This week at her blog Janet Pettit introduced the Wheel and Spoke marketing model.  Put simply, Janet proposes that you use 10 marketing methods to feed new prospective clients into your business and maximize your profits.

You can get a copy of her model free at her blog post:

Wheel and Spoke Marketing Model

 or here is the direct link to the model diagram:

 http://smallbusiness-bigresults.com/MypnModel.pdf

I love this model and plan to use it when I start on my marketing plan for 2009.  I wanted to give you a few examples of how you can use the 10 spokes to attract visitors to your pet sitting business.

1. Referral Strategy

Set up a system to encourage your customers to refer your pet sitting business to their friends and family. You could offer them a reward for each customer they refer that makes a reservation – perhaps offer a discount on their next pet sitting visits or a gift card to a local pet store so that they can spoil their pets. Let them know about your program in your regular follow up communications such as your online or offline newsletter.  You could also host a special recognition party for every customer and their pets that has referred business to you in the past year.

2. Marketing Strategy

A marketing strategy puts on paper the methods which you plan to use to market your business. Janis recommends that you choose 3 strategies for 2009.  It should outline what you are going to do to each week to implement each stategy and also detail how much you plan to spend on implementation of each strategy (your marketing budget).  Of course marketing strategies may not have any cost – take for example online social networking.

3. Time Strategy

You time strategy is a plan that outlines how you plan to spend the time in which you work on your business. It will show how much time you will dedicate to marketing tasks, customer follow-up, or actually performing pet sitting visits. How much time you spend on each will be determined by the stage that you are at in your business and whether you have outsourced tasks to a virtual assistant or have contract or employed sitters.

When you put together a time strategy keep in mind that you want to spend your time working on the tasks that make you money – and eliminate time wasting activities. The 80/20 rule states that 20% of your efforts will make you 80% of your profits. Do a time study and documenting how you spend your time each week will help you find and focus on the 20%. Focusing on these tasks next year will help you increase profits and grow your pet sitting business.

4. Client Retention Strategy

Once you have great pet sitting clients you need to have a plan to retain their business so they always use your service when they need a pet sitter. A couple of good questions to ask yourself when forming this strategy are:

 a) What are you going to do wow your customers and make your service indespensible? How does your service go beyond standard duties to make sure the pets are comfortable and happy. How do you make their lives easier or caring for their pets more convenient?

b) How are you going to follow-up with customers so that you are always part of their pets life and you are at the top of their mind when they need your service?  A great way is to keep in touch via a regular newsletter that you deliver by post or by email. Offer them valuable pet care tips and news about local pet events and activities.  You will soon become a resource that they rely on.

5. Joint Venture Strategy

Joint ventures are partnerships formed with other pet business owners where you create a win-win relationship to promote both your businesses.  One example of a joint venture could be giving out discount coupons to a local grooming service to your pet sitting customers in exchange for the groomer giving out coupons for your pet sitting business to their clients.  Another example is partnering with other business owners to jointly organize and promote a local pet event. There are many ways that you can tap into the clients of a similar business by using joint ventures.

6. Message Strategy

You message strategy should detail how you plan to communicate with your clients to make sure that your communication is consistant with the image or brand that you want to convey to clients. Messages to clients can include the daily updates that you leave during pet sitting visits, your regular email correspondance, what you tell them in your newsletters, or how you follow up using cards or direct mail. You brand image should also shine through in your advertising that you do so that your message to clients is consistant.

Your message stategy may also detail how your communication to potential and existing clients introduces them to the upgraded services or products that you sell in addition to basic pet sitting services.

7. Viral Strategy

Viral marketing involves the use of fun videos or informational e-books that can passed from person to person on the internet or offline. The videos and e-books contain a link or promotion for your business so that they create traffic to your pet sitting website. A great example of this is the latest JC Penny video “Beware of the Doghouse” or the free ebook that I told you about last Friday in this blog post.  Think about how you can use viral marketing in 2009 by creating your own valuable information that you give away and allow others to distribute on their website, via their blog, or to their customers.

8. Sales Strategy

You sales strategy involves the way in which you lead your prospective pet sitting clients through the process of getting to know you and your business, see samples or your work, and then make the decision to buy your services or products. This may include getting them onto your email or newsletter list by giving away a free pet resource, then showing them more about you by communicating to them in your newsletters, and then making them a special offer in your newsletter – for example offering a discount or free upgrade to entice them to buy.

9. Online Strategy

You online strategy details how you will attract potential clients to your pet sitting website and build traffic.  You can build traffic by getting others to link to your site by placing online ads on related websites, placing ads in pet related ezines, posting in pet forums, or writing articles or press releases that you write online.  Some other ideas for creating traffic and attracting visitors are to build your own blog, Squidoo lenses, or Hub Pages with valuable pet information.

You can also attract traffic using Google Adwords advertising – the ads you see in the right margin when you do a Google search. The most cost effective way to get more traffic is to optimize your website to attract natural search engine traffic. Learn how tomorrow night in the Pet Business Success Circle monthly call.