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How to Write a Marketing Plan for Your Pet Business

What is the purpose of a marketing plan?

Crafting a successful marketing plan for your pet business involves understanding the market landscape, defining clear objectives, and implementing a strategic mix of marketing tactics. By identifying your target audience and studying competitors, you can tailor your approach to effectively reach pet enthusiasts. This broader perspective sets the foundation for a comprehensive and impactful marketing strategy that aligns with your business goals. A marketing plan useful for you, the pet business owner and any higher-ups who work with you on marketing, business, and finance. You’ll use a marketing plan as your north star to explain to others your marketing goals, your budget, your strategy, and other key factors we’ll get into later on.

What is the difference between a marketing plan and business plan?

Put simply, a business plan is a broader overview of all aspects of your business, including marketing as well as other business areas like operations, human resources, strategic planning, and finance, whereas a marketing plan specifically drills down into your marketing efforts. A business plan can be for internal use but is most helpful externally, to secure funding or get acquired by another business. A business plan may encompass a longer timespan than a marketing plan, which can cover a fiscal year or even one campaign.

How to do market research for a business plan? 

Market research should be the backbone of your business plan. You’ll use it to gather and analyze information about your target market, competitors, business landscape, and customer needs. First you’ll define your objectives: what is it that you want to study to include in that plan? You’ll find your target market: what types of people does your business want to serve? In which geographical areas? What are their ages and incomes? Purchasing behaviors? You can use market research reports that have already been published to help with this. Next you’ll figure out who your competitors are, how much they charge for services, and their strengths and weaknesses. You’ll design and conduct focus groups and surveys, analyze those findings, and finally put those findings into your business plan.

What should marketing plans include?

Marketing plans encompass many areas that will give your internal stakeholders a holistic view of your marketing strategy. Below are key elements and their purposes.

Executive Summary

An executive summary is a concise section that aims to give a brief overview of what will be discussed in the plan. You’ll start with an introduction, and then go into your business objectives like sales targets, brand awareness, customer acquisition, or other key performance indicators. Next you’ll explain your target market, your brand positioning, marketing goals, and what strategies and tactics you’ll use to achieve those goals. You’ll go into your budget and a timeline that maps out when the goals will be achieved. An example executive summary can look like “Whiskers and Wags has been in business for the past five years, and we’re looking to open another location. We’ll aim to increase brand awareness by 10% through the use of social media and event marketing. We’ll begin by targeting members of Gen X who want to save time by dropping their pups off with us. We’ll need $500,000 to open the second location and  which we hope to be open by the end of the year.”

Mission Statement

A mission statement is a concise declaration of your marketing plan’s objectives, purposes, and tactics. It should communicate your business’ unique value propositions, target audience, and brand positioning. For example: “Whiskers and Wags aims to be the best dog grooming business in Kansas City by employing kind and experienced staff members who combine efficiency with care to make our dogs and their humans happy. We want to expand to a new neighborhood in Kansas City to continue to serve our Gen X clientele. We’ll earn $500,000 in profits from our first location through 10% increased brand awareness, utilizing social media and search ads to attract new customers.”

SWOT Analysis

SWOT Analysis is a planning tool that identifies a company’s Strengths (internal positive aspects of the brand), Weaknesses, (internal disadvantages of the brand)  Opportunities, (external factors or market conditions that can help buoy the business forward) and Threats (external challenges that could harm the business). Here’s an example. “Whiskers and Wags is an incredibly beloved business in Kansas City.  We have an 85 NPS score and 70% of customers returning after one visit, and have skilled staff to help with all grooming needs. Unfortunately our market share is rather limited as we only have one location, and our founders don’t have much external capital to invest in the business. However, pet ownership has increased in Kansas City by 5% since last year and we found a space to expand into our second location. Insurance and rent for that space is more expensive than our first location, so we’ll have to make record profits to be able to cover for both businesses. 

Target Market

A target market in a marketing plan details the type of customers you want to reach. You’ll include demographics like age, gender, household income, and occupation, their psychographic data like their lifestyle and spending habits, location, purchasing behavior, their needs and preferences, their market size, and your competition. For example: “Whiskers and Wags is looking to target Gen X women with an average household income of $150,000. They’re heads of their household and office workers who want their dogs picked up, cared for, and dropped off at home when they return. There are other groomers in our area but we will sell products and services that highlight Gen X’s desire for individuality by selling colorful apparel and toys and offering hair dye, nail painting, and fur gems as add ons.

KPIs and Objectives

Objectives are SMART (specific, measurable, achievable, relevant, and time-bound) goals for what your business is hoping to achieve, and KPIs, or Key Performance Indicators, are specific tangible ways to measure how you’ll get to those objectives. For example, “Whiskers and Wags aims to increase brand awareness by 10% within the next year, (objective), by our website traffic and social media followers increasing by 15%. 

Marketing Strategy

Marketing Strategy details what tactics and approaches you’ll use to achieve your goals. You’ll include your target market as mentioned earlier and your brand positioning, or how your brand will be thought of in comparison to others, like “Whiskers and Wags will be a less premium option than our competitors WagCo, but we’ll offer better service and a more personal touch.) You’ll also include your marketing mix: defining your product, your pricing, your place (or location) and your promotions, e.g. “Whiskers and Wags will offer grooming services beginning at $120 for a basic wash, cut, dry, and nail trim at our Kansas City location, with a second location to be opened this year. We’ll offer an opening day event and sale on grooming in our second location.” You’ll talk about channels you’ll use to reach your audience (your website, paid social ads, paid search ads, et cetera) your timeline for how you’ll get this done, and how you’ll measure your progress.

Marketing Budget

Your marketing budget determines how much you’ll spend to achieve your objectives during the period of time you set. You’ll include how much you’ll spend, how that breaks down into channels, and how much will go toward each channel. You’ll also indicate how you’ll measure performance over time. For example: This year we’ll spend $100,000, with 20% going to paid social media and search marketing, 20% going to event marketing, 10% to email marketing, and 50% to promotions and sales.

Small Business Marketing Plan Template

There are multiple templates you can use to develop your own marketing plan, and many are linked to in this Shopify blog. HubSpot offers a free-to-download template with everything you’ll need to make a strong marketing plan. If you already use project management software, a subscription includes a marketing plan template that you can then transform with data visualization. Evernote, the notetaking software also offers a template, software comparison site G2 offers one, and Smartsheet even offers one as an editable PDF. 

Marketing Plan Example

If you’re looking for marketing plan examples, the Shopify blog has samples from real companies. Take a look at selections from Patagonia’s mission statement, MPlans’ marketing objectives, Botanical Bounty’s SWOT analysis, Cyberclick’s target market, Warby Parker’s market strategy, Visit Baton Rouge’s marketing plan, The University of Illinois’ marketing plan, and more...


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