Inside the Industry: A Career With Dogs: A Chat David Frei

In this episode, Pet Age’s Andrea Fischetti, interviews David Frei of Westminster Kennel Club about his nonprofit group, Angel on a Leash. David draws on his many years of experience in pet industry to share some advice on starting a charity.

Creativity Is The New Currency for Facebook

Many of us know that having an active presence on social media is critical for our brands and businesses to remain competitive and relevant. It is equally as important to stay current on what it means to be relevant.

For some time now brands and businesses have focused on attracting “likes” on their posts. These days the playing field has changed.

Earlier this year, Facebook revised the algorithm that decides what posts users see on their news feeds. Now, users will see more posts from companies that include a picture or video. This change was made in response to research showing higher rates of social engagement, specifically comments, were found on more creative posts.

What Does This Actually Mean?

It indicates that pictures and videos, which traditionally are the posts that garner the highest number of comments, will be more effective than words.

This change is also an opportunity because now a post with more engaging content will have a better chance of making a continued impression on the user.

Here are a few tips to help navigate this new environment.

Comments Are King

When you post on Facebook do so to engage and encourage conversation, not just inform.

Find a funny or even controversial, though not offensive, photo to post.

Post a video from your smartphone – it doesn’t need to be a Hollywood movie, just something you made that will engage your community. Be sure to ask for comments on your post.

Get Bumped

A post that generates lots of comments is “bumped” by Facebook and this is a good thing. Being bumped means your post is moved to the top of a news feed, allowing people to see it more often.

This allows your community to post even more comments and provides another chance for your post to be bumped again.

Sharing Is Caring (About Your Brand)

Link-share is also new and is now the default when you share an article or website in your Facebook post. This new way of posting will include a photo or preview of the link to stimulate visual interest and comments.

Make sure you share links often using this visual tool, and you should see more engagement with each post.

These changes are better for companies and users because they emphasize the social aspect of social media. Being social in our offline worlds means interacting with others – starting conversations and participating in a genuine two-way dialog.
It is nice to see that kind of behavior is being nurtured online too.

Inside the Industry: Online Marketing

Andrea Fischetti interviews Dawn Barraco, Public Relations and Social Media Director, at Canine Caviar Pet Foods, Inc. Dawn is an expert in brand development, website traffic growth, website user interface, and advertising revenue. She discusses online marketing for businesses in the pet industry and her recommendations for where to best invest valuable marketing dollars.


Public Relations Basics

We are fortunate to work in an industry that is large enough to have so many experts in marketing and public relations. Just browse the other blogs here at Pet Age to find some great resources at your disposal.

Andrea caught up with Dana Humphrey, owner of Whitegate PR, who specializes in working in the pet industry. Dana shares some of her experience and recommendations to keep in mind for business owners. Whether you’re new or or an experienced industry professional, some great key takeaways!

An Exclusive Chat with Victoria Stilwell

If you’re going to work in the pet industry, it’s important to have a basic understanding of dog training. This information this comes in handy when meeting with buyers or clients or at the dog park.

Andrea spoke with Victoria Stilwell, renowned dog trainer and host of Animal Planet’s popular “It’s Me Or The Dog”, to share her insight about positive reinforcement (reward-based) dog training.

Connecting With Pet Bloggers

The results are in – blogs outrank social media for consumer influence. Pet bloggers spend a lot of time building their online reputation and cultivate an incredibly loyal fan base. Many are highly educated in the pet market and represented some of the most educated consumers of pet products. They also know what are hot topics among readers and will do their research and share their opinions openly on issues that they care about. To learn more about how to connect your pet brand with pet bloggers, we caught up with Yvonne DiVita of BlogPaws, check out our quick video interview below.

Inside the Industry: Connecting with Pet Bloggers


The art of networking in the pet industry cannot be under-emphasized. I caught up with Nancy Hassel, of Long Island Pet Professionals – someone who has made a career of connecting people, to share her insight with Pet Age.

How the Digital Landscape Is Changing Marketing

One of the largest growth areas in marketing right now is in digital.

According to a study by the Interactive Advertising Bureau and PricewaterhouseCoopers LLP, spending on Internet advertising in the U.S. totaled a record $10.7 billion in the third quarter of 2013, which is a 15 percent increase from the same quarter in 2012. In the pet industry, this is something we are seeing more companies embrace and find successful.

Before the digital age, companies that wanted to market to consumers focused on advertising in print, television or radio. The number of television channels and shows was miniscule compared to what there is today. But as television offerings expanded, video games became popular and the Internet widely available, audience fragmentation made it exceedingly difficult to capture the attention of the consumer. Digital advertising is becoming increasingly popular, as consumers are focusing on content creation, management and distribution.

