When it comes to starting your dog clothing line, you may find yourself in a place where you have to make some big decisions.
You may be asking yourself:
- What's the first step in establishing my business?
- How much will it cost to start my dog clothing line?
- How do I price my dog clothing line?
- How do I market my dog clothing line?
- ... so much more!
We walk you through all of the steps; from idea → starting → launching → growing → running your dog clothing line.
The purpose of this guide is to act as an outline for the steps you'll need to take to get your business running successfully!
💡 Introduction To Starting A Dog Clothing Line
Is The Dog Clothing Line For You?
Let's look at the pros and cons of starting your own dog clothing line
- Flexibility: One of the biggest advantages of starting a dog clothing line is that you can put as much time into the business as you'd like. If you like the work and have some initial experience, you can start small and manage all aspects of the business on your own.
- Ability to start your business from home: It's not necessary to have a physical storefront or office space to get your business started. You can do everything from the comfort of your own home, at least in the beginning!
- Little startup costs required: The cost to start a dog clothing line costs significantly less money than most businesses, ranging anywhere from 815 to 21,100.
- Rewarding work: Starting a dog clothing line can be really rewarding and fun work. After all, you're bringing joy and excitement into peoples lives.
- Crowded space: Competition is high when it comes to your dog clothing line, so it's important that you spend a good amount of time analyzing the market and understanding where the demand lies.
- Finding the right supplier: Most businesses in this space go the supplier/manufacturer route, which isn't a bad thing! However, finding the right supplier can take a lot of time, energy and trial/error. If done properly, this process can save you months (if not years) of time and energy. More on this below in the "finding a supplier" section.
Creating a successful dog clothing line means that you will have the ability to sell, provide stellar customer service, communicate with vendors and motivate your team (even if it's down the road)!
How To Name Your Dog Clothing Line
It's important to find a catchy name for your dog clothing line so that you can stand out in your space.
Here are some general tips to consider when naming your dog clothing line
- Avoid hard to spell names: you want something easy to remember and easy to spell for your customers
- Conduct a search to see if others in the space have the same name
- Try not to pick a name that limits growth opportunities for your business (ie. if you decide to expand into other product lines)
- As soon as you have an idea (or ideas) of a few names that you love, register the domain name(s) as soon as possible!
Why is naming your dog clothing line so important?
The name of your business will forever play a role in:
- Your customers first impression
- Your businesses identity
- The power behind the type of customer your brand attracts
- If you're memorable or not
It's important to verify that the domain name is available for your dog clothing line.
You can search domain availability here:
Find a domain starting at $0.88
powered by Namecheap
Although .com names are the most common and easiest to remember, there are other options if your .com domain name is not available. Depending on your audience, it may not matter as much as you think.
It's also important to thoroughly check if social media handles are available.
As soon as you resonate with a name (or names), secure the domain and SM handles as soon as possible to ensure they don't get taken.
Here's some inspiration for naming your dog clothing line:
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Spyq Sklar, founder of Cat Sushi explains exactly how they came up with their business name:
My name is Spyq and I am a co-creator of Cat Sushi.
Cat Sushi is a flaky, tuna based treat that cats love. It is our flagship product that eventually led to us forming our current company Presidio Natural Pet Company, where we design and manufacture ultra-premium, natural, and healthy food products for pets.
One of our loyal customers actually came up with the name. We still give them free cat food.
Let's take a look at the search trends for dog clothing over the last year:
Brick & Mortar vs eCommerce Business Model
When deciding whether or not to start a dog clothing line, it's important to first decide what type of business model you want (brick and mortar, eCommerce, or both)!
Here are a few things to keep in mind when considering a Brick & Mortar store:
Brick & Mortar Model
If you do plan to open a physical store, it's important that you find a spot in a high-traffic area. This is a great way to gain exposure for your business and also get new customers.
It's also important to consider the higher costs associated with operating a physical store (ie - employees, rent, utilities, etc) and the long days/hours associated with running a store.
The main benefit, however, is that customers love being able to see products in person. It's important to recognize that although some people enjoy shopping online, there will always be the shopper persona that likes to touch, feel, and see the product they're buying.
One of the main benefits of operating online is that you are exposed to the entire world, versus just one local area. Rather than depending on foot traffic, you have all the tools at your disposal to create exposure for your store online.
Additionally, there are much lower costs to operate an online store - fewer employees, you can operate from your home, and you get to create your own schedules (yes, holidays included!)
Although you are operating online and have the ability to connect with people all over the world, it's important to consider that you will need to invest marketing money upfront in order to promote your store to the right audience.
So, which business model should you go with?
Each model has their benefits, however, the consumer trends for dog clothing line are shifting towards e-commerce businesses.
- CafePress (11.5K Alexa Ranking)
- Stella & Dot (121K Alexa Ranking)
- The Foggy Dog (127K Alexa Ranking)
- Pawz (140K Alexa Ranking)
- MIRAGE Pet Products (154K Alexa Ranking)
- Shed Defeder - Revenue $70K/month
🎬 How To Start A Dog Clothing Line
Setting Up Your Dog Clothing Line (Formation and Legal)
When it comes to setting up your business, you may find yourself in a place where you have to make some financial and legal decisions.
The first thing you'll want to decide on is whether you want to be an LLC, S-Corp, or C-Corp.
These three options are found to be the most common when starting a small business, and all serve to protect your personal assets and also provide you with certain tax benefits.
- LLC: All income and expenses from the business are reported on the LLC personal income tax return.
- S corp: Owners pay themselves salaries + receive dividends from profits.
- C Corp: C Corps are separately taxable entities that file a corporate tax return (Form 1120). No income tax is paid at the corporate level and any tax due is paid at the owners individual expense.
Depending on where you're conducting business, you'll also want to consider securing the proper permits, licenses and liability insurance.
Need to start an LLC? Create an LLC in minutes with ZenBusiness.
Write a Business Plan
Writing a business plan from the start is critical for the success of your dog clothing line.
Because this allows you to roadmap exactly what you do, what your overall structure will look like, and where you want to be in the future.
For many entrepreneurs, writing out the business plan helps validate their idea and decide whether or not they should move forward with starting the business.
