The purpose of this article is to show what dogs can teach us about sales and marketing. As a dog-lover, I have seen personality and behavioral traits in our much loved four-legged furry friends that I hope can inspire us in some way as it relates to our marketing and sales jobs.
Photo: Joe Buissink
1) Listen and be sincere
Dogs listen to commands from their owners, simply because they want to please them or receive treats. For us, speaking is easy, effective listening is hard. Sales people do most of the talking, but listen less. By doing this, you miss out the opportunity to build the rapport and trust. You may have a whole suite of products and services to offer and are familiar with what you can do for your prospects, but do you really understand what they need? The missed opportunity to craft and tailor something to their needs would prevent you for creating the right solution, and thereby incurring a loss in potential revenue. Marketers too don’t listen to what campaign research data analytics are telling them, and launch campaigns without proper research into the right medium.
Dogs know best when it comes to showing sincerity. Dogs clearly show us that if you love someone, you should sincerely let them know. They do not bother that you have just reprimanded them or are in a bad mood. My dog, Ruffles is always ready with a tail wag or licking off the makeup from my face when I reach home. He never fails to sincerely apologize by stretching out a paw to make peace (or so I believe) whenever he gets caught tearing up the pillow, leaving evidence of the stuffing still in his mouth.
In a world where the customer is king and the customer experience journey is a key area of focus for driving acquisition and retention, showing sincerity in the marketing messages and deploying relevant content to consumers is vital in enhancing the user’s experience. Content has to be reliable and ultimately add value and not something that is out to deceive them, be it online or offline.
If you really listen and show sincerity in your message, your prospects/ customers will tell you a whole lot more. Once you gain loyalty, you reward and engage.
2) Always personalize your messages to engage!
Dogs and humans alike want to be engaged, inspired and entertained. This notion holds true in the marketing and sales world. Take social media channels for example; bombarding business-related sales emails to a recently connected LinkedIn connection is akin to a strained relationship. If you are planning to send cookie cutter sales templates without personalizing your message, don’t expect the recipient to be engaged, much less respond.
Personalization impacts customer engagement and loyalty. Marketers should also learn how to personalize the experience, for instance, we create promotions by way of Geo-targeting. We determine the location of the website visitor and offer them deals that are customized to their location. This allows us to be more targeted on specific demographics for our advertising efforts. Retargeting is a very common trend where a series of online targeted advertising is deployed to visitors who did not make their purchase decision and left the site without making their room reservations the first time. In some of the marketing campaigns that we have implemented, we give away products (treats to engage them) for contests or online survey participation. In turn, engagement and followers on our social media channels increase.
3) Follow your instincts
We have all heard the term “trust your instincts”. There are certain dog behaviors that originated from wild instincts. Ruffles love his toys and stealing loot from the laundry. What amazes me is that he never fails to hide or bury his stolen stash or favorite toy somewhere. Burying their prized possessions is a survival instinct. In the wild, dogs would bury their food to hide it from others, and then return for later. I later realized that the stash that the dog buries are actually prized possessions in their mind. By burying them, they are hiding their treasure and keeping it safe. In the marketing and sales world, we usually follow our instincts and determine if 1) the prospect/ lead is worth pursuing 2) If at the start of the campaign, you do not see the ROI, should you continue to persist? Like dogs, I believe we instinctively know when we need to follow our instincts. When I select marketing agencies/ vendors to work with, I largely base the decision on whether they understand our business requirements and objectives, and how effective a solution they can offer. If my intuition tells me otherwise, they are removed from the list. Those vendors with interests that aren’t aligned with my own can get in the way of making the best decisions.
4) Flexibility is Key
Dogs and Humans both require some form of flexibility in their lives. Ruffles, given his outgoing personality, has a flexible temperament that adapts well to our home environment and lifestyle. As marketers, we need to have a certain degree of flexibility in our marketing plans, as this will allow us to promptly respond to changes in the marketplace, assess opportunities developing and seek out potential problems that may arise. If a particular advertising channel is working, it would be good to shift more budgets to that medium. A flexible plan allows you to introduce alternatives to where the plan needs improvements or raise promotional spending where sales increase. Great sales people follow a sales process and understand that there are certain outcomes that help position them to win, they make flexible adjustments as and when but still take control of the process, and aligning it to the buyer’s needs.
When it comes to food and play, nobody knows that better than a dog. Ruffles is one determined fur-ball who patiently waits by the dinner table, gazing up with his imploring puppy dog eyes (just like in the picture), in the hope that a morsel of food “accidentally” drops off from the table. That same persistence should be exemplified in our roles. Just recently, we amplified a series of videos through a content agency. It was important we reach the most relevant audiences and engage and educate them through our videos. We also wanted to drive more traffic to our website. Within a month, the videos generated 10,750 clicks and more than 27 million impressions and the statistics were climbing steadily. The same videos were shared on social media channels and our website. We continually analyzed the campaign data analytics every week (top traffic sources by geography, top traffic sites, CTR) to better understand online customer behavior. The videos continued to be shared online for another three months, with great results. Through persistence, we not only gained insights into how to strategize more effectively, but had a clearer picture of what techniques work and what doesn’t.
6) Power of networking
Ruffles is a networker. He knows the value in meeting and snuggling up to the right people (his immediate family), his 2nd in line group of food givers (guests at the party or patrons at the café), his other partner-in-crime fur friends and the pet shop owners. He is hopeful that there is an opportunity out there, (in this case, for food) that he is able to get by socializing with others. When it comes to sales, there is a need to understand that networking isn’t about immediate gain. Each time you meet a prospect, there is an opportunity to be a resource to them and understand their business challenges and goals. Networking opens doors and builds strong relationships at the same time as delivering an element of confidence and integrity. When it comes to social media marketing for marketers, you have to do your duty to interact as well. Go ahead and like, share, comment on others’ posts/ content. Share your views, start a topic of conversation in various LinkedIn groups. Network away! – it’s crucial to our roles.
I am convinced that lots can be learnt from our fur-balls, not to mention learning how to love unconditionally and living in the moment. Dogs live life simply with no covert agendas, adapting very well to any situation thrown at them. If there is an animal in this world that can be described as incapable of deceit, it has to be the dog.
This article was written by Marilyn Choong and posted on LinkedIn.com.