Bet On Pets

Roughly 65 percent of households in the U.S. own at least one pet, which equates to more than 81 million homes. The American Pet Products Association is projecting over $69 billion in pet industry expenditures in 2017, with an average annual growth rate over the last 15 years of 5.4 percent. With these strong spending predictions and ample opportunities for innovation, there’s a huge market for products that cater to pet owners.

It is not a coincidence that the demand for pet specialty products is increasing as the Baby Boomer generation reaches retirement. Many of the Boomer households are “empty nests,” and with their children gone, they are lavishing attention on their pets. Pet spending reaches its peak (at ages 55-64) as consumers focus on their “fur babies,” according to John Gibbons at petbusinessprofessor.com.

Even better news for the industry is that Millennials are embracing the trend. This generation was raised treating their pets as part of the family, so it is natural for them to splurge on luxury pet goods too. Many products and services that would have seemed extravagant to prior generations—doggie day cares, organic foods, high-end grooming services, expensive medical treatments and apparel—are now the norm. And as Millennials earn more disposable income, expect to see them spending more of it on their pets.

As the market for niche products and high-end services for pets expands, so do the opportunities to reach this audience through promotional products. “We’ve been successful selling to veterinarian offices, groomers, pet day care centers and dog treat companies,” says Charles Huang, vice president of sales and marketing for supplier Minya International Corporation (PPAI 112523). “There are also many channels and baking shows on YouTube that specialize in animal treats—and they sell merchandise to their followers. In addition, we’ve worked with animal shelters, rescue groups and breeder organizations for fundraisers.”

Humanization, the modern impulse to treat animals like people, drives the universal appeal of pet-themed products. Even among people who don’t own pets, who can resist heart-melting images of puppies and kittens? “Our ‘Best Friends’ calendars are appropriate for nearly any business serving consumers because pets are such a big part of family life now,” says Jerome Hoxton, president of Tru Art Advertising Calendars (PPAI 113720). “The primary buyers are veterinarians and veterinarian clinics, but other frequent buyer categories are banks, hardware retailers, dentists, tire service retailers, feed stores and auto dealers.”

With research pointing to increased health benefits associated with pet ownership, more and more consumers are following the craze. The U.S. Public Health Service touts pet ownership as beneficial to obesity prevention and helpful for those who are trying to quit smoking. In addition, the Human Animal Bond Research Initiative Foundation states, “People are happier and healthier in the presence of animals. Scientifically documented benefits … include decreased blood pressure, reduced anxiety and enhanced feelings of well being.”

———-

Pet Trends to Watch

Natural products
toxin-free materials and organic food

Premium services
spa treatments, mobile grooming, portrait photography, pet sitting

Superior health care
including health insurance

Travel Accessories
so that Spot isn’t left at home

Tech
wearable health trackers, monitors and interactive devices

———-

Have Pet, Will Travel

While on the go, pet owners are increasingly reluctant to put their animals in kennels. Numerous travel and hospitality organizations have responded, with airlines expanding their policies allowing pets on board, and many hotels and restaurants shifting to a more pet-friendly model.

Nowhere is this more apparent than at New York’s JFK Airport, where The ARK, the world’s first animal airport terminal, recently opened. The state-of-the-art center offers veterinary care, microchipping, and custom reports on individual animals. When complete, the terminal will unveil a Paradise 4 Paws pet resort that includes a bone-shaped dog pool and a jungle gym for cats. Although the terminal has only rolled out stage one of three so far, The ARK has raised the bar for travelers expecting quality care for their pets.

Even for less glamorous types of travel, including biking, going for a run or simply running errands, enthusiasm for mobile pet products is high and expected to rise.

For individual products and case studies, please visit our flipbook.

Terry Ramsay is associate editor of PPB.

Are You A Persuasive Presenter?

If you are in a management role, you’ve most likely given presentations at work. In fact, a 2014 survey by presentation software firm Prezi revealed that 70 percent of employed Americans who give presentations agree that presentation skills are critical to their success at work. However, 20 percent of respondents said they would do almost anything to avoid giving a presentation, including pretending to be sick or asking a colleague to give the presentation, even if it means losing respect in the workplace.

