Would you Like to Smash the Competition for your DOG WALKING Business in your Local Area? Mission accomplished…Our Comprehensive Marketing Tips will allow you to DOMINATE the Dog Walking Competitors near you.
Marketing for a dog walking business is very similar to marketing for a Local Tradesman or perhaps a Local Accountant. You don’t need to be a marketing professional or spend thousands of Pounds or Dollars on ads if you follow our simple 10 step guide for Marketing. Our Marketing has been used many times for much larger and much more competitive business. So if you want to get miles ahead of the competition and gain more leads, follow our 10 tips below.
Jump to section links: Or read time: 15 to 20 minutes
- Create a brand
- Your Dog walking website
- Using Google my business
- Dog walking promotional websites
- Vehicle Livery/ Clothes branding
- Flyers and Business cards
No.1) Create A Brand:
A business brand is built around an identity you create for your business.
It means people will identify you/ your business with a name, a design or a symbol other than your name.
For instance, your name is Jane Smith, your business brand could be called ‘Wagging Tails dog walks’
The brand name can then be easily associated with dog walking for their pet.
You don’t have to use a brand name, you could use your own, but I have highlighted some advantages below.
The advantages of a brand could be:
- Business brands are easier to market
- If you need or have an opportunity to sell your business, you’re not selling your name!
- Separation of your name from your business name when using social media etc.
- Designs and logos can be just a little more difficult if using your name.
No.2) The Website:
The marketing 101 first step other than creating the brand is the website.
Your website is your attire, it’s the way people will judge your service. Make it clean, tidy and professional in every aspect. Approximately 94% of first impressions are design-driven. (sited www.onedaylabs.com) Ideally, its a place for people to find you through the various funnels you create later in the steps below. If you can drive all potential customers back to step 2 (here) that’s great.
So, what is a good website for dog walking?
Ideally, the website needs to be both informative and factual and connect with people emotionally if you are going to sell your services. For results, you will need to create the minimum of :
- A Brand logo, an image or name or symbol that can be placed at the top of your website (the header)
- Frontpage (or the only page for that matter) which will instantly let the potential customer know exactly what you do. Don’t confuse this page as you will only get a short time with anyone who stumbles upon it so go and sell your services here.
- Add a quality/ Hi-res image or picture of your dog walking or at least pictures of dogs being walked (minimum)
- All the services you sell in a simple service list. Don’t complicate this area, keep your services concise i.e., Dog walking, Pet sitting, Animal taxi, Pet Boarding. People get this, so you don’t need to explain any further. You can add your prices to each service i.e. DOG WALKING from just GBP 11.00/15.00 US per dog
- Prices on a website add significant value when seen. It’s your pre customer qualifier. For instance, if you offer your services for £11.00 / $15.00 and a visitor to your website does not want to pay your rate, they won’t call. If you have a call from someone after they have seen the service charges, you now potentially have a customer.
- Testimonials. Several testimonials (check Google reviews below) are a great way of telling future customers of how you conduct your business. Short and concise views from previous or current customers do reinforce a website. I can’t emphasize this enough, DON’T MAKE THEM UP… Be honest, be authentic, you will be found out!
- A short introduction to your company or you personally (depending on the chosen path of branding)
- Contact information. you need to get all your means of contact ready for a client to call. They should not have to trawl through significant amounts of your sales literature just to find your contact details. By all means, use a contact page, but use a contact telephone number/s as you will be taking on a customer’s beloved pooches.
Next level websites:
If you want to concrete your website and add more valuable and informative content, Ideally go for a WordPress website. It’s the only one I will recommend the type of website when promoting your business. It’s the most user-friendly and one of the fastest loading websites on the web. Google, Yahoo, and other search engines LOVE WordPress. Hell, over half of all websites are built with WordPress anyway… (This website is made with WordPress)
With WordPress, you can easily add extra pages, add menu’s and generally give your visitor a great and uncomplicated user experience during their visit to your website. With a few weeks of playing about with WordPress, you will become more competent with adding new content and generally changing around (if needed) the web site in general.
Next Level Content:
If you have a website already and not sure what extra content you can add then perhaps it is worth looking to add perhaps some of the suggestions below:
- Insurance details
- DBS Checked details / CRB Check details
- Licenses by state/ council or governments
- Accreditation’s, Awards.
- First aid certificates
- Full price-lists
- Offers, deals and discounts
- Separate topics pages
- A Gallery/photos. ( it’s much easier to use Instagram and let Instagram post to your website. I will explain a little later)
- Blog posts. Keeping your customers, Old, Current and Potential up to date with your business.
