Whether you are opening a new cat grooming business, adding services to an existing salon or wanting to beef up your cat client list, you’ll need to have a game plan for your advertising money and efforts.
Having no plan is like throwing spaghetti against a wall and hoping something sticks. Marketing to the types of cat owners you want to work with doesn’t have to be frustrating or expensive, but it does require a plan.
1. Establish Who You Want to Work With
This first step will lay the groundwork for the rest of your marketing strategy. “Cat owner” is too broad of a category, so you will need to narrow down the type of cats and owners you want to work with in your business. Is it certain breeds, grooming styles, services or schedule frequencies? Cat owners typically want solutions that they can’t find at every grooming business, so your business should be clear about what services you offer and how you can help a cat owner.
Unlike dog grooming, cat grooming is less about the style or shape of the haircut and focuses more on solving an immediate problem (like painful matting or excess shedding) and preventing it in the future. In turn, this should change how advertising is approached, both through how services are presented and how potential and existing customers are engaged with.
2. Reaching New Clients
How to get new clients in the door is always a hot button topic—for any business—not just cat grooming. Your business should take into consideration where the type of cat owner you want to attract would be looking for a new service provider. Never put all of your eggs in one basket when it comes to marketing; you’ll want to utilize multiple platforms without spreading your time or budget too thin.
These days, an online presence is practically a necessity. This can include any combination of a website, search engine directories (like Google My Business) and social media business accounts. While it can be tempting to treat your business profiles as an extension of your personal one, you’ll need to develop a clear and consistent strategy for any platform you want your business to reside on.
Online marketing is not a “set it and forget it” medium. The more active your business is, the more your posts or pages will reach new people. So, dedicate time each month to plan out posts, pictures and even videos that can bring your cat grooming services to the forefront.
If you are also grooming dogs, make sure that cats have a clear representation amongst a sea of cute puppies. Many cat owners look for a quiet environment without barking dogs. To show this, post finished cat grooms not only demonstrating the styles you offer, but also to show how relaxed the cats look after their appointments.
One thing to keep in mind with social media accounts is that many platforms offer paid advertising options. This means your reach to show up in potential clients’ feeds is increased by spending money. Boosting posts is an inexpensive way to do this, but you should choose posts carefully so that it encourages engagement. While a beautiful groom can lead to likes and reactions, paying for any ad should lead to someone clicking on it so that they are led to where they can make an appointment. This is referred to as a “call to action.” Meaning, your image (or video) was eye–catching enough to make a stranger stop scrolling, read the caption and is so intrigued that they take action. An example could be adding, “And to book your cat’s appointment, call us at (your phone number),” at the end of your post.
Paying for social media boosts or ads can be utilized at almost any budget, even as low as a few dollars. However, it can take a lot of trial and error to figure out what types of posts, images and copy lead to the customers you want.
3. Strengthen Strategic Partnerships
Ask any groomer where they got a lot of new clients from, and many will say, “word of mouth.” But what does that mean exactly, and how can you get more cat clients from it?
This is where strategic partnerships play a big role. A lot of cat owners will ask for referrals or recommendations from other pet professionals including veterinarians, pet store owners/workers, pet sitters and even other groomers. It is important to build and nurture relationships with other businesses in your area to establish credibility and lead to a full book very quickly.
One of the huge benefits of grooming cats is that referrals will come from other grooming salons since few want to or even offer cat grooming.
4. Keeping the Clients You Want
The most cost–efficient marketing is to get existing clients to come back for frequent, repeat visits. The best way to do this is to make time for engagement, which can be done both online and offline, including email marketing, social media posting and commenting, mailed postcards and promoting re–booking in person.
While having several hundred or several thousand followers on your Facebook or Instagram may seem like an impressive way to compile clients and potential clients, keep in mind that content shared and accounts connected to those accounts aren’t owned by your business. This means that at any time there could be changes to the algorithm, your accounts could be blocked or inaccessible and you will have lost all of that information.
Always keep client contact information where you can save and back it up. The easiest method is through an email list. There are many email marketing platforms that are relatively inexpensive where promotional and informative emails can be sent to keep your business at the front of your customers’ minds.
Whenever you send an email, post on social media or otherwise reach out to your clients through these platforms, the biggest thing to remember is to follow up with engagement. Interact with your clients how you want them to interact with you by replying to their comments, sharing pictures and posts they would like, and following up with any questions or concerns. Engagement is not only a way to build and maintain personal connections with your customers, but it also boosts your organic reach on social media.
For cat owners, many of the problems they need help with can be solved with regular grooming schedules. Make it easy for them to come in more frequently by offering packages or setting up a reminder system. For example, owners lamenting over sharp cat nails may like the idea of a nail trim loyalty program or punch card, or a pre–booked nail caps schedule every six weeks.
Because your focus with cats should be on selling the solution, not the service, when booking initial appointments for a new client, discuss an appropriate schedule at the same time. Then, once they’ve seen their clean, fresh–smelling kitty, it is easier to follow up with booking their next appointment on the spot. And if they don’t pre–book, set yourself a reminder to reach out a few weeks before the next time you’d like to see them.
5. Creating a Strategy
Marketing shouldn’t be a “fly by the seat of your pants” task. Set aside time to come up with a plan, what you’ll need to do to implement it, and finally a way to track and analyze the results. Start by doing an audit on your current marketing efforts: What are you actively doing to bring in new clients and to retain existing clients? What is your success rate and how much does it cost you per new client? Using what has worked for you, lay out the next 3–6 months of actions that you need to take.
Here are some examples to get you started:
- Plan three social media posts per week.
- Schedule one day every two weeks to take photos of pets for sharing.
- Stop by two local pet businesses per week to drop off marketing materials and goodies.
- Send an email with two articles and one service/product promotion each month.
- Research local sporting events and request prices for sponsorship.
Not all of these examples will be part of your strategy, and don’t feel you have to overload yourself right off the bat. A grooming salon that has been established for a number of years will have very different marketing efforts than a new business just getting off the ground. This can take some trial and error, so start small before investing large amounts of money or time.
Knowing the type of client you want to attract and tailoring your efforts to them will help you craft a functional and successful marketing plan at every stage of your cat grooming business. ✂️