Sound familiar? One way to address the fear of presentations is to build confidence in giving presentations that are effective and memorable.

We’ve all heard the basics such as you shouldn’t have too much copy on a slide or that you shouldn’t read from a script. Here are just a few presentation tips from HBR.org writer Dorie Clark that give you the power to persuade your audience—the ultimate goal of a presenter.

1. What’s the problem you’re solving? Clark says that too often presenters start off by directly providing a solution rather than first acknowledging the problem. If you don’t explain the context and why it matters upfront, you risk them tuning out early on because they’re not sure if your idea is relevant.

2. Why now? Next, you need to explain to your audience why now is the most relevant time to address this problem. You need to create a sense of urgency, a call to action and the cost of not taking action.

3. How has the idea been vetted? Next, according to Clark, you need to explain your credibility in addressing this problem and how you’ve vetted your recommendations. This means highlighting your experience and your competence in addressing this issue. As Clark says, “For instance, it’s worth mentioning that your team interviewed 100 leading researchers to identify the best practices you’re recommending, or that you ran three pilots to test the concept.”

4. Have you simplified the structure? Clark says that the next step is to simplify your idea. Present it in a way that is simple and clear to the audience. Perhaps present your idea in a series of steps or phases. This enables the audience to grasp a complex solution more readily, and inspires more confidence in the path you’re proposing.

5. Have you included a story? Make sure your idea is wrapped in a story, says Clark. Don’t just pepper your presentations with a bunch of factoids and statistics. Instead, build a narrative that helps others visualize what you’re talking about. Facts and stats can serve to emphasize points in the narrative, but make sure there is a story to which the audience can relate.

6. Have you included a call to action? Finally, Clark reminds us to always end with a call to action. Be clear about the key steps you want the audience to take and how they can make a difference.

When you know how to be a persuasive presenter, the idea of giving a presentation becomes a powerful tool instead of dreaded task.

Source: Dorie Clark is a marketing strategist and professional speaker who teaches at Duke University’s Fuqua School of Business. She is the author of Reinventing You and Stand Out. You can receive her free Stand Out Self-Assessment Workbook.

19 Crazy Easy Ways You Can Be Healthier in the Office

tm-pilbox.global.ssl.fastlyIf you’re like me and spend most of your day in an office, you probably think it’s impossible to practice healthy habits on the reg. (Unless your company has an in-office gym or catered meals every day—if that’s you, you’re a lucky duck.)

Well, I’ll prove you wrong. I came up with not one, not 10, but 19 easy ways to have a stronger mind, body, and spirit in just your average workspace. By easy, I mean these are so quick and simple you wouldn’t believe you can actually improve yourself by doing them. And yet, I have proof you can!

Read on to learn my healthy little secrets!

1. Keep Healthy Snacks Nearby

As Muse writer Nina Tamburello says, “When the vending machine or leftovers from the 3 PM meeting tempt you with their ease and convenience, it’s hard to just say no to chips and cookies during that mid-afternoon slump.”

So, instead, leave a bag of almonds or kale chips next to your laptop. It’s much easier than getting up to snag something from the office kitchen.

2. Bring Your Own Lunch

When you make it, and the local sandwich shop doesn’t, you get to control what kinds of foods you choose to eat. Yes, this takes work, but it’s so worth it for your health and your bank account.

3. Hang Out With the “Health Nuts”

Science says you eat what your friends eat, so try surrounding yourself with people who’ll unintentionally help you kick your bad habits.

4. Stand Up and Stretch Often

Even if it’s just to tackle some emails or short to-dos, spend 30 minutes a day standing at your desk—we bet it’ll boost your energy. Oh, and if your office doesn’t have any place where you can work standing up, then just literally make sure you’re physically standing up and stretching at least once an hour.

There’s also nothing worse than leaving work at the end of the day with a kink in your neck or sore muscles, so avoid the pain with these 17 exercises that you can do right at your desk!

5. Practice Smart Computer Habits

Staring at a computer all day is exhausting, and hard on the eyes, neck, back, and head.

