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In This Episode
For many smaller, local businesses the idea of direct response marketing and copywriting feels like a daunting and time-consuming prospect that won’t make an impact on their bottom line.
But here’s the truth…
In post-Covid world, the ability to market successfully online is more vital than ever. No matter what type of business you’re in.
I’m joined on today’s episode by Claudia Cesarotti. She’s a direct response copywriter who also runs a highly successful pet care business which she’s owned for over 30 years.
In this episode we talk about the marketing challenges faced by the pet industry and other smaller, local businesses. Plus we dive into how local businesses can use direct response marketing techniques to enhance their client relationships AND expand their product lines to create new and exciting opportunities that only exist online.
- Why other people’s mistakes are the real key to successful business ownership
- The core emotional drivers that motivate pet-lovers to spend disproportionate sums of cash on their beloved animals
- The often-ignored technique that lets you connect with your prospects’ desires EVEN in industries not used to direct response marketing
- How to successfully pivot your business, after decades in one niche, without letting imposter syndrome steal your success
- The biggest mistake even the smartest local business owners makes when it comes to marketing their products and services, and how to overcome it
- The simplest way for local businesses to benefit from the power of email marketing without wasting hours each week writing ineffective copy
- Why certain niches generate significantly more profit than others and how to tell if yours is one of them
- The unexpected but highly profitable consequence of successful direct response marketing that drives more sales and more profits in your business
Beg, Steal & Swipe These Resources:
You can find out more about Claudia via her website www.yourcopywritingsolution.com
And get onto her new email list by sending her an email at firstname.lastname@example.org
My FREE Resources
My Email Story Generator that helps you write binge-worthy stories that get you paid
The Rawthority Playbook – Discover a simple, step-by-step process to craft a unique origin story that converts lukewarm leads into obsessed mega-fans
Check out www.wordistry.co.uk to get more info on how Anna can help your business
Check out the episode transcript
Hey, Claudia, welcome to the show. So first of all, I want to thank you so much for joining me here today. You’ve had a bit of an unconventional journey to direct marketing going from running a super successful dog grooming business, to writing copy for pet industry experts. Can you tell us a bit about how you started out in business and how you shifted your focus from grooming to direct response copy?
Sure, sure. I actually started my business when I bought a cocker spaniel, puppy, way back in 1988. And I thought, wow, wouldn’t it be fun to learn how to groom her. And so at that time, I had just graduated college, and I was working at an insurance company paying medical claims, which was awful, you know, got some horrible and they in a community college near me, they had like a dog grooming class. And basically it was the lady demonstrating how to groom a dog. We didn’t have any hands on experience. So, but she, we would all got to bring in our dogs, and she would groom them and just kind of explain how she was doing it as she went along. And I bought the manuals, and they were very descriptive with the pictures and everything. And I just started practicing on anyone who would let me have their dog.
And how did the early dogs turned out?
I’m sure they were horrendous.
We need some photographic evidence.
Yeah, no, I don’t think I took any pictures. But like, my dad would let me like he had an Airedale puppy when I had my Cocker puppy. And so he would let me use, you know, he would let me do her. And we lived in a an apartment building where they allowed pets, so people would see my dog. And they’d be like, oh, where’d you get a room? And I’m like, Oh, I did it, you know? And people would be like, Oh, can you do mine, you know, and I was like, charging, like, $10. So that’s like, you know, nothing, basically. So, um, you know, people want, you know, once we moved away, um, I, I, so basically about a year later, when my dad’s dog went into another grooming shop, because she had to get a flea bath. And the lady said, Oh, well, you’ve been taking her and he’s like my daughter, like grooming her. And she offered me a job. So I worked for her part time while I still had my full time job. And then I ended up going full time, at like, five different places in two years. And I learned basically what not to do in a business. And then when I opened my business, I just I had, I was able to do it well, but I still kind of learn how to do the business along the way.
