Bark, Meow, Tweet: What Our Pets Can Teach Us About Digital Marketing

Everyone always says pets are smarter than people. Don’t they? Well, maybe not, but it can certainly be argued that animals, that lovable Lucy or that mischievous Milo, understand more human language than we give them credit for.

What does this have to do with marketing? Well, nothing.

But no one ever said that thinking outside the box was easy.  So, for a fresh take on digital marketing best practices, let’s look to our furry friends for guidance:

Liam (my orange tabby cat): Liam enjoys napping, drinking from the bathroom faucet, and being adored.  In fact, he’s so fond of attention that he accepts belly rubs from just about anyone, including the vet and my 5 year-old.

The point is Liam is pretty easy to please.

As marketers, we may feel the same way about our customers and prospects.  In fact, with so many of them out there, a simple “batch and blast” technique may seem the most efficient way of reaching our target audience.  But who really wants to be thought of as just one of many?

SEOmoz recommends the SIMPLE technique: Creating messaging that’s Simple, Interesting, Meaningful, Productive, Long-lasting, and Entertaining.  In other words, pay attention to your customers’ individual wants and needs—and tailor your messaging accordingly.

There may be plenty of “Liams” out there, but be careful not to make your customers feel that you regard them as just one piece of the pie.  Instead, build your customer base by listening to and engaging with your audience; doing so will establish positive word-of-mouth messaging, customer loyalty, and repeat business.

Peanut (Rachel’s calico cat): Persnickety Peanut prefers the company of Rachel’s mother and will only tolerate petting in two places: on her nose and on the top of her head.  Although Peanut is technically an indoor cat, she once escaped to the great outdoors and returned with several claws from another cat in her back.  Whoops, sounds like someone crossed her path!

Fussy though she may be, Peanut offers us a valuable marketing lesson: When it comes to your customers, make sure you’re not only listening, but also aggregating feedback.  A Forbes article sums it up nicely, “When it’s easy, [your customers] tell you directly. But too often they let you know indirectly through defection.”

In other words, always get to know your customer—and make it clear you value their feedback.  Gathering information to better provide your customer with relevant messaging and interaction is well worth the effort.  KoMarketing’s Joe puts it this way, “Your customer will tell you what they want; you can set up your $100 cat bed, but what happens when your cat chooses to sit inside the same worn out shoebox?”

Sophie (Abe’s Brittany spaniel): Abe and Sophie met in Greece, when Abe rescued the weeks-old puppy from the side of the road and drove with her on his moped to his flat.  Since then, Sophie has made herself comfortable in Abe’s life, and has established herself as both “clever” and “strategic.”  The other day, Sophie feigned sleep until the exact moment Abe opened the door to leave for work, at which point she dashed over to the cat’s food dish and helped herself to a delicious snack.

What can we learn from Sophie?  Perseverance pays!

Marketing lesson #1 from socialmediatoday: Be bold, fellow inbounder.  “As marketers, we need to ask, and poke and prod—we should never expect clients to push the envelope for us—that’s what we are paid to do.”

So, if you are having doubts about approaching a client or prospect before they approach you, don’t.  Challenge them with new ideas and suggestions for how to increase traffic, boast engagement, and get and use feedback to their advantage.

In other words, don’t be afraid to attack that plate of Whiskas.  You’ll thank yourself (maybe?) later.

Kitty (Joe’s cat): Kitty and Joe were once reluctant pals; Joe describes her as “full of ennui.”  But, these days, they are the best of friends.

Kitty wakes Joe up at breakfast time and expects dinner at a certain hour.  So what does this mean in the world of marketing?

Although your customers may expect seasonal sales/deals (i.e., Black Friday, Cyber Monday, Small Business Saturday, etc.), it’s important to remember your marketing communications can’t take a vacation.  Gail Goodman, CEO of Constant Contact, recommends brewing up some off-season excitement around your seasonal business, including promoting customer success stories on your company blog or via social media and pushing out valuable content that engages customers year-round.

So follow Kitty’s lead and get those seasonal deals out early.  If you play your cards right, you can keep your customers engaged no matter what the calendar says.

Hootie (Casie’s lovebird): Hootie might just be the antithesis of Kitty; Casie describes her 8 year-old love bird as “really nosey” and “extremely loud when he needs attention.”  So, in other words, a literal tweeter!

“Sir Hoots a Lot,” being the social butterfly that he is, illustrates the importance of having a sound social media strategy in place.  According to BtoB Magazine’s latest report on social media marketing, B2B marketers are leveraging social media for customer service, product marketing, hiring and recruiting, and traffic and lead acquisition.  In fact, social media can play a role in multiple facets of marketing strategy, including branding, website traffic building, SEO, lead generation, and much more.

In order to maximize social media ROI, Search Engine Watch recommends grounding your initiatives with a strategic plan that makes measurement clear and easy, making sure you define social media goals that align with business objectives.

If you’re like Hootie and dying to dive right into the action, think of social media as a means to engage customers with your business.  But be sure to research where your customers hang out; that’s where you’ll want to establish a presence.

Mackenzie (Steven’s Yorkshire terrier): Steven’s Yorkie, with her rhinestone dog collar and her upright carriage, serves as a reminder that it pays to be a trend setter.  After all, it’s not every petite dog that proudly sports bling around her neck, is it?

As marketers, we should all strive for a little Mackenzie flair, keeping one step ahead of trends to position ourselves as market leaders.  Opinions are mixed, but trends to watch for in 2013 include growing smartphone adoption, alignment of mobile business and content strategy, and socially generated content.

In fact, MarketingProfs’ “B2B Content Marketing: 2013 Benchmarks, Budgets, and Trends—North America” survey indicates, on average, B2B content marketers are spending 33 percent of their marketing budgets on content marketing, up from 26 percent last year.

So what can you do to keep up?  Keep an ear to the ground for the latest trends and spice up your marketing strategies with an innovative and fresh approach.

Sometimes, when it comes to evaluating the best marketing approach for your organization, it helps to think outside the box (or inside the pumpkin, as it were!).  But don’t just take it from me; I get enough flak from friends, family, and colleagues for being a “cat lady.”

In the comments below, let us know how you’ve creatively approached your organization’s marketing strategies.  Which of the above suggestions have worked for you?  Which have not?

“KoMarketing understands how to present and execute recommendations across the organization, from the IT professional to strategic marketing leadership. They go beyond expectation in working with the client to evaluate, execute, and implement program initiatives.”

— Silvina El Baba, Senior Manager, Web Marketing, EFI

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