About 18 months ago, the Milner household acquired a new member; an Australian Cobberdog puppy we called Digby, after my late father.
He rules our life, tells outrageous lies, and steals everything that’s not nailed down. But of course, we adore him. It’s hard not to fall instantly in love with a puppy.
There’s an old saying in marketing; if you wan to sell an expensive, ‘luxury’ product, sell on emotion, not logic. And there’s no wallet-opening buying decision more emotional than looking into the eyes of a cute pup.
Digby came to us from Western Australia’s only breeder of Cobberdogs, Deb Reuben’s Alkira Australian Cobberdogs in Margaret River. Digby’s sister Daisy had given birth to six girls, they’d be ready to go to new homes in a few weeks, and Deb had no buyers lined up. Since we already manage the marketing for another business of Deb’s, she approached us for help. These puppies would be ready for new homes in just three weeks.
My gun digital marketing specialists took over. Within days, Deb had a flood of inquiries, deposits paid, and more coming in.
Here’s how that happened:
First, I told Deb she must record a short video with the pups. I wanted this for a landing page, to take inquiries from a Google ad campaign we were about to set up.
By the following day, we had that video:
Next, I told Deb to get testimonial videos from owners of earlier puppies she’d sold.
Here’s just one of them:
Using those videos, including one from me and Michelle with Digby, my team built a landing page to take inquiries.
Once the landing page was ready to take traffic, our digital advertising specialist Golda created a targetted series of Google ads. They look like this:
Within days, Deb’s inbox was filling with inquiries like this:
From Ursula in Shoalwater:
I am very interested in your breed and would love to talk to you about a puppy. I am in touch with a Labrador breeder and was doing some research and came across the Australian Cobberdog I am 52 live in Shoalwater I haven’t had a dog for a while as I was doing a lot of travel … I am ready for a dog again and would like to train it to be a therapy dog – I have already looked into the training in Melbourne. But even if we don’t go that route I am VERY interested in your puppies and the breed.
I am very interested to know if any of the puppies are still available and if so when we could view them.
Want help with your digital marketing?
By now you would’ve seen the remarkable images of Sir Ernest Shackleton’s Antarctic exploration ship Endurance at the bottom of the Weddell Sea.
hackletonIt was one of the most amaing stories of human survival ever. All 28 members of the crew lived to tell the tale, after months stranded in the frozen Antarctic before they were finally rescued.
News of the ship’s discovery, two miles down on the ocean floor, reminded me of Sir Ernest’s famous newspaper ad, calling for crew for an earlier expedition to the south pole.
Now, there’s no evidence that the ad you see at the top of this post ever actually ran in a newspaper. But he may have submitted it to the London Times for publication, only to have reporters see it first, sparking a flurry of (free) publicity in newspapers all over England.
Shackleton’s ad didn’t even mention a product or service. Far from trumpeting overblown benefits and features, it actually went the other way, in a deliberate, well-planned and brilliantly-executed dare to the manliness of every red-blooded adventurous male in England.
The point is, the ad appealed to emotion, not logic.
Emotional adveritising is something I’ve been banging on about for years. Too many owners of businesses, large and small, waste time and energy trying to convince their prospective customers of the logic of buying your products or services.
But people buy on emotion first, and rationalize it later with logic.
“I bought the Porsche because it’s built solid,” you’ll hear some guy say, when what he really means is “I bought the Porsche because it makes me feel young again.”
Creative Theft Department: I know what you’re already thinking…what has this got to do with my hair salon/day spa/nail bar/laser clinic yada yada yada.)
The University of Life surrounds you. Google is your best friend. There is NO excuse for saying “I don’t know where to look for ideas” any more. Truth is, the answer to anything is right at your fingertips. Claiming you can’t find answers is akin to insisting the world is flat.)
Anyway, where was I? Oh yeah, emotion. The idea that you must offer a rational benefit in your marketing is nonsense.
There IS no rational, logical reason to buy a Porsche. Yet Porsche is THE most profitable car maker in the world. One of the most famous ads for Porsche cars featured nothing more than a picture of the car, and the following text:
Doesn’t blend in.
People will talk.
In the beauty business, a rational benefit might be
Your skin will be 37% smoother.
But more powerful, and much more emotional:
Warning: Men will look at you.
Your target market is uneducated about the relative benefits of one hair stylist versus any of a thousand others. Has pretty much no idea of the difference between one hair removal clinic and a hundred competitors. Attempting to explain a rational, logical reason why they should choose you as against any and all of your competitors is considerably more difficult that pushing a peanut up the main street of town with your nose.
Faced with such a challenge, most businesses resort to the easiest, no-brainer path: discounting. The airlines are a classic example of this, undercutting each other because they can’t be bothered putting in the hard mental yards to come up with something better.
(Even here, there are examples of airlines actually striking an emotional note with their marketing.
Remember the Singapore Airlines ads featuring their emotional icon, the Singapore Girl? They backed it up with the rational proposition, ‘Inflight service even other airlines talk about…’)
Aside: the rebel in me can’t help wondering what would happen if an airline offered a guarantee: We’ll get you there alive, or your money back.
Most business owners, having come up with a compelling offer – which is the rational reason to buy – rest on their laurels and leave it there. But the smart ones keep working at it, chewing away until they come up with that hard-to-define emotional reason to buy. I often call it a Unique Selling Proposition. But it can equally be re-named an ESP or Emotional Selling Proposition.
