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Why the Lack of Branding is Killing the Pet Industry

A brand is defined by Philip Kotler the author of Marketing Management as, “a name, term, sign, symbol, or design or a combination of them, intended to identify the goods and services of one seller or group of sellers and to differentiate them from those of the competitor.”

Does this sound like what you are trying to do? If you are in the pet industry and NOT selling dog or cat food then probably not. Outside of food manufacturers whose leading brands are owned by top Consumer Packaged Goods (CPG) firms, the pet industry has lagged behind other industries in terms of branding. Small to medium manufacturers of commodity toys, treats, collars and leashes have lined their pockets for years with a blatant disregard for developing a consumer brand. This worked great for the last 50 years. Manufacturers made tons of money and never invested in their brands.




This was a great strategy... until now. Pet retailers have woken up and discovered the power of private label and direct sourcing. They figured if consumers didn’t know any of the brands in their stores anyway, why don’t they just create their own brands? This is a great question. It would also lead to loyalty to their specific stores. Now retailers are taking it one step further and asking, ‘why don’t we just direct source from China and cut out the middle man?’ Now they can exceed 75% margins in even more categories. This is a great strategy for the likes of Petco and Petsmart but it is putting many pet manufacturers out of business.

Who will survive in the current pet environment? Unfortunately, only a handful of enlightened companies like Caitec with its HERO brand will change and thrive. The rest will ignore the call to create brands and fall by the wayside while pining away for the way things used to be. The Pet Industry needs to realize what the Consumer Packaged Goods industry has known forever -- if you own the consumer relationship with your brand you can control your retailers (ask Procter & Gamble who is in control). However, if the retailer owns the consumer relationship because you have no brand, they will control you. Better yet, they will bypass you and develop their own brand and put you out of business.





Bulldog Marketing & Sales Celebrates Fifth Anniversary

BS-Logo-OnWhite-TAGLINE

Agency is Driving Force in Changing Perceptions of
Marketing in the Pet Industry


(Bronx, NY) - Bulldog Marketing & Sales, Inc. today announced the celebration of its fifth year in business. Bulldog is the Pet Marketing and Sales agency formed by industry veteran John Cullen to provide entrepreneurs, start-ups, and mid-sized organizations access to top level marketing talent without the expensive overhead. The agency was made famous by its controversial video rants such as, 10 Signs You are a Pet Business Clown and 5 Things I Hate about the Pet Industry that have served as a battle cry for the industry to start taking marketing more seriously. Traditionally the pet industry focuses on the push side (sell in) of the retail equation and very little on the pull side (consumer purchase).

“It’s hard to believe it has been five years already,” said John Cullen, Bulldog’s Principal. “The results we have achieved for our clients speak for themselves. The bottom line is that marketing works – even in the pet industry. In fact, it’s a great way to stand out to retail buyers and consumers since so few companies in the industry do ANY marketing at all.”

Bulldog’s past and present clients include Thundershirt, JW Pet Company, Absorption Corporation (now Healthy Pet) and new comer Old Mill Pet Products, LLC., a division of HJ Baker & Bro. Some of Bulldog’s work includes programs never before seen in the industry such as the Jeep Full of Fun, a JW Pet account specific program at Petsmart and the Scaredy Pet Challenge, a PR campaign for Thundershirt. It is also the driving force behind the new brand of dog treats, nature’s bits, creating its identity (name, logo, packaging, website, sales materials, etc.) and developing the sales channel.

To celebrate its anniversary, Bulldog is planning a full year of activities including a $2000 donation to the ASPCA ($500/quarter), donating 50 hours of time to pet product start-ups and having an anniversary party for industry friends and clients at the Global Pet Expo in March.

About Bulldog Marketing & Sales, Inc.
Bulldog Marketing & Sales, Inc. is a full service agency formed in September, 2009. It has over 15 years of marketing and sales experience ranging from marketing strategy to new product development and retail sell-in. It has increased sales and developed new products for the Fortune 500 as well as for start-ups. Marketing & sales expertise includes: Pet Products, Consumer Packaged Goods and Consumer Electronics. Bulldog is headquartered in the Bronx, NY – a few miles north of mid-town Manhattan. For more information, visit www.bulldogms.com.





