New stuff

Discussion in 'The Watercooler' started by Steely, Jan 14, 2012.

  1. Steely

    Steely Active Member

    So I am trying out a new blog that is different than the rest. It wants you to post a picture first, and then tell the story that comes to mind with that picture. So, it is my mission to find pictures, and tell their stories. I like that concept. It makes you look at the world very differently. I have also resolved not to photograph sadness, as I have had too much -- although the homeless, mentally ill, war, etc should be talked about more than ever - that is not what is going to bring me, personally healing. So every picture has to be something that brings me peace, hope, or destiny. Nature is first and foremost for me right now.

    I also have inherited my Dad's super fancy camera equipment. I wish he had not passed away before telling me how to use it - but I hope to figure it out soon, as it would make this blog/picture thing be an even cooler and more enticing project.

    I also am still working on this pet care business - but it is just still so stagnant. This town does not have this concept - so I am sure it would work - (I think?) - if I could just get the word out. I have advertised on all things that are free around here - haha -and I have a website. Do you guys have any other advertising ideas? (Low cost) (Me in a costume dancing in front of Petco???? --- Noooo)

    I still need to get into the groove of working out, reading, and writing EVERY day. UGH. Why is consistency so hard for me? Overall, mentally, I am really not doing that well - but I have faith that somehow, someday, someway my life will all come together. Thanks.
  2. Hound dog

    Hound dog Nana's are Beautiful

    Post flyers on supermarket/ laundromat bulletin boards. Join your community fb pages if it has them and advertise there. Grooming is not booming here either. Economy is too tight for such luxuries I guess. I see ours basically begging for clients. I'd take the dogs in except Betsy would be traumatized, and she is the one who desperately needs her nails cut way back.
  3. HaoZi

    HaoZi Guest

    Have you gotten a magnetic sign for your vehicle yet? Something big and memorable. It was like that here and one local groomer has a very distinct car that advertises it and last year she expanded to a second store in a nearby town. She's a groomer which isn't quite the same, but I always think of her when you talk about advertising. She also (and her staff) get a place in the local parade every year and walk colorfully dyed dogs in it and hand out business cards.

    ETA: The magnetic sign doesn't have to be huge, you can get those paw-print car magnets and make a trail around the car to it.
  4. InsaneCdn

    InsaneCdn Well-Known Member

    Camera.... There must be a good independent camera shop around there somewhere. Take the camera in, and have them test it "to make sure everything is working" - here, it costs $20-40, usually. That makes you a customer. Explain that it was given to you, and you don't know the details about how this one works... they can either TELL you, direct you to a particuular class they offer, or show you which books would be particularly useful. Even if you don't buy the book(s), it tells you what kind of book to look for at the second hand store.

    Petsitting... for starters, its a tough time of the year to get started. By April or May, people are planning their vacations... right now, not so many go away. Here... the "known" sitters fill up first, and after that, there's room for the new ones. Any one gets a chance their first year. After that... you should have good references.

    For now... have you specifically offered "dog walking" service? This is not the same as pet-sitting. Sometimes the person is even at home, but isn't able to give their dog the kind of walk they really need - a good 30-60 minute hike, rather than a toddle around the park. Sometimes, they want the dog to be walked mid-day, while they are at work.

    Are you advertising your services under ONE ad? or a different ad for each service? Do the pet shops have an ad-board? (some do; sometimes they want to meet you before you post, and authorize each post so no one person overruns the board with ads)

    Check with the kennel clubs in the area... sometimes they allow inexpensive ads in their newsletters.

