iDeals Offers New Mobile Option for Retailers

Retailers can now create and manage their own customized loyalty programs, extend sales cycles, while making it easier for their business to retain customers.

iDeals Marketing Platform, by 2Go Media, eliminates the need for retailers to print and supply their customers with traditional punch cards. Instead, customers can simply enroll their own personal debit or credit cards in loyalty programs offered by individual retailers.

Each time the enrolled card is used to make a purchase with the retailer, the customer accrues loyalty points as designated by the retail business owner. The coupons are then automatically distributed to 2Go Media’s as well as other shopping sites, deal radar, search engines and the merchant’s social networks.

The service integrates the First Data OffWise solution, so when a customer purchases the coupon or locks in the discount, it is linked to the payment card and the discount is automatically applied when the merchant swipes it. Completely paperless and automated, card-linking streamlines redemption for the merchant.

Your Pet Product Retail Sales Presentation Outline

Retail appointments are so few and far between that every time you make a presentation it needs to be great.The buyer has limited time and wants to get to the point. Be ready for any kind of appointment – even one in the lobby of the account (it happens)! I’ve had an appointment at Petsmart that ened up in cafeteria and one at Wal-Mart that took pace in their staging area – which is an airplane hanger with a mock-up store inside. Both were successful calls. Here is a simple outline that will help you close the deal with any retailer…

Tip: If you can get a professional to design your branded Powerpoint template — do it. It makes your presentation look so much more professional than a generic clip art job. These can be created inexpensively so look around.

1. Title slide – your company and the account logo. Include the date of the presentation/appointment. No need to include your name or the buyer’s name.

2. Agenda – not really necessary. You will want to keep your slide deck to no more than 10 slides, so this one is up to you. Sometimes it helps to have it in there for you as a guide when you are setting. You can delete it later.

3. Company Overview – who are you and your company? How long have you been in business? Why did you create the product(s)? What is the purpose of the product. A few sentences is all you need here.

4-5. Product Overview – What is your product(s)? Show some packaging graphics, etc. What flavors do they come in? What sizes, shapes, colors? What type of Point-of-Purchase display options do you have?

6. Features/Benefits – describe the top 3 features and the benefits associated from them here.

7. Consumer Research – show any research you have saying people like and will buy the product. If you have scan data from another account you can speak about it generically. You don’t need to say “Selling 4 units/week/store at Petsmart” if you are speaking to the Petco buyer – but he/she might ask if he knows you are there too.

8. Competition – who is your competition? Why are you better? Feature(s)? Price? Quality? Let the buyer know you recognize the competition, surely he/she does so get this right out of the way.

9. Pricing – you can simply state the MSRP (manufacturer’s suggested retail price) that you believe consumers are willing to pay for the product. If you know the buyer’s margin for the category you can show a simple table…See example:

MSRP $9.99
Cost $4.99
GM (gross margin) $4.99
GM % 50

The above table us usually presented at the unit, not case level.

If you don’t know the margin the buyer wants just state the price and have the discussion. Most accounts will also want 5% MDF (marketing development funds). The definition of MDF varies widely depending on the account. In grocery it usually means “slotting” or the price you pay the retailer for putting it on the shelf. In Pet retail it is usually a % of wholesale that will fund circular ads or other promotional activity. Again if you know it, list it, if not discuss it with the buyer.

10. Thank You/Next Steps – a place to write some notes and followups right in the presentation.

You could also include some specs such as how your product is casepacked, but you would typically have a 1 page sell sheet with this info that also includes your UPC codes, etc.

Good luck and Good Selling!

5 PR Resolutions to Keep in 2013

Welcome to Mark Your Territory! I’m so happy you’re here, and I look forward to sharing my weekly pet industry and PR advice, as well as inspiration, dos and don’ts, and tips you can use to apply to your own marketing strategies. My goal is to provide industry insight on how to set your company apart, share what select companies are doing to make their mark in the public, and keep you informed on what’s currently trending.

I encourage your comments, and am happy to answer your questions; please feel free to contact me directly if there’s a specific topic you’d like me to cover in a future post.

