Last month, in a presentation for the 2021 Best Friends National Conference, KC Pet Project’s Chief Communications Officer, Tori Fugate, and I were honored to present a fast-paced 25-minute workshop on Marketing Long-Stay Pets. At the end of the presentation, we shared a lookbook filled with successful campaigns and ideas for shining a light on the pets who need it most.
Dive into the examples and strategies used by shelters, then use that inspiration to launch your own creative brainstorm!
Make your bios more magical: Whether short + sweet, brutally honest, or heartfelt and compassionate the way we write about pets can build connections. If photos and videos open the door, the bios are what make them take action! Dive into all our free bio writing resources or check out some of our premium tools in the shop.
Jump on the latest social trend: You never know what will take the internet by storm, but if you pay close attention there’s almost always room to promote a pet within the context of trending stories! From the Friends Reunion to viral TikTok challenges, these cultural moments can help you get new eyes on a pet who needs the spotlight. Remember the Unicorn Frappuccino craze of 2017? Front Street Animal Shelter took the internet by storm when they jumped in on the trend.
Leverage winning partnerships: From community organizations to local (or national!) celebrities, working with a partner to promote pets in need means a larger audience is listening and new adopters may be reached for your long-stay pets! Take a look at what partnering with State Farm did in this example: Jake from State Farm
Use brutally honest humor to snag some much-needed attention: Brutal honesty when laced with humor can have people rolling on the floor laughing but also helps share the unique challenges of a pet with light-heartedness — which ultimately means adopters are coming to you eyes-wide-open about how they might fit into their home. Just don’t overuse this strategy or it loses its effectiveness.
Here are some favorite examples:
- OAS NC-17 cat
- Dwayne, unrepentent bad boy of OAS
- Eddie the Terrible
- Prancer the “Haunted Victorian Child”
Celebrate individuality: Every pet is different and that’s actually a really amazing thing! Embrace differences and the individual needs of each pet, then have some fun with it. We're in love with Shiloh's relaxed nature in this example from Dallas Animal Services and generally a fan of Unicorn marketing!
Other attention-grabbing examples we love:
Make an event out of it: Adoption specials that can include some of your tougher placements (without becoming overly specific) are great ways to make space and shine a special spotlight on the pets who need it most. Got a Full House? Or want to use a fun or obscure holiday to get some pets home? Adoption specials are the ticket!
Go low-tech to reach more people: Taking promotions off-line not only opens up your communications to new audiences, it also offers connection to folks you may have never otherwise reached — who perhaps never knew about your organization or that you welcomed adopters from all over the community (hint: make sure that your adoption policies reinforce this attitude of inclusivity and that you’re not reinforcing barriers to placement). Try partnering with food delivery or other local businesses to reach a whole new audience!
Click to take a closer look at these examples
See all the Look Book examples here: Presentation Slides: Successfully Marketing Hard to Place Pets | Tori Fugate + Caitlin Quinn
How to Get Your Long Stay Dogs Adopted, or Fostered, Faster | American Pets Alive! / Human Animal Support Services
Adopter's Welcome: Marketing that Overcomes Barriers | Humane Pro
Focus on the Present, Not on the Past, to Get Pets Adopted | Maddie's Fund
Marketing Hard-To-Place-Pets | Petfinder Pro
Want more tools and templates to help you make shelter marketing magic? Our 2021 Marketing Success Tool Kit is now only $15 (that's 50% off!)