You may want to consider expanding upon these sections in your business plan:
- Executive Summary: Brief outline of your product, the market, and growth opportunities
- Overviews and Objectives: Overview of your business, target customers, and what you need to run your business
- Products and Services: Specifics on the products and services your business will provide
- Market Opportunities: Analysis of customer demographics, buyer habits and if your product is in demand
- Marketing: Outline of your marketing plan and how you plan to differentiate yourself from other customers
- Competitive analysis: Analysis of your competition and the strengths and weaknesses therein
- Operations: Hierarchal structure of the company and what it will take to run the business on the day-to-day
- Leadership Team: Detailing roles and responsibilities of each manager based on their specific skill-set
- Financial Analysis Understanding of all expenses, operating budgets, and projections for the future.
Learn more about how to write a business plan here
Startup Costs For Your Dog Clothing Line
If you are planning to start a dog clothing line, the costs are relatively low. This, of course, depends on if you decide to start the business with lean expenses or bringing in a large team and spending more money.
We’ve outlined two common scenarios for “pre-opening” costs of a dog clothing line and outline the costs you should expect for each:
- The estimated minimum starting cost = $815
- The estimated maximum starting cost = $21,100
|Startup Expenses: Average expenses incurred when starting a dog clothing line.||Min Startup Costs: You plan to execute on your own. You’re able to work from home with minimal costs.||Max Startup Costs: You have started with 1+ other team members.|
|Employee & Freelancer Expenses|
|Payroll: This number depends on if you decide to pay yourself a salary upfront and how many employees you have on payroll. At first, many founders take on all responsibilities until the business is up and running. You can always hire down the road when you understand where you need help. Keep in mind, if you do plan to pay yourself, the average salary founders make is $50K.||$0||$4,000|
|Total Employee & Freelancer Expenses||$0 (min)||$4,000 (max)|
|Website builder: The cost of your website will vary depending on which platform you choose. There are many website builders on the market, so it's important you choose the right one for your business and overall goals. To learn more about your options + how to build a great website, check out this article.||$15||$100|
|Total Website Costs||$15 (min)||$100 (max)|
|Office Space Expenses|
|Rent: This refers to the office space you rent out for your business. To minimize costs, you may want to consider starting your business from home or renting an office in a coworking space.||$0||$2,000|
|Total Office Space Expenses||$0 (min)||$2,000 (max)|
|Retail Business Expenses|
|Shop Decor: If you plan to operate a physical store, you may want to consider decorating the place with wall decor, furniture, plants etc.||$0||$5,000|
|Total Retail Business Expenses||$0 (min)||$5,000 (max)|
|Upfront Costs For Inventory: This includes all upfront inventory you will need in order to launch. Be sure to compare prices of wholesalers to ensure you're getting the best deal and margins remain high.||$300||$5,000|
|Total Inventory Expenses||$300 (min)||$5,000 (max)|
|Equipment & Supply Expenses|
|Technology Office Equipment: This includes (but is not limited to) physical items such as: laptops, cameras, monitors, microphones, speakers, headsets. Technology needs grow as your company evolves, so to minimize costs, try and only purchase what is needed for you to run your business at the time.||$500||$5,000|
|Total Equipment & Supply Expenses||$500 (min)||$5,000 (max)|
|Total Starting Costs||$815 (min)||$21,100 (max)|
Since the startup costs to start dog clothing line range between $815 - $21,100, there are ways you can raise money to cover these costs.
Here are a few ways you can secure additional funding:
- Launch your product on Kickstarter
- Raise capital by asking friends and family
- Apply for a loan
- Find an investor!
Design A Prototype
Turning your idea into a reality can feel like a daunting task - but it's critical that you have an idea of what your product will look like (even if it's just a sketch) prior to finding a manufacturer.
Here are some common ways you can design your prototype:
- Draw Your Initial Design on Paper
- Form pieces of fabric together
- Consider Taking A Generic Product And Putting Your Own Brand On It
- Try Making the Product Yourself
- Consider Building A Prototype With A 3D Printer
To learn more about how to design and prototype a product, check out our latest guide here.
Tyson Walters, founder of Shed Defeder dives deep into the process of designing and prototyping their product:
Developing the perfect prototype was a long and tedious process.
I started with finding the right fabric because I needed something stretchy, comfortable, breathable and durable. I started asking everyone I could and researching fabric suppliers online. I had samples sent to my house and I eventually found an athletic mesh fabric that’s made from recycled plastic water bottles.
It’s lightweight and breathable enough for dogs, but also durable enough to endure the wear and tear an active dog will put it through on a daily basis.
Once I felt confident in the fabric, I worked on perfecting the design and tried all different versions of the product. People often ask if I thought about using velcro or snaps or using a different fabric and my answer is always YES!
I tried everything and found that the design we landed on makes the product more durable, versatile, comfortable and effective than anything else on the market.
When I first launched, I had a seamstress on standby who was ready to sew 1-2 Shed Defenders per day that would be made to order. When the product went viral though, I quickly realized I needed a manufacturer on board so I could fulfill all the orders coming in. I started asking everyone I knew including my fabric supplier for recommendations and eventually found a contact in San Francisco who agreed to work with me.
Purchasing Inventory For Your Dog Clothing Line
When first starting out, it's important to start small with your overhead to get a gauge for what people want.
Just remember - if you order a line of items that don't sell, it's nearly impossible to recoup the money lost.
Buying the right inventory takes research and planning in order to get it right.
- Identify your target audience: Identify the age, gender, annual income that you will be selling to. This is a defining factor in ordering the right inventory that will sell.
- Research your competition: Conduct market research and identify the different types of styles, price points, and materials being used. This will help you see what's trending and ways that you can improve/stay ahead of the competition.
- Create an inventory wishlist: Identify what you need for the launch of your business and create a budget that you will stay within. Remember, it's okay to start small.
- Find a supplier Make sure to first compare prices and analyze different options.
- Delivery timing: Schedule the inventory delivery to match with seasonality and trending buying seasons
Pro-tip: It's easy to become biased based on your own fashion preferences on what types of shoes/apparel to purchase. This is where a lot of fashion businesses go wrong. It's important to base purchase decisions on current buyer behavior, trends in the market, and specific to your niche.