I thought I’d kick-off this new blog and welcome in the New Year with a few resolutions…


5 PR Resolutions to Keep in 2013…

  1. Make time to seriously evaluate your current image. Examine your current communications channels, ask your customers how they heard about you, monitor your reputation online, and determine which strategies are working for you… and which are not, so that you can better invest your budget and time in the future.
  2. Start a plan. As you know, nothing gets accomplished without a plan. Evaluate your marketing strengths and your weaknesses, and formulate a plan that will help you achieve your goals.
  3. Learn something new each month about public relations. Know which publications, reporters and pet industry experts are the best fit for your brand, and why. Ask yourself how often (if at all) you’ve been interviewed for a story or featured in the press. Brainstorm new ways to earn media attention for your business and how to most effectively execute those campaigns. Evaluate your social media presence and event strategies to ensure you’re capitalizing on every PR opportunity. Consider new ways to engage your staff and get them involved in your overall communications strategies.
  4. Know Your Competition. All of this self-discovery and reflection will pay off for you, but you’ve got to know what your competitors are doing and why so that you can set yourself apart and more importantly… above the rest.
  5. Call someone. You’ll go further with sound advice from someone who has already tackled these issues, and that has familiarity with the pet industry. Contact a coach or mentor, start a mastermind group, or call me directly. I’d be happy to have an honest conversion with you about your brand’s image, strengths, challenges, the nuances within the pet industry, or any other questions you have.


Wishing you a very happy and prosperous New Year,

Kerry Sutherland,

Retailers Reveal What Service They Most Want to Offer

When it comes to offering in-store services, grooming is something many store owners want to provide to their customers, but it’s also one of the services that has dropped significantly in the past few years.

According to the Pet Age Retail Report, stores offering grooming services have dropped about 20 percent in the past 3 years. At the same time, those surveyed said grooming services was one of the top services they want to offer in the next year.

Retailers, as well as experts, say while a first look at the numbers may be confusing, it’s definitely not bad news, and attributes it to several factors, including new trends that are emerging in that area, such as mobile grooming, as well as the level of skill it takes to perform the trade.

Chris Watts, owner of The Petropolitan in Dallas, said it’s hard to find groomers who meet his store’s standards, because sometimes someone will be great at using a blade, but not so good with scissors.

Even when a store does find a groomer that’s a good fit, many times they aren’t prepared for all the “extras” that offering the service can bring, including contractual labor issues, liability and both the start up, and ongoing costs, like shampoo, he said.

“You are adding a whole additional piece to the management [of the store],” Watts said. “It’s time consuming. For example, if you’re not a groomer you need to train you and your staff about it so they are knowledgeable to the customer.”

Ginny Anziani, the owner of Doggie U K9 Academy in Bayshore, Long Island, has been offering grooming services since she opened her business 7 years ago.

She explained that at first it was convient because people didn’t have to run to two different places – a class and a grooming salon. As the years went on she noticed the industry becoming more personalized.

Some customers want to deal with a groomer who just does puppy cuts, or someone who specializes in poodles, for example. Since it wouldn’t be cost effective to offer all of those in one place, stores need to find a niche.

In Anziani’s case, her business provides the personalized attention dog owners are looking for. Similar to a hair salon, they only make appointments for one dog at a time.

“Sometimes a dog can be in a grooming shop for five or six hours just hanging out in a crate,” she said. “You bring your dog in, then two hours later when your dog is done, the person gets a call to come and pick up the dog.”

Behind the Scenes at Loving Pets

Eric Abbey, president of Loving Pets, gave Pet Age an exclusive look at how the company’s treats are made in their Cranberry, N.J. facility.

Phillips New England Buying Show

Loving Pets Tout Test

WE recently spent some time at ….

Petmate Buys JW Pet Company and Canine Hardware

Pet toy makers JW Pet Company and Canine Hardware were bought by Petmate, in a deal that will expand the Texas-based company’s toy category.

The acquisition includes JW Hol-ee Roller Toys and Canine Hardware’s Chuckit! line of fetch games.

In a news release, Petmate said they plan to incorporate both brands into the company’s diverse offering of pet products, which includes kennels, bedding, feeding and watering, pet toys and collars and leashes.

“We are very excited and look forward to building upon each brand’s legacy of quality and innovation by working to ensure the brand visions are implemented to the best of our ability,” Joe Mesner, CEO of Petmate, said.