And that’s so great that you got to that you got to learn by watching everyone else’s mistakes. So you didn’t have to make them yourself. Perfect. So with all your years of experience, you will receive know your market probably way better than 99% of other marketers in your niche. Why do you think it’s so valuable to your clients that you’ve had that kind of first hand exposure?
I think because, um, you know, I mean, after doing it for so long, you’ve just, you’ve pretty much seen everything. And you, you know, and so when people are upset, or they are, you know, worried about what’s going on, you can like say to them, Hey, don’t worry, you know, I’ve seen this before, people, you know, this is what’s happened to the other times when this has happened to other people. You know, so I think that I’m able to, or I can, or on the other hand, I can say, hey, you might want to, you know, get this looked at really quickly. Because, you know, last time I saw this, it didn’t end well. Um, you know, so I’ve seen, I’ve seen a lot and I’m able to pass that on to my clients as a is, you know, just the benefit of experience.
So a couple of weeks ago, I got talking to this highly profitable business owner who told me that she offers dog aroma therapy, massage and pet essential oils. Now I’m not a pet owner. So I have to say I was kind of surprised at how excited and willing animal lovers are to indulge their favorite pets in that way. And can you suggest any ways that businesses in the pet niche can capitalize on that passion and dedication when they write their own sales copy in their marketing material?
I think that they would need definitely need to be in an area probably more of a city area where that kind of thing would be much more well accepted. I know that there’s a lot of have like pet. They’re calling them like pet resorts. Now pet hotels, even like doggy daycares are kind of starting to offer that kind of thing. Um, I, I know that like, I live in the suburbs of Chicago, Illinois. And I know that there are a lot of them that are offering that right now there, it’s a little slow on the uptake of people kind of wanting that. But I think that like, maybe more in the city, where it’s just, it’s more of a status to kind of have that kind of thing. I bet it works really well there.
And so do you think that that kind of need to almost use your your pet as a trophy? Is that the main driver? Do you think behind that sort of buying behavior in the pet? Nice?
Absolutely. I do think that people like to, they have they, they kind of have their own self esteem when it comes to how well their pet is taken care of. And I think that like in that kind of young, we used to call them yuppies, but I guess they’re called millennials now. millennial, you know, they, they, you know, they’re like, you know, how great my, you know, my dog goes to the vet, or to the groomer, you know, every two weeks, and she gets this, this and that. I just acquired a new client recently. And she brings, she brings them every two weeks, and she brought her own products, she wants me to use this blueberry, face wash on the dog. And it’s nothing more than shampoo. But it’s, she likes it. And she wants that. And she wants her dog to have that experience. But that’s really the first person that I’ve come across in all my years of doing this, that has really thought that that was important. But I think that like in the in the city, like in New York and Chicago, and in the bigger cities where they’re offering that kind of thing, I think people are just eating it off.
And what do you think’s the best way then for the companies who are targeting that sort of audience? How can they really connect with that idea that people have Where? Because I suppose if you if I were a pet owner, and somebody were to say, quite directly to me, your pet is is a status symbol. I think I almost feel a bit put out by that. So is there a way to always kind of subtly plant that seed without going too direct about like, you’re maybe compensating in some way through your pet? Nobody wants to think of themselves in that way. Right?
I think that just by by offering how how much your pet will benefit from this. And, you know, this is in a lot of people too. They want their pets to be like at a doggy, you know, daycare or like a groomer for the day because they work. So they think their dog is occupied for the day. And he is and so if he gets his little oatmeal bath, or his teeth brushed, or any kind of little spa treatment, that just kind of helps them know that they’re doing the best they can for their path. And it helps them feel better and kind of maybe stave off some guilt, you know if they’re not with them all day. Yeah, that
makes sense. I guess it’s very similar to that feeling of mum guilt, would you leave your toe for the first time with the sitter?
It’s so funny. We actually use that a lot in will have dogs that you know, they come in and they’re they’re all like, you know, crying and shaking and they’re whimpering. As soon as the owner leaves, they come right back with us. And they’re fine. Like, you’re kidding. It’s exactly Matt.
