There’s been a growing understanding of the importance of large entry dog shows. Big shows receive the kind of media coverage that turns viewers into spectators, many of whom become purebred dog owners after just one visit to a show like Westminster, the National Dog Show or the AKC National Championship. These high visibility events are crucial to the well-being of the fancy. They foster competition and create the kind of buzz the sport of dogs so desperately needs. However, not every big show has a big advertising budget. Some clubs create a buzz by joining forces. The clusters that are being held this month in Louisville, KY, and York, PA, create a lot of excitement within these communities. They draw enormous entries and attract spectators by the thousands, many of whom may be unaware of our sport.
How do we bring spectators to our shows in hopes that some will become purebred dog owners and, hopefully, show people? Well, I spend at least 30 to 40 hours on the phone each week with fanciers and this question gets asked quite a bit. The bottom line is that our shows need entries to go up and we need more people to join the fancy. So, let’s get back to basics and consider ways to help every club become more successful. The following action items have been created for your consideration by the staff of our marketing department who have combined 100+ years of experience.
Build Brand Recognition
Reach out to local radio stations, podcasts, newspapers and TV stations. Introduce them to the sport of dogs, your show site and, most importantly, wow them with the numbers. For example: 1.3 million dogs are shown each year at AKC events; each weekend there are approximately 10 dog shows held nationwide; Westminster is the second-oldest sporting event held in the United States.
Showcase Your Venue
Send pictures and videos to your local media outlets and post them on social media pages. If your budget permits, contact Facebook to push your posts to everyone in your area. Costs will range from $25 to $500, depending on how strongly you want to push your message.
Make Face-to-Face connections
Connecting with your audience on a personal level has a big impact on their engagement. Spend time talking about your dog show with neighbors and discuss how your event generates revenue within the community. Print flyers with a short, friendly message that encourages families and friends to attend. These should be distributed throughout your community and plastered on the windows of small businesses. These important face-to-face connections have become rare in the virtual world and are much appreciated.
Strengthen Your Community
In addition to developing a connection with your organization, the people who attend your events can build relationships with each other and strengthen the community. There’s power in attending an event to discover other people who support the same cause, follow the same blog, or cheer for a local team. Meeting like-minded individuals in person will also encourage more active engagement online.
This is an often-overlooked benefit. However, hosting events—especially for newly-formed organizations—shows that you’re the real-deal. Not only do you exist, but you have the means to host a local event attracts exhibitors from throughout the country! It doesn’t matter how big or small the event is. All that matters is that folks are able to connect with your show and your mission.
Local businesses can join in and organize an event to raise funds for charity. Giving back to the community is a great way to raise awareness about an important cause while gaining some recognition for your organization too.
Establish Thought Leadership
Holding a seminar or hosting a meet-and-greet for dog lovers in your area will provide value to your community and help to establish your club as an important resource.
What could be better than seeing people in your community coming together to have a great time? People will be sure to enjoy themselves at your event. After all, everyone who shows up loves dogs., right? They’ll thank your club for its hospitality by taking hundreds of pictures to post on their social media accounts.
On the behalf of the ShowSight team, I’d like to thank you all for your support of our efforts to spread the good news about purebred dogs and dog shows. I hope that you like all the changes we’ve made to our print magazine. Please help us to continue improving our publication by sharing your ideas and comments with us. I’d also like to take this opportunity to announce that for the first time we will be offering Advertising Campaign Plans for all budgets, starting as low as $2650 for the year which will include design service, distribution to all judges and all exhibitors
We’ll look forward to hearing from you soon at a (big) dog show near you.
OWNER & PUBLISHER
THE DOG SHOW MAGAZINE