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Your Dog Is a Marketing Genius!

Sure, you can get an MBA, you can read Seth Godin religiously, you can webinar it up til the cows come home, but have you ever considered studying the marketing genius that lives under your very own roof?

I’m talking about your dog.

If you don’t have one, let me introduce you to one of my dogs, the delightful Dr. Waffles. While I’m at it, meet his equally persuasive cohort, my African Grey parrot, Butch. In only five short years (or 35, if you’re a dog), Waffles has mastered some of the fundamental laws of sales, marketing and branding. (Butch is 11, but he was born knowing this shiz.) Here’s the stuff they’ve nailed (and you should, too):

Make them believe you care.

I’m convinced Dr. Waffles loves me. He really enjoys my company, he’s overjoyed to see me, and he empathizes when I’m sad. Am I projecting some or all of this? Is it possible that Herr Doktor is a manipulative brown-noser who’s actually seething with resentment and disgust? Perhaps. All I know is, I believe he loves me. His every behavior communicates affection and devotion.

If you constantly give your clients and customers attention, demonstrate your concern for their welfare, listen and deliver on your promises, they’ll believe it, too — and they’ll love you right back.

Ask for what you want.

Want visitors to your website to sign a petition? Ask. Want clients to upgrade to the premium service? Ask. Want customers to buy the entire set? Ask.

African Greys are very smart — they have the intelligence of a 5-year-old child. My parrot Butch knows what every 5-year-old knows: always ask. Ask a cop to tie your shoes. Ask the mailman for a cookie. Ask Santa for the Red Ryder rifle. You’d be surprised how often it pays off, but children — and Butch — aren’t. Every so often Butch politely says, “Want cashew.” And nearly every time, he gets one. He’s no fool. So — be as smart as my parrot: ask.

Exceed expectations.

Butch greets me with several enthusiastic “Good mornings” each day and tells me “Goodbye” if there’s even the faintest hint I may be looking for my keys or sunglasses. When I do reach the door, in a sweet, high-pitched voice he purrs, “I love you,” which always sends me scampering back to his cage to assure him I love him too. Yes, he’s repeating things he’s heard me say in these circumstances. But when you hear a human voice come from an animal’s mouth intoning, ‘I love you,’” I dare you not to say, “I love you” back. It’s above what’s expected of an animal, and it never fails to impress. His extraordinary abilities and consistent sincere-sounding pronouncements make him special and make me feel special. And that’s what extraordinary brands do for their customers: they make them feel special.

Build trust.

I know Dr. Waffles won’t bite me when I pull thorns from his fur. I know Butch won’t take a chunk out of my nose when I kiss his beak. They trust me because over time I’ve kept my promises and acted in good faith. I trust them because they are consistent and good-natured (generally). Simple stuff. Just be reliable…a lot.

Be memorable.

Butch sings, recounts conversations, and pipes up with “I am Spartacus!” every now and then. People remember someone like Butch. Look up “ridiculously cute” in the dictionary, and there’s a picture of Dr. Waffles in all his crazy underbite glory. People always ask about Dr. Waffles’ namesake. His name is Dr. Waffles because the Dr. gives him a certain gravitas. I mean, with that underbite he’d have a hard time being taken seriously. Dr. Waffles is so supernaturally adorable, people remember him. It might be your name, your humor, your high quality, your low prices, or your insane underbite. Whatever it is, be memorable.

Speak to the heart.

Dr. Waffles has never picked up a check in his life. He’s never bought me a Christmas gift or remembered my birthday. He expects me to feed him, bathe him, pick up his poop. But every day in every way he gives me the greatest gift of all: he makes me feel loved, and even better, he makes me love. With his soulful eyes, floppy tail, jaunty gait, and his panting expectant face, he speaks to my heart. And, so, he’s got me. He’s got me good. For life.

At the base of every human behavior is love or fear. But I’m not suggesting you speak to the adrenal glands; I’m saying you will attract, satisfy and keep customers by appealing to their hearts. People want to be wanted, want to get better, express themselves, protect those they love, be their best, achieve their goals, pursue their dreams. They want to laugh, have fun, be comforted, to savor, enjoy, feel good, feel they deserve the very best.

People want to be loved, and they want to love. That’s where you come in. Solve their problems, offer them what they didn’t know they needed. Help them feel loved, guide their way to loving something or somebody. When you speak to the heart, it can’t help but listen.

How else do our pets teach us? Tell me how our pets are your business role models in comments below.

This was originally published in my 15 Minutes of Dame column for the DIY Business Association.

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