Word of Bark Marketing

Bigstockphoto_shih_tsu_and_ball_421Many years ago when I lived in Pittsburgh and existed in some kind of parallel universe, my girlfriend at the time and I found a puppy that someone had abandoned. It was tiny and could fit in your hand. We tried to find the owner but apparently whoever had owned it didn’t want it anymore and so “Sam” went home with the girlfriend. An hour later he was back at my house because she couldn’t keep him for some kind of existential reason. And, so Sam moved in with me and became my dog. He slept in my water bed the first night; found it suitable for his needs and spent every night thereafter.

Shortly afterwards, I started getting requests from the girlfriends twenty something sons to borrow the dog to take to the local park. It seem that the easiest way to meet women, according to these two disreputable types was to be seen walking a cute puppy. Women who otherwise would not give you a sideways glance would actually stop and engage them in conversation that often led to the exchange of phone numbers.

The girlfriend and Sam have been gone from my life for many years now. But, I now have Max and Bucca – both Shih Tzu’s just like Sam. I also had a cat that adopted me (even though I claimed not to be a cat person). His name was Walker and I have written about him here. When he died my wife Joann and I adopted Winnie and Bear. And, now Toby who was adopted by our son has moved into our house when the son had to move to a non-cat townhouse. Yep, we have two dogs and three cats.

The cats set out to prove that I am indeed a cat person. Toby and Winnie have decided that I am the perfect human to sit on, sleep with, and be rubbed by whenever the whim hits them – and it hits them often. Toby follows me like a dog and pretty much acts more like a dog than a cat.

Which brings me to yesterday’s charity dog walk that was held in a large park near our home. Hundreds (if not thousands) of dogs of all sizes and breeds converged on this park towing their owners. It was quite a sight to behold. Max and Bucca couldn’t have been happier. All those butts to sniff and hundreds of other great smells spread out in a half mile in all directions. Bucca was a little overwhelmed with the sheer magnitude of it all but Max has never been shy and greeted everyone while posing for photos.

After about an hour of watching people watch the dogs, I suddenly had a flash back to that parallel reality in Pittsburgh. Everywhere I turned there were a large number of single WOMEN walking their dogs. And, single guys were making unmanly cooing noises as they showed their appreciation. There were single guys with dogs who were also searching for Ms. Right. But, I think the women have gotten tired of being “manipulated by puppy” and decided to take things into their own paws – so to speak.

Which brings me to today’s marketing lesson. If you are a single person, you can spend lots of time and money placing single ad in the paper or the internet and you’ll never be sure if that 30 something, fit, professional male is what he says he is until you meet him. I read somewhere where everyone in their personal ads subtracts ten percent of their weight and adds 1-2 inches to their height. People go for months and years trying to find someone suitable to just go out with and then they have to work at a conversational topic starter that doesn’t sound inane or reference their exes.

But, if you just walk a puppy in a park you have a fantastic opportunity of meeting more than one person, seeing them in a natural environment, having a reason to have a conversation, and spending enough time to decide if you’d like to meet again sometime – even if it is just to walk your dogs. The dog gives people permission to ask permission – “Oh, what a cute puppy. May I pet him?”

We can interrupt people all we want with ads but there is nothing better than permission given by word of mouth when it comes to marketing.

Except maybe – word of bark.

3 thoughts on “Word of Bark Marketing”

  1. Hey Bob,
    Great post. As you know, I own a dating website for golfers.
    There are tonnes of these online dating sites out there, including DateMyPet.com. So if Max and Bucca are “available” you should consider signing them up. grins.
    How right you are about permission via word of mouth.
    I believe that people are much more likely to offer their permission if they feel you are in sync with them.
    The dogs obviously are a metaphor for two people having the same world view or sync.
    GK

  2. Bucca will do anything for a couple of doggie treats. Max, on the other hand, has very high standards and tastes. He may be willing to act as a consultant though.
    What’s the URL for your dating website for golfers? You might as well put it here. Perhaps some single, female golfers read this blog as will check out the site.
    Bob

  3. Hi Bob,
    The URL for our dating website for golfers is http:www.DateAGolfer.com.
    Most of our members are based in the USA. The big areas are California, New York, New Jersey, Florida, Arizona and Texas.
    Our average member is 48 years old and tends to follow the typical “golfer” demographic in terms of disposable income and education.
    If you know of any single golfers please let them know about our site.
    Thanks again.
    Gary

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