10 Signs You’re Not Marketing Your Dog Training Business Wisely

10 Signs You’re Not Marketing Your Dog Training Business Wisely

marketing your dog training business wisely is key for longterm success

Mistakes You’re Making When Marketing Your Dog Training Business

1. You Pay for Yelp Ads

I’m pretty sure that every business owner in North America has received calls from Yelp to advertise. At first, its seems like a great option because potential customers often check Yelp reviews before calling you. For dog trainers, however, you’re better off spending your marketing budget on Google rather than Yelp.

From my experience, people visiting Yelp already have a trainer in mind and are looking at their reviews for confirmation. On Yelp, your ads may cost more and may not be as targeted as they could be on Google Adwords. Additionally, as Google has introduced their own review systems, Yelp has seen a decline in search rankings within Google.

Yelp is not to be neglected, however. Ensuring you have consistent, positive reviews will encourage potential customers who are doing their research to decide on your business to satisfy their needs. Always remind current and past clients to leave their reviews there or on your Google business page.

Recommended Reading: Why You Should Do Some Market Research Before Starting Your Dog Training Business

2. You Have a Website, But Don’t Know How It Performs in Google

This is common among dog trainers. We all know a website is important, but many don’t quite realize why they’re important. Your website isn’t just a place for potential customers to learn about you before hiring you. Your website is critical to your business’s success. A dog trainer’s website should have a professional feel and should work to get you new clients by getting indexed by Google, showing potential clients your expertise, demonstrating to clients how you can help them in their situation, and making it easy to reach out to you.

If your website is not connected to Google Analytics, you’re missing out on a lot of intelligence about how people navigate to and through your website. If you think you’re all set because you have a website, you’re missing the point of having one in the first place.

An established website should provide you with a wealth of information about your potential clients and is critical to long-term, consistent success as a dog trainer. Your website is one of the best ways prospective clients can find out about you.

3. You’re Considering Paying for Facebook Ads

There’s a right way and a wrong way to advertise on Facebook. If you’re looking to build awareness of your brand or an upcoming event, Facebook is a great way to promote those. However, if you’re trying to fill up a group class by the end of the month, you’re better off advertising on Google which is where people intend to make purchasing decisions.

4. You’re Hoping that Business Cards at a Local Shop Will Generate Interest

If you leave anything at a store in hopes to generate interest in your services, think about what the customer might be interested in reading about. Based on the visitor’s reason for visiting the store and the services you offer, make a flyer, brochure, or hand out that mixes the two together.

Let’s use a pet store for an example. Customers visiting the pet store are most likely there to purchase dog food or dog toys. In this instance, I’d recommend a handout on dog nutrition, best toys to keep dogs busy, or even the benefits of food puzzle toys for dogs. With a catchy title and engaging images, your handout will attract readers. The information you share will demonstrate your knowledge and you’ll have provided value to the reader. The goal is that the reader will think of you the next time they have a training related question. A simple business card just doesn’t cut it anymore.

5. Avoiding Google Adwords Because You’re Scared to Spend Too Much Money

importance of getting indexed by google for your dog training businessDon’t get me wrong, that is a legitimate concern. Google Adwords can easily take your money and run with it, but being scared of Adwords is not a good excuse. Many successful dog trainers, if not most, use Google Adwords to consistently fill their classes and schedule with new clients. Learning how to target audiences strategically can save you money and bring you new clients on a regular basis. It is definitely worth the time investment to learn how to use Google Adwords if you want to have a successful dog training business.

6. Your Website Doesn’t Have a Purpose or Goal

You know your website is where potential customers go to learn about you. However, have you thought about:

  • Is your website easy to navigate?
  • Can visitors easily contact you from every page?
  • Does your website load quickly on all devices?
  • Does your site acknowledge your visitor’s concerns, situation, or objections?

If you’ve forgotten to ask these questions, your website isn’t doing as well as it could be.

