Affinity marketing: tips for success

In 2005 the Monopolies and Mergers commission asked the DTI to look into the sale of veterinary medicines. Their investigation found that vets were abusing their monopoly situation and overcharging for animal pharmaceuticals. They opened the market up to animal pharmacies and Best Pet was born. Now we’re the largest online pet pharmacy in Europe in terms of visits to our site.

We don’t work with a PR or marketing agency. I’d say we spend about £200,000 per year on marketing. Mostly, customers come to hear about us through Google adverts and affinity marketing relationships with animal societies such as the Missing Pets Bureau.

Marks and Spencer’s Money approached us in November 2007 with an idea to give added value to their pet insurance policy. We do things with other insurance companies, such as AXA, which is where M&S Money saw us. Basically, we give their customers a discount, and they advertise us in their pet insurance leaflets in 400 stores around the country. They’re just rolling out the new leaflets now, and we’re expecting a big jump in sales from this deal – people are just taking the initiative and getting onto us straight away.

Soon we’ll be launching an initiative where we’ll offer our loyal customers a year’s free subscription to the Missing Pets Bureau so they can register their animals and, if they go missing, the MPB will help to find them. This is a great idea, again, except this added value for our customers – a year’s subscription to the MPB costs around £120. MPB advertise Best Pet in the leaflets they send to their existing customers.

We’ve been solely online until now but in the next two months we’ll be launching a catalogue of our products, because not everyone uses a computer. Some people like to sit on the loo and read a catalogue.

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