3 Marketing Lessons From My Rescue Dog

Almost one year ago, my family and I welcomed a crazy, exuberant, seven-month-old rescue dog into our lives. It had been a little more than a year since our last rescue dog had suddenly felt ill and left us at just seven years old. And we were ready. {We thought.}

We were ready to again hear the cacophony of sounds that come along with a big, boisterous dog {that you cease to notice until they're gone}. We were ready for games of fetch and happing wagging tails. Even if our cat begged to differ.

marketing lessons from my rescue dog | 929 marketing | rachelbjordan

At the same time that we decided we were ready, I was in the early stages of building 929 Marketing. As I explored what marketing meant to each of my disparate {and super awesome} clients, I started to see something in the rescue dog experience that could help tell the story of great marketing today. 

1} The purpose is more important than the packaging.

Yes, you could adopt {or purchase} a purebred specimen of unmatched perfection. Fluffy golden retrievers. Perfectly groomed doodles of all sorts.

It’s true, no rescue dog will come to you in perfect packaging. And that’s ok. People interested in adopting rescue dogs aren’t looking for perfection. They’re looking for a relationship...with purpose.

That’s certainly the case for my black lab mix {maybe mixed with Irish Wolfhound, we’re not sure yet}. She’s beautiful in her way. And she sort of has a beard that has always reminded me a bit of Snoopy’s cousin. If Snoopy’s cousin were a nearly-70lb black dog who is as tall as I am when she's up on her hind legs. But I digress.

What does this have to do with marketing?

People buy your why. They buy into you or your business because of your purpose first, and your product or service second.

2} You'll find your people. And not all people are your people. And that’s ok.

We searched for a long time for our rescue dog. At least it felt like a long time. I mean, not like the “we tried to get pregnant for a long time” kind of long time but definitely like the “I’m going to need to find a new hobby after this search is over” kind of long time. 

We met plenty of perfectly nice dogs. Cute dogs. Shy dogs. Big dogs. Little dogs. But not the right dog. Until Daisy {formerly known as Edna...that was so not her real name}. Daisy found her people. And each of those other dogs did, too. And so will all the other dogs that awesome rescue group brings up to New England all the time {shout out Last Hope K9!}.

What does this have to do with marketing?

Marketing used to be about putting together a slick campaign that would cajole or even fool audiences into making certain choices. But today’s marketing is about authentically presenting the brand, what it promises, and who it’s for...and accepting that not all things are for all people. In fact, nothing that’s worthwhile is for everyone.

3} Customers who are invested in your promise might forgive you when you fail.

We bought into life with Daisy because she was the right dog for us. She brought the promise of playing fetch in the backyard, being best friend to each of our kids, and always having a buddy for Netflix binges...all with a certain special something that only comes with the knowledge that you rescued this dog. Maybe it’s gratitude. Maybe it’s something else. But just about all rescue dog families describe it.

Anyway...that means that when she chewed up my shoes in the first week, and chewed up countless toys since that first day, or peed on the floor every time she saw my dad {even multiple times in the same day, as if the fact that he was still in the house was some sort of overwhelming miracle only she could see}, through all of that, we forgave her.

Because we’d signed on for something bigger than those mistakes.

What does this have to do with marketing?

OK. Of course there are limits to this {ahem, United Airlines}. But the fact remains that when you’re clear about your brand's purpose and promise, and your people can buy into that, they might be on board to stick around through your growing pains. As long as those growing pains don’t conflict with your purpose and promise.