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Issue: 58 - Oct 15, 2013
Fall Marketing Campaigns Can Focus on Upcoming Holidays
By: Ruth E. Thaler-Carter
Ruth E. Thaler-Carter

The best way to fall into a fall marketing campaign is to use this season to think beyond those bright autumn colors and toward the coming holidays. There’s a reason stores feature things like Christmas decorations even before Halloween – people do start thinking about who gets presents and how they’ll spend their holiday budgets as early as October (sometimes even September).

The fall is a great time to start reminding current clients and your community at large about pets and the holidays. You can use this time to educate people about the potential dangers of tree decorations and holiday plants to their pets – the importance of keeping decorations, especially things like glass balls and tinsel, out of the reach of their animals, for instance. Most of us know that cats and dogs like to play with anything within reach. They could easily cut themselves by knocking down and batting around glass ornaments, and cause themselves severe damage by eating tinsel – it’s sharper than people realize, and also can tangle around an animal’s internal organs.

Pets also can poison themselves by chewing on house plants that are popular during the holidays, such as poinsettia. Pine needles can be risky as well, even if not poisonous. And there’s always the danger of a playful dog knocking over a tree, or an ambitious cat climbing one and getting tangled up in its lights or branches.

Fall is the time to use your website, practice newsletter, social media channels – Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter – and local media outlets to get the word out about these potential dangers. It’s also an opportunity to position yourself as an expert on these topics in your community. You want to be the voice of common sense for people thinking about buying pets or needing to protect their pets for the holidays.

Even better, use this time to remind parents and grandparents that pets may not make good holiday gifts. You could even commission a line of stuffed or plastic animals for your clients to use as gifts instead of real animals (or your practice to give to clients). Create a card to go along with the toy animals with information about what it takes to care for real ones, or a gift certificate for discounts on animal care for real family pets in the new year.

This fall is also the ideal time to plan and carry out a holiday marketing campaign aimed at appreciating past clients and bringing in new business in the new year. Use this time to create a greeting card to thank current clients for their business and remind them of important dates and services for their animals, such as vaccinations and general check-ups. Consider a gift card for holiday or new year’s discounts on services, an inexpensive freebie of some sort – pet toys, for instance – and a bonus for referring new clients to your practice. Provide gift certificates for services from your practice for your clients to use as presents for their friends.

Fall is also a good time to prepare to serve as an example to staff, clients, colleagues and your community as the cold weather and holidays approach by leading the way in supporting rescue shelters, spaying clinics and other ventures aimed at helping animals. Such public service is a great marketing tool, and a perfect example of doing good for your practice by doing good for your community.

Of course, there’s nothing stopping you from celebrating autumn with a Halloween party at your office!

Ruth E. Thaler-Carter is a freelance writer/editor who has written and edited projects for the American Animal Hospital Association (AAHA), among many other organizations. She can be reached through