Giving pets amazing lives | Skillshare Projects

Faye Whyte

Because our pets deserve amazing lives!



Giving pets amazing lives

Business description:

We are a pet hospital stepping beyond the cliche of 'full-service comprehensive and compassionate care'. We want your pets to have amazing lives. This means not only excellent health care but also enriched, interactive social lives and compassionate end-of-life options. We want to develop relationships with our clients and provide beyond-the-call customer service.

What is marketing for?

To spread the word about our awesome team and our mission to those who are interesting in learning about pet health care.

What are we allowed to touch?

I'm the owner -- anything that I can afford to bootstrap. No debt.

What can we measure?

In the clinic; new clients, client retention, income. On social media, insights provided by the different platforms.

What can we change?

Anything except location.

What should we promise?

To my people that I will do everything in my power to continue to grow as a person, a leader and a professional and that I will continue to give them the best tools and training available to do their jobs well.

To my clients that I will strive to provide a facility and team that will minimize patient and owner stress and that I will teach them how to give their pets amazing lives.

What is the hard part?

Reaching the clients who are looking for our kind of expanded lifestyle support for their pets and changing the perception of the value of pets for those who are nearby but not interested yet.

Make trends or follow them?

Following two trends -- pets coming into our families and a focus on preventive health care.

Where is the risk?

To me -- time, energy and effort spent may not be worth it.

To my customer -- the emotional risk that the value of the pet's improved quality of life isn't worth the effort they put in.

Who is in charge?

Me. The buck stops here.

What is the money for?

Teaching our clients about amazing pet care, reaching clients who are interested in amazing pet care, training my staff to provide amazing pet care.

What is the most important way to spend my time?

Researching and producing content that teaches about amazing pet care.

Old School vs. Modern Brands.

Old School:

1. Captain Crunch cereal - shelf space at kids' eye level, cartoon characters and bright colours; advertising the cartoon characters during Saturday morning cartoons; I remember it as a fond childhood memory, and I remember that the cereal 'burned' the roof of my mouth.

2. Coca Cola - shelf space was huge signs on vending machines; I recall the advertising that included Santa; the "Its' the real thing" song brings back fond memories.

3. Encyclopedia Britannica - distribution was door-to-door, advertising strategy was to appeal to the 'highbrow' in everyone -- if you had a set of those books that was recent, you were smart -- I remember how much space they took up on the bookshelf.

New School

1. Crocs - bright colours, centralized display rack; I heard about them by word-of-mouth, no ads memorable; noting memorable about the brand.

2. Starbucks - distribution by standalone store and product placement in 'high end' and unusual places (bookstores); I was introduced by my sister, who lived in Oregon in 2000 and took me when I visited; feeling about the brand is friendly staff.

3. Maxsold -- strictly online, no shelf space; I heard of them through the website of a local estate agency when I was looking at real estate; I remember them as having the occasional good deal on estate items.

Finding the action theory:

1. Crocs - if you haven't bought yet, you are missing out on something that is highly visible; in people who are loyal, you've spend your money wisely on a unique product; they change their customers by letting you be part of the 'smart shoe' crowd; people find out about them by their unique appearance and colours.

2. Starbucks -- if you haven't bought yet, you are missing out on quality and 'the club'; if you are loyal, they remember your birthday and give you a gift; they change their customers by making you part of the 'coffee culture' crowd; people find out about them because they are ubiquitous.

3. Maxsold - if you haven't bought yet, you might be missing out on a good deal; if you are loyal you know you'll find something for much less than it's value; they change their customers by making estate sales less 'personal', depersonalizes the face that you are looking through someone's home and life; people find out about them by referral links from friends, or by searching for auction sales online.

P word exercises:

Huge lightbulb moment:

Positioning was the hardest p-word for me, because I always thought I was trying to reach ALL pet owners. However, there are a significant percentage of pet owners who have no interest in my services or advice. Pet health does not matter to them. So, by trying to reach them I'm banging my head against a brick wall. The thoughts on this word finally drove that home to me, and it was a huge weight off my shoulders. It also allowed me to proceed with the other parts of the exercise without worrying about those who will never see the value in what I do. Simple, but so profound for me.

I tried to look at positioning as a P-word I should work on, but frankly, it's hard to reach my market with that kind of approach. Studies show that location and personal referral are the two drivers of new clients to my business. Changing location is not an option at this time. I've got to do something that gets my clients to tell stories.

So instead of trying use positioning (although I did the XY exercise for myself and my 4 closest competitors and it was really hard) I'll let some other 'P's tell our stories.

Promotion --

This is something that I can really get my teeth into. By looking at the example of Tom's Shoes and Warby/Parker eyewear, we can really differentiate ourselves with our target audience and bond them to the practice.

Still in an early stage, but the idea is "when you bring your pet for vaccines or his annual visit, you're also vaccinating a dog against rabies and helping to prevent 55,000 deaths a year" -- this is a bit clunky and too brash for the message I want to send, but it's the core. By visiting us for regular pet health care, our clients are helping to solve rabies around the world (we can donate to an international rabies effort). We would donate an amount to vaccinate a dog against rabies for each pet that comes in for regular health care.

Over time, we can expand this -- for every bag of food purchased, part of the proceeds will go toward food for the local humane society, flea product purchase helps to treat a homeless pet for fleas, etc.

The idea is to promote and reward our clients for regular health care, which is what has been declining over the past 7-10 years.

Permission -- 

We already have a database of our clients, and permission to contact them for their pets' needs. We need to expand the information we offer and the permission we ask for, to add more education, etc.

Persistence -- 

I've started a blog, with the aim of covering topics a month at a time, posting 5 days a week. Over time, I will fold this into our web site, making this a great, reliable resource for information.

We are on Facebook, Twitter and Pinterest -- different members of my team have taken responsibility for each of these platforms, and we are working out the kinks. 

People like us -- 

This was one that really excites me.

People like us want to have awesome relationships with our pets, we want our pets to have amazing lives, and we want to help the world be a better place to live.

By focusing this, I feel so much relief and excitement. I don't have to try and reach out to people who don't ascribe to this philosophy and that aha moment is worth so much to me!

Using the Emotion Words

I had an angry client this week. In the past, I'd try to reason with her and help her realize that my position is correct. I would pick up the phone, already a bit defensive, and end up with a request to send the file to a competitor.

But, I saw Seth's emotion video on 'Customer Service', and I finally get that this woman is overwhelmed by emotion at an illness in her pet and logic isn't going to help. Not at all.

I followed his mantra -- I'm not going to argue with your perception, I'm glad you called and gave me the chance to continue to serve you. And I refunded some money (a credit on account for further services).

My next conversation with her was 180 degrees from the angry one, and I'm actually amazed at the response. She has already been in for further work-up and has used the credit and then some. Most importantly, she has trusted me to continue to care for her pet.


If all I every got from this class was the skill to deal with that single interaction, and the tools to deal with them in the future, it's worth 100X the price.


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