So, remember to take short breaks between tasks, turn the brightness down on your computer, sit up straight, use eye drops, and shift positions occasionally.

6. Schedule Walking Meetings

Take your meetings on a stroll, where you can enjoy some sunshine, stretch your muscles, and maybe get those creative juices flowing.

7. Take the Stairs

It’s a quick way to get your heart rate up when there’s no time for a workout. (If you work on the 20th floor or higher like I do, maybe try taking the stairs halfway and catching an elevator when you’ve exhausted yourself.)

Tiring idea? Yes, but science says it’ll make you smarter!

8. Work Out in the Middle of the Day

If you can, try taking an hour off work to head to a nearby yoga studio or go for a run. Muse Senior Editor Stacey Gawronski found that after doing so, her day flew by and she still got a lot done, despite losing an hour: “I [felt] so productive from my exercise boost that I barely noticed what time it was.”

9. Try a Quick Nap

It can be hard to just conk out on your desk without concerning your boss, but if you’re able to—and desperately need it—let him or her know you could use a bit of shut-eye to refocus and excuse yourself to a couch or private room for a quick nap. You’ll be more productive for the rest of the day. (Just don’t do it every day.)

10. Work Outside

“Believe it or not, your natural habitat is not a room filled with fluorescent lights and computer screens,” says Muse Career Coach Lea McLeod.

Grab your laptop, or an old-fashioned notebook, and get some work done (even if it’s just for a bit) at a park nearby, on a bench outside your office, or in an outdoor restaurant. It’ll reduce your stress, and give you a healthy dose of vitamin D. (And, if you’re not sure how this will work, try using these 16 items to help you shift your desk to a new space.)

11. Carve Out Personal Time

You can’t work all the time, it’s just not good for you. As Muse Writer Lily Hermanrealized, “My constant desire to work came to a head when I start showing signs of ‘brownout’—it’s the notion that while I was performing fine from the outside, I was slowly becoming exhausted, unmotivated, and uninspired.”

So, literally set aside a slot on your calendar for “you” time—whether that means getting yourself a coffee, scrolling through social media, or chatting with a co-worker.

12. Drink Lots of Water

It goes without saying, really. Water equals a happy body (and less mid-day headaches).

My secret for success? A fun water bottle. Try out one with a straw, or a button, or a flippy lid.

13. Buy a Stress-Relief Toy

Take your frustrations out on something else besides your co-workers or boss—it’ll salvage your relationships and ease your stress. For some great ideas, check out these 18 options that’ll fit right on your desk.

14. Start an Office Workout Tradition

Here at The Muse, we’re big fans of the 3 PM “judgment-free” push-ups—it’s when members of our team stop what they’re doing to do a round of push-ups together. Besides getting in a quick workout, it’s a great way to bond as co-workers.

Did I inspire you? Get a group together and start your own healthy tradition! It can be as simple as swapping tea for coffee in the afternoons or taking a 10-minute mid-day walk.

15. Stare Out the Window

Science says that just looking at a tree can reduce stress and make you feel better overall. This is probably the easiest health tip I’ve given you all day. (Unless you live in a city, then maybe try purchasing a plant?)

16. Replace That Second (or Third, or Fourth) Cup of Coffee

Rather than shoving more caffeine into your body, try replacing an afternoon coffee with de-caffeinated tea or sugar-free gum.

17. Turn the Music Down

Loud music is harsh on the eardrums, so if you’re constantly blasting it through your headphones, turn the volume down a notch. And this way, you’ll be able to hear if your boss is calling for you.

18. Give Your Hands a Break

They’re doing the legwork all day (unlike your legs), so give them a rest by stretching them out or taking a second to relax them in your lap. You don’t want to get carpel tunnel, do you?

19. Breathe

Cheesy, I know, but if you just take one minute (or more!) of your time a day to stop, look away from your work, and just breathe, you’ll feel a heck of a lot better. If you’re feelingreally ambitious, you might even practice mindfulness or meditation.

My final tip for you: Everything in moderation. Healthy habits are about balancing work and pleasure, cookies and vegetables, sitting and standing. You don’t have to stop having fun or enjoying a beer with co-workers, but be mindful of how much and how often you choose one thing over another possibly better option.