Manufacturing Your Product In House
It's also very common to manufacture your dog clothing on your own - either from your home or in a commercial space.
In order to get the product right, you may want to consider experimenting with different designs and recipes until you find the perfect one.
Some founders choose to manufacture their product in-house so that they can control quality, manage costs, and easily handle production/logistics.
Down the road, you can always choose to outsource your dog clothing.
How To Find A Supplier For Your Dog Clothing Line
Here are the steps to consider when finding a supplier/manufacturer:
Know your design
One very critical step to finding the right supplier is having an initial idea of what your design/product will look like.
Sketching is one of the most simple ways to get started in the design phase.
What's great about sketching is that you can practically do this anytime, anywhere - even on the back of a napkin.
To get started, all you need to do is pick up a pen and paper and start drawing - or if you are working on a virtual/software product this can be a diagram that outlines the user interface or experience.
Decide your supplier type
You'll want to identify the type of supplier you are looking for.
Here are some questions you may want to ask yourself prior to searching for a supplier
- Are you looking for a manufacturer to produce your product idea?
- Do you want to find a supplier that can simply purchase existing products for you?
- Do you want a drop-shipper to supply and fulfill orders?
- Do you want a domestic supplier or an overseas supplier? Read more about the pros and cons of each here
Where to start your search
Once you have an understanding of what type of manufacturer/supplier will be best to bring your idea to life, there are several areas you can start your search:
Example: Choosing The Right Style From The Manufacturer
Our first step was to find manufacturers of white canvas shoes on Alibaba. Over the course of six months, I ordered almost eight sample pairs of shoes. Ultimately, we found one pair of shoes that we loved and chose to order.
This manufacturer stated we had to order a minimum amount of 1,000 pairs.
We were able to break down our order into two different styles: One style is a high top and the other being a low top style.
Knowing that we could do both styles, we chose to do 500 pairs of low tops and 500 pairs of high tops.
The manufacturer said that we could also do five sizes per style, so the decision was to order the five most popular women sizes in low tops and the five most popular men sizes in high tops.
Fortunately, when we order shirts we get them from a website known as S&S Activewear, which has a warehouse near our company.
How To Price Your Dog Clothing
One of the most challenging and critical pieces to starting your dog clothing line is determining how much to charge for your dog clothing.
When businesses under-price their product, this can be extremely detrimental to their bottom line and reputation.
Often times, businesses under-price their products to drive demand and volume, but that last thing you want is for customers to view your product/service as "cheap." Additionally, this can have a big impact on the type of customer you attract, which can be difficult to recover from.
On the other hand, when businesses over-price, this tends to be just as damaging to the business.
When customers buy, it's likely that they will explore the internet and look at other competitors to ensure they're getting the best value + deal. This is why it's so important that you research your competition and understand where you land in the marketplace.
Here are some factors to consider when pricing your product:
Understand your customer
It's important that out of the gates, you identify the type of customer you want to attract and how much they're willing to pay for your service. One great way to do this is by surveying your customers. Here are some important items you'll want to takeaway:
- Customer demographic: Age, gender, location, etc.
- Buying habits of your customer: What they buy + when they buy
- Level of price sensitivity with your customer
All of these segments will help you identify the type of customer you're attracting and how to price your product accordingly.
Understand your costs
When pricing your dog clothing, it's critical that you first identify all of your costs and consequently mark up your dog clothing so you can factor in a profit.
The actual cost of your dog clothing may include things like:
- The actual cost to make the product (ie. raw materials, supplies, manufacturer).
- Shipping + overhead fees
- Operating costs to run your business
You may want to consider creating a spreadsheet with every single expense involved in operating/owning your business. This will give you an idea as to what you need to generate in order to at the very least, break-even and will help you price your products to factor in a profit.
Create revenue goals
When determining the price of your dog clothing, you'll want to create goals for revenue + how much profit you want your dog clothing line to make.
This process is simpler than you may think:
- Think about your breakeven cost (by completing the above step).
- Create a revenue goal based on your break-even cost
- Evaluate the # of items you plan to sell in a given period (make sure this is a realistic number)
- Divide your revenue goal by the number of items you plan to sell
This figure will help determine your estimated price per product in order to meet your revenue goals.
Evaluate your competition
The last piece in determining how to price your dog clothing is by simply looking at your competition.
The best way to do this is by finding like-minded businesses that offer product(s) with similar perceived value. Then, you can compare prices of the different businesses and determine where your dog clothing fits best in the marketplace.
All of these factors play an equal part in pricing your dog clothing, so it's important you evaluate each one individually to come up with an accurate price that will help optimize your business from the start.
Lauren Costanza, founder of Bluminary provides us with a detailed spreadsheet of all of her costs associated with running her business:
I knew this would be a self-funded adventure, and I set aside $3,000. During the first three months, I had a detailed spreadsheet where I tracked where the money was going and what was going toward products versus researching and developing new products.
The spreadsheets involved columns and rows of numbers to craft a budget and gain an understanding of how much would need to be invested at each stage of the process - from gathering supplies to building a website, and shipping materials.
Identify Target Customer
A very critical piece in building dog clothing line is to identify your ideal target customer.
- Develop a niche and create a consistent brand that reflects your target customer.
- The colors, logo, content, and overall website should resonate with your target customer and should draw them in by helping them solve their specific "need".
Identifying Customers: Sat Nam Babe Example
I launched Sat Nam babe in Spring 2017, a mindfully made line of yoga-inspired clothing for kids under six and babies (think ethical supply chain, pants made out of recycled plastic bottles, fun prints and an overall uplifting message).
Early on, I thought my main customer would be Lululemon wearing, organic produce buying, millennial age yoga moms.
While they may be my end customer, my direct customer is many times the woman looking for a unique baby or kid’s birthday, Christmas, etc type gift for the special kid in their life or the hip Grandma who has a disposable income and wants to spend it on her precious grandkids!
We've interviewed several different founders in the dog clothing line and asked them how much $ they're making today.