7. You’re Forgetting About Your Current or Past Customers

Current or past customers are your greatest resources. It is easier to market to current or past customers than finding new customers. If you don’t have an option for recurring services for your clients, you’re missing out on a huge opportunity and you’re leaving your clients hanging without continued support. Chances are you have several customers who would love an opportunity to continue working with you if you gave them the option.

Ideally, you’ll want to start an email newsletter to keep customers engaged and share new services. Additionally, you want to be top of their mind when their friends mention dog behavior struggles, right?

8. You’re Advertising, Not Marketing

Raise your hand if you like ads online, on TV, or on the radio.

Don’t interrupt people’s lives with pushy advertising. Enough said.

(Check out this eBook on Facebook Marketing Strategies to get the most out of that platform.)

9. You’re Not Demonstrating Your Expertise

A key component to marketing your dog training business is demonstrating your ability to satisfy customers. Testimonials and case studies with images and videos can be impactful. Watching a video testimonial can help someone who’s on the fence about calling you make the decision to reach out.

You can spend a great deal in marketing, but testimonials and case studies can truly seal the deal and help you get new clients. Detailed and structured case studies can be distributed along with other marketing materials to local veterinarians to demonstrate your professionalism and expertise.

10. You Don’t Realize Why People Hire Dog Trainers

What truly drives people to contact a dog trainer? Their dog’s behavior? Nope.

People reach out to dog trainers because their quality of life is suffering. They don’t want to give up on their dog, but they also know they don’t want to continue living the way they are now. Your messaging should address how you’re planning on relieving them of stress, anxiety, and improving their quality of life. It isn’t enough to spout out a message about positive dog training, you must make them confident in your ability to improve their current situation.

Digital Marketing Solutions for Dog Trainers

Digital marketing isn’t a gimmick. I work with professional and amateur dog trainers to bring their businesses up to speed with the goal of generating consistent income. As a dog trainer myself, I’ve experienced the ups and downs of seasonal clientele. I’ve learned digital marketing solutions the hard way and now I’m helping other dog trainers grow their businesses, too.

Let’s see how we can grow your dog training business to the next level. Whether you’re going from part-time to full-time or simply want to get new clients more consistently each month, you can benefit from a course I’m working on.

Check out the courses I’m producing to help dog trainers start and grow their businesses. 

5 Must Have WordPress Plugins for Dog Trainers Websites

5 Must Have WordPress Plugins for Dog Trainers Websites

Wordpress plugins for dog trainers websites

You’ve got your WordPress website set up and now you want to add some bells and whistles. Here are the 5 Must Have plugins to get you – and keep you – up and running.

Useful WordPress Plugins for Dog Trainers Websites

Security

You many not think your little local dog training website could be a victim of hacking and viruses, but think again. Hacking and viruses can take many forms and can effect your Google rankings. Google can blacklist your site for security reasons, or a virus can redirect all your links to spam topics and degrade your page rank. Yikes!

iThemes Security is a free plugin with some really nice security features that’s easy to use. Just head on over to the Dashboard and let iThemes Security guide you through all the settings. Fix High Priority settings first, then move down to Medium and Low.

There are a number of Brute Force Attack security items that are really helpful. A Brute Force Attack is a computer attempting to log into the Admin area of your website in order to take it over. First, you can set the plugin to lockout anyone after 3 login attempts. Note that if you do this you may lock yourself out, so be sure to keep your login information up to date.

You can also hide the login page (wp-login.php, wp-admin, admin, and login) altogether, making it harder to find by automated attacks and making it easier for users unfamiliar with the WordPress platform to remember. Try /abracadabra or /click-and-treat to personalize the url you go to to login.

Although iThemes Security is very user friendly, you can get some support on the official WordPress Plugin forum.

Search Engine Optimization – SEO

Setting up your website correctly and using your target keywords in the content is the only way to get on the first page of Google search results. The old days of listing a ton of Metatag keywords are over. Content is king and Google is very good at determining what is useful.

Yoast SEO is a hardcore helper in helping you get higher search rankings. Take the Introductory Tour after installing the plugin to get an idea of your options. You can automatically change blog titles, enter Webmaster Tools verification codes, and create XML maps to enter into Google Webmaster Tools so your website is indexed correctly.

