Archive for June, 2010

Try It… They’ll Buy It!

It seems, sometimes the best way to sell something is to first try it yourself! At Kyjen, every aspect of our business revolves around one thing… our contagious enthusiasm! As dog owners, we have great reason to be excited about our products.

Clearly, we love what we do. My guess is that you do too! From my point of view, my household is comprised of three enormous retrievers, and I have to work hard to keep up my end of the deal. I get frisked for toys every day when I return home from work!

So… when it’s a gorgeous Colorado summer day, there’s nothing better than testing out some toys (at Grand Lake)! Do the dogs like them? Will they retrieve them? What should we add to our arsenal for more floating fun?

I find whether I’m at a trade show, in a boutique, or on the phone with a prospect, people are always drawn in by the magnetic tone my voice takes on when I tell about the love my dogs have for a particular toy. Who can say “no” to that? It works every time.

So order some extras, or ask for some samples, and test them out so that you have a story to go with what you’re selling. Quickly, you’ll become an trustworthy expert on the topic. It’s a fool proof strategy, and now you’ve got a mandatory assignment to “get out and PLAY!”

Please, step into my office!

Ready to play!

How to merchandise pet toys effectively in your store

I get a lot of questions about how and why pet toys are merchandised a certain way. While there are many ways to merchandise (product function, brand, price point, “best of”, size,  just to name a few), they all have one thing in common:  They make a statement to your consumer. These statements typically come from how consumers shop your store.

Let us focus on one example: Toys for aggressive dogs

You will often find these brands of toys are merchandised together to show the consumer all of their “durable toy” options in one place. Would you put plush toys in this section? Probably not (unless it’s really durable).  Most consumers looking for these types of toys have dogs that will go through a plush toy in minutes. By having plush toys in the durable section, you’re showing this type of shopper a toy they’re not interested in. Same goes in the plush section. Plush consumers are looking for plush, and a hard rubber toys won’t do so well for you in this section.

Keep this in mind while you are organizing merchandise in your store.

Toys That Play Back!

I read the following article from Petbusiness.com and found it to be very interesting!  We offer toys, Puzzle Plush, that I believe are the kind the article refers to…

Toys That Play Back
Some toys are designed to challenge the dog, or to reward by randomly dispensing treats. Toys that are designed to break apart–even if they’re soft and plush–often withstand the roughest treatment, because they redirect the dog’s energy and trick it into thinking the toy has been disemboweled.

Soft, plush puzzle toys, beehives, magic hats and birdhouses challenge the dog to separate out the component parts one at a time. These toy designs consistently earn thumbs-up reviews from industry and consumer publications.

Toys that challenge a dog’s intelligence can help with training and behavior. For example, dogs that have separation anxiety and spend hours alone while their owners work often resort to destructive behavior in the home. Furniture becomes a chew toy, and peeing and pooping come to be acts of frustration, defiance and attention seeking. Even more worrisome for dog owners is the boredom, lethargy and a general lack of spirit that dogs suffer from. Toys that engage the dog’s intelligence help the animal overcome tedious hours of solitude, and can be genuinely effective at correcting bad behavior.

For outdoor play, especially when it’s hot, offer water toys that squirt, spray, sprinkle and drip. These toys can be frozen or filled with water, broth or juice.”

To read the article written by Dan Headrick, owner of Wag Pet Boutique in Raleigh NC in its entirety, follow this link! Thanks for reading!

How are you different?

What are you doing that sets you apart from other stores? How do you do things different from the store down the street? Ask yourself these questions and then watch my video about our new toys, the Invincibles. We like to be different by making toys that dogs actually want to play with… and then, of course, making funny videos about them for your viewing pleasure… Enjoy!

Educate your customers on the importance of “play”, a great way to sell more dog toys!

Much of what I am about to say may seem like common sense, but common sense is not always common practice.

Too many of us have dogs that sit around all day while we are at work. When we arrive home, we are often too tired to exercise and ‘play’ with our dogs and ourselves. I think we need to remind ourselves and our customers about the importance of play within humans and dogs.  Physical activity is good for your health both mentally and physically. It’s good for your dog too!

In dogs, it helps prevent destructive behavior. It provides a release that enables them to express their natural behaviors…. instead of chewing up your new leather shoes! Explain this to your customers. There are wide varieties of new and different toys on the market which you can sell to your customers to help them benefit from play!

Why customers should buy life jackets for their dogs

A great picture submitted from one of our customers!I am asked many questions regarding life jackets quite often, so I think it is helpful to explain why a dog needs a life jacket.

Condensed version, a quick in-store sales pitch to your customers:

1. If a dog falls overboard on a boat (or deck or dock) the life jacket ‘grab handle’ will enable one to locate the dog and easily pull it back on board. (Click here to see demo video of how this works.)

