Effective Strategies E-Zine

Volume 1, Issue 2

“Even though the food bowl is full, Jazmin still has to know where the food bowl is and go after it. The food isn’t going to follow her around and jump in her mouth. ”

Carrie Smith
Visionary and Serial Entrepreneur

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Effective Strategies is devoted to sharing ideas that can improve your business performance. This issue, we look at marketing not through the eyes of a business executive with an MBA, but through the eyes of dog. Sometimes business success is all about instinct. If you missed the last issue, click here to read it.

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Reader Ideas Welcome

Do you have a great small business management idea you’d like to share with our readers? Send it on! Specific questions and topic ideas are also welcome. Share your ideas via e-mail at carrie@soarhigher.com.


Marketing Lessons from My Dog Jazmin

There are lessons to be learned about small business marketing from unassuming sources. My dog, Jazmin, for instance, understands well the concept of marketing aggressively — especially gaining market share.

Jazmin is 40 pounds of black furry sunshine and is my favorite little power networker. No one I know works a room quite like she does. She sells a variety of services that include companionship, happiness, and the ability to touch her incredibly soft fur. In exchange for that service, she gets hugs, pets, or — the Holy Grail of the canine world — belly rubs!

Here are the lessons we can learn from Jazmin.

Look for the part of the market that is un-served and go after it first before you take on the competition. When my husband and I adopted her in January 2003, she decided that she would sleep with us at night. Consider the available area on the top of the bed as “the market”. Before Jazmin, ideally my husband and I each had 50% of the market share.

Now there’s a new competitor in the marketplace. When we hear her toenails clicking down the hall, we race to get our share of the space on the bed before she gets there.

Jazmin jumps up on the bed and kisses us goodnight and settles into the available space on the bed that is not occupied — the un-served share of the market. Next she moves in to start snatching up market share, getting closer and closer to our market share and edging us out. Pretty soon, Jazmin has reduced our market share to the edges of the bed.

You don’t have to be the first one in the market to establish yourself quickly and be successful. We have two other dogs that have been around much longer than Jazmin. They are also twice her size. Jazmin understands the disadvantage of being the smaller newcomer but she uses it to her advantage. At the dinner table, she positions herself under my chair (a space too small for the other competitors) to make sure she that she’s close to any morsels of food (potential business) that drop on the floor. Another lesson to learn here: location is important.

Be the first one to check out new developments in the market. As small business people, the market in which we operate changes quickly and we have to pay attention. This can range from the opening of the new bag of dog food or treats to the arrival of a new dog toy. She’s always first in line to try new things. That doesn’t mean that she will eat raw carrots twice but she always gives new things a fair shake. Sometimes new developments are as insignificant as waiting for one of the other dogs to drop the bone she’s been watching and moving in quickly to snatch it.

Differentiate yourself from your competitors. Jazmin adores people. Our other two dogs are very shy and scatter when visitors (Jazmin’s potential customers) come to our home. Perhaps you have some competitors like that. The other two will sometimes warm up to visitors after awhile. Guess which dog gets the most attention (business) — the one who actively seeks out the visitors.

Aggressively search for new clients or ways to establish competitive advantage. Jazmin, an astute self-promoter, is always the first one to the door to greet newcomers to the market — her potential customers. She doesn’t wait for them to discover there’s a dog waiting to serve them, she jumps on them as they are walking in the door. As they settle into our home, she sits next to them and reminds them often that she is there in case there is anything she can do for them. Folks who visit my home rarely leave without giving Jazmin belly rubs — Bingo! Jazmin scores another sale! Another satisfied customer: visitors get to play with the happy little dog and Jazmin gets the sale she wants.

Stay out in front of your potential client. Once Jazmin has market share, she hangs on to it. She constantly checks with her customers to make sure they are satisfied. She understands that just because no one needs her services right now doesn’t mean that they will remember she’s there later. Being in the right place at the right time is important to the busy people in her life. She always makes sure she’s available when it’s the right time.

It’s important to always be nice to your competitors. The nice competitors get to stay in the market. As I mentioned previously, Jazmin shares the Smith home with two larger older dogs who can whoop her at any time. She understands how important it is to show respect for others and play fair.

Business doesn’t usually magically appear at your door. Our home is an abundant place for our spoiled pets with plenty of love and food (business and customers). Even though the food bowl is full, Jazmin still has to know where the food bowl is and go after it. The food isn’t going to follow her around and jump in her mouth. It’s a lot like business in abundant Northwest Arkansas. Even though the potential clients are there, you have your chamber of commerce membership, and your yellow pages ad is in the telephone book, you still have to actively seek out the clients and be easy to do business with.


Carrie Perrien Smith is a professional speaker, published writer, and owner of Soar with Eagles, a Rogers, Arkansas-based company. She is a publishing, communication, and training industry veteran whose corporate career spans 15 years, split between Texas Instruments and Wal-Mart Stores, Inc. Her company offers training, book publishing, conference management, and consulting services as well as a professional speaker’s bureau.  

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