- $840K/year in revenue
- Sells dog onesie
- Solo founder
- 1 employee
🚀 How To Launch Your Dog Clothing Line
Build A Website
Building a website is imperative when launching your business, and with the right tools in place, this can be a simple task to check off the list (without having to hire someone).
- Pick a domain name that's easy to remember and easy to type
- Choose a Web Hosting Plan (ie. Shopify, Squarespace)
- Make sure you choose the right theme and design
- Implement the proper page structure (ie. about page, contact page, pricing etc)
To learn more about how to build a stellar website with little stress, we give you all the details on this step-by-step guide.
Founder, Marc Debnam on recommending Shopify
The best move we did was to switch to the Shopify platform in 2016. Everything became simple.
Shopify is an easy to use software with great add-on apps so you can build your ecommerce business exactly how you like it.
And it intergrates with our accounting and logistics platforms. Xero, Auspost, DHL. As well as most sales and marketing channels.
It freed up so much time working in the business, allowing us time to focus on growth and brand awareness.
With my basic technical skills, I built a great site. The one we still have. I experiment with apps that just plug in and if they add that’s great if they don’t we move on.
Once you have chosen the domain, web hosting, and platform, it's time to get started with the design phase.
Themes are a great way to produce the fundamental style and identity of your website - this includes everything from your font design to your blog post styles.
One of the best ways to get started is to simply explore the various themes (free or paid depending on what you're looking for) and test them on your site.
If web-design really isn't in the cards for you, you may want to consider outsourcing a web designer to help bring your vision and brand to life.
Launch Strategies For Your Dog Clothing Line
There are various different ways you can launch your dog clothing line successfully.
Here are a few different strategies to get customers excited about your dog clothing line.
- Build hype with a landing page: you can effectively do this through waiting lists, discounts, countdown timer etc
- Create a teaser video: even just a 30 second video is a great way to exposure for your dog clothing line, and possibly even go viral
- Reach out to influencers: The right influencer for your product has the ability to reach your audience with just one post, and because of their loyal following, this could lead to a big return for you.
- Get Press: Whether you plan a PR stunt or get exposure through a popular news outlet, this is a great way to attract initial customers
- Launch on popular sites: A great way to get buzz about your dog clothing line is to submit your launch to popular startup sites.
Here are a few popular sites to launch on:
Learn more about how to launch your business successfully ➜ here
Tyson Walters, founder of Shed Defeder dives deep into the process of launching the business:
I created my first website using Squarespace and put it up with the goal of selling a few Shed Defenders as a hobby. I didn’t have a manufacturer but was using a seamstress in my hometown that could produce a couple a day and they would be made to order.
I spent a very small amount on Facebook ads and that’s when I got lucky and The Dodo created a video that went viral. Overnight more media coverage came in and I started getting hundreds of orders and I quickly realized that it would be impossible to fulfill the orders using my seamstress.
We’ve made all sorts of mistakes along the way, but have worked hard to keep pushing forward. My biggest advice would be doing your due diligence and if it sounds too good to be true it likely is too good to be true!
It was so exciting to see the demand for the product, but it was also scary because I really had no idea what I was doing. I immediately began looking for a local manufacturer and was lucky enough to find one in San Francisco which was a two-hour drive from my house. He started production, but it, of course, took several months to get the first batch of Shed Defenders produced so my very first customers waited months to get their product!
To keep them happy, I sent the customers honest emails about the situation I was in and kept them updated on a regular basis. Most people are pretty reasonable if you take the time to apologize and explain why there’s a delay. I can’t thank those early customers enough though for being patient with us!
Once I shipped out the first couple of thousand Shed Defenders, which my parents and I packaged and shipped ourselves from their kitchen table, I realized that it was time to go all in on the business. I borrowed some money from family and started working on building up inventory and investing some money into marketing.
The first two years have been full of lessons learns and ups and downs, but it’s been fun and challenging and I’ve never looked back!
Make Sure You Get The Package Design Right
The way you package your dog clothing line is often the first impression your customer has - so it's important to get it right.
You may want to ask yourself these questions:
If my product is on a shelf next to hundreds of other similar products:
- Will my dog clothing line stand out?
- Will the branding/packaging create a connection with my customer, and hence, lead them to buy?
There are hundreds of tools you can use to help with packaging and design:
- Canva - Allows non-designers to create beautiful Instagram/Pinterest posts, flyers, business cards, etc.
- Stickermule - High quality custom stickers you can include on or in your packaging.
- Noissue - Custom tissue paper and compostable mailers
- Rollo Label Printer - A great tool to print all shipping labels at home
Sheets & Giggles explains the motive behind their "Premium Unboxing Experience"
I had a particular vision for our packaging centered around one goal: because we were a DTC company and wouldn’t do physical retail in year 1, we needed to focus entirely on an incredible unboxing experience that made the product feel as premium as possible.
Outside: a white box, nice wax coating, logo front and center with no other copy, easy to open, nice and sturdy.
Inside: make people smile from the get-go, have a social call-to-action, include free extra surprises (a knapsack that wraps the sheets and an eye mask), put funny copy all over the place, and add a donation bag that people could use to donate their now-defunct cotton sheets (sheets & blankets are the #2-most-requested item at shelters behind socks).
There are various different marketplaces that you can effectively sell and promote your dog clothing line, whether that's local or online!
Here are some of the most common ones:
- Your own website! Shopify is known to be the best for e-commerce stores
- Local places! Gift shops, farmers markets, festivals, grocery stores etc
- Etsy - E-commerce website for craft supplies
- Craft is Art Marketplace to buy and sell handmade crafts & fine art
- Aftcra Online marketplace where you can buy and sell handmade products
- Storenvy Marketplace for authentic brands
Etsy Tips From Founders
Etsy is one of the most common marketplaces for this business type, however, there are some tips and tricks from other founders you'll want to consider prior to listing:
Financially speaking, Etsy is a really great way to start a business because it’s essentially free until you start selling. It cost nothing to launch besides my 20 cent listing fees.
Etsy has been encouraging free shipping with a lot of pushback from sellers, but I built everything into our prices about a month ago and introduced free shipping shopwide, which seems to have improved conversion rates and search visibility already.
