Dog Lessons

Marketing tips can come from the most unexpected places; even from our dogs. I call them “dog lessons.” As a content marketer, I’m constantly reading up on the latest trends, watching what other businesses do and attending webinars or teleclasses to improve my skills. Recently, while reflecting on how far my dog has come in terms of health and overall happiness since the day I rescued him, I realized he is a closer. Had he not been such a savvy and persistent marketer, I may not have taken in him home from the shelter. Here’s what I learned from that day:

What can our dogs teach us about marketing?


Lesson 1: To stand out, we’ve gotta make noise. I rescued my dog Latte at a local shelter, where I was originally considering adopting a Lhasa Apso. But by the time I was ready to rescue the one-year-old Lhasa, he wasn’t available. So I decided to look around. That’s when I met Latte, a medium-sized Papillon-mix oddly placed in the same aisle as the big dogs—a not-so-prime location for a dog his size wanting to be rescued. After all, people seeking big dogs wouldn’t be interested in him and those looking for small dogs wouldn’t notice him. So how did he manage to catch my attention? By barking his gorgeous tail off as loud as he could.

The takeaway? We can never be too quiet when getting the word about our products or services. Marketing has to be more than just one thing. It has to be a complete package driven by consistent effort and maybe even shameless promotion.

Lesson 2: The handshake still matters. Thanks to his perseverant barking, I approached Latte to read the biography taped to his cage. When I bent down to pet him, he stood up on his hind legs, put his paw on top of my hand then held it to his cage while I continued to read. That was unforgettable. Through that gesture alone, he showed me his tenderness. I could tell he was a good dog.

The takeaway? Initial contact always matters, whether it’s a handshake or a relationship we form via email or social media. How we present ourselves in introductions says a lot about us. It’s important we use these moments to let our authentic goodness come through.

Lesson 3: Show you’re flexible to learning (regardless of age)! Many people find it unbelievable that the pooch is 11 years old. I mean look at him, doesn’t he look amazing for his age? I met him when he was 5 ½ years old, skeptical about whether he’d be trainable—no thanks to the adage, “You can’t teach an old dog new tricks.” But when I first visited with Latte, he was highly responsive when the representative at the shelter gave him commands. I would find out later just how trainable he is, working with a professional to teach him how to sit, stay, shake and high five (although he does struggle with “No beg.” :-)).

The takeaway? Even with years of life experience, we always have reasons to learn something new or brush up on the basics. If we remain open to learning new things, our careers will never stand still. Tweet this. How else will we become seasoned in our crafts? When meeting with customers, it’s important to show them just how much we’re willing to learn to provide them excellent client service. Research your customers and, if it applies, their industries as well. When you talk to the, include what you’ve learned about them in your conversations and strategies for helping them succeed. They’ll appreciate that you took the time to get to know them and understand what they do and why they do it.

Lesson 4: Don’t let a hiccup in your reputation block your success. By the time Latte got to the pound, all odds were stacked against him. He’d escaped twice from his previous owners and the animal shelter not only made it a point to note this in his file, but when I went to pay the adoption fee and take Latte home, the lady at the window discouraged me from rescuing him! Earlier that day, while standing in line to request a visit with him, I also met someone who knew Latte’s previous owners. She too tried to convince me that Latte “wasn’t a good dog.” No doubt, Latte had a bad reputation. But rather than wanting to rescue him less, I wanted him to rescue him more. I knew Latte was a good dog because I trusted my instincts. I paid attention to the tender way in which he reached his paw out to me and focused on his inherently sweet nature.

The takeaway? Don’t let negative comments others might make about you keep you from marketing yourself and your business in a confident, self-assured way. Tweet this. Let your authentic, positive traits shine through and the receiving party will make his or her own decision about you. And more than likely, in your favor.

Lesson 5: If it’s not meant to be, it’s not meant to be. Remember in Lesson 1 where I talked about the Lhasa Apso? I visited him two days in a row while waiting for a check to arrive that would provide me with the funds to adopt him. I remember stressing out, hoping that someone else wouldn’t get to him before me. Finally, on the day I was able to pay for him, he wasn’t even available—the shelter was “fixing” him and all other “unfixed” dogs. He wouldn’t be available to take home for another couple of days. Out of curiosity, I decided to look at other dogs. Interestingly enough, the lady who observed Latte and me in the visiting area told me she thought Latte and I were better suited for each other, that she didn’t think the Lhasa Apso and I were a good fit. She was Latte’s only advocate at the shelter, so I couldn’t help but listen to her.

The takeaway? Sometimes we want something that isn’t right for us. Whether it’s a client we’re pitching, an industry we want to enter or a relationship we want to build. In the end, it’s the synergy that matters and understanding that something beyond us is influencing the situation. Had I not let go and allowed myself to look at other dogs, I would have never met Latte. Because of his age, his record and health issues, he had less of a chance surviving in the pound than the Lhasa Apso. I was sorry to let the idea of rescuing the Lhasa Apso go, but in the end, I know rescuing Latte was meant to be. It has been a positive change in both of our lives!

Are you a dog lover? If so, you might have some life lessons to share from your faithful friend. Feel free to comment below.