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Newsletter #1040: The “Lessons from Animal Shelters” Issue

[Welcome back to the Damn, I Wish I’d Thought of That! newsletter. This is text of the great issue all of our email subscribers just received. Sign yourself up using the handy form on the right.]

Animal shelters have a lot of the same problems as most companies when it comes to marketing: small budgets, limited resources, and higher-end competitors. So they have to get creative to get people in the door and adopting animals.

Here are three lessons to learn from their strategies:

1. Don’t do what everyone else is doing
2. Put your message in an unexpected place
3. Ask for help telling your story
4. Check it out: Pointer Pointer

1. Don’t do what everyone else is doing

You’ve seen the stereotypical tear-jerker commercials for abandoned puppies and kitties before. It makes you sad, it makes you want to save all of the animals, but it’s not something you want to share with a friend. North Carolina’s Wake County SPCA did something different. They made a lip-syncing music video to ABBA’s “Take a Chance on Me” with the entire shelter staff and tons of adoptable animals. And it’s been watched on YouTube over 3.4 million times.

The lesson: Just because sappy videos are the norm in animal adoption doesn’t mean people like them. With a light-hearted, positive video like this, the Wake County SPCA made their adoption center and staff seem fun and approachable, not sad and heartbreaking.

Learn more: YouTube

2. Put your message in an unexpected place

In Brazil, Priceless Pets works with pet shop owners to swap their usual pure-bred animals on display with abandoned dogs and cats from shelters for one day. And when the customers tried to buy the dog or cat, the pet shop surprised them by letting them take their pet home for nothing. The idea is to prove that a pet doesn’t have to be an expensive purebreed for people to fall in love with it, and that maybe it’s better to adopt than to buy. By putting the shelter animals in an unexpected context, they make their cause more visible to the exact audience they’re trying to reach.

The lesson: Where are your potential customers going instead of coming to you? How can you surprise them by showing up there?

Learn more: PSFK

3. Ask for help telling your story

Pictures, videos, and bios on their site help Austin Pets Alive! get people interested in the animals they have up for adoption. And since it takes a lot of manpower to create all of that content, they ask volunteers to do it. According to their fundraiser executive, Adrienne Longenecker, the visuals don’t have to be high-quality, and the bios don’t have to be perfect — people are just excited to know more about the animals. (In fact, that kind of content earns their site about 2,600 visitors a day.)

The lesson: What’s holding you back from sharing more content? Chances are, someone out there is willing to help you make it. All you have to do is ask.

Learn more: Contently

4. Check it out: Pointer Pointer

Position your mouse pointer on the screen and hold still. Then, wait for a surprise.

Check it out: Pointer Pointer

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