I honestly attribute the bulk of my success to photography. I was a photographer first so obviously very lucky to have no issues launching with great images and it’s something I consistently produce.
With Etsy especially, there are a ton of mediocre amateur photos so it was an easy way to set myself apart from the start, and I don’t think Etsy themselves would feature my products and market them so often otherwise. We’re also able to compete fairly well on price because 80% of customers are American, and our dollar is much weaker.
🌱 How To Grow Your Dog Clothing Line
As a brand, you want to deliver an experience that authentic, honest and transparent.
Don't make the mistake of giving your audience less credit than they deserve.
If you go around chasing every trend and only focused on yourself and money, you’re going to lose very quickly.
There have been many times where we have been tempted to do this but stayed true.
Sure we sacrificed sales, but we kept our integrity, played the long game and people saw and appreciated that, and really began emotionally investing in the brand.
Tap into your network
One of the most effective ways of getting the word out about your business is simply by tapping your network.
This means friends, family, counterparts, neighbors, even your uber drivers!
No matter where you are, there’s always an opportunity to promote yourself and your business.
Eddie Huai, founder of Flyby Pills explains how customer service directly correlates with word of mouth marketing from existing customers:
One of our biggest acquisition channels is through word of mouth.
Our survey showed that a third of our customers decided to try Flyby because of a friend or family member. For consumer brands, no artificial acquisition channel can beat strong word of mouth.
Word of mouth also compounds with every successive customer, and we’re seeing bigger wins every month.
We try and bolster this by providing an exceptional customer experience from start to finish. Even though we use Zendesk to answer customer emails, I still will read and reply to over 50% of our customer emails.
We also send loyalty packages to our top customers that’ll include freebies, swag and a personalized note... Little things like this go a long way and provide that “human touch” to our brand.
Improve your SEO
SEO is not just about driving traffic to your site, it's about driving the RIGHT traffic to your site, and ultimately, converting leads into customers.
One of the most important aspects of SEO is understanding what your customers are searching for, otherwise known as "keyword research."
Here are some tools that can help you choose the right keywords for your dog clothing line.
- Google Ads Keyword Planner invaluable for discovering search trends.
- Google Search Console is very helpful once your website is up as it shows you what words/phrases are generating traffic.
- Ahrefs and SEMRush are paid tools that allow you to look at results of your competitor's website.
Publish Great Content
Finding keywords is an important piece of the puzzle, but Google also ranks your site based on the actual content you produce, as this is what your customers are reading and engaging with.
There are various different "forms" of content that you may want to consider diversifying on your sites, such as blog posts, articles, studies, and videos.
So let's discuss what google considers "good content:"
- Length - This will vary depending on the page, however, generally having a sufficient amount of content helps search engines recognize that your site is a good source for a specific topic
- Engagement - The longer people stay on your website to read your content, the higher Google will rank your website. It's important to have informative and "thick" content that keeps people reading
- Avoid Duplicating Content - Google will recognize this and may consider your content to have low value
- Ensure pages load quickly - This will also help with engagement and time spent on your website
- Shareability - Create content that people want to share, and is easy for them to share, especially to their social media accounts (ie. "click to tweet" is a great example of this).
Another element of creating good content is creating consistent content.
If (and hopefully you are) publishing content frequently, it's important to stick to a schedule - this helps build brand trust and easy user experience with your customers.
Planning out your content with a content calendar is key to staying consistent.
Here are a few great content calendar tools that can help you:
Backlinks are an important piece to SEO, as they allow for other websites to link to your content.
Search engines recognize that other sites are essentially "verifying" your content and essentially rank you higher because of this.
Of course, some links are more valuable than others and can affect your site in different ways.
For example, if a highly valuable and credible site like the New York Times links to a page on your website, this could be remarkable from an SEO perspective.
Aside from organically getting mentioned from other sites, there are other ways that you can increase and earn backlinks:
- Create infographics with relevant data that people want to share
- Promote your content on different sites/look into "guest blogging"
- Contact influencers/journalists/bloggers and ask them to mention you!
- Write testimonials for other sites in exchange for a backlink
- Leverage existing business relationships
SEO Best Practices
Advice from Ray Moyers, founder of HuskyBeard:
Right from the start of my store, I implemented good SEO practices like writing down alt tags and descriptions and compressing images.
I got introduced to techniques (both black hat and white hat) such as utilizing backlinks and getting “juice” from other sites, like my competitors.
I spent some money on optimizing my store (making page load time quicker), and on acquiring backlinks (from packages and guest blog posts, like “Top 10 Beard Oils”.
After several months, I was able to achieve 2nd ranking for the term “Beard Comb” which had ~10,000+ searches/monthly. Not bad.
Build A Blog
One of the most effective ways to build brand awareness and grow your business is through consistently blogging.
We've outlined some useful tips for you to consider when creating content:
Consistency and Quantity
Quality is important, but it should be the standard for any content you publish.
What’s more important is consistency and quantity.
Consistency is as simple as committing to publishing and sharing a certain number of posts per week. For me, that’s three per week right now.
This kind of commitment is key, because one day, a random post will blow up, and you will have never expected it.
The easiest mind trap is to think "I’m posting too much", and “I need to give my readers/audience/this platform a break”.
This is nonsense.
There is no such thing as oversaturation. Well, there is, but it is just someone else’s opinion.
For every person that tells you you are posting too much, there is another person that wants even more of your content.
You should ignore people’s opinions on how much you post.
Patience & Persistence
Keep posting, keep trying, and keep putting out good content on the regular. Your time will come, and when it does, it will change everything.
The only thing you have control over is your content.
You can’t control how people will react to it. You can’t control pageviews, likes, or shares.
So the only metric you should focus on is how much content you can put out in a week, month, etc.
Where to share your blog content
I know it sounds obvious, but the best places to share your content is on your mailing list. It is guaranteed traffic and it is a great way to get rapid feedback from your most loyal readers.
Send newsletters often. I have done once a week since starting, and I’m moving to twice a week soon.
