So you’re looking for ways to promote and market your dog walking business and get new enquiries?
You’re in the right place!
Getting noticed in the hyper-competitive dog walking market is hard, but essential to making sure your business grows.
In this article, I’ll walk you through a series of practical and actionable strategies you can implement to get real results in your business.
Whether you’re just starting out dog walking or you’ve been in the business for years, you’ll get a ton of valuable ideas.
Let’s get started!
Getting the basics right: who are you actually marketing to?
“I’m marketing to anyone with a dog!”
On first thought, this might seem sensible but having a very broad target market is in fact a sure-fire way to slow your business growth, waste money on un-targeted marketing and water down your messaging.
Instead we need to focus our marketing efforts on attracting premium customers who have the money to pay a good rate for our time and REALLY need our services.
To start to define our target customer we need to understand:
- What problems our service helps them overcome?
- What are their biggest pain points or worries about their pets?
- Where do they live/work?
- Do they have kids?
- How much do they typically spend on their pets each month?
- What type of dogs do they typically own?
By building up this information we’ll be able to more clearly and cost-effectively talk directly to our ideal customers.
Great, but how do we find out this information?
Well if you have an existing dog walking business… start by talking to your customers!
Send out a quick survey to your customers asking them to answer the above questions, offering a benefit for taking part, for example, a free walk.
Even better would be picking up the phone to 5 customers and gaining some insight by talking to them. Just make sure it’s natural and not like a job interview!
Also, assuming you have a Facebook page you can take a look at your insights which will give you a deep understanding of who they are, their ages and likes/interest.
But wait… what if I haven’t started my business yet?
I’d start by looking at your competition and seeing how they structure their offer and messaging.
Try to speak to their customers and ask some of these questions to them. Maybe your friends currently use someone else to walk their dogs – speak to them instead!
Alternatively, hang out in local dog groups on Facebook and if the community is willing post your survey there too. At the very least, you’ll soon gain some useful insights just by watching and commenting on the existing conversations.
Key takeaway: create a target customer persona. Give them a name and write their answers to our questions. This will give you real clarity when you come to crafting your messaging and marketing later.
Building your essential marketing toolkit
If you want your dog walking business to be taken seriously and become a sustainable income stream, you need a STRONG online presence.
It’s as simple as that, a high performing website is essential for your success!
Not only that, but you’ll need to be continually reviewing and improving your site. All too often I see people set up their site and then ignore it for 12 months. This can’t be you, your website is your best friend and you need to nurture it.
Your website will act as the cornerstone to all your marketing and be central to creating a consistent flow of new customers.
So what does your website need to include? Details about…
- You – an about page is one of the most important pages on the website and will demonstrate your professionalism, trustworthiness and personality. Include plenty of pictures of you walking dogs and explain why you’re a safe pair of hands to look after someone’s beloved pet.
- Services – a quick overview of what you offer and most importantly clear unique selling points (USPs) that resonate with your target audience. We now know their pain points and worries so make sure your services reassure them.
- Pricing – a basic summary of your pricing and what they’ll get for their money.
- Blog – building content over time is a great way to improve your search engine rankings and build trust with your customer base. Be useful and helpful, avoid selling and you’ll go a long way to improving your website.
- Reviews – give some social proof that others believe in your service. If possible incorporate a 3rd party service such as Google, Trustpilot or Facebook reviews as these give potential customers confidence you haven’t made them up.
- Contact – details of how to get in touch. I’d suggest using a contact form to avoid getting a deluge of spam into your inbox.
Throughout the website your messaging and tone needs to reassure your target customer, demonstrating you’re the right person for the job.
Using a professional web designer will give you the best end result and ensure your website is search engine friendly.
For a small 3 – 4 page website, expect to pay from £500 – £1200 if you’re using a freelancer.
If you can’t find anyone locally, then UpWork or PeoplePerHour are good places to find freelancers from anywhere in the world.
Equally, you can get some great results on your own. I suggest WordPress as a great platform to get you started as it’s highly customisable and easy to use.
