Posting flyers, handing out business cards and relying on word of mouth referrals used to be enough to get clients in the door. Unless you're the only walker in town, that's not the case anymore.
Add the recent coronavirus pandemic into the mix, and getting new clients has become even more challenging. Your instinct might be to stop marketing for the time being since people are working from home or have been financially impacted by COVID-19, but if your business is still able to operate, you need to keep marketing.
People need dog walkers despite the pandemic. My clients have expressed to me how difficult it is to juggle working from home and caring for kids, so remember that there are people who need your help, even if they are working from home. Plus, many people have returned to work or have essential jobs, leaving their dogs cooped up at home. You need to get on their radar and show them that you are the best walker to meet their needs.
How can you do that? Here are some marketing strategies to get started!
A real understanding of marketing and a solid marketing plan is necessary to get a steady stream of new client inquiries. You need to consistently market your business. Track where new clients hear about you so you can streamline your process and drop marketing tactics that aren't effective. Need ideas? Check out past posts on marketing.
If you don't have a website, you're missing out on clients. You won't come up in web searches if you don't have an online presence. Plus, the first thing people want to do when they hear about your service is to learn more. They expect to do that easily by visiting your website.
Having an outdated website or one with a poor user experience can also hurt you. Make sure your website is modern, loads quickly, and is easy for visitors to navigate.
In addition, you want clients to be able to take the first step to book with you online. With industry giants like Wag and Rover, it's important to keep your business as user friendly as possible. That doesn't mean you can't screen your clients before their dog's first walk. Having an online application or booking option for a meet & greet goes a long way in getting clients to choose you. Without it, they many will leave your site never to return.
You need to give clients a reason to choose you over other dog walking services. If you're the same as everyone else, why should they pick you?
Your marketing message needs to speak to your ideal client so they immediately gravitate toward your service. Appeal to them by communicating at first glance how you're different and how you can help them.
If you want referrals, you need to build relationships with people who will happily promote you. The secret to a successful referral relationship is ensuring it's mutually beneficial. If you want to get referrals, think of something you can offer to your referral partner. For example, a gift or resource they can give their clients that also promotes you. They get a nice gift to elevate their client's experience and you get more eyes on your business.
You can start building relationships via social media during this time of social distancing, so don't rule it out due to coronavirus!
Jump start your marketing plan with these 12 ideas: