Marketing: What Pets Know That We Don't

February 14, 2012

Did you know Feb. 20 is Love Your Pet Day? I learned this factoid the other day from my veterinarian assistant cousin, and it inspired me to write this post. That, and my cousin's rants about how I feed my dog too little and my cat too much.

You see, despite my cousin's expert opinion and obvious experience, it's what she doesn't know that makes her wrong. My dog has food available 24/7 and gets more than her fair share of table scraps, but she's very active and doesn't gain weight; my cat is fed on a regular schedule and loafs around the house, packing on the poundage. If my cousin knew their weight disparity was, in large part, due to their genetics and lifestyles, she wouldn't make the assumption that one is underfed and the other is overfed.

Similarly, even seasoned, trained marketers with years of experience can make mistakes that jeopardize returns on investments. It's easy to look at a fat cat and say it eats too much, or skinny dog and say it isn't getting fed, but unless you take the time to know for sure, you can't really do anything about it. It's easy to assume your target audience will respond to one type of ad, but unless you test it to see, unless you ask them, you really don't know. I don't care how much you think you know.

That got me thinking: What else do our pets know about marketing that we either don't know or we choose to ignore?

If you want customers to do something, you better give them something in return. Ever try to train a dog without treats? If they have no reward, it will be very difficult and definitely not efficient. Same with customers – no rewards, no profits.

And that something had better be what they want. If your “reward” for training your dog (or cat) is tomatoes, unless you have very odd pet, it will not respond. If your incentive sucks, your customers won't respond.

Sometimes they're just not interested. My dog loves to play ball, but she doesn't like to chase tennis balls in 90-degree weather. My cat loves to play with a long feather – unless it's nap time. Just because your customers don't buy the first time around doesn't mean they won't buy later, but it also doesn't mean you should be overly persistent. Sometimes, they're just not interested.

Treat them right and they'll follow you forever. Marketing is as much about relationships as it is about conveying sales information. It's often the first step in the customer experience, and it creates expectations. If you treat your customers right and deliver on your promises, they'll be loyal to your company for many years. Just like man's best friend (or best feline).

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About Brian Morris

Brian Morris serves in various capacities as a freelance writer, content developer and public relations specialist for growing small businesses. When he’s not writing, he can be found on the racquetball court - usually getting his tail kicked by guys 20 years older.

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