Either way, these are salon marketing tools that work, and work for you.
The real difference between one hair salon and another, between one day spa and another, is at best small, and certainly difficult to convey to the uneducated. But an emotional difference is – while more difficult to find in the first place – much easier to get across, much easier for the prospect to feel, and therefore much more powerful.
Let me tell you about the technical gymnastics we often have to go through on behalf of our members, just to get their tech ducks in a row. Marielle, one of my full-time staff in the Philippines, has been wrestling with Google for several days, trying to verify Google My Business listing of our client and live online.
(It can be a tortuous process). Depending on Mr. Google’s mood on the day, he’ll sometimes allow instant verification with an automated phone call reciting a 6 digit code to the business owner. Other days, the only way you can do it is by triggering a postcard, which can take weeks to arrive.
I was in touch with her via text message, and liaising with Marielle via Zoom chat. You’ll see from the screenshots below what a convoluted process it can be.
The recent addition of a new puppy to the Milner household has once again highlighted for me the immense power of the riches to be found in niche markets.
And it makes me wonder why so many business owners ignore this, and try to be all things to all people.
For the record, his name is Digby, after my late father. He’s a new breed called an Australian Cobber Dog.
If you’re a dog person, you’ll know that a puppy is blissfully unaware of its ability to induce the departure of reason from the minds of its masters.
Thus it is that, thanks to re-marketing technology, our visits to dog-related websites immediately result in Facebook and Instagram kindly show us repeated ads for pet products.
So Dr Lisa Chimes, a vet and online marketer of Broadmeadows in New South Wales, can be pretty much assured that ads for her high-margin products will find a ready audience in the Milner household.
You also learn quickly that it is ill-advised to be too emotionally attached to things like shoes. Or soft furnishings. Or your garden sprinklers. Even our wooden wine rack bears the scars of needle-sharp puppy teeth.
By far the most significant change in our household, however, has been our complete loss of reason when it comes to buying “things for Digby.”
On our frequent visits to pet supplies retailers, all consideration of pricing comparisons and value judgements is left behind at the door.
That fancy new bark control collar? A snip at just $190. No matter that it cost $4.50 to produce.
Every week, a new chew toy seems to arrive in the house. No matter that he already has a basket full of chew toys. And much prefers to chew the basket.
Why have only one monogrammed food bowl for inside the house, when you can have another one for outside as well?
And don’t get me started on the contents of said food bowls. Entire supermarkets are dedicated to a dazzling array of canine sustenance, all of it declaring – on packaging designed specifically to appeal to humans, not dogs – that it’s scientifically formulated by veterinarians to put a spring in the step of every pooch.
Near where we live is a new pets-only crematorium. And just around the corner, a craftsman who markets leather, silver and stainless steel bracelets around the world.
More than half his orders come from pet owners who want one of his bracelets with stainless steel hollow clasps into which one can insert small quantities of your beloved pet’s ashes or hair.
Here’s part of a Facebook ad campaign we’ve just designed for him (featuring our own Digby!):
Did I mention vets?
The average dog owner might well quibble over the price of a bus ticket, or haggle with a car salesman till both are blue in the face.
But when it comes to the family hound, a qualified vet can charge whatever she likes – think of a number, and double it – and the dog owner will meekly, nay eagerly, hand over his credit card without so much as a whimper. And gushingly thank the animal doctor for being so kind as to take his money.
Pet owners are a lush, rich, inch-wide-but-mile-deep niche market. A bottomless pit of money.
Golfers are the same. So are car enthusiasts. Cyclists? No great powers of observation are required to notice that at any city café on a Saturday morning, ALL cyclists are kitted out in the latest lycra fashions, their $5,000 machines adorned with every electronic device ever invented.
I like fishing. So much so that I have been known to walk into a tackle shop intent on buying nothing but a box of hooks, and walk out $600 poorer, armed with a bag of colourful new lures clearly designed to attract fishermen, rather than their prey.
There are niche markets everywhere, hidden in plain sight.
Famously, one of my earliest and most successful marketing students created a booming business after a coaching call with me in which she complained bitterly about how she was exhausted working 60 hours a week doing massages at her small inner-city salon.
I asked her about her typical client. Turns out more than half of them were…pregnant women!
Aha, I said. Why not just concentrate on marketing yourself to expectant mothers?
Within a month, her new business Yummy Mummy Pregnancy Day Spa was doing a roaring trade, and she was ‘off the tools’ completely.
Enthusiasts, hobbyists, collectors, professional athletes, sports fans, pet owners, photographers…the list of niche markets is saturated with people who will spend whatever it takes to be ‘at the top of their game.’
A city hair salon specialising in and marketing to men and women with dreadlocks? Certainly sounds a better and more profitable proposition than simply competing me-too-style with every other hair salon on the block.
Most businesses are ‘generalists’, forever trying to appeal to the masses. And by doing so, they become indistinguishable from their competitors, left with little more than price to differentiate themselves.
Take the time to critically and forensically examine your clients. Look for commonalities. Do a sizeable number belong to a particular group? If so, find ways to refine your message so that it appeals to more of that group.
There are immense riches in niches. It’s worth the effort to identify and exploit them.
Want some (free) help identifying your ideal niche market?
Book your free Niche Market Strategy Session Zoom call with Greg!
Greg Milner is the founder of Worldwide Salon Marketing. Since 2004, he and his team of digital and offline marketing specialists have been helping salon & spa owners all over the world to get more clients, spending more money, more often.