Customer-centric Info-Tech Strategies

Customer-centric Info-Tech Strategies

Case study 4: The success of a small business

When I started Pet Sitters Ireland back in 2010 it was really just a way for my husband and I to solve our own pet care needs. We hated putting our pets in kennels and when we looked for an alternative there was nothing, other than asking friends or family.

After researching the market, we realized that pet sitting was a service that other pet owners just like us wanted and needed.

After six years in business, Pet Sitters Ireland is Ireland’s largest Pet Sitting and Dog Walking company, with thousands of visits competed every month to hundreds of pet owners across Ireland. Most of this growth is attributed to our content marketing strategy. Here’s how I did it …

“Traditional” marketing didn’t work

When we started the business, we thought traditional marketing methods would bring in customers. We put out flyers, hung up posters, ran some newspaper ads, and gave out business cards.

And in the first year of business we attracted 40 customers. Not too bad, but we were stuck there and it was clear that if we wanted to scale the business, we needed to be online in a bigger way. So we set about re-designing our website and testing some Google ads.

Like many small businesses, our problem was cash flow. We simply didn’t have thousands to spend on advertising, nor did we want to spend that type of money. It wasn’t until 2012 that we started a content program that led to high growth with little cash outlay.

Small Business Content Marketing

I had read enough online to know that social media and content should play some role in our business but I could not connect the dots. I never felt I was a pet care expert, so I didn’t think I had credibility or anything to say that would interest people.

In 2012 I saw a video of Marcus Sheridan talking about the concept of blogging as a way to simply answer customer questions. Up until that point, my first attempts at blogging had mainly been about customer reviews, telling people what events we were attending, and general announcements about how great we were. In other words, not too interesting.

But this new idea made sense to me – certainly I could answer questions.

I read everything Marcus wrote about blogging and set to work on answering every question our customers had ever asked us.

By answering questions consistently on our blog three times every week, in 18 months we had reached more than 10,000 website visitors per month and developed a Facebook following of more than 30,000 fans! The content acted like a magnet to our website with the help of our social media promotion.

It was time for a big decision. We thought this content model could be scalable and knew that if we wanted to expand, we needed to bring on franchisees to promote the business at a local level.

The Results

In three years, we grew our revenue 450 percent, primarily on the back of our small business content marketing success. We now have a full-time office manager and three franchisees on board.

Opportunities have arisen to work with brands reviewing their pet-related products. Speaking opportunities have come to us because of our success story and we’ve been interviewed on podcasts and radio. In early 2016 we were finalists in the Irish Franchise Awards.

I’ve also had the opportunity to re-purpose our content and expand our reach by distributing our content at sites like The Huffington Post.

Following the interest in my story, I’m now using my love of blogging to help other business owners grow through small business content marketing.

Here are some of the tips I provide in the hope that they will help you, too.

Consistency

I believe consistency is the biggest factor in our success. When I committed to blogging three times per week, I didn’t stop.

Even when I got tired of blogging, and wondered if anyone would ever read my posts, I carried on.

I just knew that if this guy with a pool company could build a massive business with blogging then why couldn’t I? Marcus wasn’t a blogging expert that started a pool company, he was just a regular guy who learned the skills to blog about his business.

As time went on, my blog posts got better, and to this day I continue to improve my blogging skills. If you don’t start and stick with it, you’ll never improve.

A Learning Center

With more than 700 blog posts under my belt, I found that it probably wasn’t easy for someone to find anything on the website. So I created a resource center, which I recently developed into a learning center.

This is now a place where customers can see the answers to most commonly asked questions. They can watch videos or download e-books about our services or different pet topics.

Customers are telling us that they love the learning center. They tell us they have read everything and are ready to book business with us.

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