interesting emails when the doors to the country open back up.
Ask for customer input. Ask a question on your social pages, “What is the most annoying thing about having your dog/cat as a co-worker?” Add your own funny comment with a photo of your pet. For example, “The most annoying thing about my furry co-worker is that he shows up late, leaves early and snores all afternoon!” Have fun with it. Ask a question and use the answers in a blog post or feature the answers in an upcoming eblast. “What has been the best thing to come out of the quarantine and the time you’ve spent home with your pet?” Asking questions lets your followers know you want to hear what they have to say, that you’re sharing your own experiences and connecting with them. Many people have found the chance to slow down, appreciate life, work from home and spend time with their pets has been a blessing.
Product placement. Okay, you knew we were going to go here, right? If you have branded product for your business and you can get your dog or cat to play with or wear that branded product while you’re doing a “from my home office” photo shoot – great! If your dog is wearing or playing with a branded pet product when you’re asking questions on social media – wonderful! You’re not coming right out and saying, “hey, buy our stuff!” but they are seeing your adorable pet in your wonderful branded products and maybe thinking, “Hey why isn’t my Fluffy or Fido wearing/playing with that? Let me go check their website.” Viola – you may have made a sale without even asking.
What has your business been doing to stay in touch with customers even though you're social distancing? We would love to know. We just might feature you and your unique take in one of our upcoming newsletters!