Kennel marketing Part 2 - interview with Attila Márton
We had a fantastic meeting with Attila Márton, where we discovered his expert opinions on breeders, effective kennel marketing, and how to understand the big breeder vs. puppy mill debate. You can read all of this in the first part. But now we are going to take a look at the online presence of professional breeders, and how it helps the fight against puppy mills.
Let’s dive into the topic of online presence. What do you think, how important it is to the breeders?
Crucially important, no doubt. The days of everyone buying on the high street and accepting everything told by the traditional media are past. Nowadays people are searching for more and more information on the internet, comparing products and prices. Online channels provide the bulk of our flow of information. This gives perfect utility options for marketing purposes. If a breeder’s kennel has a name, that can be the foundation of the brand, which then can be built up and represented in a desired way. These marketing activities directly influence the kennel’s reputation and the puppy buyers’ decisions.
Do you know how many of the professional breeders have their own website?
Very few have their own website, not as many as should have. Everyone lives their social lives on Facebook, there’s nothing wrong with that. However, Facebook is not a static page, information keeps rotating out of the News Feed and is quickly digested and lost.
Why do so few of them have a website? Can’t they afford it perhaps?
I think the reason is not financial, it’s more like the lack of conviction. Breeders dutifully spend on what they deem to be important to their success, they just consider the website an important element to their success. They don’t see that although they can reach a lot of people on Facebook, it has its limitations.
Don’t forget, that breeders should communicate to the people looking for puppies, first and foremost. From the point of view of these people, their search begins with typing it into Google or any other search engine, not Facebook. Therefore, not having their own website puts breeders at a disadvantage immediately.
If someone wants to gather information of the kennel, they will rarely ever scroll down and search through their Facebook timeline to get a general idea about them. Unlike a Facebook page, a static webpage has all the essential information they would want to share about their kennel first in plain sight.
Breeding is a long-term commitment and activity. Communicating this requires constant attention, this plays a key role in building trust with new customers. You too would want to make a good first impression, not just about yourself, but about your breed.
And this the breeders’ responsibility, right?
Of course, and this is something I still rarely see from breeders. Marketing breed in the first place. They should tell why someone should choose their breed first and only then why someone should choose their kennel. Surely, judging a breeder and their breed is part of a complex decision, which can be heavily influenced by marketing.
Reluctancy towards innovations
Hungary shows an unprecedented fear towards technological innovations. We are behind the rest of the world and I’m not just talking about marketing here. New trends are slowly embraced and comfort zones are being stepped out of even slower. For example we are afraid of online transactions, this lack of trust disrupts the entire decision making process. Doesn’t matter if they find the right puppy abroad, they won’t believe they will actually get the puppy they paid for.
The other problem is the mentality. We’ve already talked about the costs and prices of raising a puppy. There was this instance where a breeder went and published the prices of his puppies, it created a big argument as a group of other breeders thought sharing the prices is unethical. Again, we’ve talked about how breeding is a profession that has to be paid. However if the breeders hide information such as this that disrupts the process of decision making. Although in this case the purpose of breeding and its costs were mixed up in the argument, these things are separated. If I charge a puppy buyer for one of my puppies, that does not mean I’m only breeding for the sake of profit. This is what society as a whole has to acknowledge sooner or later.
Ironically, everybody wants the most perfect puppy possible, for the lowest price possible. This in and of itself is not wrong, but people are more often than not oblivious of what this “lowest price possible” comprises of. Vaccinations, ability tests, competitions, nutrition, registration, socialization, training, etc.. The list could go on for much longer. Considering all these expenses anyone could realize why breeding dogs is not so profitable after all. But then again “why spend 1000$ on a puppy if you can find the same elsewhere online for 100$?”.
Seeing how much it costs to cover the basic needs of a puppy, you can probably figure where they save the 900$ difference... Warning puppy buyers about this, telling them why the two puppies are not the “same” is the breeders’ task. What else could they do than taking the fight to the internet? That’s where the people with this mentality can be found, so that’s where the breeders should be active, right?
So what we have here are a few unrealistic expectations and a very false idea of why breeding puppies costs so much. All because the breeders don’t communicate enough or not as they should on the internet with the future dog owners.
Copyright: Balázs Horváth
Facebook and its importance. In the past couple weeks Facebook has enforced one of their oldest rules in Hungary: The selling of living animals is strictly prohibited. This meant that most puppy selling Facebook groups got shut down, which caused quite a fuss among breeders. What do you think about it?
The breeders were terrified of course. However, Facebook and its tools are just a part of all the marketing activities you can do for your kennel. Sure it plays a significant role in influencing the choice of future dog owners, but not a decisive part. If you post every once in a while, that you have puppies available, that won’t leave an impression or affect your image in a positive way. This should be the last item on your marketing communication checklist. You’d first have to strategically and honestly present your kennel, your dogs, your achievements and only then tell about the puppies.
At the time I wrote an article with a similar message, explaining why Facebook is not the only channel to advertise puppies. How they can advertise on Wuuff, which a legitimate platform, designed for this (which Facebook isn’t). But then again, we just discussed how people are reluctant to open to new things.
Ideally, buying a puppy should be a conscious decision, with fewer impulsive purchases. Where the future owner figures out what’s wrong with going to the nearest mall’s parking lot anytime and get the brown labrador for 100$ they decided on two hours ago.
If someone buys a puppy from a breeder, there is a process to that. Finding the breeder, getting to know them, getting on the waiting list, etc.. Getting a puppy from a good breeder is more complicated, but the quality is different for sure. Optimally the breeder looks out for the parents’ health conditions, thus determining the pups’ future. Optimally, the breeder takes part in raising a puppy, socialization, training, giving the right impulses to the puppies while they’re young, so the new owner will have an easier job later. On the contrary when a puppy miller separates an 8 weeks old puppy (which in reality is more likely to be 4 weeks old), they will have a disadvantage in life both physically and mentally.
All this is connected with your kennel marketing. If your communication is not built up properly, then you’re put in a marketplace environment, where only the price matters. Building your reputation should take up 85% of your communication and advertising your puppies only about 15%. This way puppy buyers would know the breeder, not just that they have puppies available. With continued efforts, this would make the the puppy buyers’ choice more conscious.
Copyright: Balázs Horváth
Breeder community, from breeder to breeder
There’s one more thing I want to highlight. This is the communication between breeders, or rather the conflicts and how they handle them. This doesn’t need much of an explanation, every breeder knows about the petty squabbles going on in the community.
Again, breeding is a long-term activity. But who wins the first prize in the breed competition this weekend is short-term benefit. If you’re trying to preserve a breed, then it is your responsibility to work together with your fellow breeders”, this requires a certain level of maturity and ability to handle conflicts. The way you handle your personal relationships will influence your reputation significantly. Furthermore, these squabbles don’t support the future of the breed.
All in all, today a conscious online presence is a must have. There’s nothing wrong with advertising on a professional platform, or at least there shouldn’t be anything wrong with it. Without cooperation the entire community of breeders will struggle.
Thank you for taking the time to answer my questions!
Zsófia Tóbiás - Wuuff PR/marketing manager