    No expert advice, just some... musings. We have dogs, so of course have had to find pet-care etc...
  5. trinityroyal

    trinityroyal Well-Known Member

    In addition to the grocery stores and laundromats that Lisa suggested, maybe you can display flyers at:
    - hair salons, maincure/pedicure places, etc. I imagine that people might want to pamper their pets the same way they pamper themselves.
    - coffee shops, especially if they have dog water bowls outside. If the coffee shop is pet-friendly, then pet-owning customers might be interested
    - if there's a dog park nearby that has a poster board, you might find out from the city whether you can display a flyer or poster. You might want something large and colourful for this purpose
    - can you do a mailbox drop? I'm not sure what the regulations are in your area, or how much it would cost to print that many flyers. Also, you might want to target higher-density neighbourhoods for this, so that there's less walking to do. Sometimes you can arrange for bulk-mail through the post office, to get your flyers into apartment buildings with those mailbox banks. That might be something for later on when you have a larger marketing budget.
    - word of mouth at the dog park. Mention to other dog owners that you're a groomer. When they see how well groomed your dogs are they'll be interested.
    - maybe leave flyers in smaller, independent pet stores if you have any in your areas. They're less likely than the big chains to offer in-house services.
    - Do the big chains offer pet grooming? If not, then you might be able to advertise with them? A long-shot, I know...

    This is all I can come up with off hand. I've never had a dog, so I'm not familiar with the market.

  6. klmno

    klmno Active Member

    How neat! As an add-on to pet care, have you thought about bathing and grooming dogs? I bought a clipper to use on my dogs and it came with a video on how to clip different breeds. I've practiced on mine. Mind you, it would take practice but given how my dogs have returned after some grooming experiences by 'businesses', it can't be any worse than that!

    This might have been mentioned- I didn't read thru all this thoroughly- but you could make business cards and walk your dogs thru parks or take them to petsmart, wherever other pet owners will be where they can see you with pets and introduce yourself and hand them a business card. Of course, your own neighborhood is the best place to start because some people will just need a pet sitter intermittently when they are out of town and will feel more comfortable with someone from their neighborhood. Shoot- offer to do it a couple of times for free in exchange for a good reference and word of mouth advertisement.
  7. Steely

    Steely Active Member

    Thank all....

    I would not offer pet grooming as an option as I would probably botch the entire dog doo up entirely. LOL. But I have advertised as a dog walking service, as well as pet sitting, and doggie playtime (we don't have a dog park here). I have gone to the local vets and Petco, and put up brochures in local places that will allow it.

    I think I need to do the magnetic sign on my car....I really do.
    I also have door brochures I want to use - but motivation for walking door to door is lacking. No excuses, I just need to *do* it.

    I am not sure if we have a camera shop here - I will check. Such a weird small-ish town. Everything and one is just hidden. I thought my next entrepreneurial project should be to create a flippin' map of the town of all the local stores since they are all buried amongst hills and things. Seriously. Google even has a business complex here and I have yet to find it. I think this is part of why it is hard to launch a new business - everyone "just knows the town" and they do not look for new things.
  8. klmno

    klmno Active Member

    Steely, are you near a military base or is this the type of old town where everyone has been there for years and years and everyone knows each other? If everyone knows each other and that's the problem, you need to concentrate on getting in that 'group' for networking. If it's a military area, you can figure out where the neighborhoods are, off base, that military are living in and market to them.

    You can't botch a dog any worse thatn I bothed mine when I first tried! The main thing is not to cut too close so they don't get razor burn. Now true, I wouldn't market myself for grooming but my point was that private groomers and petsmart have botched my dogs in the past as much as I did. And I paid for that!
  9. trinityroyal

    trinityroyal Well-Known Member

    Steely, I think you're onto something with that town map idea.

    If Google has a location there, you must have a fairly large population of newcomers. Is there any sort of tourist presence? If so, then there are 2 natural markets for such a product.
    You could create a brochure featuring a map of local highlights including the types of businesses that newcomers or tourists often need to find (including your own pet care business, of course). Charge the other businesses to advertise in your brochure, and possibly work out some sort of referral bonus deal with the businesses if your brochure results in sales for them. A small commission on any business directly resulting from your ad, for example.
  10. Steely

    Steely Active Member

    Awww.... 'like' - 'like' Trinity and K.