Work on increasing your mailing list as well. Look into ways to increase your conversion rate to your mailing list. I added a flyout popup thing to my site and now I’m collecting ~30 emails per day.
An email newsletter is one of the most powerful assets you can have and it is worth its weight in gold.
Reddit is one of my favorite places to promote content.
It is a very scary place because you will often get banned or heckled, but it can really pay off.
Create social media accounts for your blog, the main ones I use:
Twitter Facebook Instagram LinkedIn
Set up Buffer and share all of your blog posts to all of your accounts. All of these little shares really do add up.
Automate this as much as possible. I automated all of my social media for Starter Story.
When I started out, I put together a spreadsheet of relevant Facebook groups for my niche, and I would post to these groups whenever I had a big story I wanted to share.
Social Media Advertising
Social Media Advertising is one of the leading ways to get the word out when it comes to dog clothing line.
There are various different Social Media platforms available to you. Some may be more critical for your marketing efforts than others, however, it's important to have an understanding of what's out there and available to you.
Let's talk about a few of the main platforms and what makes them unique:
- Facebook Advertising - more than 2 billion monthly users. Facebook is the best for lead generation + capturing email addresses for e-commerce businesses.
- Instagram Advertising - approximately 500 million monthly users and has a higher audience engagement rate than any other platform. Instagram ads are best for linking to a product page or landing page and reaches the 18-29 age group most effectively.
- Twitter Advertising- Small businesses typically use twitter ads to drive brand awareness, but the platform is meant more for organic engagement (and is not as heavily used for paid advertising)
- Pinterest Advertising - 175 million monthly users and most effectively reaches the female audience. Pinterest is great for promoting products without "promoted". The promoted pins have a way of blending right in.
- LinkedIn Advertising - 227 million monthly users and is geared towards the B2B market and generates the highest quality leads. Great platform for recruiters, high-end products and services that will help businesses
It's important to first define your goal/objective so that you don't waste time and money into the wrong platform:
Here are some different questions to ask yourself as it relates to your goals:
- Do I want to simply drive brand awareness?
- Do I want to drive users to my website to gather information?
- Do I want to increase sales and get my customer to take action?
From there, choose the platform that targets your audience best and start experimenting!
Learn more about social media advertising ➜ here.
Growth Strategies From RomperJack
Facebook and Instagram Ads
We use this platform to find new customers and to retarget current interested customers. Facebook ROAS is about 4.2X.
In the beginning, we casted a very wide net to find our target audience and as we got more and more sales we narrowed that audience down. Now we run lookalike campaigns based off our customer list.
We also have a sales funnel setup to capture a customer at multiple stages. We run a ton of retargeting campaigns at different stages to finalize the sale.
We use this platform for the mid-level funnel. People who find us through Google Ad Words by searching our key words means that they are seriously thinking about buying. We buy keywords like mens romper or male romper so when one puts that into google we pop up.
Get Press Coverage For Your Dog Clothing Line:
The more buzz around your brand - the more the phones ring, the more traffic to your website, and the more customers as a result.
Here are a few ways you can get press for your business:
Press releases are a great way to share big announcements or news, but in order to get any traction, you'll need to find a way to make your press release stand out amongst others.
Try to convey a story that really matters, not just to you, but to the reporter and to their audience.
Here are some things to consider when submitting a press release:
- Craft a catchy subject (keep it short and sweet).
- Acknowledge the journalist's past work and interests - this is key!
- Include the main point of the story in the first paragraph, heck, even the first sentence. Reporters want to hear the juice first and foremost.
- Focus on the facts and try to limit the amount of jargon used.
- Pitch yourself! Help them put a face to the story.
- Make sure your topic is newsworthy. If it's not, find a way to!
- Try not to include any attachments of your release!
Email is one of the most effective and preferred way to send your press release, so as long as you keep your pitch brief, interesting and personalized (no cold emails), you should stand a chance!
Get Press Using HARO
HARO, otherwise known as "Help a Reporter Out" is an outlet for journalists to source upcoming stories and opportunities for media coverage.
The best part is, HARO is free to use! There are, of course, premium versions you can purchase, but the free version is still an accessible way to get press.
Once you set up an account, HARO essentially will email you based on stories (that are relevant to you) that need to be covered where you will then have a chance to essentially "bid on the story."
Here are some tips when crafting your pitch:
- Discuss your experience and expertise in the space. Make sure it's obvious why you're relevant to this story.
- Answer the question in 3-4 sentences. Try and be as direct as possible
- Offer to provide the reporter with more information and make sure to give them your contact info
Plan a Publicity Stunt
Planning a publicity stunt is an effective and quick way to raise awareness for your brand and gain some traction from the press.
If you're looking to plan a stunt, the objective should be to be bold and create something memorable
However, being bold has a fine line - it's important that you consider the timing of your stunt to ensure you don't come off insensitive or unethical. For example, timing may not be in your favor if you plan something during the general election, or in most recent cases, a global pandemic.
In order to measure the success of your stunt, it's important that you first determine your end goal, for example:
- Is the stunt aimed to raise money for your business or a particular organization?
- Is the stunt aimed to drive more traffic to your website?
- Is the stunt aimed to get more followers and engagement on Instagram?
Here are a few tips for creating a great publicity stunt:
- Research to ensure that there haven't been similar stunts done in the past by other businesses - this could easily turn off journalists and your audience.
- Make sure you can explain the stunt in one headline - this will help grab the media's attention. In other words, simplify!
- The stunt should be related to the product you are promoting. Even if the stunt is a success in terms of viewers, but it doesn't tie back to your original goal, then it's not useful.
- Keep the stunt visual with videos/images.
- Leverage the internet and social media platforms for your stunt by sharing your message across a variety of audiences. This will help with word of mouth and the overall success of your event.
To learn other strategies on how to get press, check out our full guide here.
Build A Facebook Community
Building a community is a great way to grow your network and your business.
There are several different ways of building a community, one of the most effective (and simplest) ways is to build a Facebook group
Setting up the group page takes less than 10 minutes, and we've outlined ways the top 5 ways to create an engaging and successful group:
- Make the group exclusive. This may sound counter-intuitive, however, this ensures privacy and that the group will feel comfortable posting and engaging with members.
