I was excited and honored to be the keynote speaker at a national conference where the words… CRAP, SH!T, and POOP are in every presenter's speech and are spoken openly and frequently in almost every conversation had with attendees.

It was the 2023 APAWS National Conference in Myrtle Beach South Carolina. APAWS is the Association of Professional Animal Waste Specialists (or maybe better known as Professional Pooper Scoopers).

I was excited because I'd never been to Myrtle Beach and it had been many years since I had seen the Atlantic Ocean. The closest thing I had seen in the Midwest was the Wisconsin Dells. Myrtle Beach is filled with big hotels, water parks, mini-golf courses, beachwear gift shops, and my favorite part… great GOLF COURSES!

It was only 3 1/2 hours from where I live. So I downloaded a new audiobook (Talking to Strangers: What We Should Know About the People We Don't Know by Malcolm Gladwell, an awesome book by the way), loaded up my car with clothes, golf clubs, BACON books, and my technology, and headed south.

I had the opportunity to open and close the conference with two presentations. The first was to highlight how relationship marketing and content creation can help them more cost-effectively find new customers. The second was to show them how to use LinkedIn to either develop or expand the commercial side of their businesses.

The Scoop on Poop

There is ‘Big Money' to be made in poop (especially dog poop).

When I mentioned to friends and colleagues in Raleigh that I'd be speaking to pooper scoopers, they had no idea that was a thing. First, they did not know that people paid for a scooping service, and second that it could become a profitable business.

The concept is simple, you pay people to mow your yard, but if you don't scoop, people and tires pick the poop up and carry it around from yard to yard, which can expose healthy dogs to disease, and it flat out just stinks.

There were 50+ companies and almost 100 attendees. These companies range from solopreneurs to companies with fleets of scoopers and trucks. There are even franchises available (Pet Butler based out of Plainfield, Illinois was there presenting, too).

The Customer Merry-Go-Round Conundrum

The vast majority of scooper services rely on consumer business.

The main business problem they face is finding new customers and the attrition of current customers.

Their biggest competition does not come from other scoopers. It comes from people who clean their own yards.

That problem was acute and accelerated in 2021-2022. Many scoopers went out of business during the pandemic because more people were forced to work from home and tightened their budgets.

Add to that the attrition of current clients. People cancel service either when they move or when their pet passes away.

Since they are small businesses, they don't have the time or budget to hire people or companies to help them find new customers.

Their go-to, default method is to advertise. That means they turn to Google or Facebook ads.

Old Dawgs Can Learn New Tricks

My presentation was titled, “Turning your CRM into an ATM”. Most scoopers use programs like Sweep & Go or SOHO to run their businesses. Although these capture data, it's not a CRM.

I explained they are like a Swiss Army knife. Great when you need them, but not the right tool for every job.

A true CRM is a master database of connections. It includes current and past customers. The scoopers readily admitted that they were lax in purging old customers and adding notes like dogs and owners' birthdays to their current systems.

When I showed them how a CRM includes customers, prospects, vendors, power partners, friends, and networking acquaintances, their ears went up (figuratively of course).

Next, I explained how The BACON System can help them stay top of mind by using content marketing to create assets instead of burning cash in the advertising cycle of customer churn.

Then I showed them how to create referral systems that could augment or even replace their ad spend. I encouraged them to take at least 1/2 of their ads budget and try to invest that in CRMs and content marketing as a methodology, becoming top of mind with current and past customers, and building a more solid referral strategy.

Commercial vs. Commercials

On the closing day of the conference, I was the only speaker. The first day's presentation laid the groundwork (pun-intender) for my wheelhouse, “Optimizing Business to Business Marketing”.

Scoopers are also in the business of placing and refilling poop bag dispensers and trash cans and taking away any pet waste. These can be found at apartment complexes, senior living facilities, parks, and downtown with municipalities, and other commercial business locations.

They can double their poop bag business by adding scooping for poop scofflaws.

While talking to people at the evening parties, I heard stories of scoopers who already had dabbled in or mastered the commercial business. They ranged from totally undercharging for their services to one company that quit the consumer business altogether because they realized that B2b was ten times more profitable and sustainable.

I wanted to show them how to use LinkedIn to find and identify business connections and how not to Connect and Pitch (read, spam) them.

First, I talked about how to optimize both their personal profiles and business pages for commercial business. Keep in mind that they are mostly focused on Facebook for consumer marketing so few even have a LinkedIn account.

Then I explained to them how using content marketing helps them stay top of mind with new connections. By posting the same content to their profiles, business pages, and personal and company newsletters.

Finally, I showed them how to use the connections to better define their commercial audience and use the content on their business page to advertise on LinkedIn to people who could become perfect commercial business clients and partners in their area.

Closing Thoughts

My final edict to them was to go home and do something.

We all have had a post-conference high of excitement and best intentions, only to go home and act like a bowling ball that rolls down the gutter groove back into what we have always done.

When I got home, I was greeted with several new LinkedIn connections and some text with pictures of me speaking. It made my heart sing that some people got the message and started to explore how to improve their businesses!

And YES, I had a great time golfing, speaking, meeting new friends (and quite a few old ones), and getting to stick my feet back into the warm Atlantic Ocean.

 

Comment below and share your thoughts, ideas, or questions about LinkedIn and Relationship Marketing! Have you recently optimized your LinkedIn personal and business profiles? What tips or techniques can you share that work for you and your business?

To learn more about this and other topics on B2b Sales & Marketing, visit our podcast website at The Bacon Podcast.

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