    K. there is a huge veteran population here, but not a military base. The town is about 20K, and it is the oldest town in the NorthWest - so we have lots of elderly. The bookstore is 140 years old!!! But Trinity like you said, there is also a lot of newcomers. Google just arrived and another big industry is locating here soon. How would I market this map thing? Go the City?
  11. klmno

    klmno Active Member

    Do you get an envelope of coupons each month? I'm talking about a large envelope that has coupons from all sorts of businesses- they usually have a phone # or something in there about how to get a coupon in there- try that. Or, do your yellow pages have a coupon or advertisement section in them? I don't know what this stuff would cost, but it's worth a phone call to find out. Or even the local newspaper or trading post.

    You need to find out where those vets hang out and put up something there- a veterinarian local to them, veterans administration medical center, etc
  12. susiestar

    susiestar Roll With It

    Steely, you have AWESOME ideas and a wonderfully creative mind. I have faith in you.

    For your dog business, the car sign is a MUST. They are not expensive and can be VERY good ways to get the word out. Every time you have your car in a parking area it will be advertised. Once you have the sign on, start parking in places wehre it can be seen. When you go to the grocery park back near the entrance of the lot where people would pass your car driving in. Make sure that no one can park on that side. It gets business exposure ANd is a way to get a little extra walking into your day (parking at the back of the lot). If you cannot walk far (disabled for some reason, like me) then take advantage of that and use the disabled spots on the ends so that the car can be seen.

    Just be CAREFUL that when you put the sign on the car is clean clean clean underneath. Not just been washed clean, gone over with cleaner just that moment to be sure ther eis no grit. Otherwise the sign will rub the grit against the paint, which isn't good. I say this because a friend put a sign up for a business and didn't clean the door before she did it - and her door is ALL scratched up now.

    You have signs up at the vet, but have you made friends with anyone who works at the vet offices? You want them to recommend you. So stop in now and then with business cards, etc (check vistaprint for their free stuff - you just pay shipping usually) and bring some kind of treat for the office staff. Cookies are great. If you hear the staff complain about their pens running away, (LOTS of people who work as cashiers complain about this) consider spending some time making pens for them. You can use floral tape to fasten silk or plastic flowers to stick pens, then you put them in a flower pot with some marbles or whatever to keep them standing. It is a lot harder to pocket pens if they have a big fake flower on them. Put your business name/logo on the side of the flower pot. Get the flowers at a thrift store or yard sale.

    Make the maps with the business names. You might ask at a pizza delivery place if they have maps or can give you a map - often they have the best maps. Make sure your business name is printed on the map (of course). I don't know if yard sales are a big deal there. they are here. A HUGE deal. Sat mornings the cops jsut ignore a LOT of bad parking if there is a yard sale in sight because they would spend the entire day dealing iwth that otherwise. I used to have a laminated map that I plotted otu where all the sales I wanted to go were so I had a route to follow. I used a map that one of the convenience stores sold and I just laminated it. I had more people buy those out of my hands that I thought was possible. They offered crazy amts of $$ esp as the map cost fifty cents and the lamination was a buck back then.

    Lots of people use GPS but many still find it confusing. This might be a good form of advertising for your business, esp given the twists and turns int he area.

    You say google has a business complex nearby. Get creative and go do something that can be seen from their offices. An event maybe. Contact pet food companies and see if they need people to give out samples in the area. One of the vets here ALWAYS has samples from some company or other and I know she doesn't pay for them (not only is she so cheap that she would not give away anything ever, she is a neighbor of my folks and has told me she gets them free). Maybe contact an event marketing group if there is an upcoming festival and try to arrange something.

    Volunteer in pet related things in your area. I don't know how you feel about organized religion, and that is NOT the point of this suggestion. If organized religion triggers bad things for you, ignore this as it is just an idea. See if a church in the area does a pet/animal blessing. We are a fairly rural area and we have a major agricultural university and a vet school too, so we have a LOT of pet things that happen. I know that the Episcopal and Unitarian churches in town both do a service where people bring pets to church. If a church does this, see if you can give out something with your logo to them and maybe business cards. Homemade dog treats are not that hard to make, recipes are all over the internet, so maybe some of those in baggies with bows? Or just ribbons to decorate collars? Or take food color markers to decorate the animals with "makeup"? I used the Wilton ones and the color mist spray food color. NOT spray icing, it is just food color in a spray bottle. IT can be used iwth stencils. I have gotten vet approval to use these - this was important to me because I used them on cats and cats lick their fur. But kids would go NUTS for a pet version of face painting in the park at an event or outside after a church service where they brought pets to bless.