On each page or post you can enter Focus Keywords in an analysis window and the plugin will determine your keyword density for that page. You can change page titles and enter Meta descriptions for specific SEO purposes right on each post. If you’re sharing blog posts, you can dictate how they appear on individual social media platforms by clicking on the Social tab. If you want a specific photo, description, or title to appear on Facebook posts versus Twitter posts, you can do that!

Although Yoast SEO is very user friendly, you can get some support on the official WordPress Plugin forum.

“What Did I Just Do?”

One of the problems dog trainers have with maintaining their own websites is having the time. During slow periods you can get a lot done, but it may be two or three months before you get back to it again.

When you have the time you may spend a few hours trying to tweak something specific. You’ve posted in a support forum, done a search on Google and found a bit of code. You follow the instructions and “Oh my gosh! It works! Hurray!” A few months later when you want to change something else you have no idea what you changed, where you found whatever you changed, or even how to undo it to make your new idea work. What do you do?

Keep program and change notes in the WP Admin Microblog. The Microblog is a backend blog that is hidden from visitors to your website. It works just like a mini-blog with post titles and the ability to attach media files and search previous entries. You can use it to paste little bits of code you get from support sources, then enter a description of what it does, hit “save” and you have a record in case you need to undo something later. Do you need a place to put design ideas or links to things you find on other sites that you like? Just create a blog post with the link and you can refer back to it when you get more time.

Although the WP Admin Microblog is very user friendly, you can get some support on the official WordPress Plugin forum.

Mobile Versions

One of the biggest changes to Google search result rankings is the penalty for not having a Mobile friendly version of your website. You must have a mobile version. Period.

While some Templates are responsive, the design may not be exactly as you would like. A smaller version of your main website is groovy, but what if you could really tweak it so Mobile users can find what they need more quickly?

Enter the WPtouch Mobile Plugin. You change the title, set a Mobile specific landing page, tweak menu items, show comments in popup bubbles, and add sharing links for your pages and posts.

Although the WPtouch Mobile Plugin is very user friendly, you can get some support on the official WordPress Plugin forum.

Widgets for Newsletters

Allowing visitors to sign up for your newsletter with no fuss or time requirement is a great way to target new clients. Most newsletter services have plugins to help you out. Each plugin has a shortcode for putting a sign up field on a page or post, as well as a widget to go in a sidebar or on the front page.

MailChimp for WP allows you to link to a specific mailing list so you can capture visitor emails separately from your existing list.  As an example, if you want to do a discount for signing up for your newsletter you’ll know who gets the discount and who doesn’t. Support is available on the official WordPress Plugin forum.

Constant Contact for WP allows you to link to a specific mailing list, operate registration for an event, track Analytics, and design your own form. Support is available on the official WordPress Plugin forum.

Related Article: Our Favorite WordPress Themes for Dog Trainers

Did we miss one of your favorite plugins? Leave us a note in the comments below!

5 Great WordPress Themes for Dog Trainers Websites

5 Great WordPress Themes for Dog Trainers Websites

Wordpress Themes for Dog Trainers Websites

You’ve realized your website needs an upgrade and have decided to use WordPress to build it. One of the cool things about WordPress is you get to start with a template. Templates are basically a design framework that allow you to plug your own photos and text into and you end up with a snazzy site. Some templates come with plugins built in and some templates integrate with plugins better than others. Before purchasing a template, make sure it’s going to integrate with what you want to do.

We’ve put together the best options for paid and free templates. Why pay for a template? The paid options below come with technical support. If you’re new to WordPress and aren’t quite sure you can get started alone, paid options with support are a nice medium between full DIY and paying someone to build a site for you.

 

Our Favorite WordPress Themes for Dog Trainers

Organized Themes – Paid

Forward Theme by Organized Themes

Image via Organized Themes

Organized Themes has a full range of templates available for your site. While some of them are designs for restaurants or stores with huge photos to showcase products, templates designed for non-profits are awesome, especially if you are a non-profit. Rescue organizations and humane societies can use the “Donate Now” button on the front page for fundraising efforts. If you’re not a non-profit, use the large action button for “Register today!”
All Non-Profit Themes, but we specifically like the Forward theme.

