One of the most common myths I hear when working with pet sitters is the concept that marketing your business (online or offline) is ONLY about growing a big business; nothing could be further from the truth.
As a professional pet sitter, your business website isn’t an online billboard you use to shout at the world – this is WHO I am and this is WHAT I do. That may have worked in 2006, but not today.
In the 21+ years we’ve been online, we’ve watched how the internet has evolved. Mobile technology and the freedoms that come with it have changed the way people use the internet. As such, if we want to remain competitive and stay at the top of search engine rankings, our websites and our thinking have to change and adapt.
Below is a list of the FIVE main functions of ANY professional pet sitter website. Please have a read through and let me know your thoughts.
Pet Sitter Website Function #1 – Branding & Awareness
Online marketing is a numbers game. Before people can talk about you, hire you or refer you to a fellow pet lover, they have to know you exist. They have to be aware of you in the marketplace and that is where your professional pet sitter website comes in.
With a well-designed, mobile-friendly and search engine optimized website you will increase awareness of your business online because of the additional website traffic you will garner, and you will get multiple touches on your prospects that let you reinforce your brand.
Your brand is:
- Who you are
- What you do, and
- How you do it.
Let me ask you a question: Is your current business website an accurate representation of the quality of the service that you provide?
Good, bad or indifferent – people will judge the quality of your business based on the look of your website. The internet is NOT a judgement-free zone.
Remember: First impressions matter. Your pet sitter website IS that first impression. Are you proud of yours?
Pet Sitter Website Function #2. Education
Statistically speaking, only 2-3% of people in ANY given market, are ready to buy from you right now. That means that for every 100 people who come to your website – 98 will leave without buying from you or engaging in any way. Wow, right?!
It’s not because they don’t need your service, they were on your site so it’s obvious they’re interested in the services you provide. The more likely reason somebody doesn’t buy from you is related to the “KNOW, LIKE & TRUST” factor.
We know prospects are more likely to engage and purchase from a business when they feel they:
- Know you
- Like you, and
- Trust you.
We know that prospects are more likely to engage and purchase from a business when they feel like they know you, like you and trust you.
In offline marketing we create trust by having conversations, showing our skills in person, receiving referrals from satisfied customers, etc.
In online marketing, we EARN this “knowing, liking and trusting” by creating AWESOME content that helps answer questions or solve problems your prospects may currently have. Your site might even answer questions to problems your prospects didn’t weren’t even aware of!
Once you have their problems identified, you can craft high-quality, engaging content. That content is then posted on your website blog so all the pet owners in your local area will have access to that content (and your expertise) 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.
Pet Sitter Website Function #3. Lead Generation
There should ALWAYS be at least one element on your website that generates new prospect leads for your business.
Remember, the average churn rate in the pet sitting space is 12-15% annually – clients move, pets cross over the Rainbow Bridge, etc. Lead generation is how we replace those 12-15% and more if you want to grow the business not remain at the status quo.
When we talk about lead generation online it doesn’t have to be complicated.
Here are three simple lead generation ideas you can use to get started today.
Free Stuff – People love free stuff! You could offer a New Customer Welcome Kit to all your new prospects. Include a few organic treats, a refrigerator magnet with your company name, a few business cards, a local resource list, etc. Put all of that in a nice basket with some tissue paper. It makes a nice-looking gift you can put together with stuff for just a few bucks each. (the .99 cent store is your friend here)
Creating Value – People search online for 2 main reasons:
1. To be entertained
2. To solve a problem
You can add value to your prospects’ lives with either of these, but viral videos are like catching lightning in a bottle. My suggestion is to create value for your market by answering questions your “Perfect Customer” would have. For example: If I was sitter who focused on cats only, I could put together a Resource List for Cat Lovers. Consider something like, ”The Cat Lovers Guide to Austin, TX” and in that document – categorize and list all the things a cat lover would be interested in. That has HUGE value for a newcomer to your area.
