How to market your independent pet store during the Christmas season– Article by XOXX and Pooch & Mutt owner, Guy Blaskey, published in the trade magazine PPM (Pet Product Marketing).
Make this Christmas a Cracker
Christmas is fast approaching. There are the obvious ways for retailers to benefits from the Christmas buzz, like selling the special edition foods, treats and toys, but there is also a lot more that you can do at this time of year to promote your store, build sales now and build a customer base for the next year.
Christmas parties. Everyone has Christmas parties to go to with work, friends or family and most of these occasions are ones that you can’t take your pet to. People like to get their pets involved at Christmas time, so why not host a pet Christmas party either in your store or a local hall. This is not really an opportunity to sell, it is an opportunity to promote your store by getting the local pet owning community together, with your store at the centre of it. This will be a great opportunity for you to catch up with your customers and to meet new ones.
You would probably be able to get some PR out of it too, if you invite your local newspaper or radio station along.
Window displays. This is the most obvious thing. All year round you should have a window display that entices people into your store, but at Christmas time you can really have fun with it. Your window display shouldn’t just be about promoting the winter products that you have on offer. It should be about having fun. When you set up your window your objective should be to get people walking past to stop in their tracks, maybe laugh and even take a photo, not just to say “Oh. They have X product in that shop”.
You can get extremely creative with your window displays, and it doesn’t have to cost a fortune. I walked past an Oasis clothing store recently. To promote their new knitwear range that had someone knitting in the window. It certainly stood out.
Fancy dress. A lot of people like to dress their pets up on Christmas day or when they are hosting Christmas parties… and getting pets to keep the cracker crowns on is very difficult – I’ve tried! So make sure that you have some fancy dress options in store.
When you sell the outfits tell your customer that you want the to bring in a photo of their dog wearing the costume (and tell them to add them to the photo gallery on facebook.com/poochandmutt !). Then put up the photos in your shop. People love to feel part of something, and if a photo of their dog is up in your store they will definitely come back. You could even turn this into a competition with a prize for the best photo.
You could send these photos to the local press too. The press love a great photo of a cute pet in fancy dress.
Winter walkies. Throughout the winter, as it gets dark earlier, some people get a bit scared walking their dogs in the dark. Why not organise a regular night time walk, where people can meet at your shop and walk their dogs in the safety of a group. You could go high tech and organise this using your website or facebook group or go low tech and just put a poster up telling people what time to meet and where.
Alternatively you could just organise one big walk on boxing day. Everyone eats too much on Christmas day and spends too much time inside. Boxing day is a great day to go for a long walk with your dog and burn off some of the previous day’s calories. Make a group walk a bit of an event and it could become a regular thing for years to come.
Cold weather collections. All the big pet food companies have different Christmas treats and promotions and there and hundreds of different toys available for pets for Christmas, but don’t forget about all the other products that are particularly relevant at this time of year. This includes products like our own Mobile Bones (which helps dogs whose joints get stiffer in the cold), coats, rugs and fleeces to keep pets warm, reflective leads and collars for walking in the dark and even sweaters, gloves or hats with dog designs to keep dog owners warm.
You could create a cold-weather display in your store which shows all the cold weather collection together.
Pet grotto. Santa’s grottos are hugely popular for people to take their children to at Christmas. With many people now referring to their pets as “fur babies” it could be time to start the pet grotto.
People could pay a small amount for a photo of their “fur baby” with Santa and get a lucky dip of treats. With a bit of promotion this will definitely drive a lot of people to your store, could promote some press interest and will definitely get people talking.
Have a great Christmas and New Year!