25 Low-Cost Marketing Ideas for Pet Sitters
Whether you’ve just started your pet-sitting business or have been in the pet-sitting industry for years, advertising your pet-sitting services is likely a top priority. And, if you are like most pet sitters, promoting your services without breaking the bank is also a top concern.
According to the responses to PSI’s 2011 State of the Industry Survey, most professional pet sitters are taking advantage of the easiest, free form of advertising: Word-of-mouth! In fact, 93.4% of the pet sitters responding indicated they rely on word-of-mouth advertising. Other popular forms of conventional advertising included:
- Business cards 86.1%
- Brochures 36.5%
- Car signs 36.4%
- Fliers/posters 33.8%
- Local events 25.9%
PSI’s latest survey on social media also found that more than half of professional pet sitters are also using at least one social media platform to promote their pet-sitting services—another great free option!
If you are looking for low-cost and free ways to promote your new pet-sitting business—or if you’ve been in business for years but are looking for new ways to promote your services on a shoestring budget—check out these ideas.
PSI suggests these ten free or low-cost ways to promote your pet-sitting business:
1. Take advantage of (free) local media attention! Send press releases to your local media announcing new employees, new services offered and significant business anniversary dates. Also send seasonal press releases (winterweather tips for pets, for example) or releases announcing special events (Professional Pet Sitters Week™, etc.). PSI members, don’t forget to access the free pet-sitter press release templates in the Members’ area of petsit.com and check out these tips on how to get your pet-sitting business featured in your local news.
2. Post your business card on hospital bulletin boards. Chances are convalescing patients are unable to walk their dog or clean the litter box. Your services would be greatly appreciated by someone looking for help.
3. Get social! Set up a free Facebook business page or Twitter account for your pet-sitting business. Not sure where to start? PSI’s latest social media survey found that the majority of pet sitters choose to promote their services on Facebook. Check out these previous posts to see how other professional pet sitters are using social media and to find some helpful tips on what to post on your Facebook page—and advice for social media etiquette.
4. Always give out business cards to those you do business with. This includes the hair dresser, dry cleaner and bank. Also, when eating out locally, make sure you leave a business card with your tip. (Remember the tip! If you are not tipping your server, you probably shouldn’t leave a business card!)
5. You must give to receive. Consider making a donation (certificate for free pet-sitting services) to a local charity auction. It’s a great way to help out a local organization, garner free advertising for your business and spread the word about your services to a new client base.
6. Don’t leave home without them—your business cards, that is. Whether you are at a dog park, networking event, grocery store or simply strolling down the street with Rover, keep your business cards handy. Pets are great icebreakers and wonderful sources of conversation. And it may lead to future business!
7. Be on the lookout for signs of a pet-owning household. As you are walking clients’ dogs or even in your own neighborhood, be looking for signs of a pet-owning household—outdoor dog runs, fencing, etc. Leave door hangers at homes that have invisible fence flags and signs. Be sure to inquire about any local ordinances. For example, in some areas putting fliers, signs, etc. on mailboxes is not permitted.
8. Get the most bang for your business-card buck. Be sure to make use of the back of your business card. Include a client testimonial, territory served, number of pet sits completed or your business slogan. You may also consider using the backside of the card for a coupon ($5 off your first visit, etc.). If your company is on Facebook or Twitter, be sure to include that information as well. Also be sure that your contact information is included and easy-to-read.
9. Go where the food is! Don’t forget about your local feed store or retail pet food outlet. People who have pets always buy pet food and pet supplies. Check with the owner to see if you can leave your brochures on the counter or post fliers on a bulletin board inside the store.
10. Don’t forget your online listings! Make sure your pet-sitting business is listed on PSI’s Pet Sitter Locator (PSI members, use these instructions to view your Locator information and make sure your listing is up-to-date), as well as local online directories like Google Places and Bing Local. If you are searching for other online pet-sitter directories to include your listing, be sure to read this post on what you need to know about online pet-sitter directories.
More Low-Cost Marketing Ideas from Fellow Pet Sitters:
PSI also recently posted this question about low-costing marketing ideas on the PSI Facebook page:
“Pet sitters, we're wrapping up a blog post for next week on the best low-cost marketing ideas. Do you have a great low-cost marketing idea that has helped your business?”
Here are some of the tips from fellow professional pet sitters on Facebook:
- Janet H.: Placing flyers at local feed stores with phone number tabs to tear off have worked great for me.
- Dani V.: I've had some luck with CraigsList, and best of all it's free! You have to be a little careful with it, but just like us upstanding sitters advertise there, upstanding clients shop there as well!
- Allison B.: I'm with Dani- I've had huge success with Craigslist and gained many loyal, repeat, good clients. Google AdWords is another—You can set your monthly spending budget and your ad stops running after that. My business (which is still fairly new) more than doubled once I got on Google Adwords. I also have a sign on my car, but that hasn't brought me much business.
- Christina W.: Local B2B weekly meetings. Many are free or very low cost. I've even had the opportunity to be the guest presenter a few times to explain more about my pet sitting business. The County Chamber networking meetings allow for two free meetings before joining. These groups have helped me grow my referrals and meet other businesses in the area.
- Melissa F.: I have my website through Vistaprint w/added Google search. Very affordable and most of my calls are a result of online searches.
- Amy S.: I mail flyers to people/addresses listed in the local paper as buying new homes. I tailor it to the specific zip codes I cover. You can also target homes of a particular price. It only costs your time and the stamp to get your flyer inside the home. It's been successful.
- Kathy T.: Working with our local animal shelter by placing flyers in their welcome packets on new pet adoptions.
- Lindsay C.: Having a Facebook page for my biz and also signage on my car.
- Rhoda M.: Car emblem and leave business cards with my dentists, veterinarian, etc. All of my customers have come from word of mouth.
- Mary N: I have an online presence, use word of mouth and Craigslist ads.
- Paul T.: Talking to the local vets and putting up fliers have helped me gain many new clients . I also follow up around Christmas with a thank you card and chocolate.
- Bev A.: Donate small but new items for charity fundraising. Your business gets acknowledged and locals appreciate your efforts.
- Virginia W.: I have found that just updating cute photos of clients on Facebook is the best "word of mouth". Clients re-post and friends of friends comment. I did ads on Facebook in the past and it brought in a lot of new "likes" but just keeping active posts brings in just as many!
- Cynthia J.: Honestly, it's me! I talk up pet sitting everywhere to everyone. Pets are a common thread that connects us as people. Everyone likes to talk about their pets. I engage conversation and inevitably I work in the fact that I'm a professional pet sitter. It's not the "in your face approach" but rather assertive without being aggressive. I'm an outgoing person--never met a stranger--so that helps.
- Vanessa S. Pens—they are inexpensive and you can leave them everywhere - your table when you leave a restaurant, vets offices, post offices, your gym, any place where people sign in. Folks often walk off with them so the business owners are usually happy to have them. This way they don't have to provide their own pens. You'll be amazed at where the pens show up once they start a journey!
Let us know which free or low-cost marketing ideas have worked for you!
Have you tried any of the ideas shared in this post? Did they work (or not work) for your pet-sitting business? Or, do you have other marketing tips that have been successful for your pet-sitting business?
Share your experiences, suggestions and comments below.
If you are considering pet sitting—or maybe you are already a pet sitter but not a member of Pet Sitters International—download the free PSI Information Pack to learn how PSI can help take your pet-sitting business to the next level.