Support is delivered by a growing Knowledge Base and Support Forums. All questions in the forums are answered by the developer himself. Since he doesn’t have a full support team, customer support does have specific hours: Monday to Friday, 8:30 am to 5 pm, Central Standard Time GMT -5.

Pricing for these templates are based on either a single theme or period of access to all themes. A single theme with lifetime support and no monthly fee is $59.  If you want to try out a bunch of themes before you settle on one, choose the 6 month membership for $89. This gives you access to all the templates as well as support for 6 months. If you don’t need support after the 6 months is up no further payment is needed.

Elegant Themes – Paid

Trim Theme by Elegant Themes

Image via Elegant Themes

Elegant Themes has 87 templates, which can make decisions difficult! Since Google now drops your search placement if your website is not Mobile friendly, stick to browsing the Responsive templates. We like the clean look of the Trim template. Remember, if the template has huge photos you will need to fill those spaces with your own graphics. For many of trainers that could be a problem.

Support is delivered by Documentation, step by step guide for template installation, and Support Forums. All questions in the forums are answered by Elegant technical support.

Pricing is an annual membership fee that gives you access to all 87 templates. The best option is $69 for a year. Once you’re all set up you can cancel your subscription and keep your final website for life.

Customizr – Free or Paid

Customizr Theme

Image via WordPress

If you’re ready to go full DIY, you can download the free version of Cuztomizr, or get the Pro version, which includes access to Premium Support.

Customizr lives up to its name. It’s fully customizable with the Live Preview option, so you see your changes “live,” but unpublished. Checkboxes toggle front page items on and off, the color picker means you get to choose the exact color you want, and you get to use your own logo. This template supports most plugins and is fully responsive for mobile users.

Free Support is available through the official WordPress Customizer forum. Questions will be answered by either SuperUsers or the developer, but Super Users are more common. Start with the Documentation, some of your questions may be answered there.  Paid Support is available from the developer though a Support Forum using an activation key. Questions are answered by “WordPress Experts,” which means carefully chosen Super Users and not necessarily the developer. Paid support is $44.95 per year.

i-transform – Free

wordpress theme for dog trainers

Image via WordPress

i-transform is template with smaller spaces for photos, which means you don’t need to come up with huge, splashy graphics on the home page. It’s Mobile friendly and comes with a toolkit plugin for customization. While the finished theme looks awesome, this is very much a DIY project that will require you to read the documentation on the theme and the toolkit plugin that comes bundled with it to make the initial setup easier.

Free Support is available through the official WordPress i-transform forum. Questions will be answered by either SuperUsers or the developer, but Super Users are more common. Start with the i-transform Tutorial available from the developer. Some of your questions may be answered there.

Hueman – Free

Hueman Theme

Image via WordPress

Hueman is one of the more complicated templates due to the variability of sliding menus, headers and footers, and widgets. If you offer a lot of services, have multiple locations, or a lot of staff, utilize the three column front page so visitors can find what they need easily. This template is a very difficult DIY project, so you’ll need familiarity with WordPress and templates and some coding.

Free Support is available through the developer’s Documentation, and the official WordPress Hueman forum. Questions will be answered by either SuperUsers or the developer, but Super Users are more common.

Recommended Article: 5 Must Have WordPress Plugins for Dog Trainers Websites

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Three Ways To Build Your Client and Networking Base

Three Ways To Build Your Client and Networking Base

Three Ways To Build Your-min

Whether you are starting out or are well-established, keeping your business going is not always a walk in the park. There is so much to consider but perhaps the most central concern is that of getting your name out to the general public. There are several ways to do this, each with their own particular pros and cons. Your dog training business’s success will depend on your ability to be recognized. There is no better way to do this than by NETWORKING and ‘oh my gosh’ it can be daunting task. However, once you get past the initial shock of the concept, you’ll find that it’s actually quite easy.