Eternal Rest Pet Caskets Provides a Simple Solution to Celebrate a Pet’s passing

Company Develops an Elegant & Affordable Pet Casket for Small Animals 

Anchor Point, AK – (June 5, 2013) Eternal Rest Pet Caskets, LLC announced today the launch of its Pet Casket products into the pet trade.  Its caskets provide an alternative to the old shoe box or the ‘porcelain highway’ for burying a beloved pet.  Alternatively, Eternal Rest Pet Caskets provide a solution for a respectful pet burial or cremation of smaller pets like fish, gerbils, birds up to small dogs & cats.  Retailers can now give their customers a way to celebrate a pet’s life.  It can also provide a teaching moment for children about respecting the life and loss of a beloved pet. 

“We wanted to develop a product that helps the grieving process for the entire family,” said John Girton, Managing Partner at Eternal Pet Caskets, LLC. “In addition, we created a new revenue stream for retailers.  There aren’t a lot of simple and affordable options on the market today.”


The caskets are made in the US and are printed to depict a rich wood grain exterior and a soft quilted inner liner.  A placard is also printed on the cover so it can be personalized with a pet’s name.  It is Available in four sizes with retail prices ranging from $9.95 to $24.95. 


For more information visit www.eternalrestpetcaskets.com or contact John Cullen at Bulldog Marketing & Sales, Inc., john.cullen@bulldogms.com or call 855-456-4738 to request a sample, a hi-res image or to schedule an interview.

About Eternal Rest Pet Caskets, LLC


Eternal Rest Pet Caskets, LLC was founded by John Girton in 2012.  After experiencing the loss of several small pets throughout his lifetime, he saw the need for a product that was both affordable and respectful.  There are very few solutions for burying a pet on the market today.  In addition, he saw the opportunity to teach children about the passing of a pet by celebrating its life with a respectful goodbye.  The company is headquartered in Anchor Point, AK.  For more information visit www.eternalrestpetcasket.com







Bulldog Marketing & Sales, Inc. Launches New Logo

BS-Logo-OnWhite-TAGLINEAgency Takes Steps to Solidify Its Position as the Premier Pet Industry Marketing & Sales Resource

Bronx, NY – (May 7, 2013) Bulldog Marketing & Sales, Inc. (www.bulldogms.com) announced today the launch of its new company logo.  The logo reflects the agency’s desire to solidify its image as the premier marketing agency servicing the pet industry.  The logo is the next evolution of the original keeping only the bulldog head but with a more modern, crisper look.

 

“The pet industry, outside the major pet food companies, is filled with companies that think they can get by with mediocre marketing, logos, websites and packaging,” said John Cullen, Principal of Bulldog.  “I wanted to use my logo as an example to the industry.  Love it or hate it – it’s professional and clean”.

 

In addition to creating a new logo, Bulldog has also revamped its website to fit with the professionalized look.  It has also added a toll-free number and has begun accepting all major credit cards including American Express.

 

“Many of our clients asked if we would accept credit cards.  Just like all businesses, our clients want the rewards points offered by credit cards,” said Cullen.  “It is also a convenient way to pay.”

 

To learn how Bulldog can help your company grow, call 855-456-4738 or visit www.bulldogms.com.  We offer a free, no obligation consult to discuss your marketing & sales needs.

 

About Bulldog Marketing & Sales, Inc.

Bulldog Marketing & Sales, Inc. is a full service agency formed in 2009.  It has over 15 years of marketing and sales experience ranging from marketing strategy to new product development and retail sell-in.  It has increased sales and developed new products for the Fortune 500 as well as for start-ups. Marketing & sales expertise includes: Pet, Consumer Packaged Goods and Consumer Electronics.  Bulldog is headquartered in New York City.  For more information, visit www.bulldogms.com or call 855-456-4738.







Bulldog Marketing & Sales, Inc. Launches New Website, Expands Service Offering, Retains Sales Pro

Agency Becomes One-Stop-Shop for Pet Product Marketing & Sales


Bronx, NY – (May 1, 2013) Bulldog Marketing & Sales, Inc. (www.bulldogms.com) announced today the launch of its new website, its expanded service offerings and the addition of an EVP of Sales & Marketing.  Bulldog is the Pet Marketing Consulting and Sales agency formed by pet industry veteran John Cullen to give entrepreneurs, start-ups, and small to mid-sized organizations access to top level marketing talent without the expensive overhead.

 

Bulldog’s new website reflects its expanded service offerings.  In addition to more traditional marketing and sales services, the agency now offers Public Relations and Social Media management through its strategic partnership with K. Sutherland PR and National and Account Specific promotions through its partner, Promotional Expressions.  In addition, Bulldog now offers a variety of web services such as Search Engine Optimization (SEO), Website Design and Pay-Per-Click Advertising (SEM).  Its new website also makes it easier for potential clients to access Bulldog’s pet marketing videos, case studies, client testimonials and its pet marketing blog which is chock full of free marketing & sales advice.