And do you think do you think that the doggy parents? Do they? Do they have that same? Or are you kind of feel like a limb is being torn from you? Would you leave your child in? in preschool for the first time?
Absolutely. Especially first time pet owners.
It’s so funny the parallels between pet ownership and parenting. It’s unbelievable.
true. I mean, I when I got my puppy, the only thing about it’s like having a baby. It’s like you’re it’s like having a baby except it doesn’t last as long. You know, they get over you know, their their their whole nighttime waking. You know, in a couple weeks. That doesn’t happen with a baby. You know,
that sounds that sounds kind of appealing.
Puppies instead of children but
I’ve been, I’ve had my business for almost 30 years. And it’s a physical job. And I mean, I can still do it. And I can, I mean, it kind of takes a bit of a toll on my body, by the time I come home, a lot of times, I’m ready for them to sit down have a glass of wine, because my back is killing me. But, um, I just thought, you know, there’s, there’s kind of a little a timeframe where this can be done properly, and I don’t ever want to get to the point where, you know, physically, I can’t, you know, do the lifting, I can’t, you know, I can’t control a dog while I’m trying to do something, you know, they’re strong, and they thrash and flail and fight you back. And, you know, that kind of thing. Or they struggle, they don’t, you know, but, um, they, it was too. So basically, I thought, you know, I’ve acquired all this kind of expertise and knowledge in, you know, what I’ve been doing for the last 30 years. And I was hoping to apply it as, as more of like, almost a retirement kind of something I can do in retirement. So I can still stay in this industry, and still be a part of it, but do something new with it, that’s not, you know, that my back can deal with.
I already know that feeling from my two year old thrashing around, he used to be something rotten. It was the stiff spine, when he when I asked him to do something, he would get like a board. And then it was like trying to wrestle an alligator was an absolute nightmare.
When I keep getting kicked in the same shoulder, because when we go to cut a dog’s nails in the back, and I don’t, I want to make sure that their knee and their hip is supported while I’m doing that. But that puts me in like, kind of harm’s way. Because, you know, it’s really easy for them to kind of donkey kick out. And I mean, my right shoulder just can’t take it anymore.
That’s a pretty good sign. If ever, I must have been an absolutely enormous learning curve for you making the plunge from running your pet business to learning coffee. What advice can you give to other entrepreneurs who might be holding themselves back from taking action because they maybe don’t feel 100% confident in their new knowledge or their skills? Well,
I find that what you know, the reason why copywriting appeal to me is because since I have been in this industry for so long, it was, you know, what I had to learn was the copy. And that’s so much what, you know, I mean, obviously, you want to stay on trend with, you know, all the new stuff that’s coming out, and the new trends and that kind of thing in your industry, but when you’ve been doing it for this long, and you’re just kind of used to finding out about stuff, and you get all the trade journals, you know, you you kind of have your own thing online, you have your own Facebook page online and everything like that. So this is the actual trying to learn the copy. Not so much, you know, but knowing that I already knew the industry was very comforting that I wasn’t just like this whole new thing that I just had no idea what it was about. And the the, the learning the copying, though, that is, you know, trying to fit that into that niche is what has been the challenge. Okay,
and why do you think that is? Because I know that you’ve, you’ve spoken before that the pet industry is maybe not ready for direct response copy in the way that you would like it to be? Why don’t think it’s it’s sort of not quite there yet.
I think because, um, the pet industry is made up of so many little tiny businesses. And they, and each, like a business like mine, it’s very local, and probably within a radius of maybe five to seven miles, people are going to drive, otherwise they’re going to go to the next one closer to them. I mean, unless they really decide that they like you. I mean, I’ve had people over the years have moved away, you know, 3040 miles but will still come to me, you know, but that’s few and far between. But, um, I think that because it’s so local, and, you know, I don’t think that the you need that req response reach to that distinct to that point. So it’s only like the bigger companies maybe like the pet foods and the pet products that want that big reach in like this, the new CBD companies, you know, they want that national or global reach. So but the pet industry is made up of so many little small businesses that they may not value, what direct response can do for them yet. But any local business even like mine can benefit from building an email list from sending out a newsletter, from just kind of keeping in touch with their customers through email, and just finding out what relevant topics they would like to know about.
