Clever Examples to Better Market Your Adoptions

September 2011

Audience: Executive Leadership, Foster Caregivers, Public, Shelter/Rescue Staff & Volunteers

Have you heard the Dos Equis commercials about the most interesting man in the world? They're creative and funny, sometimes make no sense at all ("He thinks squirrels are untrustworthy.") - and are incredibly effective.

The best marketers of shelter pet adoptions use the same methods the advertising pros do when promoting their dogs and cats - and that might mean going with a concept that's totally off the wall. Don't let the fact that an idea is new or untried stop you, as long as it's funny or memorable. And don't be too serious; a lot of animal people adore the combination of pets and silly.

If your organization is looking for some clever out-of-the-box ideas, take a look at some of these great marketing resources:

The Little Black Book of Adoption Promotion Ideas

The ASPCApro did a big service to the sheltering world with their Little Black Book of Adoption Promotion Ideas. It contains dozens of great ideas in a simple-to-use format, complete with tabs for dogs, cats, discounts, holidays and strategies. If you haven't flipped through this great resource, don't wait another minute!

Nevada Humane Society

No single organization comes up with more or funnier ideas than Nevada Humane Society. This amazing organization cranks out dozens of clever promotions every year! Not only do their campaigns boost adoptions - they also build awareness and generate community support. No wonder Washoe County's live release rate is 93%!

Maddie's Fund

Thanks to our marketing competition for hard to place pets in 2007 and 2008, Maddie's Fund has collected nearly 100 entries from organizations big and small throughout the country. The ideas are categorized to make it easy to hone in on the specific types of pets you want to market (e.g., behavioral problems, medical conditions, etc.)

Charlottesville-Albemarle SPCA

The Charlottesville-Albemarle SPCA is another organization that does excellent marketing through promotions and videos - and it shows, with a community live release rate of 92%.

The ASPCApro Shelter's Edge Blog

Kudos again to the A - their "Shelter's Edge" blog often has great marketing ideas like the ones listed here for senior pets and pit bulls.

What's in a Name?

When you're coming up with great adoption promotions, don't forget to come up with a great name, too.

That's a tip the Oregon Humane Society didn't forget when they came up with their "End Petlessness" campaign. And the Placer County SPCA gave their plus-sized kitties a little extra pizzazz when they declared it to be "Flabulous Felines Free to a Good Home" month.

Great names can be memorable, funny, or resonate with current events or popular culture. Best Friends Animal Society in Los Angeles made their program that allows people to take dogs home for a sleepover or out to the park sound extra fun by naming it "Date-With-A-Dog." The Humane Society of Huron Valley called their promotion for overlooked animals "Diamonds in the Ruff." The Humane Society of Madison County calls its signature event "Slobberfest."

When it comes to adoption promotions, the answer to "What's in a name?" is... plenty!


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