Social networks, and social network advertising, allow pet businesses to market to a specific audience of pet owners that are likely to be interested in their products. This group of consumers can be narrowed based on past shopping history and other personal information users have chosen to share with the network.

However, that doesn’t mean you can just throw together a Facebook page and expect customers to flock to you. To stand out, it’s important to really know who your potential customers are, and target your advertising to that demographic.

Social networks are not traditionally a place to make direct sales. It is all about building a relationship with your followers and engaging with them. It is a source of information, as pet owners share what they love about your products, questions they face, as well as what they don’t like. A savvy marketer can compile this information and notice trends that can help to direct future efforts.

Smartphone use has continued to increase, along with tablets.  We’ve seen tremendous growth in using handheld devices with personal shopping. Physical retail is becoming a location to learn about and touch products, while many younger consumers delay making the actual purchase until price-comparing online.

It will become increasingly important for physical retail stores to focus on creating quality in-store experiences,  as well as having a strong online presence in order to keep younger customers. Millennials and Generation Z are the most likely to utilize mobile online shopping, and this category is expected to continue to grow in the years ahead.

In addition to online shopping, video viewership is shifting to online sources. Teens and young adults are currently watching as much television online as they do on an actual television set. No longer is video advertising limited to the old standby of television, which has significant cost hurdles for many small pet businesses.

Online video sites such as Hulu, YouTube and others allow consumers to select programs and watch them at their convenience anywhere that has an Internet or cellular connection. Consumers are not restricted to network schedules and cable pricing.

Viewers are reachable with targeted, relevant ads that either play before, during, or in-between online videos. Instead of showing a commercial to a million random people at a very high cost, as traditional television would provide, businesses can now reach thousands of people who would actually be interested in a product. Coming up with a compelling online video advertisement can now provide a better return on the marketing investment, and at a lower price point than television.

Consumer communication and purchasing have been migrating to digital channels at a pace much faster than marketing. Despite this growth, we have only begun to see the shift in marketing budgets to digital activities. This provides a terrific advantage to the few pet companies pursuing this advertising category.

Marketing to Reach the Millennial Generation

It’s coming, one of the largest changes shaping the marketing landscape.

It is expected that by 2018, the spending power of Millennials will surpass that of the Baby Boom generation. That means the teens and 20-something’s that make up the Millennial Generation will be influencing marketing in the pet industry.

In addition to this generation toting their smart phones and love of social networking sites, they are widely considered the most educated generation in American history, with the largest percentage attending college and graduate schools.

While many Millennials are still struggling to build a career for themselves, within a few years the majority will have reached stability and will be ready to spend. Now is the time to start marketing to them and building brand loyalty.

This is also a generation that favors individuality and a strong online presence, preferably with mobile and tablet-ready websites. They also want to engage technology and take advantage of applications and video to learn more about brands and products prior to purchase.

Despite their potential, there is a significant hurdle in reaching Millennials, because they generally dislike traditional advertising. They take advantage of technology, playing video games, watching television programs pre-recorded and streaming online through cable providers, and posting self-created videos online.

If a Millennial is interested in a product, they will research it before they buy, and will probably consult multiple sites, too. What that means for your advertising is that it must be authentic, interesting and not a hard sell.

Native advertising is a great way to accomplish these goals. It is simply providing content in the place that potential customers are already looking.

Online video is another great place to use native advertising. This is a technique the production company I manage, ReelPaws, uses every day on behalf of clients. Millennials are more comfortable watching videos online than on television, in fact one-third of them watch videos online more often than they do on an actual television.

There are video sharing sites springing up every day, but you can be most effective on YouTube, Instagram or Vine.  While YouTube videos are often longer, videos on Vine or Instagram are limited to a 15 and 6-second limit, respectively.

Try to make your videos creative and efficient, without making a hard sell for your product or service. Instead of trying to fit multiple products into one video, make multiple, short videos on each one. On YouTube, pay close attention to the thumbnail you select, because that’s your best chance to draw the viewer to click on our video.

When it comes to customer service, Millennials expect a slightly different experience than previous generations. They make their complaints or compliments known on social media, like Facebook, Twitter, some even go as far as make YouTube videos in response to a product. You must live in that space as well, and be ready to respond. Your message will not just reach the customer that started the conversation, but all of their friends or follower as well.

Millennials are a fickle, diverse bunch, and pride themselves on being unique. However, despite the difficulties of reaching them, your future as a company will depend on their money. Start marketing to them in the place where they spend their time and you will gain their loyalty.

Do it now and they will be your biggest brand advocates and customers in the years ahead.


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