Recommended Reading: Why You Should Do Some Market Research Before Starting Your Dog Training Business

Reaching Out To Fellow Dog Trainers

The way I started networking is what I have termed ‘going in cold’. I directly emailed nearby trainers (to the North, South and West of me) whose philosophies and training styles most resonated with me. I still remember the first email I sent asking to meet up for coffee or lunch. I regretted hitting the send button almost immediately! But my fears were quickly put to rest. I had failed to realize how warm and willing to help out a well-qualified and experienced dog trainer could be. Thank you John, Linda and Pat for replying to my random invite for coffee! That one little reply email was the stepping-stone for me to connect with other trainers and learn the ropes. It was free and best of all has led to the development of awesome friendships and professional contacts. Even more, the relationships I went out on a limb and created allowed me to learn about how I wanted certain aspects of my own business to be. They even led to my first referrals and clients.

Now the ‘going in cold’ networking method isn’t the only way to gain recognition. You can accomplish the same by going through a paid organization, specifically ones like your local Chamber of Commerce or private associations like Business Network International. They both will cost you up front but they do have the potential to drum up solid business leads and turn you into a permanent fixture in your local community.

Related: Check out our “Mastermind Meetups for Modern Dog Trainers” and request one in your area! 

Join Your Chamber Of Commerce

The most familiar of the two is the local Chamber of Commerce. They typically work to increase your business’s visibility by listing your company on their exclusive business directory. Basically a digital Rolodex accessible via the chamber’s website to help customers find relevant services. They also publish monthly, quarterly, and or annual newsletters that feature local business and community activities. Typically you pay a fee to advertise in them. This cost is independent of the membership price, which can either be a flat rate (typically $400 plus) or a scaled fee. The scaled rate is dependent on the size or type of business, e.g. professionals and large corporations being charged the highest. Most all Chamber of Commerce advertise that they will increase your business’s exposure and recognition. For the most part they do deliver on that promise as is documented by a 2012 research study conducted by the Schaprio Group. They determined that membership is seen as “an effective business strategy” by 59% of consumers. More important for dog trainers is how the study indicates that people will see your business as one that both employs “good business practices” and is “reputable” within the community.

The benefits of being a member are not just limited to customer’s perception or being listed in a directory. The hidden value extends from the meaningful face-to-face relationships you will create with local professionals. Through sponsored business mixers and social events (business conferences or luncheons) you will get to know the businesses in your area in person. It is at these events you can make contact with service providers that you, as a business owner, might be in need of–like a quality accountant, photographer, or pet friendly real estate agent. Before you take the leap, keep in mind that programs and service are not all the same. So check with your town’s local Chamber of Commerce for specifics at the US Chamber of Commerce Directory.

Become A Member Of BNI

Another well-known organization focused on improving business success by way of networking is Business Network International. BNI is based on the idea that “givers gain” and founded by Dr. Ivan R. Misner in 1985. Each chapter creates a concentrated environment for professionals and local business owners to interact and direct potential customers between them through word-of-mouth marketing. It is quite effective when utilized.

BNI will let you attend a local chapter before joining in order to get a better feel for what they offer. In my case, I attended a meeting that averaged about an hour in length. My sponsor (who invited me) asked that I have ready a 60 second bio about myself, my business, and what goals I have. While a 60 second introduction may feel like a trial by fire, it actually was a great icebreaker as chapter members have had the same experience at one point in their careers. There are some particular rules to be aware of when attending. For instance, each local chapter is limited to only one member of a particular profession/business. This means that there will be only one lawyer, one mechanic, or one dog trainer within the group; however there can be multiple chapters within a city. You can visit a group for FREE twice before deciding whether or not you want to join! Much like the Chamber of Commerce, you will get the chance to gain inside access to professional services that are needed by business owners. In the chapter I belong to I connected with a CPA and a professional photographer that will be a phenomenal help to my business. The carpet cleaning company is also in my sights 😉

In the end the possibilities are boundless when it comes to successful networking. Networking is about getting to know your neighbors and building relationships so you can both succeed. So however you get it done – it will certainly help you out in the long run. Where and how have you had the best experiences networking? Are you a member of any business organizations?

