Shelley Widhalm of Shell’s Ink Services united with her dog, a long-haired miniature dachshund named Zoey, by meeting her in a pet store Feb. 21, 2008. She supplies her dog’s needs by buying some of the items from locally-owned pet stores.
By Shelley Widhalm
Locally owned pet stores need to appeal to new and experienced pet owners, offering something they can’t find at the big box.
One way they can draw in customers is through blogs, articles and social media marketing that create a buzz around what sets them apart. They can engage in Instagram and Pinterest to share photos and videos, Twitter to post sound bites in 140 characters or less, and Facebook to verbally and visually appeal to and grow a fan base. They can post blogs, preferably twice a week for higher SEO rankings, or include a website tab with pet-related articles, which also can be submitted as potential stories to publications.
With both written content and social media, consistency is important so customers know what to expect and when. They turn to the local pet store for stories, ideas and relationships.
Your Unique Story
You can start off by telling your unique story. How were you founded and why? Who are your owners? What do you carry that can’t be found at Petco or PetSmart? Do you sell healthy, homemade dog treats? Do you have handmade dog toys or dog clothing?
Offer tips, such as grooming options for cats and dogs and tank care for fish. Answer questions such as why grain-free foods are a better option for dogs and what types of toys are best to engage an older cat. And provide a tip of the day in a Tweet or post a blog with a list of those grooming options with advice on home care versus care at the groomer or pet store.
Get your customers involved by posting images of their pets with your products, such as a dog with a new handmade sweater sold exclusively in your store. You can add a quick story about who made the product and where the pet wears the sweater, such as on a car trip or during a visit with its human family. The idea is to generate word-of-mouth advertising and provide links of product photos to your home page.
Another option is to invite your customers to write short stories about their pets, such as how they met their furry friend or the best tips they have learned about pet care. You could post these stories in a blog or on social media.
Hiring a professional writer will help you share your postings and personal stories and draw customers in to tell theirs.