There’s no doubt that advertising your new dog walking services can be tough when done offline.
The number one, toughest form of offline advertising that can be done for your dog walking business is flyer posting door-to-door.
And…It Doesn't Work.
Now, I know what you’re thinking! - “Hold on a minute Simon, I’ve read on loads of websites that this is a fantastic way to advertise my new pet business and get dog walking clients.”
Honestly, it's really not.
Door-to-door posting of dog walking flyers seems to be an accepted form and one of the best ways (and also one of the worst) to advertise a dog walking business.
When in reality it is probably the biggest waste of time and money you will ever spend on your pet care business.
How many clients do you think you'll gain after spending all day posting 2000 - 3000 pet care flyers? (and getting a blister or two!)
50...75...100 new clients?
On average, for every 2000 - 3000 pet care flyers you post, you'll maybe gain 1, or if you're super lucky, 2 clients.
How do I know?
I’ve done it, as have many other professional dog walkers and pet carers.
One thing I can whole heartedly say for sure, along with other professional pet care businesses, is:
Do not do door-to-door dog walking flyer posting.
Right, now that I’ve cleared up that ‘myth!’ let’s go through HOW to use your dog walking flyers in an effective and efficient way so you can get dog walking clients through offline advertising and marketing without wasting time and money.
Let’s get down to business…
Advertising your dog walking services with flyers in a profitable way is split into three steps:
I know that sounds quite obvious, but so many dog walkers and pet carers rush through or just throw together Step 1.
Having flyers for your dog walking and pet sitting business is an excellent idea, but not having a well-designed flyer is just a waste of money.
If the design of your dog walking leaflet is ugly, your dog walking business will not be given any consideration by the pet owner who is searching for a pet service exactly like yours.
Step 1 - Designing Your Dog Walking Flyer.
Your pet care business flyer must look professional and well designed even if you haven’t got an artistic bone in your body!
There are websites who offer free dog walking flyer templates like inkd.com
However, these free pet business flyer templates can be somewhat generic and plain. Us professionals, don’t do generic and plain, we do unique and attention grabbing! They will still need to be edited to fit your dog walking business and branding.
Don't be produce generic, boring flyers!
If you are not comfortable with designing your pet business flyers, luckily, there are some great places you can get your flyer designed for you and it won’t cost a fortune either.
Using a quality graphic designer is a much better route to take if you want a professional to design your dog walking flyers.
It will only cost anything from £5 all the way to £500 (and probably more!) but we certainly don’t need to spend anything near the top end. It is more than achievable to spend around £20 to £30 to get superb flyers designed for your dog walking services.
I have, and still continue to work with Graphic Designers on many website design projects and have done so for around ten years (I can create and produce websites but graphic design is a whole different game!)
Getting a professionally designed dog walking flyer is, I believe, well worth the money as your leaflets and flyers will be representing your pet care business, so you need to be completely happy with the design.
Where To Find Graphic Designers.
There’s a variety of Freelance websites online and they all work in a similar way. They can be very good to work with for 'one-off' projects you need doing.
A Word Of Warning though…
Freelance Websites let anybody advertise on their site, so just be careful of the quality of the flyer design, your money will be safe as the freelance site acts as a ‘middle man’ between you and the freelancer.
Disputes could happen if the freelancer produces your flyer design for you and it falls short of what you were expecting.
Top tips for hiring a freelancer
- Always make it very clear what you are after.
- Generally speaking, it is easier to work with a freelancer whose native language is the same as yours.
- Never use a freelancer who doesn’t offer revisions of your design (the vast majority do offer unlimited revisions of the design, but just make sure they do).
- Always check out their reviews on the platform they’re using (i.e. PeoplePerHour.com or UpWork.com etc) to promote their service. These will be honest reviews from past clients they have worked with.
- Don’t be overwhelmed when using sites like PeoplePerHour or UpWork.
When using freelance sites like PeoplePerHour and UpWork, you simply post a description of what you require and the freelancers then send you proposals which consist of; how much they will charge and what they can do for that price. You are not obliged to hire anybody. You can choose to message any freelancer and ask them as many questions as you like through the website itself.
