Have you ever wondered what it takes to super-charge the publicity and marketing for your business? What if you could enlist the help of actual rock stars? Well that’s what Jme (“Jamie”) Thomas, founder of Motley Zoo Animal Rescue, decided to do! Her business is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit corporation based in Redmond, Washington. They improve the lives of animals, rescue and rehabilitate animals in need and promote responsible pet ownership. Motley Zoo (the name was inspired by the band, Mötley Crüe) is a rock and roll themed animal rescue organization. They provide “rock star treatment” for dogs, cats and other animals that need care, training and new homes.
With marketing and outreach programming, Jme Thomas and the Motley Zoo team found a niche marketing tactic. They invite touring rock stars and musicians to pose for photos with pets that are up for adoption! The pets often receive names based on the musicians’ best-known songs. This is just part of their unique “rock star marketing.” Motley Zoo is a successful presence for animals and animal lovers in the Seattle area and beyond.
Jme Thomas and Motley Zoo have an inspiring story full of valuable lessons and insights for other business owners.
Get Creative With Your Brand
Motley Zoo is a unique and aggressively positioned name. It brings to mind the image of a heavy metal rock ‘n roll home for cats and dogs! This was a bold, and kind of risky, strategy by Jme Thomas. Some people might have been reluctant to name their business something that was so different. But, the unconventional brand strategy paid off!
“Picking that name alone defied the usual types of ‘cutesy’ names most rescues have, and we took it to new levels with our marketing and branding, including opening a dog daycare facility called ‘Rock Star Treatment,'” Jme Thomas said. “This had never been done before on this scale. We are pioneers with a lot of firsts.”
The lesson: don’t be afraid to be unique with your brand, business name, and other aspects of your marketing strategy. Sometimes it’s better to create a brand that stands out, rather than fitting in.
Carve Out a Niche for Your Products
Motley Zoo finds new homes for animals up for adoption. Sometimes it’s hard to find new homes for some animals. There tends to be more animals than available homes. So, Motley Zoo developed a unique “product marketing” approach: they started naming their adoptable animals after rock stars.
“We started naming the adoptable animals after musicians and bands as an additional way to play on the music theme and give each animal more of an identity and advantage to finding a new home,” Jme said.
When prospective pet owners are looking for animals to adopt, it can give an animal a competitive edge to have a memorable name. Wouldn’t you notice a cat or dog named after your favorite band or song?
Find Strategic Marketing Partners
Jme Thomas got a great idea one night that literally came to her in a dream: what if her adoptable animals took meet-and-greet photos with actual rock stars?
“One night I had a dream that we brought the cats we’d named after the band Rancid, to a concert to actually meet Rancid. In my dream, the band thought it was so cool, we took pictures and the cats got adopted quickly,” Jme said. “I woke up from the dream and was telling my husband and laughing at how ridiculous that was. Then I just stopped laughing and said, ‘I am going to do that!’ He was like, ‘What, bring kittens to a concert?’ And I said yes! He looked at me like I was crazy, smiled and went about his day.”
But Jme’s dream of rock stars meeting kittens actually came true!
Turning a Dream into Reality
“I showed up at the back door of the Rancid show with kittens and everything went just like my dream. The band invited me in, we talked about the rescue and took pics with the cats…and they put us on the guest list! When I called my husband and told him I’d just spent the last 45 minutes with his all-time favorite band, he was speechless! And he encouraged me to do more with this idea. He said, ‘let’s see what you can do now, because Snoop Dogg is coming to town soon, then Slayer…”
Jme met other famous musicians and bands. They are all thrilled to pose backstage for some publicity photos with the adoptable pets. When Jme met Snoop Dogg, they posed for photos with two kittens named Gin and Juice; both cats were immediately adopted.
Jme Thomas and the Motley Zoo pets had meet-and-greets with other musicians including Macklemore and Ryan Lewis, Slayer, and ZZ Top.
“We have met with many big names and even befriended many of our favorite bands through multiple meetings,” Jme said. “The best thing is that this concept has since been emulated and it seems many rescues are now bringing animals to meet artists all over the country! I won’t say we are the absolute first in the history of the world to do this, but we are definitely the first to make it a regular part of our strategy, paving the way for others to follow.”
Thinking Outside of the Box: Creativity Pays Off
The lesson: look for strategic partnerships to promote your business. It’s not as glamorous as going backstage with rock stars. But, there are likely organizations in your community that share the same mission. What if you partnered with a nonprofit for a fundraiser? Or teamed up with other businesses for a special “market day” promotion or created a special event with live entertainment, hosted and sponsored by your business? Even if you’re not a rock star, there are lots of fun ways to elevate your brand while creating a vibrant community around your business.
Learn more about Motley Zoo here, and check out their available adoptable pets! Or if you’d like to help the animals by making a cash donation to this nonprofit organization, you can donate to Motley Zoo here!