    I am assuming you have a logo. Do you have a shirt iwth the logo? While ordering a bunch of them with the logo might be too expensive, Vistaprint will do shirts. A couple years ago I used their caricatures to design one iwth all the kids and grandkids for my dad. They had a deal for a "free" shirt where you designed it and paid shipping. Shipping was under $10 so it was a good deal for my purpose. If you don't want to do that, get creative and put it on a shirt for yourself. At events, wear the shirt as you give out business cards.

    I can think of other ideas if you give me some examples of the logo, the target market, where and how you have started to spread the word. I will be happy to help in any way I can - my degree is in marketing and I have done a lot of event marketing, etc....
  13. Steely

    Steely Active Member

    WOW thank you Susie - I might PM you. Your suggestions are great. I actually did the cookie thing - and it went over OK. But I think the key it to keep going back with new goodies like pens and shirts. I didn't know about vista print - good idea -- I will look them up now. And good idea about cleaning the car before putting the sign on --- that sounds like something I would do - haha. And then I would be incredibly mad :(

    You know I think part of the problem is that I have SO many things to do that I have to get a schedule firmly in place. I just went and took some pics for my blog, and now I am on the computer doing "other" stuff rather than writing. I should go work out, write in the book, read to be better at writing, work on the business and I need to go to the store, walk the dog etc., etc. I need a big slice of self discipline to stay focused on all these different things. The business especially has all these variables - because I am advertising on free local sites (not craigs list) but other ones that take constant updating. Plus then doing other advertising projects --

    Anyway thanks you all!!!
  14. buddy

    buddy New Member

    As you work on your photo skills, you might want to take pics of pets too... hard to do posed pics so if you are caring for them you can do candid shots etc....
  15. HaoZi

    HaoZi Guest

    Vistaprint has LOTS of things you can get for shipping only. Consider also getting a reusable shopping bag with your logo to use yourself - shopping, at the library, taking in recyclables, using as a purse/carry-all, etc. Nosing around Vistaprint can gather you lots of ideas. Magnetic calendars are good cheap goodies to hand out, easy to stick on a filing cabinet at the vet's office ;)

    ETA: If we get a chance to meet up when we're out Seattle way this summer, maybe Kiddo and I could pose with your dogs for some advertising for you.
  16. Steely

    Steely Active Member

    Good ideas Haz. I love the shopping bag thing. I think advertising has to be all about saturation. (I would also love to do some pics with you:) Hope you can make it to Seattle!)

    I can't tell you addicted I am becoming to Photography goes hand in hand with writing - I had no idea. I am excited.
  17. HaoZi

    HaoZi Guest

    They often do. In addition to writing I also enjoyed photography and painting.
  18. Steely

    Steely Active Member

    You know -- the thing I didn't realize about photography -- is that it let's you tell your story, just like painting, if you let it. For instance, this morning I had my camera and I took Tesla for a walk. So I just started snapping pictures of things that touched me. It had snowed, and the birds were going crazy, so I took lots of pics of that, and of course Tesla. I was thinking about how much my Dad loved birds, and how the pond where I was taking the pics was similar to where H died - but the pics were not intended to be anything but snapshots in time.

    However, when I got home, I realized I wanted to write about was captured in the frozen pond picture. I wanted to write about where H. was found, and that one little picture, which held no significance at the time - was the one thing that was really bothering me. Unbenownst to me, that one thing that was burdening my soul.

    I know at the beginning of this post I was not going to write about sad - but yet - one has to write about what is weighing on one's soul. It is only then, that the pain will be exorcised.