Depending on your requirements you could have a complete flood of proposals within minutes!
Go through each proposal later that day when they’ve slowed down or wait until the next day. Remember to ask any of the freelancers to clarify or expand on information that they have put into their proposals. You’re in complete control of who you hire and who you talk to. After all, you’re the one paying for their service!
Ask them if they would send your completed flyer design to you in a range of file formats (.jpeg, .svg and .png). Having your dog walking flyer in different file formats will be very useful when you are uploading your design (Step 2) to the printing company.
Different printing companies prefer your flyer design to be uploaded to them in different file formats.
Company A prefers a .svg file to be uploaded so they can produce the best flyer with their printers. Company B prefers a .png file to be uploaded because they use different printers than Company A and your flyer design will look better for Company B when they’re transferring your design to the printers.
Without boring you to death!
It’s to do with that - different file formats react differently when being transferred to the printers (re-sizing, clarity, colour brightness and image quality could all be affected when printed).
If you need any help with getting your design work done for your dog walking flyers, business cards or marketing materials, just send me an email and I will contact the professional graphic designers that I trust and work with to produce quality designs.
So, you’ve found a designer, but what guidance do you need to give them to make sure they do a brilliant job of designing your dog walking flyer…
What Your Dog Walker Flyers Should Contain.
As I mentioned earlier, using a dog walking flyer template, free or paid, isn’t really going to do the job!
Your dog walking business flyer needs to be unique and specially designed for your pet care business. It will need to incorporate your branding and style.
All of your dog walking marketing materials need to be consistent with every other part of your business advertising and promotion. This will set your dog walking business way above every other pet care business in your area as you will instantly be seen as a professional and organised pet carer.
Consistency Is Key!
It’s how all professional businesses (local and national) succeed in being remembered with their marketing messages. You come to recognise company colours and logos and automatically associate them with a product or service.
Below is an example of our own pet care business' flyer we used when we first started. As you can see, it is simple, clear and contains the essential parts that made our flyer work well and gain a few clients.
Front Of Dog Walking Flyer
Back Of Dog Walking Flyer
Ok… I agree...
It certainly was never going to win us any awards!
But it did win us clients!
It was simple and clear, and that was the main aim of our pet care flyer. It told the future client - who we were, what we do and how to get in touch.
- Branding - Always place your logo at the top of the flyer on the front and at the bottom of the back, so it is the first thing and one of the last things your potential client will see. We had our phone numbers as the very last thing, but people do not consciously, take in a line of numbers! My pet care business sticks very close to the colours in the logo (green and beige) consistency of colours is important in all of your marketing materials.
- Contact Details - This sounds really obvious - Make sure your contact details are on your flyer! I have seen a handful of dog walking flyers without any contact details! I have no idea at all, why somebody would spend time and money on a flyer and not have any contact details printed on them. Even if you only have one mobile number or a Gmail address, have it printed on your flyer. When your potential clients are searching for pet carers, they want to find what they're looking for easily and quickly. They will not spend time looking for your contact details, they will simply get in touch with your competitor instead.
- Our Services - Give an outline of the pet care services you provide. Pet owners are looking for a wide variety of services ranging from dog boarding and house sitting to dog groomers and dog walkers. If you only provide one service, write a detailed description of your service, for example - what your service includes and the benefits their dog will get by using your service, why you provide a better service than any of your competitors.
So far, we've covered - where to get your design from, the file formats you'll need and what should be on your dog walking flyer.
Now...Let's Get It Made!
Step 2 - Getting Your Dog Walking Flyers Printed.
The next step is the waiting game! Waiting for the knock on your door and seeing a box of your dog walking flyers for the first time!
But before you get to hear the postman, you must do just one thing for Step 2 and that’s get your flyer design to a printing company. There is no better company for this than VistaPrint.
I've used VistaPrint for printed marketing materials such as business cards, flyers and posters for many years for myself and past website design clients.
I can recommend them to anybody who is looking to produce quality marketing materials for their business. They offer printing services that cater for startups, so we can invest in our businesses without breaking the bank!
