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Going Back To School

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It is amazing that as I am writing this article, many high school seniors are graduating, and college seniors have recently walked across the stage to receive their degrees. However, as you are reading this, many more students across our country are finalizing their preparations to return to their schools.

In numerous consumer product categories, back to school is one of their busiest times of the year.  If it isn’t for you and your business, there is something missing in your marketing or strategy, or both.

Think about why Apple hands out free electronic devices to college freshman at various schools. Why do many high schools and universities give incoming students tablets or laptops free of charge?  The theory from the device brands isn’t for them to pay better attention to their studies, even though that is the “face” they put on their messaging. It is to get the users “hooked” on their brand.

What are you doing during the back to school season to get pet owners hooked on your brand, or business? Here are some ways to try if you aren’t already:

Pet Training Sessions

Whether it is house breaking a puppy or how to take care of a small animal pet such as a gerbil or hamster, there are countless topics to choose from, where your store or site could hold a class or webinar every week on a specific day and time. This is also a great way to compete with the big box stores.

Hopefully, you have been building a customer email list to utilize for something like this to send out a nice email blast, in addition to creating an event on your Facebook page and sending it out on the other social media networks, too.

Place a flyer with every receipt given to every customer leading up to these events to get the word out.  Place a free press release in your local papers and school/church bulletins to get the word out.
Sure, the children in your communities are going back to school, but what about their parents, who are your target customers? If they are the stay at home variety, this is perfect for them.

Obviously, school children are the perfect demographic to get interested in pets. If they cannot come to you, why not go to them?

School Marketing

I am sure that almost every one of you either remembers having small animals in a classroom when you were in school or one of your children’s schools. Is there a better way to introduce them to pets and the faculty to your business/brand?

I strongly suggest donating the necessary supplies and pet that is easy to care for to one or more classrooms at local schools. Remember to put a small sign showing where it came from with your contact information if help is needed.

Once the previous step is done, then it’s time to visit the schools on a regular basis to show how to care for various pets and show the children different pets. Trust me, your popularity will skyrocket. Have a show and tell day just for pets when you visit a school.

Monthly Newsletter

Create a document that is focused on teachers and their students. Teachers make great consumers, especially if you give them extra attention and reasons to shop your business. Add a puzzle or coloring piece to the newsletter so teachers can share it with their students and their parents. How about a different coupon every month? Make it fun and educational, and teachers will love you, especially those that teach young children.

Finally, a short and personal story of mine I’d like to share. My wife is a special needs teacher and a chocolate labrador retriever breeder. Recently her school had a career day where over 70 people came to show off what they do for work and career. This included policemen, firemen, doctors, computer people, and the list goes on. The Mrs. asked me to bring a couple of our puppies (about six weeks old). I won’t bore you with all of the details, but every other guest said next year they would bring a puppy or pet to career day. The power of a pet.

Going back to school is usually a stressful time of the year. Summer is about to end, there is much to do to get the kids ready for school, no matter how young or old they are, so why not take advantage of the season and help your business.

Sharpen those #2 pencils and clean out those backpacks.

-Howard London has been in the pet and animal health industry for 25+ years, as a retail chain owner, and sales and marketing executive.

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