Breeders are advertising and marketing pet birds on the web.
So how do you start marketing birds online?
There are several different paths, and some of the breeders I interviewed used most of them. T
hey also use more traditional forms of marketing, as well.
The best on-line, and off-line, marketing is still the recommendation of a satisfied customer.
We view on-line marketing as one more tool for introducing ourselves, disseminating information and maintaining customer contact.
Online Marketing Options
Forums : Internet forums can be very general or very specific.
You can subscribe to them.
They are free, and whenever you log in you will see any new postings.
Mailing Lists: Another way people frequently advertise is through mailing lists.
A mailing list is more private, and you need to subscribe to it. You will then get all the posts on the list through e-mail. Most of them have digest formats, which are easier to handle.
Subscribing is free and involves sending an e-mail request to the list manager.
Lists are usually friendlier and more personal than newsgroups.
People tend to get to know the members on the list, as well as their birds.
The more a breeder interacts and becomes well known online, the better.
It's very easy to tell, by reading lists, which breeders are very caring and careful with their babies.
It's also a great way to exchange information.
Advertising Web sites: There are lots of opportunities to advertise on a web site without setting up one of your own. The major search engines also include classified ads.
Use specific classified web sites for birds and the personal home pages of others to advertise.
There are also some web sites that deal only with birds that have advertising sections.
There, you can either have a small free ad, or some sites charge for a larger ad.
For example, Birds n Ways (http://www.birdsnways.com) has four types of ads.
Basic ads, up to 4 lines, are free.
Premium ads contain a small graphic, up to eight lines of text and begin at $5 per month.
More complex ads can run up to $50, or you can buy a banner, which is a large, graphical ad that rotates through all the pages and is displayed at the top of the page.
The price for a banner was not listed, but of course you can use the e-mail address to find out.
Your Own WebsiteThere are some great web sites on the Internet that breeders have put together.
These sites include not only advertisements, but also lots of useful bird-care information and great pictures of birds.
Get your own web siteIf you do not want to construct your own website, you can have a consultant do it for you.
Web sites are like a brochure that shows potential buyers what you, your birds and your facilities are like.
Have your own domain name, and make it catchy and easy to remember.
Establish a warm personality on your page with lots of pictures of birds.
Show what your birds and your facility looks like with pictures of your pet birds
Include lots of information.
Articles about bringing home your new bird, nutrition, basic bird care and articles about the species of birds you sell are good ideas.
Once you have your web page up, you need to promote it. Include the url (universal resource locator—the address of your web page) in any other ads that you having in magazines, on other web pages, mailing lists and newsgroups.
Offer lots information on your page.
That way, other people will begin linking to it, and you will start getting customers as a result.
You can hire a designer to do the initial design so that it looks good and is easy to read.
Once you become familiar with the process, you can probably learn to do your own updates.
It may be best to have an experienced site designer create your first site. Thereafter costs can be minimized if you are able to maintain and expand your site, which is very easy if you are computer literate.
Based on estimates, the price range for a simple web page is $200-$500. More elaborate web pages can cost lots of money - the sky is the limit.
Even so, the price should usually not be more than $2,000. Updates can cost $50 and up a month, and expect to pay $30 to $50 a month to have the site hosted on the web.
Personal Communication with BuyersIt's important to establish personal communication with your customers. All the breeders ship birds, so they may never meet their clients.
Send digital pictures every week to people that send deposits for babies and I also send pictures to people that are interested in breeders.
This really eliminates the 'sight unseen' purchase.
Is Online Marketing Different?Most of the breeders think there were no major differences.
Internet marketing offers the same courtesies and services as local or any other marketing.
This includes a guarantee of health and support as it is needed. Internet marketing is really no different than any other method of marketing.
Reputation, a quality product, confidence of the buyer and support are all important.
Everyone likes online marketing because of the instant notification, the waiting for publication is removed.
The other side of that is that many people do not know of the sites or domains where what they are looking for is offered.
That is slowly changing, more and more people are using the 'net' for their birds and related stuff.
On the Internet you do reach more people but you cannot get the same prices you can get through other means.
For example, there are many people on-line selling Goffin's cockatoos so I can sell one on-line for $700 to be competitive.
But in the pet stores they are $1200, so I can sell one to a non-Internet friendly person for $900 and they think they are getting a major deal over pet shop prices, which they are.
Most of the breeders found that there were no problems inherent to online marketing.
Buying and selling blind means trades or purchases from other states are risky - you could get a very sick bird or none at all.
I have also run across shipping problems since the Internet usually causes you to find buyers in other states.
Be careful - get everything in writing. Costs, vet checks, health guarantee. It's harder to know who you are sending a bird to if you've never met them and most likely you'll never see that bird again. It's not something to be taken lightly! But it can give you world-wide exposure as a bird breeder/aviary.
In summary, it seems that marketing online is a successful solution for many breeders.
Post what you have to offer, build a good reputation and be patient - just like with raising birds!