The quality of their flyers, posters, business cards and other marketing materials I have ordered over the years for my own pet care business and my web design clients, have always been of an excellent standard. Their customer support is quick and very helpful and their prices are certainly affordable, especially for the quality of work they produce.
Of course, there are other printing companies like HelloPrint and Solopress, which I’m sure also have a high standard of work which they produce, but I can’t personally recommend either as I’ve never ordered any advertising materials from them! (If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it!)
I'll never recommend any service or product that I haven’t tried and tested myself.
The process is quite straightforward, just upload your newly designed dog walking flyer image to VistaPrint (they prefer .png file format) then choose the size of your flyer and the amount of flyers you would like.
It usually takes a few business days for your flyers to be delivered.
The cost of 2000 dog walking flyers is around £80 to £150 depending on the quality of the finish you want and the size of the flyer. I recommend getting DL size flyers (it's 99mm by 210mm) and a mid-range quality finish.
Don't get the flyer holder from there though, they're much better value on Amazon. I bought this flyer holder from Amazon. It's a strong and sturdy holder and you get a pack of 10 for £15, which I think is great value, seeing as they'll last you for years!
Step 3 - Distributing Your Dog Walking Flyers.
As we talked about earlier, when it comes to getting your dog walking flyer in front of people, posting them door to door is a waste of time!
So, how do you get your dog walking flyer in front of people without wasting hours (if not a whole day) by pounding the pavement and posting them door to door?
Distributing your dog walking flyers should be treated as a ‘set and (sort of!) forget’ marketing technique.
The key is; volume of people and locality of people. The door to door method checks both of these requirements.
It’s the WORST possible way to achieve these requirements.
I have used many ways to get my flyers out there and to reach as many people as possible.
The 2 most successful methods which, by far, have worked the best are:
1. Place Your Dog Walking Flyers In Local Vets
It works because people are seeing your flyers at the very moment they’re with their dog and thinking about their dog’s health and wellbeing.
Of course, not everybody who comes into the vet’s clinic is looking for a dog walker, but if they think they may need this service sometime in the future, you can guarantee they’ll take a dog walking flyer that you have placed there.
How To Get Your Dog Walking Flyers In A Local Vet Practice
It is very easy to advertise your dog walking services inside a vet practice.
Simply, go in and ask whoever is at the front desk if you can place around 50 of your dog walking flyers on the counter. You don’t need to ‘pitch’ to them! Just explain that you’re a new dog walking and pet care business that has just started and that you are looking to advertise your business – just be honest and speak to them as one professional pet carer to another professional pet carer.
The response you’ll usually get is one of positive interest, you may not be performing surgery on dogs but both you and the vet practice are working in the same field of animal care. You are trying to keep your clients’ dogs happy and healthy and when they aren’t - they go to the vets!
99% of the time, they will say yes.
They may have to check with the practice manager first, but as long as you are looking professional with your business brand clearly visible on a t-shirt, fleece or hat etc they shouldn’t have a problem with letting you leave some flyers on the counter top.
Getting a flyer holder for your dog walking flyers is a must for the professionals! Your flyers will look neat and tidy in the vets and it just, simply looks more professional than a messy pile of flyers which could easily get knocked on to the floor!
Always remember to go back in a month or so when the vet isn’t too busy and check to see how many flyers are left and top them up if needed. Ask the staff what response your dog walking flyers have been getting (If there are none left you know it’s gone very well!). Has any of their clients asked about your pet care business and what sort of questions have they been asking?
It’s essential to keep going back to wherever you leave your flyers, to make sure there are enough in the holder and have a quick chat with the staff!
Regularly tracking and checking on all of your pet care business' advertising is the only way you'll find out what is working and what isn't.
Tracking the efficiency of your offline advertising and marketing efforts is a major factor of setting you apart from other pet carers in your area.
There is still a high percentage of pet care businesses that think that there's no need to invest a little money into advertising, let alone track how their investment is performing. The assumption is that, they will get lots of clients quickly, just through word of mouth (If only that was true!)