And what do you think would be the biggest benefit not just for pets, business owners, but a lot of the people who listen to this podcast will be other small local business owners who may be like the pet industry don’t yet see the value in having an email list or running Facebook ads. What do you think the biggest benefit to those types of businesses would be because from my experience, a lot of the sorts of local restaurant businesses or maybe the more artists and kind of businesses, they tend to use email in the way that I absolutely would always discourage people to use it, where they’ll only ever send out emails where they have something to promote, they never offer any kind of value through emails, it’s just sales emails, here’s a promotion here’s an offer is, here’s a Valentine’s Day weekend, you can book a table, what would you suggest to those kinds of businesses to really help them connect with their audiences over email or Facebook,
I would say that, um, you know, the value of building an email list is, I mean, it’s a goldmine. And you it doesn’t have to cost you a lot of money. I think that, like what I’ve been doing in my own little local business is I’ve just been asking people, if they would like, as they check out, I would just like ask them, if they would like to leave us their email list because, and give them reasons, you know, give them reasons that are valuable to them. Such as, you know, we were thinking about, we’re going to be launching a newsletter soon. And, you know, we would love to know what you would be interested in knowing about, or just like doing like, a weekly email about a lot of times, you know, doing seasonal things, like in the spring, you know, what are the benefits of, you know, doing, making sure your dog gets a flea preventative? You know, what is the benefits of a fleet preventative? What are the benefits of, you know, the vaccines that, you know, you should be keeping up to date on, like, in the fall, you know, what your dog’s coat is going to change, you know, you might not see and, and maybe the additional care that it might need to do, you know, to keep that up, or at Christmas time when people you know, there’s always people have poinsettias around, which can be poisonous if dogs and cats eat them, um, and holly berries can be poisonous, you know, so it’s just kind of stuff that it’s maybe stuff that they’ve heard before, but it’s always a good reminder. So not that kind of thing, too. But in addition, just interesting things that people you think people would want to know about that would be relevant to them. Maybe focus on like a breed of dog that would be interesting or something a new breed that was just that was just approved by the one of the kennel clubs. A lot of times, like the Westminster dog show in, in April, I’m sorry, in February, in New York City is just so much fun, there’s so many things that you can follow along with, especially online now. You know, you can, you can go and cheer for your own breed of dog. And it’s just really, you know, just all that kind of thing and just kind of bring that kind of stuff to people’s attention. So that if they do want to take advantage of that, they’ll be like, Hey, you know, I just heard about this thing you can do from tails, a wagon, you know, newsletter. And it’s such a, it’s
interesting that more businesses in your niche, don’t do it because it is such a niche where people are so passionate, and they’re willing to spend an absolute fortune on showering their pets with love and gift and treats and experiences and things in a way that a lot of people aren’t in other niches. So I find it surprising that there isn’t more of this kind of marketing going on. So Dan, if you’re, if you read Ryan livex book, choose them. It’s it. I
guess I have it. I’d have to kind of skim through it, but I haven’t read the whole thing over.
So one of the things that he suggests is looking at industries where people are prepared to pay a disproportionate amount of their income on their passion. And something like golf or small businesses entrepreneurship, cycling, and pets just perfectly fit into that mode where people will spend way more than they should really be spending on their animals. And so it just lends itself perfectly and it’s almost a shame that people in your industry aren’t yet aware of the power of it. So I think you need to be on a mission to be banging this drum until until they realize how important this is.