2. It enables many non-swimming dogs to swim. Many dogs, believe it or not, do not know how to swim. I have heard many stories from pet owners that got their scared, old, or non-swimming dogs (Dobermans, Boxers, etc) to swim as a result of wearing one of our life jackets.

3. It reduces fatigue allows dogs to swim for longer, thus extending exercise and playtime!

Support community events without spending much money!

You may find that the daunting task of being a modern day independent retailer is more challenging than ever…

How do you ENGAGE with your community?

It’s all about networking and thinking outside the box!

As you might guess, here at Kyjen we are constantly approached by members of the Pet Industry who want us to get involved in their events.  While we would like nothing more than to sponsor every event under the sun, sometimes we find the need to get a bit more creative.

First, it is important to remember when approached for a sponsorship, that dollars are not the only form of currency!  We’ve managed to sponsor events that really get the Kyjen name out there by offering product for use

Event planners are also enticed by the donation of products for raffle prizes and giveaways – you may have merchandise that has never sold that you could write off as a donation, while freeing up valuable floor space.

In addition, sometimes the best donation is labor – offer to have a couple of your salespeople help host the event.  This is a great way to make face-to-face contact with your potential buyers.

Before you know it, you’ll be awarded an event booth, your company name will be on the back of tee shirts, and you’ll be well on your way to achieving top-of-mind status in your community.

In short, we find that you can often spread the good will just by spreading the good stuff… and quite often that gives you the chance to get out and PLAY!

Check out this video from the Surf City Surf Dog event of a dog surfing and wearing one of our Outward Hound Life Jackets

Also, check out these photos from the  Surf City Surf Dog event from last year

The Kyjen Booth

Dog surfing, and wearing a Outward Hound Life Jacket

All these Life Jackets are from us!

Another dog wearing our awesome life jackets!

This little guy looks familar

This little guy looks familar

A good article to help you sell more toys

This article recently appeared in the digital Version of Pet Business magazine. I think there is some great information that can help change how you think about dog toys, and at the same time, help you to sell more toys.

We were not interviewed for this article, but we do appreciate the reference to our puzzle toys!

http://www.petbusiness.com/articles/2010-05-31/Playtime-for-Canines

Suggestive Selling Still Rocks!

…So there I was yesterday on a less than noteworthy mission to buy a new cover for my grill…

I went to Sears, which is always a fascinating experience to an old-school salesperson like me. This store interests me because it feels like a blast from the past – in a good way! I come from a long line of salespeople associated with retail – my grandfather was Vice President of Sales for Florsheim Shoes, my dad was a sales rep and I, of course, started in specialty retail the minute I turned sixteen.  My first degree was in merchandising, so you might say that I can’t escape my interest in retail!

Anyway, I was greeted by several friendly people as I entered the Sears basement, and was personally escorted to the grill area by a sales pro named John C.  It’s been ages since I’ve seen such enthusiasm – remember when we all knew the story or some interesting detail about every item that we were selling?  Remember when people still cared?

Well, I think they actually still do!  It’s become a colossal challenge to find that personal touch that used to be a part of the shopping experience (of course, we all love the no-hassle factor of shopping online, but in-store sales is a whole different cup of tea).

John C was just right – informative, professional, and eager to offer product suggestions when prompted.  As he was ringing me up, I mentioned that I needed to find a Father’s Day gift for my dad.  Without missing a beat, he stopped what he was doing and escorted me over to the “dog bone” wrenches, which he insisted my dad would love.  He customized his pitch by asking whether my dad was a work-on-the-car guy or a house guy, and hand selected the appropriate version of the tool.

As you might imagine, we then wandered over to the rose trimmers… and to a variety of other places, and ultimately had an excellent adventure around the store!

I find that when people CARE about what they’re selling, and when they genuinely CARE about helping me find what I’m after, I’ll buy almost anything within reason (and they’re selling to someone who knows every sales trick in the book)!

I invite you to take a second look at what you’re selling, find out something about it (at Kyjen we love to talk about our dog toys and travel gear, so I know the manufacturers will help you with the homework)…

…and really capitalize on the fact that customers are starved for a little attention and human interaction – it still WORKS!  Get out and sell!

What are you doing that’s fun and reaches your customers?

Here at Kyjen, we are practicing many different types of marketing, advertising and selling techniques to reach prospects and build our brands. We hope these efforts spill over and create more demand for you, the independent pet specialty retailer.

We are still dedicated to making the important calls, knocking on doors, and sending personal emails to our prospects.  However, we’ve taken it a step further with this fun video for our new Real Animal Squeaker Mats.

What are you doing different that reaches your customers?  The best thing to do is think outside the box and have lots of fun!