Questions From the Tank
By Dog Daycare Business Think Tank
A Member of the Dog Daycare Business Think Tank asked:
What’s the best way to directly market to the customers of your immediate competitors?
The holy grail of business marketing is being able to target the current customers of your competitors. It’s a perfect audience; you know they have a dog(s), you know they are very interested in dog daycare and boarding, and you know that they are currently spending money on those services. You don’t have to sell them on why they need it, you just need to persuade them that your business is better.
Unfortunately, there really is no one accurate way to find out who is a customer at your various competitors. To market to them online, you would need a customer list, which I’m guessing your competition is going to be pretty reluctant to hand over to you. To get them offline, you would have to camp out at their facility and watch them leave, then stalk them and make them an offer in person to switch over to your business. That’s creepy and not very practical.
All is not lost though. There is another option that, although is not directly targeting customers of the competition, is still amazingly powerful and can yield great results, and it’s called Facebook advertising. The targeting on Facebook is incredibly focused and allows you to come very close to figuring out who the optimal people for your services are.
Here’s why Facebook ads comes close to finding your competitors’ customers: When I create an ad for a client and am choosing the targeting, the first thing I do is see if any competitors’ Facebook pages are listed and available to show ads to. If so, you can send ads to everyone who likes your competitors’ Facebook pages—which is likely to include many of their customers. Also, because Facebook owns Instagram, you can simultaneously show your ads there as well, giving you exposure on two social platforms instead of one.
Unfortunately, (for reasons unknown) Facebook doesn’t index all business pages, and the majority of small businesses seem to not show up for targeting. That sucks, but we do have another option that still works at finding very relevant people who may also be customers at your competitors’ businesses.
We can target people in the immediate geographical area of your competitors (as well as your business) who have a dog, have spent money on dog-related products and/or who like other dog-related Facebook and Instagram pages. Although we’re targeting more people than just the customers of your competition, everyone who views the ads will be a perfect fit for your business. And, if your offer, copy and creatives are good, you’ll be able to bring a bunch of them into your business.
The other platform you can use to get leads from your competitors is Google advertising, which works a little differently. With Google, instead of going out and putting your ad in front of them (an offensive approach), you wait for someone to search for your competitors in Google and pay for your business to be listed there (more of a defensive approach because you have to wait for people to search for the term).
What’s really cool is that your business may even be listed above the actual business they were looking for—depending on how aggressive your budget is. This might be a competitor’s current customer, as well as other people who have heard of them and are just researching, but either way, if your ad is structured properly, you can get them to forget about your competitor (the one they originally searched for) and click over to your website.
I know that you wanted a quick and easy way to reach all the customers that are going to your competition, but I’m sorry to say, it’s not that easy.
Hopefully you can now see that you have a few other options that, although aren’t a guaranteed match to reach all of your competitors’ clients, can still get to some of them by using the powerful targeting capabilities of online platforms like Facebook, Instagram and Google. The great thing about using these advertising channels is that you can set any budget and get detailed reporting on how the campaigns are doing in real time so that you don’t have to keep spending money on ads that aren’t converting—and put more money into what is working.
Questions for this column come from the Facebook group The Dog Daycare Business Think Tank and are answered by Fernando Camacho (Fern). Fern runs Overdog Digital, a digital marketing agency specializing in working with dog daycare and boarding facilities. He does private business consulting, staff training and helps pet businesses utilize modern resources to expand their customer base and grow their businesses. Fern is also the author of six books and is a speaker at national conferences and private events.