I also think, too, that there’s a lot of like, I know that for the first, probably eight or 10 years that I had my business, um, you know, I was working six days a week, 10 hours a day. And there was literally wasn’t even, I never even occurred to me to do something like that. I mean, I guess if someone had come to me and said, Hey, you know, I probably would have been like, Oh, yeah, that’s a great idea. You know, but I just and I also think that, um, it’s just not that prevalent, prevalent yet. So, but I hope to, you know, I hope to start educating businesses and just kind of make mine as the example. Yeah, you know, this is what I was able to do. This is how it benefited me, you know, this could very well do the same for you.
Yeah, and there’s so much more power in that whole show, don’t tell model of doing things. Because very easy to say to people, you’re going to make more sales this way, you’re going to get more clients this way. But if they can actually see that it’s working for somebody out there in the real world doing it and making it work, that has so much more impact, and hopefully, more pet businesses will jump on the bandwagon and start doing it too, because it makes so much difference. Let’s face it, when it comes to your line of business, do you think that there’s the same need for this kind of marketing just on the basis that it sounds like your business took off pretty quickly off the back of word of mouth referrals and just you parading your your own pet around? Everybody saw a great job you’re doing so? And what do you think if if pet businesses fail already, like they have a consistent flow of leads and clients that they think well, you know, I don’t have the time for this, what would be the additional products or services that they could sell over email that they can’t do now, without this kind of marketing? Um,
I would think that there’s a lot of like, um, there’s a lot of like little grooming shops like mine, that would sell, you know, food and supplies, not to the extent of like, the big box stores, obviously, because there’s just no way to compete. But, you know, the summer a lot of times the convenience of being there and saying, Oh, yeah, shoot, I need that, you know, I think that that would be a great way to just kind of make it more towards the customer’s convenience, not so much that like, Oh, I have this to sell. But you know, hey, don’t forget that, you know, you can pick up your food here for you know, your, your dog or cat. You know, just a quick reminder, in case you need a new leash for you know, the for Christmas or something, you know, you can kind of remind, you know, instead of just kind of being like oh 20% off, sell, sell, sell, you can just kind of use that to the pert to the owners, the pet owners, you know, value of convenience, you know, so just, you know, don’t forget, we can do this, this or that, you know, while you’re there.
In the in the supplement niche, they’ll they’ll send out, if you if you purchase from them, they’ll send out replenishment emails to remind you, oh, you have that you bought the 30 day supply. here’s, here’s a discount off your next 30 days supply. And x is a really great reminder for people who you already know are interested in your products, and it compels them to buy from you. Again, because you’re in their inbox. And if you potentially forgotten about it, or you maybe thought all pick it, I’ll pick it up from somewhere else while I’m in town. It’s a way to make sure that you keep that repeat business going and then I guess there’s always the potential then to turn it into some kind of subscription model where you have that recurring revenue, and you’re not constantly having to pick up that sort of business over and over again.
Right. I think to that, like I’m the kind of the new thing lately has been the CBD and hemp products for for pets for you know you can for joint pain or for digestion issues or just kind of anxiety issues. But what I’m finding is that a lot of these companies they’re just sending out these, you know, what what their offer is, or what their discount is not so much like, what these products or the benefits of these products are actually doing for the dogs. And, um, so I think that it but and I suppose as a, as a person who sells those, you know, but I think that you could, you know, you could tell your client that on it on their own, and, you know, possibly set up like a, like you were saying a subscription type of thing, which is a really good idea. And but I think that’s, you know, so many of the small businesses are there, the owner, like I know that I, you know, at the end of the day, most of them are actually doing the work, it’s not like they’re just overseeing, you know, people working for them, a lot of them are actually in the, in the trenches doing the work. So this and then having this to do on top of it is just like another thing they don’t need to do. Or they don’t want to do because it’s like too much, you know, so that’s what I’m hoping that I can help, you know, small businesses, you know, just kind of see the value of even just, you know, building an email list, you know, sending out a cake, you know, it doesn’t know, like, you have to email every day, you know, maybe once, maybe twice a week, and then kind of, you know, and then maybe a newsletter once a month, you know, just to kind of keep you front and center in their mind. And, you know, to keep them interested in what you what you have to offer.