Get Dog Training Business Tips!

Receive valuable dog training business tips and resources every week! Subscribe to The Modern Dog Trainer now by submitting your name and email below.

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3 Marketing Techniques You Can Do Today

3 Marketing Techniques You Can Do Today

Marketing your business can be daunting, but it doesn’t have to be.

Word of mouth is a great way to get more business, but that can take a while to grow. Marketing is the quickest way to build clientele. Most dog trainers lack a background in marketing, and may be intimidated by the process. Here are 3 easy ways to market your new dog training business that you can implement today.

3 Marketing Techniques You Can Do Today

1. Make information packets for local veterinarians, dog walkers, and groomers.

Get in touch with other local animal professionals and start a referral system. Many people ask their vets, groomers, and walkers for a local dog trainer recommendation. Put together folders with tips that dog owners could find valuable, some information on your modern training techniques, and how to get in touch with your business. Don’t forget to include business cards for their lobby!

2. Start a business newsletter or write for a local newspaper.

Keeping your clients up to date on training information and what you are offering will make them more likely to come back. Start a newsletter that you e-mail to subscribers and past clients to keep them in the loop. Writing for a local newspaper or magazine will get your name out there and showcase your knowledge, which will make you more appealing to potential clients.

3. Get a table at your local event.

Many communities have local events that vendors can buy a space or even attend for free. Set up a table with some information of your business and training techniques and a small give-a-way to bring people to your table. Some events you can look for include craft shows, rescue events, and city rec center events.

With a little bit of work, these three marketing techniques can be an easy way to get your name into the community. There are plenty of marketing ideas out there, what are some other easy ways to get your name into the community?

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How To Achieve A Successful Business

How To Achieve A Successful Business

So you have decided to run your own dog training business but what steps do you need to take to guarantee a successful outcome? Just like a new puppy it requires time, patience, and commitment to be up and running.

Get A Successful Business Up And Running

Image by Erin Bessey

5 Steps to Building Your Dog Training Business

Work On The Business Part As Much As The Training Part

Work on it, inside and out. It is easy to focus on creating the class curriculum and training the clients and dogs because that is the fun stuff. If you are just starting your business you are the secretary, bookkeeper, marketing manager and you need to be certain to work on those areas in order to grow your business.

Stick To Your Schedule

Make a schedule and stick to it. You can make your schedule as flexible as you want or as rigid but find a time for everything (including yourself) and stick to it. Include places for answering e-mails and phone calls, working on marketing, writing articles or research, continuing education, working with your own dogs, etc.

Learn About Modern Marketing Techniques

Marketing can be done without breaking the bank. Word of mouth is wonderful and free, however,  it can take a long time to build. You need to stretch outside of your comfort zone and do more than place business cards and brochures in a few locations. Look into writing a column for the town newspaper, introduce yourself to others in different animal related fields (Veterinarians, Dog Groomers, Walkers & Pet Sitters) and reach out to your community and tell them what sets you apart from others in your field.

Make Your Business Valuable

Value your knowledge and skills. You need to become a good sales person and learn to sell yourself and your packages. Even if you are new to your profession you need to charge professional rates. People equate money with value. If you are $20 less than everyone else in your town or surrounding areas it makes people question why, which may work against you.

Be A Professional

Be the dog trainer and have confidence. People come to you because they need help and this is your area of expertise. You know what is best for the dog and owner to be successful. If that means telling people they need 6 sessions to accomplish the end result, explain that to them. Don’t be afraid of the word “No”. To be afraid of losing the client’s business and only suggesting 3 sessions so it doesn’t seem as expensive is a disservice to the client and the dog. Practice exuding confidence and it will become easier with every client. There’s a saying out there, “Fake it ‘til you make it” which applies for every new business venture.

There will be challenges along the way of running your own business but many who have done it will tell you they’d have it no other way. What is the biggest obstacle stopping you from starting your own business?

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