In honor of the 25th birthday of the Canine Good Citizen (CGC) program this year, we will be featuring articles with the “25” theme.
From some of our most active evaluators, here are the remaining great tips for marketing your CGC classes.
#14- Free lesson From time to time, for a limited time, I will offer a free introductory lesson for puppies, or older dogs, or seniors (humans). If the lessons are fun and if the dog learns new skills, I will get some new students from this offer.
#13- Group classes- special topics Throughout the year, I offer special group classes for dogs who have passed the CGC test. These can include hiking with your dog, Intro to Advanced CGC, Intro to Therapy Dogs, Canine Fitness, etc. Sometimes these are classes that last 6 weeks, but I’ve just discovered a day long workshop on a topic is successful and then people can sign up for ongoing classes.
#12- Volunteer at the shelter This is a way to help shelter dogs, polish your skills as a trainer, and the shelter staff will get to know you and see what you can do with a dog. Shelter staff are more likely to refer dog owners to the classes of trainers they trust.
#11- Community demos If your community has parades, fairs, etc., you can volunteer to do demos with your own dog and the dogs of your advanced students. A canine drill team is always a hit.
#10- Welcome back old students Contact students who took a puppy class and give them a special invitation to come and earn their CGC title. A personalized message is better than, “Dear Former Student.”
#9- Make your competitors your colleagues Even though dog trainers are often competitive when it comes to seeking business, there are more than enough dogs who need training to go around. If you will refer dogs to another trainer if you don’t have a class in session or your current class is full, the favor might be returned.
#8- Lifetime support for students When students take my class, I tell them that anytime they have a question about their dog, they can call me. Many stay in touch and take advantage of this offer, and some dog owners come back for additional classes after a training break. I know I’ve done a good job when a dog owner whose dog took my classes shows up with a new puppy.
#7- Blog Writing a blog takes time and is hard to be consistent, but my training school’s blog is a way to stay in touch with existing students. When someone asks about classes, I send them a packet with all of my services listed and a link to my blog. I often link to the AKC CGC blog.
#6- Facebook Some people think Facebook is a waste of time, but my Facebook page is set up for my training school. Students love to post pictures of their new STAR, CGC and AKC Community Canine dogs and tell about training successes.
#5- Car and Vans as ad space My dog van is painted with my business name, phone number, and web address. I have the CGC Evaluator logo on my back window. I can not believe how many people see the van and ask about my services when they see me in a parking lot. I didn’t want to paint my car so I am getting some magnetic signs for my “good” car that can be easily removed.
#4- AKC web page-CGC Evaluator list I list my CGC classes and tests on the CGC web page. I also list my name on the evaluator/CGC instructor on the AKC web page.
#3- Business card Every professional should have a business card. Including the CGC, STAR and CGCA logos on these cards creates awareness and lets others know I provide these services. I got the logos for each program from AKC’s CGC department that say, “EVALUATOR” underneath.
#2- Brochures in veterinary offices The veterinarian is the first professional that most dog owners will visit with their dogs. I put my business card and AKC STAR Puppy and CGC brochures in veterinary offices. I stamp my contact information on the back of the brochures.
#1- Have a well-trained dog Put your money where you mouth is. No excuses. Your own dog should be a shining example of your skills as a trainer. When people are impressed with your dog’s manners and skills, you can say, “In my CGC classes, I can teach you how to do this with your dog.”
Let us know if you’d like to share any marketing and PR methods that work for you.