The ‘Puppy Dog Close’ goes like this. The pet store lets you take home the cute puppy for a few days to see if you like it on the basis that, if you have any problems, they will give you a free refund.
The psychology behind this is to remove the risk of purchase i.e. that you’ve made a big mistake without recourse to a refund.
The pet-store owner is banking on the fact that you will grow attached to the puppy and will not be able to bring it back because you have formed an emotional bond with it.
The first time I heard about this close was in relation to a store that sold expensive televisions in a rural part of the country. They were a top seller of televisions by simply using the puppy dog close – they were banking on the fact that when the owner of the TV got it home and showed it off to his family, friends and neighbours, his ego would not allow him to return the television to the shop.
The reason I’ve written this post is that I was reminded of this close when I read this article which is a variation on the original Puppy Dog Close…
The Great Puppy Dog Ambush and its Devious Lessons for your Web Conversions
It was an ambush.
There I was in Brisbane at a seminar and… it happened.
Like all good ambushes it was deviously planned, cunningly created and implemented with military-like precision.
The first inkling I got was when my iphone vibrated (naturally on silent because of the seminar!) indicating a text message.I looked at it under the table. The text contained 6 words which are enough to send a shiver down the spine of any man with a wife and children.
All it said was…“we r @ the pet store”.
The training was really good, high quality but my day had taken a turn for the worst.
My response: “we’ll talk when i get home”.
It happened again. Text vibration went off.
This time a picture.Youngest child holding a cute little puppy.I ignored it.
2 minutes later another text. Second oldest child with same cute puppy. Not good.
All up I received 4 such pics… one for each kid holding this little white ball of fluff.
Ok Poindexter, I’ve heard enough about your family issues, tell me what’s in it for me.
Stick with me here… because the process used in this ambush could be worth a motza for you.
Back to the story…
We had no contact again until I arrived home at about 7 that night to be greeted at the door by a sea of excited expectant faces.You see they knew I didn’t want a puppy.
With a (by today’s standards) big family, last thing I wanted was another mouth to feed, medical bill to pay, “kid” to buy toys for.Luckily for me I arrived home prepared.
The hour drive had given me time to get my objections sorted in my mind and as I walked in the front door I was loading my “gun” with these well-thought out bullets.
Then THE question came…“Dad she’s so cute, can we PLEEEEEAAAASSSSE get her?”
No way. I was prepared. And quite happy to wear “the world’s biggest bastard” tag for a week or 2… they’d come round.
We’re not getting a dog.
“Why not?”Ok, time to click the safety switch off, work the bolt and get ready to fire…
Because when you have a dog you can’t go on holidays, you can’t get away even for a weekend.
No!“The shop where the puppy is has a puppy motel… only $95 a week and they feed it and love it and look after it very well!”Bugger.
Dogs are expensive. No!“Dad, it’s such a good deal. The dog comes wormed, vaccinated, vet checked. You get a free microchip, free puppy school AND… free doggy hydro bath for LIFE. You won’t even have to wash her!”Damn.
This pet store knows a thing or two about marketing. They’d taken my love-struck kids’ eyes off the price.
I wasn’t giving up without a fight…I’m not getting up in the middle of the night to a puppy. I’ve done that with you kids. Not doing it again. And I’m not picking up dog poo.
No!“It’s ok, you won’t have to we will do it all.”Yeah right. For the first week until the novelty wears off.Then second oldest daughter grabs me by the hand and takes me to the lounge. She points to a piece of paper blu-tacked to the wall under the light switch.A quick tour of the house revealed all bedrooms with this same darn piece of paper on the wall.They’d thought of EVERYTHING.
The paper was a roster. Day by day. Job by job. Each kid’s responsibilities for looking after it laid out for all to see.My name wasn’t there.“See dad, we’ve got it sorted, you won’t have to do a thing!”
This was not going well.I was in deep trouble.
