Marketing Lessons from a Rescue Dog

Meet Sarge, a Kibble-Powered Marketer

I’m convinced that Sarge gets into my Godin, Lipkin and Scott book collections when I’m at work. He’s simply an exceptional marketer.

I can’t take all the credit, he joined our family with a keen sense of presenting himself, engaging with the family and knowing the precise moment to ask for action.

Dogs have a knack for tugging at our heart-strings or driving us bonkers with barking. Always looking to learn from the best practices in marketing, I examined the tail-wagging bests and worst marketing tactics… of dogs.

The Balance of Barking

Adoption centers, rescues and shelters are a crowded market for dogs offering themselves to a new home. When looking to meet a new family, a happy bark or two can draw a welcoming crowd right to your door.

What are your thoughts on the dogs that just keep barking and barking?

There’s making yourself known, and there’s making yourself known only for making yourself known. There is a fine line between announcing yourself to an audience and warding off potential buyers.

Barking is an interruptive announcement of self. It says “I am here, I exists and I am big,” and little else. It’s a tactic that is as effective in marketing as it is in the kennel. There are times where it is essential, and situations where it can ruin opportunity.

Most digital marketing channels have ‘ignore’ or ‘opt-out’ options. From email to Facebook, it’s increasingly easy for your audience to block their ears if communication is interruptive, excessive or consistently fails to add value.

While there are times where letting out a few volleys of ‘woof’ are needed, the ‘good dogs’ have learned that there is more value in engagement than constant announcement.

The Joy of Engagement

It’s that first successful fetch. It’s the body-rocking tail wag that greets you after a long day (or a few minutes.) It’s engagement, and it’s the powerful emotional connection that drives us to do just about anything for our dogs.

For brands, it’s personal touches that show gratitude, understanding, add value and build excitement. It creates a powerful, memorable brand experience.

The trick? Your brand needs to scale engagement for thousands or millions. Sarge has it easy; he’s only trying to engage two humans and our other rescue pup, Jake. How do successful brands engage without running to the end of their leash?

Innovative use of digital marketing technologies allows you to wag your tail for thousands, spreading happiness, building excitement and adding something great to their day. -Woof.

The Willingness to Adapt

Sarge is not the same dog today that we adopted over a year ago. He’s more confident, more inclined (addicted) to fetch, and lives on a schedule that accommodates us. He’s adapted his strategies and tactics to better serve his family.

Dogs pickup on signals from their family. It’s not what we say, but our actions that provide the feedback loop for dogs perfecting the best path to form a better relationship.

It takes time, engagement and a dedication to analyzing feedback to discover what works best whether you’re looking for extra kibble or more clicks.

Discovery is in the subtle signals. Connecting unsubscribes, unlikes, likes and social word-of-mouth (sharing) to specific actions will show you what they’ll accept, what they love and when you’ve chewed a shoe. -Woof, again.

Ask For Belly Rubs

If my dog was in business, he’d be in the business of belly rubs.

Sarge is not bashful about asking for what he needs when he feels he’s earned it. All the engagement and adaptation is great for both of us, but what he’s really after is a belly rub. (*Or my edamame.)

It’s ok to ask your engaged audience if they’re ready to make a purchase from you, or hire you, or invest with you. Few business models can survive on engagement alone. From time to time, you’ll need your customers to buy something.

The whole point of engaging with your audience is that they’re keeping you around until they need you, and actively interacting with you on a regular basis. Occasionally, you may want to remind them what you’re here for, let out a good woof.

Disclaimer: It’s OK to ask for a sale, but probably not a good idea to actually ask for a belly rub.


What marketing lesson have you learned from your furred or feathered companions?

Chasing your tail?

‘Claiming’ the wrong things?

The benefits of exuding optimism?

Throw us a bone in the comments below!