To get started you’ll need to:
- Buy a domain and setup hosting. I recommend Bluehost.
- Install WordPress on your hosting.
- Install a premium theme that reflects your brand. I always use ThemeForest.
- Start building your content and customising your site.
If you’re not sure how to do this take a look at this video, it walks you through all the basics from setting up the hosting to customising your site.
I know this step can be really daunting for many people so if you have a question, just drop me a message and I’ll be happy to help.
Social Media platforms
Social media is a big part of the world of dog businesses and it can be a great tool to market your dog walking services.
More importantly (as long as you get consent from owners) you’ll have an endless stream of very sharable, furry four-legged models.
When you’re starting out it’s best to focus on just one or two platforms to ensure you post regular, high-quality content.
Instagram and Facebook are the most popular choices for dog walking businesses with many people using that as their go-to search engine when looking for a new dog walker in their area.
For now, grab your accounts on your chosen platforms and we’ll touch on strategies to promote your business later.
Google My Business Listing
Your Google My Business listing is your business profile within Google search which I’m sure you’ve seen loads of times before… It’s the bit that includes opening times, reviews and the address of local businesses right within the search results.
Setting up your profile is really easy.
- Go to Google My Business and create a google account if you don’t have one already
- Fill in your basic business details.
- Include a link back to your website, images of you walking dogs, opening hours and as much as possible.
Over time it’s also important to get your clients to leave reviews.
Google is more and more trying to keep users on Google rather than sending them off to external websites so correctly filling out Google My Business (and keeping it up to date) is super important.
As you’ll see from the above screenshot, the map and local google listings are above any websites or ads. So getting your business at the top of local listings could be a game-changer for your growth.
Printed leaflets and flyers are not dead
Although a lot of the promotion we’re going to talk about is digital, having physical flyers you can leave with clients or friends/family can be really helpful.
I’d go for something small and simple, you don’t need to include too much info on there.
Something like a double-sided postcard.
Using a professional graphic designer will be the easiest option and will give you a professional end result, but it is an additional cost.
Typically, to produce a small flyer, expect to pay a graphic designer between £100 – £300.
Alternatively, you can take a DIY approach and try your hand at designing your own flyers. If you’re not proficient with Illustrator then Canva is a good option to consider.
Plus they have plenty of pre-built flyer options you can just amend and send straight to the printers.
If you’re in the UK, then Solopress have always been a reliable and affordable printer for me.
If you’re outside the UK, then give Vistaprint a go.
5 marketing strategies to consistently deliver new clients
Now it’s down to the nitty-gritty.
Building a consistent flow of new customers into your business and growing your reputation takes time but it’s very achievable if you dedicate a bit of time and effort.
Here are my top five ways to market your dog walking business:
1. SEO really is King
In the longer-term SEO (Search Engine Optimisation) will be your number one tactic.
In simple terms this means getting your website to the top of Google for relevant terms such as “[your city] + dog walker“.
As an example, Bristol dog walkers gets 1,600 searches EVERY month!
That’s a lot of people and if you’re in position 1 or 2 you can expect to be receiving a lot of enquiries, consistently.
SEO is a pretty technical business which relies on initially getting your website set up correctly and researching relevant keywords then continuously building valuable content for your local audience to grow your organic traffic.
If this sounds like complete gibberish then I’d suggest you speak to a local SEO freelancer, they will help you work out the priorities and get your website set up correctly.
Typically speaking I’d suggest paying a one-off fee (usually a couple of hundred pounds) to get your site audited and set up correctly.
Then, if you like working together you can consider a monthly retainer but make sure you have clear goalposts and expectations.
If you want to get hands-on and try to improve your website rankings yourself then I’d direct you to Wordstream’s beginners guide to SEO. It gives you a neat overview of the topic and is pretty easy to digest.
Important takeaway: SEO is a slow burner and takes time, but in the longer term it will be the difference between your dog walking business failing or being a huge success.
