Camille Yao, Co-Founder and Managing Partner of pet retailer and distributor Pet Warehouse, has an unusual answer to what marketing personally means to her.
“To be honest, marketing wasn’t actually something we thought about when my husband and I started Pet Warehouse five years ago,” Yao said. “We didn’t do marketing at all in the traditional sense. Instead, what marketing meant to us was to focus on delivering the best possible consumer experience and relying on word of mouth to see us through in our early days.”
Therefore, Yao’s communications strategy for Pet Warehouse revolved around presenting how the company would go above and beyond for their customers.
How did they do it?
“Pet Warehouse started because we saw a huge gap in the market that needed filling,” Yao said. “The idea of an online pet store is not new, but the problem was a lot of the time dealing with them was just transactional. The pet owner community is a very passionate and vocal one, so we wanted to give them a place that understood that.”
For example, one thing that Yao and her team did to communicate that they only want the best for their customers was to keep their logistics in-house. Although it would be more convenient overall for the company to outsource deliveries, Yao reasoned that having more control over their logistics made it easier for them to control quality and personalize deliveries. When delivery was up to them, for example, a customer specifically asking for pet food to be delivered at 3 p.m. on a Thursday two weeks after the order can be accommodated. In contrast, most typical retailers just wouldn’t fulfill a request that specific.
“We always say that we’re not marketing just a product—what we’re really marketing is a relationship with the customer,” Yao said. In order to distinguish themselves from their competition, Pet Warehouse consistently goes out of their way to offer creative services to customers at no charge. For example, some customers request for the “ninja delivery” service where they ask for their pet’s food to be wrapped as inconspicuously as possible because their residential buildings explicitly forbid the presence of pets. For free, Yao and her team would go out of their way to stealthily wrap something like a bag of dog food in a way that it would look like a shipment of books or even a box of furniture.
Yao found that services like these often spurred customers to do the communicating for her. “They’ll tell their friends and then those friends will tell their friends,” Yao said.
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