Advertising & Marketing For Your Pet Store

Advertising & marketing is the single most important aspect of the pet boutique business. Even with the most unique, well merchandised store, if no one walks in, you’ll be out of business fast!Location, Location, Location:
An often overlooked aspect of marketing begins even before you open your doors. The most important element in real estate also pertains to the pet boutique retail business; location, location; location. Even with the most extensive marketing and advertising schedule, if the location is poor it will be difficult to succeed. Before choosing a location or relocation, establish your target market. Once you have established what type of clientele your store will cater to, choose a location that compliments the store. For example, if you are selling mostly food, choose a strip mall location next to a major grocery store with plenty of foot traffic. If you are a high end pet boutique, choose a city location with a large population or a high end tourist destination. Also make sure you are highly visible – in other words not around corner or up a lot of stairs. Trust us – we have made the mistake of having a few stairs leading to our store (in our old location; Tails by the Bay in Sausalito, CA) and lost about ½ of the foot traffic due to stairs. These small obstacles can seem minuscule but can greatly affect your traffic flow so consider every little aspect of the location.Advertising Mediums:
The various advertising mediums include newspaper, magazine, television, radio internet and phone book. Each avenue has advantages and disadvantages and what works for your store will depend on various issues but the best method to take is to try and see what works for your particular store. That being said, there are different aspects and important points for each medium you should consider. Newspaper advertising can be expensive but look into smaller local papers that have lower prices. These papers are generally read by most of the town and can be very effective with advertising sales, new items or just the store location and general product selection. For higher end boutiques, magazines are a great way to advertise a high end image with a classy high gloss ad. Radio can also be an effective medium as it has more of a personality then a print ad. The radio ad can tell a story about your store and include more information then a print ad. Radio is also very effective to advertise sales and events. Another extremely important advertising tactic is television. Don’t shy away from television due to high cost – in most instances, it’s less expensive then print. Local television commercials can be low as $1-2 an ad on stations such as Animal Planet, Comedy Central and MSN. Also, similar to radio, it’s more effective at showing the uniqueness of the store and will most likely intrigue the customer more then print. Finally, the internet can be an effective advertising tool – make sure you are in all the local “where to shop” listings including Yahoo Yellow Pages and look into websites such as and []. Also, the internet can be an effective tool to advertise your store events; look into your local event websites in your area. Typically the event listings are free, especially if they are benefiting a local charity. Of course, if you also have an internet website as well as a retail location, internet advertising is the best avenue to advertise your website because the customer is already online shopping for pet items. Which advertising avenue works for you will depend on your specific store so don’t be afraid to try different mediums to see what works best for your unique retail shop. However, don’t switch haphazardly; make sure to give your chosen advertising a chance to work for you. Celia Sack & Paula Harris from Noe Valley Pet Co in San Francisco, CA recommend, “We like the regularity of advertising in the same places over the years, because we believe seeing an ad over time will stick in consumers’ minds. Businesses often make the mistake of offering coupons to see if their ads are working, and when they get no coupons back, they switch to a different medium for advertising. You rarely get coupons back, but that doesn’t mean your ad isn’t being seen.”Budget:
An important consideration is your advertising & marketing budget. The standard rule for advertising expenditure nationally is 5-7% of sales but this doesn’t take into account your markup or your rent or type of store. A better rule of thumb for smaller retail stores such as ours is not to spend less then 3% of sales on advertising and marketing. Also, as mentioned previously expensive rent for a high-visibility location is often the best advertising as you will need to advertise significantly less then a similar business with an average location. Also, look into co-op advertising with vendors to keep advertising costs down. Or team up with local rescue organizations to host events at your store. Often the free press for helping a rescue group combined with the rescue groups advertising and client base will help with a significant amount of the advertising and marketing cost.Events:
As just mentioned events can be a hugely successful way to advertise and market your store for little expense. The event itself may not yield huge sales, but the exposure and good will can benefit your store significantly. Try adoption days, holiday events such as Santa paws photos or a Halloween costume contest. Or create a truly unique event that will draw patrons from near and far. To counter act the cost of the event, you can co-op with vendors, event sponsors, rescue groups or other retail stores in the vicinity. Sponsoring local events in your community is another great way for exposure for little expenditure. Celia & Paula from Noe Valley Pet Co recommend, “The best advertising we do is sponsoring and donating to events, festivals, etc. Businesses often don’t see this as advertising, but it is the best kind, because you’re also doing something charitable, and consumers appreciate that you’re giving back to the community.”