Service Discounts – I know discounting has a bad reputation, but there is a time and place for it if it’s done right. Think about it like this: The goal with a discounted service is to give price-conscious shoppers an opportunity to try your service at a discounted rate. GROUPON has made an entire business model out of this.
Here are a few rules to follow when offering discounts:
- Discounts are ONLY for new clients OR new services (don’t discount clients you already have)
- Always have a follow-up plan for after the service is complete
- An alternative to discounting is to add services at no cost. I prefer to do this because it minimizes pricing confusion down the road because the price stays the same – you just add new cool stuff for new clients. This is called “stacking” where you stack ONE awesome idea on top of another to create an irresistible offer.
Pet Sitter Website Function #4. Sales
I know we all love what we do for a living and we have the best furry, fuzzy, feathery and scaley clients around, BUT, at the end of the day, our businesses are the vehicles that allow us to live our lives.
Mortgage payments, rent, car payments, insurance, food… these all require cash. A part of our website needs to help make sales and accept payments online.
Yes, there are additional fees for the ability to process payments online, but in today’s day and age – it really boils down to being a convenience for your clients. I realize some folks still prefer to pay with checks – just make sure you aren’t making that assumption only to save a couple of bucks. If you don’t already accept credit cards – send an email to your current clients and see if they’d like that function. You may be surprised.
And last, but definitely not least …
Pet Sitter Website Function #5. Learning from your Market
Your clients will lie to you. They don’t do it on purpose and usually don’t even know they’re doing it, but if you ask questions – you will usually only get half-truths.
They’re not purposefully trying to deceive you. In most cases, they really like you, they just don’t want to disappoint you.
From a personal standpoint – that’s nice. People don’t want to hurt your feelings – that’s cool. But from a business perspective – those same people who don’t want to hurt your feelings are ABSOLUTELY hurting your business! Why? Because they are telling you half-truths. These half-truths then find their way into your marketing decisions and you end up wondering why your marketing isn’t getting any better or producing better results.
That’s not good. A better solution is to integrate Google Analytics or another tracking program to track hard data for you. Not what people think you want to hear, but what people are ACTUALLY doing.
Professional marketing isn’t about performing a bunch of unrelated tasks hoping to see what works and what doesn’t. That method of marketing is called “Spray and Pray” marketing. If you’ve ever tried to send out a last-minute email blast to fill some holes in your schedule – you know it doesn’t work.
If you want your marketing to get better, you HAVE to track what is happening with hard data and then use that data to modify your campaigns
It is through this tracking that we learn:
- What people like
- What they don’t, and
- What they’re willing to engage with.
- Branding & Awareness
- Lead Generation
- Learning from your market
- Is your website an ACCURATE representation of the quality work you provide?
- Do you have any educational elements on your website to attract new users?
- How many new leads per month is your website creating?
- Do you accept credit card payments online? (To make a sale online we have to be able to process online)
- When was the last time you edited a marketing campaign? Were your results better or worse?
Let me give you an example: In any design project – there is a time when we turn over our initial design to the client for feedback. In most cases I know people will be “soft” or “indirect” with their feedback if they think it’s going to hurt our feelings. So, when I deliver BETA tests – I have an entire “script” I walk through about how design is subjective and you aren’t going to hurt our feelings because we want the end user to LOVE their website. If they are worried about hurting our feelings – then they aren’t going to give us their honest feedback and their website will end up being a “watered-down” version of what the site could have been.
So there you have the 5 Functions of a Professional Pet Sitter Website
Now it’s your turn.
Go to your business website and see how you rate in each of those 5 categories.
Let me know your thoughts – I’d love to hear from you.
If your website doesn’t have all of the elements, I’ve mentioned, all is not lost. We work with professional pet sitters and we understand who their clients are and what the pet sitter needs to do to grow his or her business. We can help.
1 – Rover.com market claims: https://www.rover.com/joining-forces/
2 – Advanced Web Ranking – Google Organic CTR History – June 2019, USA