An effective marketing strategy for your pet business is worth its weight in gold. It can mean the difference between long term success, steady profits and cash flow, and a business which can sustain itself during economic slow periods. Marketing is in effect the fuel that drives your business. No fuel and you’re going to stand still and watch the traffic go by.

So what is an effective marketing strategy? It differs for each business and target market however there are a few mistakes every business owner can avoid to get, and stay, ahead of the curve. Here are the top 5 pet business marketing mistakes to avoid:

#1  Not listing your website with the search engines.

Even if you do not have an online business you cannot afford to skip listing with the search engines. More than 80% of internet users search online before they buy a product or service. That means brick and mortar stores, in addition to online stores, benefit from having an online presence.

In addition to the big three search engines: Google, Yahoo, and MSN it is a great idea to list with the local search engines. Each search engine has a local division where someone can search by city or state and their keywords. For example, “Boulder, Colorado Organic Pet Care”

The good news is if you have links coming to your website you’re quite likely already listed with the search engines.  If you’re not, visit each search engine and follow the process to submit your website.

#2  Not having a niche.

Niche marketing gives you leverage in the industry. Niche marketing, having a specific category within your industry, for example, organic pet grooming as opposed to the broader ‘pet grooming’ category, gives you the potential to become the expert in your industry. It reduces your competition and gives you a USP – unique selling point.  Niche marketing makes your marketing much more powerful.

#3  Not having an opt-in list.

An opt in list, if you don’t already have one, is a list of prospects who have expressed an interest in your products or services. Typically it is a list of email addresses because email is inexpensive and immediate however snail mail works too. Your opt-in list is used to send information and promotional messages to potential and current customers.

The theory, and it works, is that if you stay fresh in the mind of your prospects, they’ll be more likely to make a purchase. Communicating with your opt in list doesn’t have to be a time consuming process. A monthly newsletter, or more frequent is fine. The key is to get that list and to start using it.

#4  Failing to have a marketing strategy.

Many business owners simply ‘wing it’ when it comes to marketing. (They do the same thing with their budget and then end up with negative cash flow. Not good for business) Planning takes the struggle out of running a business and the great thing about a plan….you can change it. It isn’t set in stone. If you don’t have a marketing plan, sit down with a piece of paper and outline a year’s worth of ideas and strategies to communicate with your prospects and customers. From that outline create a plan for each idea. Now you have a marketing strategy – not too hard, right?

#5 Not knowing your market.

Who are you selling to and why would they want or need your product? If you don’t know the answer to these questions then it’s time to get serious about your pet business. If you don’t know who your customer is then how on earth are you going to sell your business?

If you have customers begin there. Who are they and why are they using your products or services? If you don’t and you’re just starting a pet business outline who you think your customers will be and what problems they have. Then you can go about solving their problems with your products or services.

Marketing is a process and everyone makes marketing mistakes however if you can manage to avoid these five biggies you’re well on your way to marketing, and business, success.

In the next couple of weeks I’ll be announcing a new program that I’m about to release that will be a full 3 month e-course to teach you how to develop a marketing system for your pet business. I’m excited about it – and will be giving away a free whitepaper next week to kick off the program. Stay tuned!