What my dog taught me about marketing

By Dave McGurgan | @dmcgurgan

They say dogs are man’s best friend, and my dog Augie was indeed my close confidant and ever-loyal pal. Our relationship evolved over the years into a deep connection. For nearly 16 years, Augie was there for me, day after day. 

I’d like to share some of the things that Augie taught me, including the values on which Four Dog Creative is built. Drawing on these lessons, I’ve derived some key marketing takeaways from which every business can learn.

1. Don’t wait for opportunities, create your own

Augie’s favorite chair was right by the front door. Which meant he was the first of four dogs to greet me when I’d come home. Aside from making a comfortable chair his own (positioning), Augie’s strategic place by the front door created an opportunity for him: I could easily take him for a walk by himself, without stirring the rest of our herd. 

Augie on his favorite chair

Strategic placement by the door = more walks.

Marketing takeaway: Show up often and always make yourself available to your customers. 80% of success is showing up. From this, additional opportunities often will present themselves. When there are no opportunities evident, create your own.

“Wise men make more opportunities than they find.” ― Francis Bacon

2. Your customers depend on you, always be there for them 

One of Augie’s best traits was his dependability. He’d always sleep in the same spot on the bed (until it was time for me to go to sleep, then he’d move to his own bed). Whether I was having a great day or going through a rough patch, he’d be there by my side or, intuitively, he’d give me some space when I needed it. 

Augie in bed

Augie was always there and waiting for his human..

Marketing takeaway: Through your actions, make sure your customers know you’re there for them and they can always, always depend on you. This means informing them, checking in, going on site visits, good correspondence and social media engagement to have multiple touch points with your customers.

“When friendships are real, they are not glass threads or frost work, but the solidest things we can know.” ― Ralph Waldo Emerson

3. Build relationships with your customers and your brand

If you’re not a pet person, the bond between pets and their human caretakers will largely be lost on you. However, if you have a dog or a cat (or fish, hamsters, etc.) you will know and intuitively understand the deep bond that forms with pets. With Augie, his companionship and unconditional acceptance of me made me realize the following: The relationship we had was one based on respect, trust and loyalty. 

When it was early on during Four Dog Creative’s initial business planning, these were values we knew would be at the core of our business identity.

Augie on a computer

It’s all about relationships; both online and offline.

Marketing takeaway: Consumers expect to have relationships with brands and companies. One of the ways to delight customers is to earn their trust … and maintain it. Relationships are built on trust.

“Our relationships with people are formed by small moments – and relationships are crucial in business.” ― Tom Rath

Apply these lessons at the business and personal level

Dogs have plenty to teach us; lessons that can be applied not just to friendship but also to business. My pal Augie taught me the marketing lessons above, which we have weaved into Four Dog Creative’s business model. I hope you find these lessons useful for your own work.

What things has your pet taught you? Leave a comment below and let me know.

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