 

“I wanted to make it easier for companies looking for marketing & sales help to find it all in one place,” said John Cullen, Principal of Bulldog.  “It’s more efficient and cost effective for a client if all of its needs can be met under one roof since it is easier to integrate all the elements of the marketing mix.”

 

Bulldog has retained Gary DeFeo as EVP of Sales & Marketing.  DeFeo is a sales and marketing professional with over 25 years of experience in selling national retail accounts.  Most recently he was the VP of Sales for Zoombak GPS Trackers and the General Manager, Mobile Entertainment for JVC Co. of America.  He will not only be building Bulldog’s business, but the businesses of Bulldog’s clients.  DeFeo will also be engaged in account management across the company’s portfolio of clients.

 

“Gary is the consummate sales professional.  No one knows more about selling and closing,” said Cullen.  “I know, because I have seen him in action when we worked together at Zoombak.  He will be an asset to Bulldog’s clients.  I’m excited to have him on my team.”

 

To learn how Bulldog can help your company grow call 855-456-4PET(4738) or visit www.bulldogms.com.

About Bulldog Marketing & Sales, Inc.

Bulldog Marketing & Sales, Inc. is a full service agency formed in 2009 by John Cullen.  It has over 15 years of marketing and sales experience ranging from marketing strategy to new product development and retail sell-in.  It has increased sales and developed new products for the Fortune 500 as well as for start-ups. Marketing & sales expertise includes: Pet, Consumer Packaged Goods and Consumer Electronics.  It is headquartered in New York City.  For more information, visit www.bulldogms.com or call 855-456-4PET(4738).







Video: 10 Signs You are a Pet Business Clown

How to go from the BIG TOP to the BIG LEAGUE in the Pet Business.



A controversial video explaining what you are doing wrong and how to succeed in the pet business.

The 10 Signs are:

1. You Have 1 SKU

2. Your Marketing Budget is $0

3. You Think Posting Cute Dog Pictures on Facebook will drive Demand for your Product

4. You Think You Can Get Into a Major Account without a Rep

5. You Have No Brand Recognition and Think Petsmart will Carry Your Product

6. You Believe the Ridiculous Category Stats that Pet is a $50 Billion Industry

7. You Think You can Build Your Business with Distributors

8. You Don't Know How to Pay for Marketing & PR

9. You Write Dealer Orders at Trade Shows

10. Your Packaging Looks Like a 4th Grader Designed It

It's not your fault, but you need to get help. Drop the rubber nose and big shoes and give us a call.

Contact Bulldog Marketing & Sales Today for a FREE 1/2 Hour Consult info@bulldogms.com.

Learn more about Bulldog Marketing & Sales and check out all of the FREE pet marketing advice at:

http://www.bulldogms.com





Video: 5 Things I Hate About the Pet Industry!



1. The Peddler Mentality

2. It's all Push, No Pull

3. The Ridiculous Category Stats

4. Marketing is an Afterthought

5. Anyone Can Get In

There is hope!

Get a Bulldog.

Call 718-218-4PET (4738) to schedule a FREE 1/2 hour consultation!





Pet Marketing Expert, John Cullen, Expands Consulting Practice

Bulldog Marketing & Sales, Inc. Becomes Premier Pet Marketing Agency


 

Bronx, NY – (March 12, 2011) Bulldog Marketing & Sales, Inc. (www.bulldogms.com) announced today the expansion of its agency’s bandwidth.  Bulldog is the Pet Marketing Consulting and Sales agency formed by pet industry veteran John Cullen to give entrepreneurs, start-ups, and small to mid-sized organizations access to top level markeg talent without the expensive overhead.  The agency was run by Cullen part-time while employed at JW Pet as VP of Marketing.

“John Cullen has successfully led our transition to a brand driven organization,” says Jon Willinger President of JW Pet Company Inc. “Cullen’s marketing experience and pet background make him a driving force in our industry.  He will continue to build JW’s brand momentum on a consulting basis.”

Cullen began his pet marketing career at HJ Heinz on the Pounce brand of cat treats. He has also held marketing positions with Chock Full O’ Nuts Coffee, Saputo Cheese and Liberty Media.  His marketing & sales agency offers services such as go-to-market strategy, brand name and logo development, advertising, promotions and PR, marketing research, SEO, PPC and Social Media as well as sales rep network and channel development.  Client case studies can be viewed at www.bulldogms.com/case-studies.