Ok time to bring out the heavy artillery. You see I love my lawn. My neighbours are jealous. Passersby comment. It’s darn sexy.So I let them have it.What about my lawn! There’s no way any dog is going to dig it up.“
She won’t dad, she’s only little and she’s soooo cute!”
World’s biggest bastard was deeper in trouble.
Last chance…If we get a dog, you kids will just fight over who’s playing with it. Heck we won’t even get it home without an argument over whose lap it’s sitting on in the car!
Second eldest says nothing but disappears and returns with my old fishing hat. It contained 4 pieces of paper.“We’ve even thought of that. Our names are in here and whichever one gets chosen gets to nurse the dog on the way home. We all agree. There’ll be no fights.”Then she says…“And you even get to pick the name out of the hat!”Lucky me.
I was defeated.
Her name is Tilly and yes, she’s very cute.Ok, because you’ve read this far… here are the BIG marketing lessons…
Marketing lesson #1: What you offer visitors to your website IS vital. Seems like stating the obvious but you really need to put thought into it. It’s a concept I drum into the copywriters I coach… “GIVE THEM WHAT THEY WANT”.Just like the pet store does when it sells a dog.What do prospective dog owners want? Healthy puppy which is low maintenance… so that’s what they give you. Vet checked, vaccinated, micro-chipped, wormed, puppy school, free doggy wash for life… the offer covers ALL bases.So should your offers. There is massive perceived value built in here. Your mind is on all these “extras” and the cute ball of fluff. It makes it easy to buy and easy to ignore or justify in your mind the asking price.
Can you say the same about your offers? If you answer “NO”… maybe it’s time to give the market what they want with a “puppy dog” type offer.
Marketing Lesson #2: People buy on emotion and justify with logic. Does your copy make it easy for them to do this? That little “war” between me and my kids (me throwing up objections, the kids answering them) is the same “war” which goes on in everyone’s mind BEFORE they buy.
Your copy must point out the value and the result they will get so the “war” in their minds is easy for them to win. When there is emotional connection there… when they can logically justify why they should buy… then BINGO… you’ve made the sale.
Remember, think of all the reasons they won’t buy and then overcome them in your copy.
Just like my kids did to me.
OK, I’m off to play with little Tilly and take care of my sexy lawn…
In addition to the marketing lessons above, I also learnt:
Marketing Lesson #3: Deal with all objections, preferably in advance, as part of your sales letter. His kids had anticipated his objections and were ready with their solutions.
Marketing Lesson #4: Whilst the kids were not in a position to buy the puppy themselves, they heavily influenced the buying decision. This demonstrates that the person who is able to pay may not be the person you need to market your service too. Have you identified the real decision-makers in your marketing?
Marketing Lesson #5: The real profit in this transaction, probably was not the sale of the puppy. A puppy needs eating bowls, dog food, lead and or harness, grooming equipment, dog bed, dog toys, flea treatment and so on. The back-end profits from this transaction are far greater than the initial sale for the pet store – if the pet store is smart this would be part of their back-end marketing system to maximise the lifetime value of the customer.
This is the same in internet marketing – give away something valuable or offer it at a low price, to get a buyer on your list, and then make profits on the back-end with email marketing is the standard internet marketing model.
Another variation on this puppy dog strategy is to give a $1 trial for a few days, with the rest payable automatically unless cancelled – if you have a high quality product. then cancellations will be low and many people will forget to cancel anyway.
The Puppy Dog Close is a very effective strategy – is this something you could use in your marketing strategy?
Once your product is in the customers’ hands and the customer experiences the joy of ownership, the sale is all but certain, particularly when there is a strong emotional attachment to the purchase. Sit down and start thinking about how you could entice your prospects and customers with a puppy-dog close that will make your closing ratios higher than they’ve ever been before.
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Mark Salmon is an internet marketing consultant. Mark creates digital information products about starting and building an online business. Prior to starting his online business, Mark was a corporate banker based in the UK, then ran a business consultancy for around 8 years before deciding that his future was internet marketing.
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