- Try to be warm and welcoming. A great way to do this is by having a "Member Monday" where you welcome new members and ask them to introduce themselves in the group
- Use polls/surveys. This is a great way to know your audience and see what people want more of in the group (more business tips, networking opportunities, etc).
- Include influential people & conduct AMA's (ask me anything). This is a great way to get members engaged
- Host an in-person (or virtual) event with members in the group. This will create stronger relationships and build a strong community.
Mike Doehla, founder of Stronger U, an online nutrition company noticed that his customers needed a little motivation and sense of community:
Most diets are lonely so we wanted to give support and a community.
I think many people fail diets because there is no one to talk to and no accountability.
You can by a book, or google a meal plan but who’s going to keep you on track? We will. The entire SU community.
We give our members access for life to our Facebook community filled with people around the world who are looking out for everyone’s success.
Most diets make up arbitrary rules and we thought they just didn’t make sense. Meal timing, Cutting carbs, butter in coffee, sugar being the devil? Ehh no need to overthink that stuff.
We’ll give you the science behind of what we do and show you what actually matters based on real research.
Luckily we have a PhD at our disposal to educate our staff and members so everyone is getting the most up to date information out there.
Consider Working With Instagram Influencers
Partnering with like-minded influencers (within your industry) is one of the most effective ways to grow your social media organically.
Industry influencers already have an established and loyal following. With one post, your product immediately establishes a connection with a brand new audience. It's that powerful.
When finding influencers to promote your product, do your research and make sure that their following will actually be interested in your product.
It's easy to be blinded by any influencer with a huge following, but if those followers don't resonate with your product, there may not be any value there... so make sure you do your research!
Evan Marshall, founder of Plain Jane discusses how "micro-influencers" have impacted his business:
Influencer marketing has been huge for us. Our approach is pretty simple. We give out samples of our products and ask people to post about us on social media aka a micro-influencer strategy.
We really like this approach because we get authentic stories and content. We cannot really control the messaging so the product has to speak for itself. We don’t really take product photos at all. Our customers take the photos and we ask to reuse them.
With any influencer strategy, you have to be very sure you’re targeting the right people and engaging with them. You can make sure you’re targeting the right influencers by looking through their posts and then looking through the profiles of their engaged followers.
It takes more time per influencer but the payoff is certainly worth it. Make sure their followers look like your existing customers.
It takes a ton of time and work to grow a social media following this way but it’s worth it. Other accounts have tried to grow themselves through botting or other manipulations. As a CBD company, we didn’t want to give Instagram any reason to shutdown our account so we’ve done everything through content and real engagement. It’s not magic to make this happen. You just have to post consistently and then reply or like every single comment you get. It takes months but it works
Ryan Schortmann, founder of Display Pros talks about their investment in PPC Ads:
My name is Ryan Schortmann and I’m the founder of Display Pros. We are a custom trade show display booth company offering easy to use portable display “kits” for small and medium businesses wanting to get into the trade show game.
It did not take long to come to the realization that to compete at any reasonable level, we were going to need to take the plunge and invest in Pay Per Click ads and display.
From experience, I know that it is important to give Google’s hivemind some time to settle in before each campaign starts seeing consistent results (this is largely dependent on budget).
A certain amount of PPC budget must be viewed as a “marketing research” expense and then you can look at the analytics data and make informed decisions on where to refine, tweak or plain scrap an idea.
Google Shopping was an entirely new concept for me. You can’t assign keywords to products so at first, I was asking myself “How the hell do you refine these?”. Then I found some good reading material and courses and learned of some advanced methods that the pros are using. It turns out you can utilize negative keyword lists combined with the priority setting on each shopping campaign to “shape” the keywords that are coming in and how much you are spending on them.
To learn more about PPC Ads and Google Shopping, check out this video to learn everything you need to know!
Add an exit-intent popup to your online store
A great way to double, or even triple, your email opt-in rate and to grow your list is to add an exit-intent popup to your site, and offering a discount or content upgrade for subscribers.
Here's an example of what that might look like:
One thing that I spent years NOT doing, that I now kick myself about, is adding an "exit intent pop-up" to our site, which lets people enter a sweepstakes to win a Xero Shoes gift certificate.
That one idea has added over 100,000 subscribers to our email list, which is one of our most effective marketing channels.
Improve Your Email Marketing
Different types of emails
Here are the most common types of email campaigns you can send to your customers and their benefits:
- Welcome emails - the perfect way to provide information from the start with a clear CTA. Make sure to tell your customer everything they need to know about your product or service.
- Newsletters - a great way to give customers updates or send out your latest content
- Product launch emails - the quickest (and easiest) way to increase sales is by selling to current customers. Make sure they're the first on the list to know about your new product
- Promotional emails - promote discounts, deals coupons etc. Try and make this feel exclusive and for a limited time only
- Abandoned cart emails - give your customers a reason to complete their purchase!
Here's a great resource for finding curated email designs, for all types of email campaigns!
Advice On Newsletters From OceanZen
Once launched, I thought all of my bikinis would just sell… well they didn’t.
I didn’t have a strong way of getting my product out there in the world, and I also didn’t understand influencer marketing at the time, no marketing experience or marketing budget.
We didn’t really understand the importance of having a newsletter list until recently, and now with Instagram changing their algorithm, it’s the best way to get your brand/product direct to your customer, literally straight to their mailbox.
Consider Selling On Amazon
In addition to selling your products directly on your site, you may want to consider selling on Amazon to reach a wider audience and attract new customers.
Here are some pros and cons of selling on amazon:
- Easy and seamless process to get your product listed on Amazon
- There are roughly 100 million thoroughly committed prime customers, so you're bound to tap into new business
- Can help grow your business exponentially and reach new audiences
- You may encounter some "copycats" and counterfeit products
- Amazon owns the relationship with the customer (you lose control over product reviews + customer service)
- If you already have a low-markup, amazon may not wrth your while and you could end up losing money
- Commissions and listing fees are high - it's easy to lose control of your offering
Follow these instructions to get your product listed on Amazon or check out the video below on how to get started:
Selling On Amazon: Sheath Example
Amazon has also been a great platform for us to gain new customers as well as offering options to our existing customers who take advantage of Amazon prime.
