With pet ownership rising and owners devoting more disposable income to their four-legged friends, the pet industry is a prime market for reps to pursue.
Taking The Pooch Plunge
When it comes to the pet market, Matthew Stikeman knows how to turn a profit.
The sales rep for AdVantage Promo Direct has worked with an array of clients in this thriving niche. His customers run the gamut from animal charities, shelters and pet stores to individual consumers looking for mugs, coasters and even Christmas ornaments personalized with an image of their dog. “There are a lot of different areas of opportunity,” says Stikeman.
For the ad specialty sales pro, those opportunities include an annual “Pooch Plunge” in a Toronto suburb. Each year on the day before the town closes down a community pool for the coming cold season, it invites residents to bring their dogs out for a swim. The fun event is sponsored by a local franchise that’s part of a Canadian-owned pet food and supply store chain. For three years running, Stikeman has annually provided a couple hundred dye-sublimated polyester fast-drying towels for the franchisee to give to dog owners who bring their pooches to the pool for a dip. “We do a limited run on the towels because it makes them more sought after. People know that if they want one, they have to get there early, and that helps encourage great turnout,” says Stikeman, noting he also provides signage for the event.
This past September, the towels were printed and ready to go when the client came to Stikeman with an 11th hour request for another product to give away. Things were complicated by the fact that the customer wasn’t sure just what item would be best. Stikeman, however, put on his consultative cap, and before long just the right product was being printed by AdVantage’s expert in-house decoration team. It was a sublimation-embellished key fob with imprinting that included the event’s logo and date on one side and the client’s store name and logo on the other. Again, only a limited number of items were printed – about 100 – to heighten the perceived value of the keepsakes. The lightning-fast turnaround that AdVantage delivered impressed the client as much as the quality of the items. “We went the extra step to make sure everything worked out just right, and they were thrilled,” says Stikeman.
When pursuing pet industry clientele, the seasoned sales ace says it’s important to show samples. “Take a nice product, something you do a really good job on and get that in front of them,” Stikeman says.