My dog Winston, a Boston Terrier, is a certified 360°marketing genius. His whole life is a study in branding, public relations, and advertising. Just over a month ago today, we picked him up from an animal shelter. In honor of his anniversary, today’s blog is dedicated to him. The truth is he has so many lessons to teach in marketing practices, that it may take several blogs.
Right from the start, when Winston was in the shelter cage, I noticed that he seemed to be working a bit harder at getting out then the other dogs. When we walked by him, we heard a small “arf” come from the far side of his cage, where Winston was hiding inside his temporary “house,” a little indoor part to the cage. Okay, it was more like a prison cell for dogs, and I’m not sure which is a more alarming description: cage or cell.
He came prancing out and stuck his nose between the bars. He wagged his butt; he has only a curly stub for a tail so he really couldn’t wag that. My boyfriend stuck his hands under the bars, playfully swatting, and Winston started swatting back. It became a hybrid version of boxing. We talked to him, told him he was a pretty boy, asked him if he’d like to come home and Winston gave a puppy whine and showed up big, sad, puppy eyes. Then, the icing on the cake, he licked my hand through the bars. Compare all that to the wiry fox terrier mix that snarled at us, or the Chihuahua that simply shivered and looked like it was having a stroke.
Winston tried harder than the other dogs. Pardon the pun, but he put on a dog and well, dog show for us—there weren’t any ponies for a dog and pony show, but oddly, there were chickens—that’s another blog all together. I like the way Winston won us over. He knew that to win our love, which in his case was the equivalent of winning our business, he had a lot of competition and he needed to stand out. He basically made the first contact (that “arf” from inside his house caught our attention). He gave us what we wanted, a friendly dog that wanted to show off his skills, like boxing with his paws, and he was willing to play things our way, which made us feel he was part of our team. Then when we started to leave, he pulled out all the stops, gave us that cute puppy whine, which told us he really wanted our business, err, love. Now, I do not advocate that you beg or bat puppy dog eyes at your client, but show your enthusiasm for the deal by listening to what they are saying. When I worked in-house, it was always my pet peeve that I would tell the vendor what I wanted and needed and they did not listen. This said to me that they didn’t want to be part of the team, they wanted to dominate the team. To the vendor, that must feel great (until you lose the clients business for being unbearable) but to us, we wanted team partners. While we didn’t share our wants and needs with Winston, he gave us what we were looking for: a loveable pup that liked to play and could put on a good show.
Next time, we’ll get into branding. I think you know where that is going. Never underestimate the value of a dog’s favorite tree.