“JW is a great case study on how marketing can drive sales and transform a company,” says Cullen.  “I’m looking forward to helping other companies get to the next level of sales by increasing their consumer awareness.”  To learn how Bulldog can help your company grow call 718-218-4PET (4738) or visit www.bulldogms.com.

About Bulldog Marketing & Sales, Inc.

Bulldog Marketing & Sales, Inc. is a full service agency formed in 2009.  It has over 15 years of marketing and sales experience ranging from marketing strategy to new product development and retail sell-in.  It has increased sales and developed new products for the Fortune 500 as well as for start-ups. Marketing & sales expertise includes: Pet Products, Consumer Packaged Goods and Consumer Electronics.  Bulldog is headquartered in the New York City.  For more information, visit www.bulldogms.com.

About JW Pet Company Inc.

Established in 1998 in Teterboro, NJ, JW Pet Company is internationally recognized for excellence in pet product innovation. The company produces a variety of unique pet products across several categories including: dog toys, cat toys, grooming, bird toys and accessories, feeding, small animal habitats and others. JW Pet Company is also the recipient of numerous industry accolades, including “Best in Show” awards at both Global Pet Expo in 2010 and 2011 and SuperZoo in 2010. The company presently holds more than 125 product patents designed to improve the lives of pets and pet parents with the goal of creating “Intelligent Ideas. Happy Pets.” To learn more about JW Pet Company, visit www.jwpet.com.





10 Pet Marketing Commandments

Clearly I am no Moses and my inspiration is far from divine. However, I do know a thing or two about how to be successful in the pet industry. So here are my 10 Pet Marketing commandments, violate them at your own risk. Follow them and you may find success & riches in the pet industry.

10 Pet Marketing Commandments



1. Thou shalt have more than 1 pet product SKU.

You need to build a brand block on the shelf. One SKU products have so many disadvantages – from a buyer not wanting to do the paperwork to being hard to find at retail. Use sizes, colors, scents, etc. to create a minimum of 10 – 12 SKUs which will constitute a product “line”.

2. Thou shalt have great packaging.

Many start-ups try to enter the pet industry with poor brand names, logos and packaging. Your product may be excellent so give it a real chance in the market with great packaging. You can get professional looking packaging much cheaper than you may expect.

3. Know thy pet category.

Before you enter the pet industry know the pet category you are entering. If it is a hotspot lotion you need to know the market potential – how many dogs suffer from hotspots? How many consumers purchase hotspot creams & lotion at retail vs. from their vet. How much does the average hotspot solution cost? How many hotspot solutions are available at Petco & Petsmart? How competitive is the category? This will give you a better idea of what the real opportunity is.

4. Thou shalt get the right pet rep.

Having the right rep is the difference between sitting in front of a legitimate buyer at Petco or Petsmart and endlessly cold calling a buyer and sending samples. Most work on commission only so the risk to you is minimal. Get the right rep and get a real appointment. Stop cold calling and wasting your product on samples.

5. Know thy competition.

Know your competition’s products, pricing and key accounts. Can you match or beat their pricing? What are their strengths, what are their weaknesses? How many competitors are there in your category? Follow them on Facebook, Twitter and Linkedin. What are they talking about? Is there packaging & marketing better than yours?

6. Thou shalt have a pet marketing budget.

You MUST have a marketing budget to promote your pet product. The typical rule of thumb is 10-15% of gross revenue for marketing. If you are spending less you are at risk. Keep in mind the difference between success and failure is awareness - among the trade and consumers of your product. If you are not generating awareness you aren’t generating sales.

7. Thou shalt go to Global Pet Expo.

If you are series about being in the pet business you need to join APPA and attend Global Pet Expo. It is the only trade show that really matters. Once you grow you can spend the money and attend Superzoo and Backer.

8. Know thy pet customer (retailer).

What are the account’s margin requirements? What are their price points of your competition? Does your product fall into a focus area for them? How many stores do they have? What would an opening order look like? How do they define success for your product category?

9. Thou shalt advertise your pet product.

This is related to #6. You need a budget to spend on advertising. First advertise to the trade in Pet Product News, Pet Business and Pet Age. As you build enough distribution to be found in chains and independent pet stores you can begin advertising to consumers – Dog Fancy & Cesar’s Way are good starting points.

10. Thou shalt conduct pet marketing research.

Test everything -- your name, product concept, advertising, etc. It’s never been easier or cheaper with products like Survey Monkey. Post the questionnaire on your Facebook Page and create Twitter updates about it. Ask for honest opinions and you will get the answers you need. If you really want to do research the same way Procter & Gamble does it will cost you, but not that much with Zoomerang.

