This weeks post is part of a two part series on advertising your business on a budget…
If you want to expand your dog walking business, there’s really only one way to go about it – get the word out. Depending on where you live, this can mean a few different things. In a village, this is as simple as spreading the word on the grapevine. In a large city you have room to be a little bit more creative – the potential clients are figuratively endless.
Wherever you live, advertising doesn’t have to mean spending money, and even if you do have to you can promote your business very effectively on a relatively small budget. With that in mind, I’m going to talk about a few advertising methods that are effective in this industry. These methods will suit those on a small budget, or no budget at all.
First of all, lets get the shameless plug out of the way – you can advertise your service on this very website for free! And if you haven’t done so yet you can by signing up here. We are continually promoting and expanding Dog Walkers City so we hope you’ll join us!
The internet is an invaluable tool for any small business owner. In the modern age, the web should be the starting point for any advertising campaign. In fact (although I’m a little biased) I’d almost go as far as saying that you can get all of the customers you need online. With that said, we’ll start off with the (2nd) biggest of the Internet’s websites – Facebook.
Facebook is the perfect tool for a Dog walker, as most customers come from friends of friends and of course, it’s free. I’m going to assume you have a Facebook account at this point, as you’ll need an active account to utilize it as a promotional tool. The first thing you’ll want to do is set up a ‘Facebook Page’. To do this, go to https://www.facebook.com/pages/create.php and follow the instructions.
You can add details of your service and images, links, maps etc. Once you’ve set this up you can invite all your friends to ‘like’ your page and when they do, their friends will see that they’ve liked it and so on – viral advertising. You can also ask questions, post updates and post photos, which I recommend you do regularly as they appear on the news feed of whoever has liked your page.
Your next visit online should be to Google Places. This is another great free tool for free exposure. With Google Places, you can mark where your service is based on Google Maps and anyone searching Google in that area can see your listing. To get started head to http://www.google.com/places/ and follow the instructions.
Another good place to advertise online are classified websites. These are country specific but in the UK – Gumtree is the industry leader (http://www.gumtree.com) and in the US – Craigslist (http://www.craigslist.org). Both of these sites are free to post to and are searched on a lot. Simply browse to your local area and follow the instructions to place an advert. The older your advert gets the further down the list it will fall so I recommend posting regularly. You can also go super local by searching Google for terms like ‘my town+classifieds’. A real life search would be ‘New York Classifieds’. There will almost definitely be a local classified site for your area.
If you have a bit of extra cash to spend on advertising, we highly recommend joining us as a premium member here at Dog Walkers City. For less than the price of a couple of cups of coffee you can upgrade your membership and reap the benefits of being a premium member. These benefits include being shot to the top of our results page, having your own profile page that can be found in Google and having a wealth of extras at your disposal: Contract templates, appointment software, advertising guides and more. If you get just one extra regular client as a result of the premium membership you’ll be making your money back.
To find out more log into the members are and click the ‘Upgrade’ tab. Next week we’ll talk a bit more about advertising on a budget and concentrate on more offline methods.
Do you have any advice for people looking to advertise cheaply? What’s worked for you? What hasn’t? Let us know in the comments…
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The Dog Walkers City Mega Membership is now available. Sign up today for a vast number of benefits ranging from premium members profiles to business guides and invoice templates. If you’re looking to be or you are a dog sitter, then this is the only membership you’ll ever need. Find out more here.