Why would you invest money into advertising your pet care business, then not keep an eye on how it's doing!!
If you know what is working, you can confidently invest more money into that advertising method. Equally, if an advertising path isn't getting you pet care clients then you stop spending that money and invest it in a way that gives you a positive ROI.
It’s certainly harder to track your offline advertising strategies than to track them online, but it still needs to be tracked so it enables you to build a successful and profitable pet care business.
Placing your dog walking flyers in a vet practice isn’t as hard as it may seem. It will take you 10-20 minutes to do and about 10 more minutes each month to check on how it is going. It’s a very ‘set and forget’ form of dog walking advertising that works.
Make your local vet practices your first stop when distributing your flyers.
2. Place Your Dog Walking Flyers In Local Shops
Again, a very effective way of advertising your dog walking services.
This method of distributing your dog walking flyers is the better version of going door to door!
DON’T target major national shops and supermarkets. It ISN’T going to work for two reasons:
- They won’t let you put your flyers near their tills!
- Even if they do, there’s a much higher rate of people who visit the supermarket who don’t live in the communities that your dog walking business can serve.
Target local shops.
You can (and should) put your dog walking posters in the local shops windows in the area you cover as well, but having your dog walking flyers near the till is better because it will stand out more, rather than being another poster in the window.
How To Get Your Dog Walking Flyers Inside Your Local Shop.
There’s a high chance that your local shops are run by one or two people and generally speaking the shop owner will be at the shop for most of the day. Approaching the shop owner is slightly different than approaching a vet to place your flyers. The shop owner will be much more business minded than the vets.
You’ll need to show the shop owner that you are a well organised and professional local pet care business, so displaying your business branding on your clothing, bag etc is again, a must. You’ll automatically be taken more seriously as a local business by the shop owner if you are wearing your business branded clothing.
Speak to the shop owner ‘business to business’ rather than ‘pet carer to pet carer’ as you would do at the vets. Explain that you’re a new local pet care business looking to advertise to the local community and that you are looking to attract pet owners who use their shop.
Where the vet practice is centred around being passionate and caring for animals, the local shop owner is centred around making money and selling products (and probably not so passionate about baked beans!)
There will be a small fee to pay the shop owner to have your dog walking flyers placed near the till but this is generally going to be in the region of a few pounds until your flyers are gone
Ask the shop owner if it would be OK to have a ‘rolling’ advertising spot, where as your flyers will always be near the till and you will come in once a month to top up the flyers.
When I approached my local convenience shop with my dog walking flyers and asked for a rolling advertising spot, they jumped at the chance! because their fee is payable each month - £5 per month for the shop owner is better than not having £5 per month!
Every time you go into the shop to top up your flyers, ask if there has been any interest in your dog walking flyers and what the response has been to them. It’s all about tracking - what’s working and what’s not! If a single flyer has not been taken within 3 months, then stop placing flyers in that shop.
Don't dismiss any local/independent shops or businesses. Just because they have no flyers or advertising on display it doesn't mean that you can't meet with the owner and discuss the opportunity of placing your dog walking flyers near the till. You are both local and professional businesses.
Consider; cafes, charity shops, grocery shops and newsagents.
When advertising your dog walking business with flyers inside of local shops, remember to get your flyer stand from Amazon. It looks a lot neater, tidier and draws the customers' eye towards them whilst they are waiting to pay.
Having a messy pile of flyers that can get knocked off the counter near the till will eventually start to get in the way and start to annoy the shop owner and they will be removed.
When it comes to advertising your dog walking business with flyers, there are a multitude of ways you can get clients to your pet business. Always be on the look out for an opportunity to advertise your pet care business.
There are no bad ideas, (apart from door to door posting of dog walking flyers!) there are just ways that will work better than others. Each town or city around the UK will have a way that will work slightly better for you than the next town or city.
Always be thinking in a ‘bigger picture’ way to advertise with dog walking flyers and give it a try, ask yourself two simple questions:
- Will people from the area my dog walking business serves, see my flyers if I place them here?
- Is there a lot of people from the area my dog walking business serves using this shop/vets etc?