Community pet events are one of the best ways to get your business name in front of local pet owners. You have your target audience gathered in one place ready to talk about their pets! Some examples of pet events that you can look for are pet parades, dog parks events, annual rescue fundraising events, and local festivals that have fun dog races (our Octoberfest has dachund races).

Last Saturday I was invited to be a vendor at an event called “Dog Splash Day” at a small local water park organized by the city of Bedford, Texas. Here I am with my dog Tanner – he enjoyed the day out, got plenty of attention and met lots of doggie pals. It was a blast – about 80 dogs – most off leash  all splashing around with their owners in the pools and fountains around the park.  The city opens the water park on the last day of the season for this event and has animal control monitor that all dogs are current on their rabies vaccinations. Owners pay just $5 per dog entrance fee and they have competitions and events for the dogs and door prize give aways throughout the afternoon.

Initially I planned to get tennis balls or frisbees imprinted with my business logo as giveaways but I left organizing them until the last minute and found that the expedited shipping fees were way out of my budget!

So at the last minute I was scrambling for ideas that I could use for my table. On the Friday I was able to get 2 t-shirts made at an embroidery booth at the local mall with my pet sitting business name “Claws Paws & Jaws Pet Sitters” (only $20 each including the shirts). You can see from the photo that I wore one and Tanner wore the other – they worked out great – Tanner advertised for me everywhere he roamed and I was always able to pick him out and keep track of him easily. Amazingly it didn’t seem to bother him wearing it either.

My second dilemma was to find some signage so that people would see me from a distance and be able to see that I run a pet sitting business. I knew getting one from a signage store would be expensive so I looked around at the local craft store to see if I could get creative and put one together myself. I found an excellent and easy way to create a banner using “Foamies” products. You can see my finished product here on the left. I used a black “Foamies” banner and then a couple of boxes of “Foamies” stick on letters to create the banner in about 1/2 hour. The soft foam was very durable and waterproof and I didn’t need to have much artistic flair to get the lettering stuck onto the mat. Each letter had a peel off backing so I could layout the words and then peel each letter and stick down. If you are looking for a banner in a hurry this is a super option to look for at the craft store – it cost around $25 for the banner and letters.

I also put together a doggie gift basket with a dog bowl, 2-3 toys, tennis balls, and some assorted treats – all of which I picked up at Petco. I held a free raffle for the basket and had around 25 people enter for the drawing which was announced at the end of the event. The winner of the basket was thrilled and she picked up fliers and sent me a thankyou email too! The raffle is an effective way to draw people to your table and collect names and phone numbers.

On the table I put out some flyers about my pet sitting services that I copied and had folded at my local Kinkos, and also some informational sheets with pre-travel checklists for pet owners. I put out a bowl of dog bones that owners could collect and a water bowl for the pooches. Finally, I also donated a gift certificate for 3 pet sitting visits to the organizers as a door prize.

Throughout the day I had many pet owners stop by the table and pick up treats for their dogs and my busines flyers. I asked them about their dogs and they usually stopped to pet my dog Tanner. Everyone had a fun day and hopefully they will remember me next time they are travelling and need someone to sit for their pets.

Look in community guides or city websites to check for upcoming pet events in your community. Keep track of annual events on a calendar so that you can check back with the organizers and make sure that you secure a table or booth for the next year. Many events will charge you for a table or booth but you may be lucky and find that rescues and city organized events will give away tables for free. Promoting your business at events doesn’t have to be expensive and is is a super way to have fun with your pets and meet local pet owners.

Here is a photo of the dogs at play…