It’s time for a refresh of one of our most visited blog posts… 10 simple ways to market or advertise your dog walking or pet sitting business without the need for paid advertising. Marketing has evolved over the years, and since this post was originally written in 2018, we’re making it relevant to today’s times! Let’s get into it!
First, let’s revisit the most common objective when it comes to marketing your pet sitting or dog walking business. Many pet sitters will tell me that they have all they need from referrals and word of mouth. Well, guess what? What happens if….your biggest client moves suddenly? What if you end up moving and you don’t have a website or marketing system in place and you’re starting from scratch? What if a new pet sitting company comes into town and steals some clients? What if the word-of-mouth pool runs dry?
I’m not writing this to scare you. I’m writing this to guide you on the importance of setting up systems and strategies to protect your business’s future and growth. It’s a great thing to have your marketing efforts in many baskets so you can have all of your bases covered no matter what comes your way. If you’ve got referrals coming in, that’s amazing. Keep that up as much as you can. But, let’s also see where else you can get clients coming in.
(Because if you’re a PMU student or avid reader of our blog, you know you can set systems in place via booking software and onboarding strategies which can give you more time to acquire MORE clients than ever.)
There are some simple ways that you can expand your marketing efforts, and, I promise, they’re simpler than you’d think, especially for busy pet business owners.
I put together 10 simple things you can do today to improve your digital marketing strategy for your dog walking or pet sitting business (without the need for paid advertising):
1. Get a website for your business.
Having a website is like having a home in the digital space to welcome your clients. You can easily create (or customize with one of our website templates) or get a designer (we can help!) to create one that’s professionally designed and user-friendly for new and returning clients.
But you don’t want just ANY website. It shouldn’t JUST be pretty. It needs to be working FOR you. Your website can and should act as your:
Salesperson and customer service person
Data tracker, analyzer, and marketer
Onboarding specialist and business cheerleader
Learn more about how you can set your website up for the job in our blog post on how your website can work as your virtual assistant!
Already have a website, but not sure if you're doing it quite right?
2. Get a Facebook business page and use it strategically.
I’m sure you’ve got a business account set up on Facebook, but how are you using it? Don’t just post cute dog photos and viral videos of cats! Sure, they’re adorable, but your business page is meant for business, after all, and you should take advantage of it.
Consider the 80/20 rule. 20% of your posts can be full-on promotional. The remaining 80% should be split between a variety of types of content, like educational, listicles, entertaining, engaging, and more. If you need post ideas, check out our blog post on Instagram post ideas for your pet business.
Other basic tips:
Add your phone number and email address, which will make it easy for potential customers to reach out to you.
Set up that tiny button underneath the cover photo to present a call to action to your audience.
Make sure posts are slightly different if you’re cross-posting on both Instagram and Facebook (there is no need for hashtags on Facebook).
3. Optimize your Instagram bio + highlights.
So many pet business owners are missing out on the power of their Instagram name, username, URL, and bio!!
If you’re a local pet care company, you should be including keywords in your name, username, and bio. For example, try to include your service area and what you do in your name. Instead of Wilson Fun Care try… San Diego Fun Pet Sitters or Wilson Fun Care | Pet Sitting SD or SOMETHING that’s specific to what you do. Include keywords in your bio too, as those things are now searchable. Include your services, service area, and/or anything else that you specialize in, like small dogs, diabetic dogs, etc.
If you want more support with this, we offer Instagram Profile Optimization and social media graphic templates bundles that will immensely help you with this process! Check them out here!
4. Start a blog on your website.
Blogging is so much more than a random collection of thoughts and the latest happenings in your business.
Blogging is one of the best ways to increase your website traffic. So many pet business owners publish such general blog posts like, “Why you need to hire a professional pet sitter” or, “How to avoid accidents in the house.” But, because this content is so general, it’s very competitive and not tailored down to your potential clients. For example, someone in Chicago could read your blog post when you’re a pet sitter in Austin. That doesn’t help your business. Consider local blog posts to increase your website traffic FROM actual prospective clients in your service area. These can be posts like… ‘The Best Pet-Friendly Restaurants in Austin, Texas.’