Did I miss anything? Got any secrets to smart office living? Tweet me!

Photo of woman smiling courtesy of Caiaimage/Sam Edwards/Getty Images.

What You Can Learn From The Latest Craze

Pokémon Go is so big, actually, that it’s already catching up with some of the largest social networks out there. There is little doubt by now that Pokémon Go is becoming the most successful mobile app of all time, at least as far as launch-week performance is concerned. It took only 13 hours to hit the top of the U.S. sales charts in its first week. And it hit a 10.81-percent daily user penetration level only four days after its U.S. debut. And did I mention that Nintendo’s valuation increased an estimated $7.5 billion thanks to this game?

It’s a marketer’s dream! In fact, Forbes contributor and blogger Jayson DeMers shares these marketing principles we can take from this global phenomenon.

1. Good branding can sell just about anything. Pokémon Go is actually loosely based on a system that already existed for another location-based mobile game, Ingress. Have you ever heard of Ingress? Possibly, but it didn’t achieve breakout success because its brand never became well-recognized. Pokémon, on the other hand, is a brand that’s been consistently developing itself for more than 20 years. Its character design, game quality and tone as a video game series (and anime) has become so powerful, that its presence alone helped sell the game to multiple generations of Pokémon fans. The game itself is good, but without the branding, it never would have taken off.

2. Timing is really important. Pokémon launched just after the start of summer, when kids are out of school, festivals are kicking up, and people are looking for any excuse to go outside and walk around. Can you imagine what it would be like if the game launched in the dead of winter? During a blizzard? The launch date is no coincidence. It’s also good timing in a broader perspective; Pokémon is 20 years old now, and fans who were children when the series first launched are now 20-something adults with significant buying power.

3. Social proof is everything these days. Thanks to our immediately connected, highly communicative, social media-integrated world, social proof is everything in the modern era. We won’t buy a product unless someone else has reviewed it first. We won’t notice a business unless we hear someone else talking about it. With Pokémon Go, social proof is visible—when you see people having fun with the same mobile game almost everywhere you turn, it’s almost impossible not to want to get involved.

4. A sense of identity leads to loyalty. There are a handful of identity factors that make Pokémon Go such an addictive hit, all of which give users a sense of belonging and loyalty. Thefirst is a layer of nostalgia; 20-somethings all over the country grew up with Pokémon, and this is a way for them to hearken back to the original feelings they had playing the game in the late 1990s. The second is a division of loyalty; in the game, you must choose between three rival teams, and being able to identify with one gets people more invested, similar to the way sports fans become so invested in their teams.

Whether you are looking to launch a new product or rebrand an existing one, take these lessons to heart.

Source: Jayson DeMers is an author who founded AudienceBloom in April 2010. He is also a columnist for Search Engine Journal, Search Engine Watch and Huffington Post. His personal blog is located at AudienceBloom.com/blog.

Tackle Change Before It Tackles You

Have you experienced change in your business? If you have a company that’s affected by markets, competition or shareholder value, then the answer is most certainly yes. Most of us work in a culture that is continuously moving, evolving and transforming.

Today we share share these tips for tackling change in your organization.

1. Address the “human side” systematically. Any significant transformation creates “people issues.” New leaders will be asked to step up, jobs will be changed, new skills and capabilities must be developed, and employees will be uncertain and resistant. Dealing with these issues on a reactive, case-by-case basis puts speed, morale and results at risk. A formal approach for managing change— beginning with the leadership team and then engaging key stakeholders and leaders— should be developed early and adapted often as change moves through the organization. This demands as much data collection and analysis, planning and implementation discipline as does a redesign of strategy, systems or processes.

2. Start at the top. Because change is inherently unsettling for people at all levels of an organization, when it is on the horizon, all eyes will turn to the CEO and the leadership team for strength, support and direction. The leaders themselves must embrace the new approaches first, both to challenge and to motivate the rest of the institution. They must speak with one voice and model the desired behaviors. Executive teams that work well together are best positioned for success.

