Market What You Believe

For Savannah, Ga.-based retailer TailsSpin—the 2013 Global Pet Expo Marketing Retailer Excellence Award winner—marketing is about more than just running print ads and television commercials. I followed up with Jusak Yang Bernhard, co-owner of TailsSpin, to discuss the company’s winning strategy.


The TailsSpin staff celebrates the Retailer Excellence Award win at Global Pet Expo.


What does winning the Retailer Excellence Award for Marketing at Global Pet Expo mean to you and your staff?
Wow! Being recognized by our peers is quite humbling and, frankly, very overwhelming.  The acknowledgement of Global Pet Expo and Pet Business magazine further encourages us to better ourselves as we carry out TailsSpin’s mission, which is to serve and provide the best experience for our customers, as well as to be a bridge between pets, pet owners, pet organizations and government agencies. The Marketing Excellence Award validates our involvement within our communities.

How important is marketing to your company's business?
When we opened TailsSpin in 2007, we knew that marketing would play a vital part of our company’s growth. We realized that marketing would involve more than running [print] ads and commercials. We needed to convey our passion for supporting the local pet community, in addition to being a knowledgeable resource for purchasing pet supplies.


Over the past five years, we have found that a combination of traditional marketing along with community outreach has really helped to establish our brand. Marketing is a state of being for us. Long discussions and extensive research are always involved, when we decide to bring in a new product, placing in-house sales or doing an event. We’re always asking if our action meets our mission, and to portray our mission is to do good marketing, and that includes marketing what we believe.


TailsSpin's Macon, Ga. location.


How do you define a winning marketing strategy?
With our mission quite engrained in all of us, we dig deep to learn about the products we carry, events we produce and organizations we support. It’s all about knowledge. The better equipped we are with knowledge, the better we can represent each product, each policy and each event; therefore, our store, TailsSpin. It’s about the details. Once we learn and educate ourselves regarding the details, the marketing strategy will naturally presents itself. A winning marketing strategy encompasses connecting with our customers, evolving to meet their present and future needs, and knowing local and national organizations.


How involved are you with your community?
Getting involved with our communities is one of the most rewarding parts of working at TailsSpin. Both [co-owner Jeff Manley] and I have been very involved with many non-profit and for-profit organizations throughout our lives. We bring what we have learned and apply it to TailsSpin. Basically, it’s about building a support system and a lifeline to a successful business. With this understanding, we are very involved with our communities. We negotiate with our government agencies, for example, if dog parks are needed and ordinances are going to change. We negotiate and communicate with our distributors and manufacturers, if better deals can be struck to assure that local animal shelters and rescue agencies have food for their animals. We create events to raise funds, create awareness and educate for our local schools and animal rescue agencies.


What is your favorite part about being in the pet industry?
We love that we have the opportunity every day to touch people’s lives by providing special attention to their best friends’ needs. It is very fulfilling to share that experience with our customers, to be able to relate to that bond that they have, in both good and bad times. For example, one of our long-time customers recently had to put her 16-year-old dog to sleep because of illness. As she spoke with us about the experience, she said that she was so thankful that we could relate to her grief. This drives us to be on top of current information on care, food and supplies. The constant evolvement in pet industry provides excitement and wonderful challenges. Being an eternal student to the rapid growth of the industry is exciting, as well as trying to be on top of current information on care, food and supply for our pets. We enjoy finding new products that help solve the needs of our customers.