New Jersey-based JW Pet Company was founded in 1998 by Jon Willinger, and Seattle-based Caninc Hardward is arguably best known for their Chuckit! ball launcher introduced 13 years ago.

Willinger will join Petmate as the company’s vice president of toys and accessories.

Vitakraft Sunseed, Inc.’s CEO Shares Business Tips for Success

Brent Weinmann’s career is one that many may dream of, but few accomplish.

Brent Weinmann

The 49-year-old Bowling Green State University graduate started out literally on the ground floor of the company filling bags with bird seed, and is now the president and CEO of Vitakraft Sunseed, Inc.

A visionary, who purchased Sunseed in 2001, and then sold it to Vitakraft several years later because he saw an opportunity to grow the brand, says listening to other people’s ideas, always looking to innovate and being opened minded are some of the keys to being successful in business.

“Listen to the customer, listen to the production staff. Once someone plants an idea in my head, I’m good with pushing it, and instead of saying, ‘what if,’ say, ‘why can’t we?’ My passion is doing just that looking at other products, or ones that could be in the market, and saying, ‘how can we improve,’ and working collaboratively to solve issues, whether it be helping the retailer or even internally.”

The number one piece of advice Weinmann has for those getting started in the industry is to get engaged in the business.

“If this is what you

want to do, if you love pets, if you love the business and see this as acareer path, then see this as an opportunity to make connections,” Weinmann said, who started volunteering on several trade industry committees, which led him to another position he currently holds, president of the Pet Care Trust.

“If you’re a guy stocking shelves, start going to trade shows. Go to open houses. Learn as much as you can about the business, your own business and explore other areas of it. I understand the production side, the quality side of the business. I’ve traveled pretty extensively on business and took advantages of opportunities. You have got to get out there. Engaging with people is critical.”

Weinmann shared with us his Top 5 tips for having a successful business career:

1. Honesty – At the end of the day, all you have is your reputation. Don’t sacrifice that for a short term gain. Whether it’s making a sales presentation, and trying to slide something in there to tip their decision in your favor, if you can’t truthfully say it, then don’t.

2  Be Open – Listen more than you talk.

3. Understand the people you’re dealing with – People have good days and people have bad days. Take everything with a grain of salt.

4. Hold yourself, and those you employ, to higher standards – It’s easy to keep yourself to a high standard, but it’s harder to push your staff. Learn to read people, and learn what motivates them. Know what buttons to push to get them to be more engaged in the vision of the company. Sometimes you have to make hard decisions, but do your best to share your vision, but if they don’t have it in them, it’s best for both of you to part ways.

5. Have fun – Enjoy what you do. I tend to make fun of myself sometimes, or if someone does something silly, have fun with it. It helps you built attitude, and gives people the sense that I genuinely care about them. Whatever you’re doing look for the humor in it. I work a lot, but I truly enjoy what I’m doing.

Nano Aquarium Tips to Share With Customers

Just because nano tanks are small, doesn’t mean they’re easy to keep.

Larry French, owner of Larry’s Tropicals in Saint Marys, Ga., said that customers often have a misconception about nanos.

“People want to buy them because they assume they’re self sustaining. But that’s not true; you have to do regular maintenance,” he said.

Experts caution fishkeepers to be careful when they notice anything going wrong in a nano.

“In small tanks sometimes problems can become magnified due to the small space and volume of water,” explained Emma B. Gardea, Sales and Customer Service Manager at Lifegard Aquatics.

Adam Jackson, of JBJ Aquariums, says to be sure to let nano keepers know of the following information:

  • Don’t assume the setup take care of itself. Pay attention and make sure everything looks normal at all times.
    Make a 10- to 15-percent water change weekly. Read as much as you can about the tank and livestock you are choosing before you make a purchase.
  • Be smart about the fish and livestock you choose for your nano. You should stick to fish that do not move around a lot in the wild, according to Jackson. Good choices include damsels, clowns, gobies, smaller wrasses.
  • Don’t overstock. These tanks are smaller, so you shouldn’t pack it full of fish and livestock.
  • Be careful not to overfeed. This is a common mistake among newer hobbyists. It’s a small tank, so too much food will sink to the bottom and ruin your water.