I hope you find the commandments helpful. I wish you the best of luck in your pet business.

Need help? Bulldog offers a FREE 30 minute Pet Marketing consultation. Contact us to set an appointment.

Want to learn more? Visit the Pet Marketing blog.





5 Pet Business Killers

Are you killing your pet business?  You may be.  Over 10 years of experience in the pet industry has taught me that if you are doing the following 5 things you may be squeezing the life out of your pet business.  Do any of the following sound like you?

1)      Not understanding the Market for Your Pet Product – you need to know what the real potential for your product is.  For example, you have a hotspot remedy.  Great!  Now, how many dogs suffer from hotspots?  If you don’t know, you shouldn’t develop a product for it.  All product development efforts should start with knowing how many people could potentially purchase your product.  You should have a good estimate of units and dollar volume.  So in this example, if you find out from a reliable source that 25% of dogs suffer from hot spots in any given year then your potential volume could be 78 million dogs (source: APPA) X 25% = 19MM.  So if EVERY dog owner buys your product the total volume potential is 19MM and if you sell your item for a retail of $4.99 the total dollar volume is $97MM.  Now not EVERY person is going to buy YOUR product for hotspots.  There are a lot of other considerations.  How many people will simply do nothing or visit their vet… but I would say you could turn it into a $1MM+ business if you do everything else right.

2)      Using Cost Plus Pricing for your Pet Product – This is a common mistake of inventors or first time entrepreneurs.  You take your cost, let’s say $3 and double it for a 50% margin, 100% markup for a cost to retail of $6.  The retailer doubles it for another 50% margin or 100% markup for a retail price to consumers of $12.  Makes perfect sense right?  A 50% margin is healthy for a startup – maybe too healthy.  Most operate at breakeven or even a negative gross margin for the first year or so.  Back to our example… your item is now $12.  Problem?  Your competition or comparable items are all $9.99 or less.  This is a big problem.  The retailer WILL NOT CUT HIS MARGIN TO SELL MORE OF YOUR PRODUCT.  It is your responsibility to price your item right.  Most product companies are based on economies of scale – sell more and your manufacturing costs drop.  Keep that in mind.  You should use the retail price you believe the ultimate consumer will pay and work backwards to your cost.   If you can’t get the product for that price then either work at a loss for awhile to build volume or don’t get into the business.  Look for something else to make or go get a regular job.

3)      Not doing any Marketing Research for Your Pet Product – I’m sure you think your product is great.  If you didn’t you wouldn’t have created it.  I’m also sure IT IS great.  However, just to be sure ask some people what they think.  Ask your neighbor your co-working or friend.  Show them the product in its packaging and simply ask would you buy this product for X?  X= estimated retail price point.  Now if you want to go further use Survey Monkey and create a more formal survey.  You can post the link on your Facebook page and Tweet about it. Try to get around 100 people to take the survey.  Show a picture of the product with a few sentences explaining what it does and include the suggested retail price point.  If you are worried about secrecy just use a text descriptor to give a general overview of your product.  Ask some questions about it and see if the responses are as enthusiastic as you expected.  Research doesn’t have to be expensive, but it is essential.  The best part is if the results are positive you can use them for your retail sales presentation.

4)      Not Developing Enough SKUs – This is a recurring theme in my blog posts and pet marketing video lessons.  I keep repeating it so it eventually sinks in.  I am going to repeat – MOST 1 SKU PRODUCTS WILL FAIL.  It’s simply not worth a buyer’s time to do the paperwork for 1 SKU.  In addition, the buyer knows it won’t do well.  Why?  It will get lost on the retail shelf and never be found.  It’s not that hard to develop more SKUs.  Think large, medium and small size.  Different flavors, different scents.  A good rule of thumb is to shoot for 10-12 SKUs to create your product line and “brand block” on shelf.

5)      Not Getting Help Early Enough – I have many prospects take advantage of my FREE ½ hour consult.  What I hear more often than not is that tens of thousands of dollars have been spent with little or no results.  Don’t be one of these prospects.  I have spent the last 20 years (the last 10+ in the pet industry) making mistakes and doing testing.  Take advantage of my mistakes!  I know what works and what doesn’t.  I am sure you are really smart, but it takes awhile to understand the pet industry and how to successfully introduce a product into the market.

Want help? Contact us for a FREE Half Hour Consult.

Want more FREE Pet Marketing advice?  Download my FREE whitepaper, “Confessions of a Pet Product Marketer”.