- Documents page, you can use this page for potential clients to fill out application forms and disclaimers.
There are loads of free or cheap website hosting available. you can find more on this here
3) Google My Business:
This is the essential freebie…YES, It’s FREE. that you need for your business as much as your brand. Why? Because it’s the best local marketing tool that is 100% relevant to a search query.
Google makes people’s lives easier to find anything when searching via the web. The phenomenal search tools they produce are awesome and this is one of the best tools they have in their arsenal from a local business service perspective…
Essentially a Google My Business search will target business based on a location and type of service request and give (hopefully) the best and most informative answer to that query. Its also tied in with Google maps and you need to be on this…..
How does it work?
As an example, I have typed the search term “Dog walking New York”
The result Google has given me is three different companies related to both the area I have searched and the service I require. The three large markers on the Map above relate to the three companies listed below the map.
Google algorithm believes these are the best results for that given search based on the information the business owners have given to Google.
The smaller 7 red dots are also Dog Walking companies that you can see if you were to click the ‘More business” link (to the bottom left of the pic)
Normally you can obtain one of the top three results if you spend some time CORRECTLY filling out the forms google provides when filling out the Google my business form Click Here
There is a great and easy video to watch to help with filling out the Google My Business account set up below.
Secondary benefits of using Google my business
- Change and update your profile or listing at any time.
- Showcase pictures, short stories, news and add videos of your walks.
- Reviews section, This is the place to gain google reviews from your customers and is authentic.
- Insights to how your advert is doing. Including how many people visit your website/ call you
4) Referrals (Including family and friends):
Probably the best and most reliable way of getting customers ever, not even Google has this much persuasion and it’s free!
“Hi, my friend Sarah recommended me to call you reference walking my dog, can you help?” does this sound familiar?
Some of the best deals have been done for the biggest companies in the world by referrals. Referrals are a bond of trust from someone who talks to and have a relationship one way or another, for instance, your family, friends or work colleagues if you are just starting.
If you have already started your business, your friends and family will already probably know. perhaps ask them the question ‘if they know of anyone that might need your services?’ or better put it, ‘can you tell everyone you see that I am a dog walker’!
Tip: if you already have a regular vet you use, we suggest that you mention to them you have a dog walking business and cover certain areas. They can always refer clients to you and vise Versa.
Same goes for other dog walkers, sometimes walkers’ books can be full, so they might pass on the business to you.
Give it a go and remember this type of marketing is free…
The digital version of referring a friend or service
Facebook. The No1 social media website. Facebook allows you for free to add a business page and share this page with friends and family or you can also pay for local and targetted advertising to potential clients.
Again, like referrals, Facebook allows your friends or family or people that have already used your service, share with their friends or family. Many a large network of business have been successful with Facebook.
If you’re not on facebook but want to market your business, sign up here
Here is a snapshot of a local business where the dog walker has used her business page to show complete transparency about the conduct of her business.
The facebook page will allow you to show:
- Basic Business information (about)
- Contact details
- Links to your main website (if you have one already)
- Daily updates
- Live feeds
To give you an idea of how the above works:
Basic Business Info: (about)
This is where you will find a listing of times you are available or open, your pricing, any contact details and a short description of what you provide as a service.
Add all your contact details, double-check they are all correct and Include a Mobile/Cellphone number for your existing clients should they wish to get hold of you in an emergency or need to call.
Links to your main website:
Depending on where you put most of your marketing efforts i.e. website, you want to reinforce the continuity and maximum spread of your online marketing so definitely show a link or two back to your website. Links from Facebook don’t count towards building a link strategy, but they do pass people to your website which is always worth the link. This can all be part of the overall master plan of funneling traffic back to the sales page on your website.
On this page, you can write a full description of what your service provides, remember the more information, the more you can persuade a potential client to decide on using your services.
Reviews like on Google can reinforce your services and the authenticity of how you conduct your business. Ask your current clients to post a little about your business services here. If you are just starting, ask some friends to give more of a character reference and perhaps mention your love of dogs or how much you are trustworthy.
Adding regular photos of where you walk, saves you a ton of time when clients/ potential clients ask the question. Rather than trying to describe you all know the saying ‘a picture says a 1000 words’
Videos are a great way to show that the pets you walk are enjoying their experience and gives complete peace of mind when out walking your dogs.
You could film the daily events using your camera on your mobile phone or a go pro or similar. Just remember to pay more attention to your dogs that the video your creating!