The annual growth in Amazon sales is less noticeable, however, as we have much less control over it compared to our other sales channels.
In fact, our Amazon growth has been relatively stagnant the past few years, but we are actively developing new methods to rectify that.
We hope to one day have amazon rivaling sheathunderwear.com in sales, the current goal being $1 million sales monthly on each platform.
🏃🏼♀️ How To Run Your Dog Clothing Line
If you can afford to hire someone to help support your dog clothing line, outsourcing is a great way to save you time and energy.
Most importantly, outsourcing can help you focus on the core growth of your business, versus spending your time on day to day tasks that other people can do just as well!
If you do plan to outsource your work, it's important to be hyper-familiar with the actual work involved.
Why is it important to be hyper-familiar with the work?
- So you can understand how long it takes
- So you understand the full process, edge cases, things that can go wrong.
- So you can explain it in detail to your employee.
- So you can make sure it actually works (for example - how do you know cold email works for your business if you’re not on the ground floor trying it out?)
- Understanding the tasks at a deep level will save you a lot of time and money.
Provide Great Customer Service
Providing exceptional care and creating relationships with clients is a great way to build your reputation and retain customers.
Whether you are an online business or a physical business, it's highly important to communicate with customers and make them feel like they are the priority.
Just remember: customer service represents your brand, values, vision and YOU as a person.
Customer Service is Key
Providing exceptional care and creating relationships with clients is a great way to build your reputation and retain customers.
It’s really all about building relationships, providing the best possible care, and checking in with clients regularly to be sure their needs and their pets' needs are being met.
Our clients are not just clients…
They are extended family members and friends. Their pets, we treat as we would our own pets. We built our company on relationships. Entrusting someone with your fur kids is HUGE!
How To Retain Customers For Your Dog Clothing Line
Retaining customers is one of the most effective ways to grow your dog clothing line.
Oftentimes, it's easy to find yourself focusing on generating new customers, vs retaining your current ones.
Look at it this way - you are 60-70% more likely to sell a new product to an existing customer than you are a new customer.
That's not to say that finding new customers and revenue streams is not important, however, the easiest (and most inexpensive) source of new revenue is right there in front of you.
Here are some ways you can retain customers for your dog clothing line:
- Responding to comments on social media
- Send discounts (or freebies) to loyal customers
- Provide valuable content, for free
- Write a hand written thank you note
- Provide awesome customer service and build relationships with customers
To find out more tips and tricks on retaining customers, check out this article ➜ here
Tyson Walters, founder of Shed Defeder dives deep into the process of attracting and retaining customers:
Facebook ads have been the best platform for us to date and was a crucial part of how we started generating buzz and customers. It’s great for startups because you can start with a budget of $20 or $50 dollars and the ad management platform is very easy to use.
When I first started with Facebook I was doing a $1-2 a day so that I could experiment. Once I started to see the ROI and our sales increased we were spending $50 to $100 a day. We’ve found that a combination of an awareness ad followed by a retargeting ad have worked well for us but we’re constantly changing our approach including the audiences, copy and design.
Amazon has also been a great sales channel for us and it offers an ad platform that can be used with budgets of all sizes. Getting started on Amazon can be daunting and it takes some expertise so we hired an agency to help us get our store up and running.
There are certain aspects of Amazon that can be cumbersome and time-consuming so after about a year of running the store internally, we decided to outsource it to a third party who now runs it for us.
They are the exclusive seller of the product so we still have complete control over our pricing and quality. Outsourcing the store has taken a huge burden off of us and they are bringing expertise to the table that we don’t have and would be too expensive to hire right now.
Amazon has such an enormous built-in customer base that it seems like a big mistake not to at least experiment with the platform.
Shark Tank was an amazing, difficult and terrifying experience all at the same time. People were always saying that we should go on Shark Tank because our product is so eye-catching and even though I’ve been a huge fan of the show for years, I didn’t take the suggestion seriously because I didn’t think we were ready. Last year though it felt like the right time and we decided to start the process.
From the application process to the filming, there’s a lot more to it than what you see on television. We spent countless hours preparing and I think it paid off because we were confident when we walked in that we would have the answers to the questions thrown at us. Once we started the filming portion though it really sank in… I am finally going on the show of my dreams with the company I started. My time in the tank was a whirlwind and the Sharks started firing off questions at us right from the start. In the end though, once they heard some of our sales numbers they started to take us seriously and we got three offers. Ultimately we decided to take a deal with Lori who agreed to $250,000 in exchange for a 25% stake.
Preparing for Shark Tank was a great exercise for us as a company. It forced us to do a deep dive into our numbers and look at the business through an investor’s lens which is something we hadn’t done before.
It also forced me to work on my presentation skills and learn how to be more clear and concise when talking about my business.
On a different note, I learned that there’s so much more that goes into filming a TV show than I would have ever thought which makes it even more nerve-wracking when you finally walk into the tank.
The behind the scenes look at the magic that goes into filming a show like Shark Tank is something I’d never seen first-hand before and was a fun to be a part of.
Build a Referral Program
Word of mouth is one of the best ways to get the word out about your business and acquire new customers. Especially when you are starting out, it’s important to build a solid referral program to encourage existing customers to help you find new ones.
A great way to do that is by offering a reward (ie. credit on your service or cash) to customers that refer you to their friends and family.
A fantastic referral program will help with clout, credibility, and establishing yourself in the space.
Founder Emma Lovel discusses tips for creating a great referral program:
We have had a lot of success with our Referral Program. Word of mouth is so valuable - happy customers will shout from the rooftops about your product if they love what you’ve done. So why not reward them?
We use a program called Referral Candy where our existing customers get cold hard cash paid directly into their Paypal account for every referral purchase they’re responsible for. Their friends get a discount on the product so everyone is a winner.
A word of warning - make sure you have enough margin in your product to allow for this. The discount, the cash and then the percentage to the referral program can add up to a big cost of sale!
We put together the best resources on the internet to help you start your dog clothing line.
- How to Start a Clothing Empire