So lots of people who listene to this show have got young families, and they’re trying to navigate the whole running a business around keeping small people alive. I know you have some interesting stories from bringing your own little ones to work with you. Can you share some of the ways that you managed to keep your children in one piece while you were trying to get on with running your business? Absolutely, absolutely.
I was. So it was so wonderful, being able to bring my kids to work, I loved it, I love that I was able to have them with me. And they didn’t have to go to daycare until they were actually ready to go to preschool. Um, but I but it was, you know, it is definitely a challenge trying to keep them you know, occupied or otherwise entertained, while you’re actually trying to do work for the day. Um, my daughters both love the dogs. So that would you know, in but you know, you can always steer them to the ones that were friendly, which mostly, um, they used to love to play in the crates. So it was like, you know, some of the crates are big for big dogs. So they would, you know, go in there and, you know, build a dollhouse in there. And I used to get every once in a while, like, my daughter would go in there. And she’d be like, oh, close the door, you know? And I’d be like, No, I don’t want anybody who think that I’m like, keeping you in a crate. You know, but it was so and then I also had, um, you know, obviously, we would have toys, I had a little TV and VCR setup, where they could watch videos, you know, I had tons of Disney videos and some sesame You know, when they were little, obviously, Sesame Street videos, Barney videos, because this was back in the 90s and 2000s when my kids were little. And so that was you know, and by the time you know we’d have you know, they would you know and then obviously when they were little like my kids would nap there I think that they were just so used to you know, all the all the noise and everything like that, that we just had our schedule just like we would at home even though there was dogs barking constantly.
And did any of your daughter’s manage to steal some scissors and have a go grooming any of the dogs?
Thank goodness No. Explain that.
Terribly sorry. A small accident. We’d be
free for the next year.
Can you imagine that would be amazing.
Oh my god. That’s so funny.
So at this point, when I look to wrap up the questions, but can you tell our listeners where is the best place for them to go to find out more about you and how you can help them grow their pet business through your amazing copy? Well,
I do have a website. It’s called your copywriting solution calm. And it just basically kind of explains how I got into it. A little bit about me and there are some samples on my website that anyone could look at and kind of see what my work how my work how I you know, write my copy for the pet industry, and I would be just so happy happy to talk to anybody about, you know, how it could how copy could benefit them how direct marketing could benefit them. And even just in, you know, it doesn’t have to be a big huge ordeal, it can just be, you know, you know, collecting email addresses and in doing a couple emails or one email a week. But you know, like I’ve been saying, it doesn’t happen in I think that’s the thing, it’s like, it doesn’t have to be like this huge deal. It can be something manageable, and just the small amount of time that it would take would just increase your and benefit your business so
much. And you’ve mentioned that you’re about to launch your own email newsletter. So what will be the best way for them to request access to your newsletter, do you have an email address that you’d be happy to share, so people can shoot you a note and ask to be added to your email list?
Prior I don’t have that set up yet. But so probably just go to my regular website, or they can email me from my website, and I would just be happy to add them to the list. Hopefully, it will launch as of December 1. So kind of getting all the all the all the steps in place. And it is just going to be something that, you know, just kind of all the fun facts of pet ownership and just interesting things that could actually help people make decisions about you know, what they want their pet to eat, and you know, maybe some supplements they want to take, and you know, just information that’s relevant to pet owners. And that’s
going to be a really useful resource for other pet businesses, if they want to get examples of the best ways to start their own newsletters as well. So that I know it’s gonna be super valuable for pet owners and also pet business owners as well. It totally well. Thanks so much for your time, Claudia. It’s been amazing catching up with you. And I know that the pet owners and the pet business owners here will have got a ton of insight out of our conversation. So thank you very much for joining me.