This is a great way to explain what and how you conduct your business daily, it’s not a compulsory factor, but it does help if you want to show off your walk to your customers. It’s also a great way to communicate with customers and keep them updated with another off-topic or nonessential news about your business. (keep this for business only and not your private facebook posts) .
Not 100% essential, but dog owners just love watching their furry friends having fun, you could offer live feeds but not essential.
The community will show who follows or are friends with your Business Facebook page. Again another concrete trust page that will show the number of followers, Related posts that friend have posted about your facebook page and photos by others about your facebook page
The ultimate picture sharing website, similar to Facebook. (owned by Facebook)
Instagram is just such a handy tool for marketing your business. It will also store a whole load of pictures for you. Pictures can be shared almost instantly and automatically across your Facebook business page and If you have a plugin for your website, share the picture there too. Using Instagram will save you lots of time.
You can add filters to your photos to enhance the colors or set the scenes. This, in turn, could make the photos you post much more attractive and give you the edge as your customers can also share these pictures on their feeds – And Voila…Viral marketing…
Check out a snapshot example from to a feed on Instagram (many thanks to dogwalking.ie)
7) Joining a Dog walking Directory/ Network.
There are a few large websites that can do your marketing for you, all you have to do is pay them and fill out your business information. They will take care of the marketing for you.
Companies Like Rover.com, Tailster, Dogbuddy.com (now joined with rover.com) allow you to sign up for a fee or percentage of walking fees.
It’s a great idea to be part of a network of thousands of dog walkers or is it?
if you have followed steps 1-6 above I don’t think you will need to do this category, however, if you want to jump the above steps and get straight into dog walking these are probably the best/ quickest options available today.
It’s also ideal if you are a student or temporarily looking for a dog walking job.
Once approved and verified on this type of website, you will be promoted in your area of choice and specialties.
here is a snapshot of dogbuddy.com
8) Vehicle Advertising and Clothes Branding
If you require a vehicle for your dog walking business then Without question, it’s a great way to market your business 24/7. Your vehicle having your company brand on the outside. It’s very well known in the advertising industry, vehicle graphics give some of the best returns for money spent when generating new customer leads.
Making it easy for people to read is key to making this a success.
Things to consider for vehicles:
- Clear, concise and to the point wordage
- Contact telephone number and website is a minimum requirement, second to that an email address.
- Bullet point your services of what you provide
- Use traditional fonts/ modern bold fonts,
- Do not use handwriting fonts or hard to read fonts
- Use both sides and the rear of the vehicle
Why do we suggest professional designs? Vehicle graphics companies like their customers to eventually return or refer others when the service is next required, exactly like we are doing with our dog walking business. The success of the graphics company relies on how well your livery or advertising does on your vehicle so expect the best.
The design company will require you to give them a brief for the initial design and then maybe its a bit of back and forwards communication until you and the design company can agree on a great design.
Tip: Keep the branding and design similar to your logo, ideally the same or similar fonts and colours also.
Clothing and apparel:
The synergy between the various aspects of your business marketing should be identical throughout and similar in nature. The web site logo should be the same as the van logo which should be the same as the logo on the stationary etc. This also goes for the clothes you wear. A tee-shirt, sweatshirts or waterproof coat should or could carry the same style of logo and fonts, etc as the rest of your branding package.
This will reinforce professionalism and is persuasive when looking for new or potential customers.
Another tried and tested method to gain new customers.
Giving away time (small amount of) is a re-investment into your business, let me explain…
If you are meeting with a new customer then give them the first walk for free. It’s not compulsory but it does iron out any issues from the get-go. Invite the dog owner to walk with you.
On the walk, you can find so much more about the client’s pooch as the owner will talk most if not all of the walkabout with his or her beloved pet/pets.
It’s also a great way for your client to see how the dog will interact with you.
10) Business Cards and Flyers:
Both Flyers and Business cards still have a place in this world. they are reasonably cheap to produce and are still handy to be given out so a potential customer can call/ visit your website when time is available or your service is needed.
Basic business cards cost around £10.00/ $14.00US for 250 cards from VistaPrint. this will be a one-sided card and just 2 colors.
Basic flyers are costing around £15.00 / $20.00 for 1000. One-sided print and multicolor for this price again from VistaPrint.
If you can really focus on an area then although I would choose Google for advertising, this actually works quite well also.
With business cards, have some handy on your walks, when going to the vets (just drop some off on the counter). Dog food shops. Or anywhere local you can find a community board to advertise on!
We hope you find this guide helpful, we have so much more to give if you need advice, just drop a message in the comments section below and we will reply.