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This article is the fourth article in a five-part series that details exactly what you need to market your pet store and make it a success.
Getting the word out about your pet store takes more than simply printing postcards and launching a website. You have to get the right message in front of the right audience, at the right time.
Here are some tips for pet store marketing distribution:
Direct mail is the best way to get pet-minded shoppers through your door. A calculated direct-mail campaign represents an investment in profit and should be approached with dedication. Familiarize yourself with the 40/40/20 rule of direct marketing, which states that 40 percent of your success is contingent on the quality of your mailing list, 40 percent of your success is contingent on the quality of your offer, and the remaining 20 percent is contingent on your design, copy, printing and other factors.
Consult a list broker or use the mailing list building tools available at PsPrint, and develop a database of your own customers and define a mailing list comprised of likely pet buyers. You will likely have several lists: pet owners and non-pet owners are two distinctions. Your goals for each group will be very different since you'll want to sell services and supplies to pet owners and pets to non-owners.
Repetition is key: Instead of one postcard campaign, develop a strategy that incorporates multiple direct mailers during a six-month period. This contributes to your branding efforts and allows you to begin to develop a relationship with your prospects. By the time you launch your incredible offer, you'll have established trust and credibility and will yield a higher response rate.
Here's a sample direct-mail marketing campaign for pet stores, targeting saltwater aquarium owners:
Week One: Send a postcard to your mailing list with an offer to save 20 percent on a saltwater aquarium supplies. Add value by making the back a quick-reference saltwater species compatibility chart or similar device.
Week Six: Send a flyer promoting a specific product or service.
Week 12: Send a booklet, "Guide to Saltwater Aquarium Species," which details information such as the type of animals that make good saltwater pets; how they interact with one another; their behavioral patterns; their diets and water conditions; and any entertaining information that goes along with your theme. For some species, you can include useful accessories. Cuttlefish will navigate underwater mazes, for example; turn a portion of your booklet into a perforated tear-away coupon book for these products. You can also make this a full-color catalog instead of a booklet.
Week 18: Send a saltwater fish calendar, complete with colorful photos, helpful hints, tank cleaning date reminder stickers and special VIP coupons to be used throughout the year.
Week 24: Send greeting cards to everyone who responded to your campaign to thank them for their business. Include a gift voucher or valuable coupon to express your appreciation.
You can deploy advertisements online or in the yellow pages, newspapers and magazines, as well as on the radio, television, billboards and any number of published mediums.
Of course, don't stop there! There are plenty of opportunities to market your pet store "street side." Handing out flyers and posters to passers-by or in areas where your target audience congregates comes to mind. Print stickers to hand out or to affix in creative areas. Word of mouth is the most powerful advertiser, so get to work telling your family and friends all about your pet store so they can spread the news. Offer your customers additional discounts for referrals.
Test, track and tweak - these three Ts will help you develop winning pet store marketing campaigns with predictable response rates. Before you launch a massive direct-mail marketing campaign, you should always test variations of your headline, design, copy and offer on small subsets of your mailing list to see what yields the best response rate. Sometimes changing a single word can make a big difference in the outcome, so it's best to narrow your choices as much as possible before deploying your test runs.
Track your response rates and record who responds so you can further design your target demographics. Tweak your subsequent marketing materials to cater to this audience. Keep a database of customers and respondents, and evaluate recognizable trends so you can customize your offers. This is just another form of knowing your customers, but from an analytical perspective it allows you to make intelligent business decisions based on honest, proven statistics.