3. Involve every layer. As transformation programs progress from defining strategy and setting targets to design and implementation, they affect different levels of the organization. Change efforts must include plans for identifying leaders throughout the company and pushing responsibility for design and implementation down, so that change “cascades” through the organization. At each layer of the organization, the leaders who are identified and trained must be aligned to the company’s vision, equipped to execute their specific mission and motivated to make change happen.

4. Make the formal case. Individuals are inherently rational and will question to what extent change is needed, whether the company is headed in the right direction, and whether they want to commit personally to making change happen. They will look to the leadership for answers. The articulation of a formal case for change and the creation of a written vision statement are invaluable opportunities to create or compel leadership-team alignment.

Three steps should be followed in developing the case: First, confront reality and articulate a convincing need for change. Second, demonstrate faith that the company has a viable future and the leadership to get there. Finally, provide a road map to guide behavior and decision making.

5. Create ownership. Leaders of large change programs must overperform during the transformation and be the zealots who create a critical mass among the work force in favor of change. This requires more than mere buy-in or passive agreement that the direction of change is acceptable. It demands ownership by leaders willing to accept responsibility for making change happen in all of the areas they influence or control. Ownership is often best created by involving people in identifying problems and crafting solutions.

Source: John Jones is a vice president with Booz Allen Hamilton in New York, specializing in organization design, process reengineering and change management. DeAnne Aguirre is an advisor on strategy for PwC. Based in San Francisco, she specializes in culture, leadership, talent effectiveness and organizational change management. Matthew Calderone is a senior associate with Booz Allen Hamilton, focusing on organization transformation, people issues and change management.

Seven Customer Expectations For Today’s Brands

I love shopping online. It’s easy, convenient and fits my schedule. Last week I needed to make a simple change to an order, but, as easy as it was to make the purchase online, making the change was not so simple. I waited on the phone for almost 20 minutes before a customer service rep finally answered and made the quick change. The rep was polite and efficient, but the change was certainly something I could have done myself in no more than a few minutes. In this case, my customer experience was negatively affected.

The bar has been raised on what it means to exceed customer expectations, yet many companies seem to be falling short. Research from Lee Resources discovered that 80 percent of companies say they deliver “superior” customer service while only eight percent of consumers think these same companies actually deliver superior customer service.

In a recent blog post, customer engagement specialist Joe Gagnon detailed seven expectations consumers have from brands today:

  • Know Me: The data collected and context of customer interactions should be carried over, even across platforms, from interaction to interaction, even if the customer switches from self-service to full service.
  • Make The Experience Mobile: Seventy percent of customers would rather text than talk. The customer experience should leverage all channels on a mobile device.
  • Let Me Do It: Customer satisfaction is higher when customers are allowed to do it on their own. Customers are more forgiving of themselves. Seventy-two percent of customers prefer self-service to picking up the phone and 91 percent would prefer self-service if available.
  • Make it Social: Social media is inherently simple for consumers, which is why they use it to complain, compliment and escalate issues. Social also allows advocates to help a brand solve issues.
  • Fit Into My Life: Customers expect to be able to conduct business at any time of any day on any platform.
  • Save Me Time: Consumers don’t have time to wait days for an email reply. They also don’t want to wait for a call center for simple items they could solve themselves. Today’s consumer is self-driven and expects immediacy.
  • Makes Me Smarter: If a change in service is expected or an is action required, consumers prefer to be notified ahead of time. Reminders or notifications of actions to be taken, outages or changes in service should be proactively communicated.

Source: Joe Gagnon is senior vice-president and global general manager for cloud solutions at Aspect Software, a provider of customer engagement solutions.

Creating A Culture Of Resilience

With yet another Steve Jobs movie recently in the theaters, I am reminded of the characteristic in Jobs that I find most fascinating: his resilience. Through all the ups and downs of building the Apple computer, being stripped of his duties at Apple, roller coaster rides at Pixar and NeXT and then rebirth at Apple, Jobs remained an undeterred visionary, innovator and decisive leader.

In these times of unprecedented pace of change, economic ups and downs, and a shifting workforce, creating an organization built on resilience is more important than ever, as we discuss in today’s Promotional Consultant Today.

