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Guerrilla Marketing for the Independent Pet Supply Shop

December 17, 2019

On the face of it guerrilla marketing does seem vaguely related to pets. But no, it has nothing to do with donning a primate costume on a street corner and holding a sign. However, guerrilla marketing does hold great potential for a small, independent pet supply shop.

Guerrilla marketing is all about empowering small-business owners to get noticed, and is based on a 1983 book title that promoted this idea of getting buzz for little cost. The idea is to surprise your audience, preferably sticking to methods that are low-cost or even free. Creative, humorous, maybe even a bit subversive. It won’t replace your existing marketing efforts. It’s a way to help people interact with your brand and have fun doing it.

Sound intriguing? Maybe you’ll want to get that gorilla costume ready after all, and read the following for inspiration.

Word on the street: Say it in chalk

Head to the dog park armed with chalk, and leave behind your own hand-lettered, hand-drawn “sidewalk” billboard. Give a reason to stop by the store; if you can incorporate a local joke or event, even better. For example, after a rainy spell, invite dog park-goers to bring in their muddy dog for a discount on pet grooming or the dog wash; all they have to do is mention the ad and you’ll see a little boost in (muddy) foot traffic!

The easel challenge

Speaking of chalk, social media has breathed new life into that humble small-business mainstay, the chalkboard easel. A pithy message and a little bit of artistic ability can make your sign go viral. Experiment, brainstorm with your colleagues, and don’t be afraid to poke a little fun at the humans and the zany pets they love. The hope is you’ll come up with a few that inspire pet lovers to stop, snap and share. (For that reason, make sure your brand shows up somewhere on the chalk easel.) But you’ll also be happy if that sign convinces someone to come in and look around, of course.

Flash mob catwalk

Get the gang together for some kind of staged dog spectacle in a public space. Picture it: Everyone’s going about their business, cue the runway music and announcer, and suddenly, the square has broken out into a canine fashion show, with dogs sporting the new arrivals for the latest Halloween costumes or Christmas sweaters. (Because everyone loves dogs in costumes, what could go wrong?)

Pop-up stands

As a pet supplier in a community of animal lovers, you basically have the winning formula to inspire smiles (and wagging tails). If a special event is coming up in your town, think of a creative way to take part. Take the variation of the classic lemonade stand and set up a free dog watering station. Or see if a local radio personality is willing to emcee a treat taste test to draw a crowd. (Results: The dogs like all of them, right?) Or partner with a local rescue and host a doggy kissing booth as a feel-good fundraiser.

Tips for the guerrilla marketer

Keep it simple

The idea is to let your creativity do the heavy lifting. Don’t drop a ton of money on materials. Instead, rent and borrow what you can, and just have fun.

Include the staff

Round up a guerrilla marketing team and have a quick brainstorming session. As mentioned earlier, our furry friends have many fans, so there should be no shortage of ideas.

Go to your audience

Come up with a list of public places where you’re sure to find people who adore their pets, and use that as your springboard to launch a creative message. There’s the dog park, the running path around the lake, that downtown district with all the dog-friendly patios. Also, think of places great cat messaging is sure to land.

Keep it on the up-and-up

Guerrilla marketing can be on the subversive side. A harmless prank, like a scarf and a sign on a public statue can inspire grins without causing damage. If your marketing effort means popping in and leading a spontaneous activity in a public space, you may want to check in with your town hall to confirm no special permitting is required.

Don’t sweat it

Don’t make plans with the intention of becoming the next viral sensation. Just have fun and think of it as a form of performance. As any performer will tell you, some bits work, others land with a thud. Your goal is to find a delightful, unexpected way to get into the hearts and minds of pet parents. If one idea doesn’t work, keep trying. Something is bound to land eventually.

While you’re busy brainstorming and planning, let NutriSource Pet Foods help you keep up with your social media posts with great content. Just visit to set up your free account to have ready-to-publish pet content delivered to your mailbox. Then, share it with your customers so you can do even more to help pet families live happy, healthy lives.