by Nancy Hassel, American Pet Professionals As a pet business owner are you worried about how many Instagram followers your business has? Do you spend a lot of your valuable time trying to get people to notice your Facebook pages? Or, are you concentrating on actual foot traffic in your community and people literally walking by your store? Walk along any village or city street and you may notice creative ways non-pet retailers and pet retailers are drawing in pet parents. Recently while I was walking my dog in a local village, I noticed this sign, pictured below, and it was for the grand opening of a spa. The spa has nothing to do with pets whatsoever, but these owners were super smart in realizing their area has a lot of people walking by with their dogs, who may have otherwise ignored yet another spa opening. You bet I stopped, one to take a picture, two because my dog Cody was dragging me over to the treats in the bowls. As soon as they saw me, someone came outside, said hello to my dog, and handed me information about the spa packages they had. A great way to target an audience of shoppers about their grand opening, specials on spa treatments and so forth - and it may just lure pet parents in for a spalaxing treatment. If it were my spa I would have added luxurious samples of some of the products they sell as well, a little doggie bag per say for both of us. As we continued our walk, a local boutique cheesemonger, had a fun play on words, based on a recent hit TV show, which I thought was clever: If you were a fan of the TV show, ‘Pretty Little Liars,’ (or maybe you're just getting into it on Netflix), which was on the air for 7 years, you would have definitely noticed this sign. The creative play on words and luring picture might have just made you go inside for a tasting. While it is obviously not pet related or targeted, how can you do something similar? Something trending? It’s not as hard as you would think. Pet puns can be overdone, but if you’re creative, use something that is trending and have fun with it, you are bound to do something to lure more people walking by into your store. One of our Members, Jill Rodriquez of Bella & Lindy’s boutique which is actually inside of a kind of mall of stores in Saratoga, N.Y. drew my attention. While the store is not on the main drag, and even though there is a sign that you can see while driving by, this sign definitely lured people in that were walking by with or without their dogs. It may not seem like that big of a deal, but Saratoga is a tourist attraction in the warmer months, and not everyone has their dog with them on vacation. So why not stop in a beautiful boutique and pick your pup up some treats or some fun gift items for yourself. You may have missed Jill’s shop inside if this sign was not there on the sidewalk. And the guilt factor of not having your dog with you - will make you want to buy something even more. Smart! This simple sign in front of a very popular breakfast eatery helps bring in new customers walking by, along with the wafting smell of bacon doesn't hurt. In my opinion, this is not really that creative, but it is there, in case you didn’t smell the bacon luring you over or if you are new to town and happen to spot it from across the street. Ideas & Tips you can use:
- A-frame folding chalkboard signs are not expensive and you can get creative with chalk! (There are also plastic folding alphabet signs with letters you can change – I just think chalk is more versatile).
- Hire an artist to make your signs stand out – or maybe an employee you have in store is an artist – ask your employees.
- Look for what is trending in pop culture. What is the hottest Netflix show everyone is talking about, how can you be creative with that? What is popular in your location (are you a tourist location, near farms, in the city?)
- Stores in tourist areas, get creative like Jill did above. What can you put on your sign that will draw pet parents in that are missing their pups?
- Still thinking about your Instagram following? Something that is so simple to do on your sign is to have a #hashtag associated with your store/brand and have a sign where people are taking pictures outside (they will be more comfortable doing this outside your store – seems odd, but it will draw them in) “Take a picture with your pup, share it on your Instagram, tag us & show us for a free _____!”(dog treat, shampoo sample, catnip – whatever, get samples from your favorite vendor so you’re not spending on that).
- Local products. If you have locally made treats, something to do with your area, highlight that on a sign outside that you can change up seasonally.
- TIP: Ask your vendors for samples if you are going to give away doggie bags to get people to come back to your store. (Like with the spa grand opening). Don’t incur additional costs to giveaways if you don’t have to.