George S. Everly Jr., co-author of the book Stronger: Develop the Resilience You Need to Succeed, believes the best way to foster organizational resiliency is to build resilient leaders, with a focus on front line leadership. Everly offers these five supervisory characteristics as keys to resilient leadership:

  • Active Optimism: Step one of active optimism includes having a vision for success and seeing the opportunity in every crisis. Step two is speaking convincingly of that vision but being honest about the impact of the change when it occurs and where the organization needs to go next.
  • Ability To Make A Decision: Have the courage to make a decision and take responsibility for your actions, both of which build trust and respect. Make the decision and try relentlessly to succeed, because anything worth having is worth fighting for, and possibly failing for.
  • Use Of A Moral Compass: Work with integrity. Only leaders of the highest integrity take responsibility for plans that don’t succeed and don’t push down blame. This kind of integrity fosters loyalty and the courage to take risks that’s often necessary for success.
  • Tenacity And Persistence: Tenacity is a rare trait and those who have it can use it to a great advantage. Those who use it also set an example for those they lead. Set the example to make tenacity an organizational value.
  • Organizational And Department Cohesion: Everly writes: “Understanding you are part of something greater than yourself is empowering.” Taking on a no-person-left-behind approach builds support systems, networks, cohesive teams and even friendships that can create an organization greater than the sum of its parts.

Source: George S. Everly, Jr., PhD, FAPA, is one of the founding fathers of the modern era of stress management. He is the author of numerous books and research papers and serves on the faculties of The Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health and The Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine. He is a co-author of STRONGER: Develop the Resilience You Need to Succeed.

Email Tips To Connect With Prospects

Email is our daily work tool and allows us to be in contact with co-workers, customers and potential clients any time of the day … or night. While email is something you manage in the workplace every day, are you fully optimizing this tool, especially when it comes to securing new business?

Today we share this insight from Jill Konrath, author of The Ultimate Guide to Email. She recently received a message from a fan who read her book and had these suggestions:

I explain to my sales team that asking people to call you back is a bit obnoxious—even if there is value and reason. When you do that your prospects are left thinking, “Wait, you want me to call you so you can pitch me? You want me to stop doing my job and search for time in my calendar to give you so that you can sell me? Are you kidding?”

I try to put as much of the onus on myself as possible to connect. Here are some ways I do that.

Example 1: “I have time free on Friday, July 6 at 2 pm. I’ll reach out to you then to discuss. I hope you’re able to take my call.”

With this closing statement, you’re:

  • Showing that you are not asking anything from them
  • Carrying the labor of the continued conversation
  • Passively, not aggressively, trying to connect

Example 2: “I’ll reach out to Mary to see if you have some time free next week.”

By suggesting that you’ll reach out to your prospect’s executive assistant, you’re:

  • Showing that you’ve done your homework
  • Following the correct protocol for the continued conversation
  • Not asking anything from your prospect and his or her busy schedule

Example 3: “I have time free on Friday, July 6 at 2 pm. Are you free at that time to talk?”

By closing this way, you’re:

  • Still asking your prospect to do something, although it’s minimal. The prospect just needs to check one date/time in the calendar.
  • Giving the prospect enough time (at least a week out) to ensure an available spot on the calendar.

By taking this approach, I am applying a successful passive/aggressive strategy and am able to send three to five emails and make three calls without annoying the prospect.

Here are a few additional suggestions to increase your email cold calling success rate:

  • On the morning of my proposed meeting I’ll send an email stating: “As per my message, I’ll be calling you today at … I hope that we’re able to connect. Please let me know if that time still works.”
  • I try to splice the attempts with value. Before the scheduled call attempt, I may forward my prospect an article stating, “This company looks like it is going through the same thing as your company … check out their approach.” Or, on a voicemail, state, “By the way, B2B magazine has a whole section this month on … and I know that’s a big focus for you guys.”

Source: Jill Konrath is a frequent speaker at sales conferences and kick-off meetings. Sharing her fresh sales strategies, she helps salespeople to speed up new customer acquisition and win bigger contracts. Her clients include IBM, GE, Microsoft, Wells Fargo, Staples and numerous mid-market firms.