– Bill Kolbenschlag


Eric Abbey Has the Pet Industry in His Blood

WEB EXTRA: We recently sat down with Eric Abbey, president of Loving Pets Corp., based in Cranbury, N.J., to talk about his long-time involvement in the pet industry, and learn a little bit more about his company. Here is part II of his interview with us. The first part can be found in the January issue of Pet Age.

Q: You are very passionate about producing quality products that are also affordable to the consumer. How do you continue to create that balance and commitment, especially in tough economic times?

Abbey: What’s kept Loving Pets growing in this economy is affordability, innovation and never compromising our commitment to healthy, all-natural and affordable solutions. With rising prices, the economy has made it more difficult to produce healthy all natural treats, but since this is not something we will compromise on, we researched and explored solutions like adding healthy natural ingredients like sweet potatoes and carrots to our mix (never fillers or preservatives).

For our treats that do include grains, we choose health-promoting and antioxidant-rich brown rice, instead of wheat.  The key in our discovery is that our products are not more expensive than products packed with preservatives and fillers.  For our designer and affordable accessories like best-selling Bella Bowls, we can offer consumers stylish, exciting and very affordable stainless bowl options.  Each day, our team continues to challenge ourselves to focus on this balance of creating products that are innovative, wonderful solutions and price competitively — building quality, high end healthy products that people can afford.

Q: Gourmet Meat Wraps, Barksters Krisps, Grill-icious dog treats made from “flame-kissed” meats and Vegitopia are just some of the treats from Loving Pets. Where do you get the inspiration for each new line of treats?

Abbey: Inspiration comes from the consumer and listening to the needs and questions we get at the store level every single day.  We want to know what consumers are asking for.  In the end, it’s not always about what I want to make or what I think is best, it’s understanding what pets and pet-parents want and need, and ultimately that is where we come in is finding new opportunities that improve the lives of pets and people.

Q: Loving Pets is not just about treats, your company also has an extensive pet accessories collection, including Bella Bowls, Black Label Collection and the new slow-feeding accessory Gobble Stopper. Tell me about this product area.

Abbey: Our bowls actually were started at the same time we started making treats in 2005, and were definitely an important foundational category for us.  We wanted to offer a stainless steel option with attractive designs and the affordability people want and need.

From day one, we had great opportunities for production and what was currently on the market at that time was either mass-produced, low quality, and boring bowls or super high-end decorative feeders and bowls exclusive to boutiques.  We knew we wanted to create exciting, decorative, functional, and affordable solutions and we were excited for the opportunity that set us apart.

Our new slow-feeding accessory, the Gobble Stopper, was born out of this same commitment – functional, flexible (fits inside any existing bowl) plus a cute, yet effective, design.  This combination is ultimately in line with our same mission and helps make pets’ lives better with improved digestion.

We created a solution that helps retailers by having an add-on option that fits into any existing pet bowl, where customers can still pick the design style and price point that they want.  Peg or clip strip makes it very space efficient and price competitive for our retail partners too.

Q: Last year PNC Bank featured you as one of their entrepreneurial success stories to grow your business by manufacturing in New Jersey. Why was building and expansion into USA manufacturing so important to you?

Abbey: On a professional level, USA manufacturing was important based on what our consumers were asking for and what they want.  On a personal level, there’s a part of me that learned a lot watching my grandfather’s business and my father’s business.  Long term, for the USA to sustain our economy, there has to be people making things here and selling them to other countries.  We can’t just be importers forever.

We want to build things here and make things here.  I knew we could do our small part and help be part of a longer-term solution in this country by supporting USA farm grown ingredients, creating and build jobs in this country by creating manufacturing on-site in New Jersey, and making great products to sell to the world. I want us to help get this back.

Q: What’s next for Loving Pets?

Abbey: Our goal is to continue to listen to the needs of our human and pet consumers and retail partners, and create high quality, healthy, all natural, and affordable products, in line with our mission.  Tactically, we’re excited to launch several new lines at Global Pet Expo in February, expanding our USA-made treats and innovative accessories for dogs and cats.




Backer Christmas Show 2012

Pet News Now’s Petrepreneur New Product Showcase

Meet The Breeds 2012

Behind The Scenes Of Loving Pets


Purchase Tickets for the PA Garden Expo
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