2. Show personality and add value on your social, blog and email
Next up it’s all about showing your personality, skills and really adding value to your existing (and potential) customers.
We’re going to cover three ways you can do this – on your social channels, your blog and direct to your email list. Three tips for the price of one!
We’ve touched on social media already, but here I want to highlight the ways you can continually engage your existing customer base and new potential customers to really grow your business.
Having a content plan and planning ahead is key. I always suggest taking an hour out once a week to schedule ahead the bulk of your social media content.
Use a free tool such as Buffer to plan everything in.
You could share pictures of great walks in the area to take your dog, share advice on how to keep your dog safe when out on a walk (such as avoiding heat stroke) or share links to complementary local services in your area that you like.
Once that’s sorted, every day you need to post pictures of your walks, including each dog (assuming you have the owners prior permission). Make sure you tag the owner if you have their details.
This is a really easy way to build engagement as owners will undoubtedly share and comment on posts of their pets. It’s also a great way to build trust with your customers as they can see their pets have a great time on their walks with you.
We talked earlier about having a blog on your website.
This is important for two reasons:
- It can help deliver high-quality natural traffic from Google
- It will help build trust and authority with your target audience
But what content can you produce? To get you started, here are 5 topics you could write about on your dog business blog:
- Top dog walks in [your city]
- Great dog friendly cafes in [your city]
- Your top questions answered – for example, how long are walks, where do you go etc
- Case study – have you helped one of your dogs walk to heel on the lead? Tell people about it
- A day in the life of your dog business
Staying in touch with your clients is key to building relationships and helps make them great advocates for your brand.
Email certainly isn’t dead and if it’s done the right way can be a brilliant way to keep front and centre in their mind.
There’s one big but…
If you start email people, you need to do it in a compliant, fair and non-spammy way. Anyone you email needs to have given you their specific consent.
The best way to do this is by setting up a sign up form on your website.
Ask customers to sign up to your updates and include the form on your blog posts.
As your email list grows start sharing regular monthly updates including new blog posts, valuable walking tips and advice. You want to be the go-to dog resource for your local area.
To build your sign up forms and send out emails in a compliant way I recommend MailChimp. It’s super easy and quick to setup. Plus it’s free to get started.
3. Organise doggy meetups
It is becoming increasingly common to see doggy meetups for a certain breed being organised. Why don’t you organise some in your area?
They are the perfect opportunity to bring your target audience together and get your name out there.
To get started, create an event on Facebook, picking a popular breed type (such as Daschunds or French Bulldogs).
Then pick an easily accessible location, invite your friends/customers and get promoting.
Be sure to post regularly on the event page to get your business name out there amongst those that attend.
When the day arrives be sure to speak to everyone that comes, tell them about you and hand out a leaflet.
It may start small but word will soon get out there and your reputation will grow.
You could even approach a dog groomer and pet store to run it in cooperation with you. If they share it with their followings more and more people will attend.
Following on from doggy meetups, working closely with local, related (but not competing) doggy businesses can be really fruitful.
Contact five local dog businesses in your area (such as groomers, vets or independent pet stores) and ask them if they want to run a referral scheme together.
You refer business their way and they do the same to you.
You could even suggest they could give their clients a special “20% off your first walk” voucher to their customers.
This is a benefit for their customers and an extra incentive for them to give them out.
5. Be visual
It may sound obvious but you’re going to be spending a lot of time out on the road in your van/car from now on and out in parks walking dogs.
Make sure your vehicle and clothing are loud and visual, showing off your brand and what you do.
People will notice it.
They may call you as a direct result, but even if they don’t, when they come to Google potential dog walkers if they recognise your brand they will undoubtedly be more likely to make contact.
That’s it! I hope you now understand how to market your dog walking business. Go get ’em!
If you’re looking for more ideas check out my blog of 3 quick fire marketing strategies to get clients fast.
I’d also love to hear your thoughts. Have you any additional marketing tips to share they have made a difference in your dog walking business. Leave a comment below.