Editor’s letter as published in the July issue of Pet Age.
In this month’s issue, one of our guest columnists, Kerry Sutherland, talks about why retailers should ask brands about their public relations strategies.
She bring up a very good point in explaining that their public relations outreach can help retail business owners, because they are generating brand awareness, which if done correctly, will have customers coming into your store asking for certain products.
But, brand awareness goes beyond just traditional public relations. Pet product manufacturers, whether they are making food, toys, clothing, treats, flea and tick medication or joint supplements, are using a variety tools to help drive consumers toward their product, and ultimately into a retail store.
For example, at the end of May I spent two days with Halo, Purely for Pets, at a pop-up shop they set up for a month in New York City. But, it wasn’t your typical pop-up. Instead it was to unite pet lovers, provide easy ways for visitors to help pets in need and engage customers with the Halo brand and mission to give back to the community.
They also partnered with local retailers for various promotions, as well as gave out branded coupons for visitors to use at their local retail stores, whether they were in New York City, or not. Part of the mission was to create brand awareness and drive traffic to stores that carry their brand.
While the Halo campaign falls on the larger, more elaborate scale, there are also smaller, personal ways that pet companies are garnering attention for their brands. One way is through blogger outreach. In May, large companies like Hills, Hartz, Natural Balance and Marshall Pet Products, as well as smaller companies like Zero Odor, Be Pawsitive and Just4MyPet spent three days introducing their products to hundreds of influential pet bloggers during BlogPaws, one of two social media conferences geared toward the pet industry.
They showed off their new products, educated them on the benefits and gave them samples to take home with the hopes of them liking their product and writing about it.
Boiled down to the simplest of terms, it’s like gifting suites at Hollywood events. If you get a celebrity to endorse your brand, or like your product, it will create “buzz” and everyone will want to go out and buy your product at their local store.
Well, replace celebrity with influential blogger.
But, it’s not all about the swag for these brands – it’s also about educating the consumer.
During the event, I had the opportunity to attend an invite-only luncheon sponsored by Hartz where they educated bloggers not just about their brand, but about overall flea and tick control, the importance of regular veterinary visits, their company’s history and more.
These types of outreach are in addition to consumer and trade advertising, social media and other campaigns companies are using to in their marketing toolbox to help drive traffic into your store.
So, when you are at your next trade show, open house or working with your local sales rep, ask them about these programs. You may be surprised at the extent they are working to help bring you customers.