This article by Guy Blaskey was originally published under the title “Positivity in the Pet Trade” in Pet Business World News in August 2014.
There seems to be a movement going on in the world, powered by the internet, to basically be a little bit more positive. I don’t know if this movement has come about as a reaction to the economic crisis or not… personally I don’t think it has, even though a lot of people involved in it do. I think that there have always been good, positive people in the world, and now via blogs, podcasts, instagram etc they are free to express their basic ‘goodness’.
In pre-internet days all the news sources were mainstream news sources, whose job seems to be to convey bad news – war, death, politics etc. Mass messages of ‘goodness’ or ‘morality’ were the reserves of religion… a subject that I will not look to cover in this article, except to say that I think it’s wonderful that we live in a time where people can spread positive messages without having to link them to a pre-existing concept.
By positivity I am not referring to people simply being anti-mainstream, like Russell Brand, I am referring to actual positivity. Popular examples of this include Rich Roll’s #RRP Podcast, Alain de Botton’s The Philosopher’s Mail, Amanda de Cadanet’s The Conversation and countless instagram, twitter and facebook accounts spreading positive messages. A girl I went to university with started doing this on facebook and now has a publishing deal for her book “May the thoughts be with you; Ideas and wisdom to inspire your day”.
What I would like to do is bring a bit of this positivity to the pet trade, where I hear a lot of negativity – ‘The death of the high street’ has been written about far more than the success of independent stores. I know that the traditional, old-fashioned pet store is in decline, but frankly speaking it is an out-dated business model. What I see is a huge rise in high-quality, independent stores that offering great services (like grooming) and great products (like Pooch & Mutt’s!). The owners and managers of these stores are positive people, helping animals lead happy, healthy lives. They have spent time getting their offer right for today’s market conditions and work on what they can do to make their stores great, instead of complaining about what ‘the government has done to destroy the highstreet’. We need to champion these people more.
There is a lot of talk about “the cr#p that goes into pet food”, but seemingly less about the growth of good, premium, healthy pet food, such as Pooch & Mutt’s new food range. There are many, many different arguments about what makes a good pet food, and which company’s is better for whatever reason. The main thing is that pets are getting a higher standard of food now, making them happier and healthier. That is worth focussing on. Pooch & Mutt’s products are all created to help with specific problems. This could lead to us negatively focussing on these problems… instead we try to focus positively on the solutions; We even try to make the names of our products positive. Instead of an ‘anti-plaque’ food we have a ‘fresh breath’ food. Instead of an ‘arthritis’ food we have ‘Move Easy.
My challenge for shops and manufacturers this month is to try and sell products and services positively, by their own benefits instead of by the shortcomings of whatever their competition is. This is harder to do than you may think… but positivity leads to happy customers, happy customers become loyal customers and loyal customers are what build a business.