Need some more blog post ideas to get started? I've gotchu—download the list of free blog post ideas for pet businesses!
5. Business cards are not dead!
With community marketing on the rise, business cards are not dead! Business cards are a great way to hand out your contact information and get people to remember you. You should be passing them out and sharing them at networking events, posting them in coffee shops, giving them to friends or clients as a referral system, etc. This goes for other promotional products as well, like frisbees or poo-bag holders. Just make sure that when you invest in promotional products they are things your potential customers will USE and be likely to use in front of others so as to spread the word automatically!
Pssst—check out our pet sitter business card templates that you can customize to your business!
6. Claim your online listings.
Have you claimed your Google My Business (now called Google Business Listing) and Yelp listings yet? Claiming these listings and adding relevant and updated information can 100% help with SEO! In fact, Google really values what they call ‘off-page SEO’ as a way to measure whether your business is relevant and important, even outside of your own website’s SEO settings.
This is a great way to increase traffic and business!
7. Partner with a shelter to offer new client offers for newly adopted pets.
When pets get adopted from shelters and rescues, a lot of times new pet owners are given resources on new pet ownership. Can you connect with a shelter or rescue in your community and ask to place your new client offers for newly adopted pets in their binder? This is a great way to help rescues and shelters, too!
If you’re looking to partner with other pet businesses, I’ve got a post detailing how you can approach them. You can partner with so many types of businesses in your community—from veterinarians to dog trainers, partnerships can be crucial for marketing your pet care business!
8. Figure out what’s currently working and do more of that!
Sometimes we can get stuck in the mindset that we need to be everywhere… doing all the things on ALL the platforms. But sometimes, we just need to do more of what’s already working.
So, how do you figure out what’s working?
Here are a couple of tips:
Ask your favorite clients where they found you!
Add the question ‘Where did you first hear about ‘your business name?’ on your website contact form or booking software so you can start tracking where you’re getting clients.
9. Focus on SEO!
SEO is a crucial and underestimated part of marketing. I also think it’s something that’s largely avoided because it’s presented as a foreign, complicated topic that requires significant investment of money and time. That’s simply not true. By optimizing your on-page and off-page SEO, you’ll be able to increase your website traffic and market your pet business to a larger network.
If you want to learn more about how to do this, consider our upcoming SEO course for pet businesses. There’s NOTHING else like this in the pet industry, which is why we’re tackling the topic for you. You CAN master your SEO and increase your rankings on Google. Join the waitlist for the SEO course, and we’ll send over the deets once we’re ready to launch.
In the meantime, here are some tips:
Go to your website platform’s support articles and find their SEO checklist or resources for on-page SEO. Complete those items!
Get your website listed on other websites—whether it’s business listings, business directories, guest blog post features, local business groups, or business partnership recommendation pages.
10. Bring it back to the basics…. Upgrade your brand!
Your brand doesn’t just mean your logo. It doesn’t even just mean the visual aspects of your brand. Your brand includes visual, written, and spoken elements. Your copywriting and visual elements need to evoke cohesive feelings throughout your entire presence, whether it’s online or in person.
For resources on how to do this, here are our top blog posts and services:
How to get started with pet business branding strategy (3-part series)
Service: Copywriting VIP Day (to get your website copywriting done in a day!)
Service: Branding VIP Day (to get your logo and branding done in a day!)
Master these 10 marketing tips, and you’ll be WELL on your way to business growth for your dog walking and pet sitting business.
Want to connect with other pet care providers and share marketing tips and tricks (best of all… from a place of ease and no stress)? Join our free Facebook community, Unleashed Petpreneurs! We’d love to have you!