Part 2: Pet Product Marketing

Some things to consider as you get into pet product marketing and specifically dog treat marketing. Understanding each of these activities and going through each of these exercises will help you to better define where you want to go and how to reach your customers and have them say “I need that dog treat (your dog treat) for my dog.”

Build a better dog treat
One way to set yourself apart from your competitors and build a solid pet product marketing plan is to build a better dog treat than is out there today. Is there something unique about your dog treat? No allergens, no fat, low calories, different shapes, specialty flours / ingredients, decorated gourmet treats, organic, you use “orange blossom honey” and hand stone ground chicory root flour – do any of these apply to your product? Do you oven bake your treats in a brick fire oven? Is there something about the way you prepare them that no one else is doing? Building a unique product may open up a group of customers that no one else is tending to. This is definitely one way to effectively start your pet product marketing plan. This is called niche marketing.

Define your market
Where do you plan on selling your dog treats? This will help you build your dog treat marketing plan. Defining how, where and to whom you want to sell your treats will be critical. If you plan on selling your dog treats at a local farmer’s market every Saturday, then the packaging you might select, the ingredients you might want to use would be very different than if you wanted to sell your treats at a local independently owned pet store. Or, if you plan on selling your treats at a vets office or selling them in a gift boutique – all of these situations would warrant very different strategies.

For example, at the farmer’s market, I may have the treats open to the air in the traditional market place style with little paw print paper bags to place the treats in as people purchased the treats they wanted by the ½ lb, where as in a boutique, I may want to display my treats in a very cute basket display, and in the vets office – a very traditional carton type package may work best. The customer at each of these places is probably looking for very different types of products as well. So how you market your pet products to those individuals will differ. Build your treat for the people who will be shopping where you sell.

Know your competition
So, in order to build a better dog treat, you need to know what everyone else is building, especially those folks that are on your turf. We can call this pet product marketing research. Go to the places that you want to sell and look at what the folks are doing that are already there. Talk to the pet store owners and find out what they like about certain treats, and what they don’t like. Use this information to help you decide what you want to do differently. Be sure to understand the prices that your competitors are charging and what their pack size is. Evaluate their display and any literature that they may have provided the store owners.
You can even buy some of the competitor’s products and take them home and try them out yourself. Don’t just limit your assessment to the treats – really check out the packaging too. Is there an issue with the packaging, can you build a treat that goes in a more environmentally friendly package than your competition? Dissecting your competition is a critical part of being successful in the market place. And even after you have gotten your products out there, making sure that your competition isn’t reclaiming your territory will be important. Your will need to continue your pet product marketing research. This exercise of walking the stores, surfing the web and reviewing competitive product is important.

Out price your competition
Another way, besides building a unique dog treat, to effectively market your dog treats is to out price your competition. You may not have to build anything unique – your price may be so good that the store owners / customers will jump at the opportunity to use your product. Using pricing to help sell your products is one strategy to building your customer base. Your margins might be a little less than your competitors, but you can make up the difference in volume.

Support your products
One of the things that we learned going into independent pet stores and talking to owners about what made products successful was the in store support that we provided along with our treats. They said that having some kind of sign / pamphlets / in store promotions were all keys to success in the pet stores.

So if when you bring your dog treats to a store owner to sell your products, you also bring a neat display idea, some signs to hang up, and you commit to coming once a month to do a sampler display for 2 hours on a Saturday so that their customers can try your treats – they LOVE that. You are helping them to sell the products that they carry – and at the same time, sell your own products.

At a farmer’s market – you may also want to do a free sampler Saturday – and give away some of your treats. This gets people excited about your products, and also they get to trust you. You standing behind your products, providing support to store owners or letting dog owners have their dogs try your products will go a long way to building a loyal customer base.

Get the word out
I’ll write more on this section to give you some more details as to how to do this. But some basics to getting the word out about your products are free trial samples of your product, CPC ads online, social media like Facebook or MySpace, going to trade shows, dog shows, or good old fashioned print advertising (in your local paper, flyers at the Human Society or wherever you can get them hung).

Those are the big ideas. Hopefully those thoughts, questions, comments have helped you really get thinking about your plan. Check back soon as we are updating our site with new and fresh information. If you would like to go back to the first part, click here to read Part 1 of Pet Product Marketing.