PetPlate Exec on Selling ‘Human-grade’ Dog Food

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PetPlate is a direct-to-consumer dog-food provider launched in 2016. The company, which sells subscriptions to “human grade” meals for dogs, has raised $32 million in funding, according to Crunchbase.

Jackson Reiter is PetPlate’s paid media marketer, responsible for advertising. Reiter relies on original, 15-second videos for ad creative. He says, “Fortunately, our product is for dogs, which are very viewable and likable.”

Reiter and I recently spoke, addressing the company’s marketing funnel, paid media channels, video production, and more. The entire audio of our conversation is embedded below. The transcript is edited for clarity and length.

Eric Bandholz: Selling human-grade dog food sounds complex.

Jackson Reiter: It’s complex on the production side. We have a fantastic operations team. Our products are gently cooked with fresh ingredients. Then they’re flash-frozen. You take out an item when necessary and defrost it, like food from the supermarket.

My role is paid media and performance marketing. I mainly focus on anything that has paid behind it — Facebook, Instagram, TikTok, and paid search.

Bandholz: What does your funnel look like from a paid perspective?

Reiter: We try to take a full-funnel approach. We have a great brand team that develops higher-funnel name recognition and messaging so that people associate certain things with us. I take it at medium to lower funnel. Our campaigns typically stack on top of each other. Perhaps we start with public relations and couple that with micro-influencers to drive traffic. We do cold traffic prospecting on social, as well as robust retargeting.

In general, however, people hear about us by word of mouth. Our customers love our stuff and talk to their friends about it. So we see a lot of direct traffic from that. As far as paid efforts on Facebook and Instagram, despite iOS 14.5 we still see significant traffic and conversions.

Bandholz: What type of content do you produce for your ads?

Reiter: It’s all videos. I joined the company in April of this year. Since then we’ve had just one static image that pulled decent traffic. We have a great video editor and production team. But we keep the visuals realistic to replicate user-generated content. We film on iPhones, not high-grade cameras.

Otherwise, the content varies a bit by channel. A video on TikTok may not work on Instagram. Consumers respond to short-form videos. We keep ours to a tight 15 seconds.

Bandholz: Tell us more about building out the videos.

Reiter: We have a robust testing process that we rely on. We focus on the 2-second hook, as attention spans are shortening thanks to TikTok.

We’ll decide on a concept and film it. It could be, for example, building out your dog’s meal and putting all the ingredients in the bowl. It’s all aesthetically pleasing. We’ll film up to seven versions, mainly fiddling with the first 2 to 3 seconds. What’s going to get folks to stay and watch the entire clip? The key is getting them past the first 2 or 3 seconds.

Again, we produce iPhone footage that looks organic. And we have a rigorous naming structure — how we identify the ads in the platform. The names help us with backend data analyses, whether it’s length, hook, type of model, or type of dog.

Bandholz: How often do you produce new content?

Reiter: It varies. In general, we can use a good piece of creative for about 30 days before we see some fatigue. We also try to rotate creative among audiences.

We used an agency for some of it when I joined. But we’ve since moved to in-house as much as possible. We recently hired a video editor straight out of college. He crushes it.

Bandholz: What makes for a good hook?

Reiter: Many things would appear to work well and then flop with no views or conversions. And sometimes a seemingly plain vanilla clip does well.

Probably the best hook we’ve had was a pan-up shot of a bunch of our food containers, which come in colorful, resealable tubs. They’re great for stacking and look good on camera. It was just a bunch of them stacked up with the creator’s dog — the funniest-looking animal you’ll ever see — standing next to the containers. The dog has a weird look on its face. Consumers loved it.

We occasionally film our founder talking to the camera with a compelling background. Fortunately, our product is for dogs, which are very viewable and likable.

Bandholz: Where can listeners connect with you?

Reiter: I’m on LinkedIn, Twitter, and Instagram. And then head over to PetPlate for some dog food.

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