Livestock cloning is so normal that the FDA has a brief on it, but pet cloning? That’s the stuff of science fiction and celebrity whims.
Barbra Streisand revealed she cloned her dog in 2018 — and the news made The New York Times.
So when ViaGen, formerly a livestock cloning company, pivoted to cloning only domestic pets, they faced a challenge. How could they market their service to people who found it… weird?
Melain Rodriguez, client service manager at Viagen Pets, has spent the past seven years figuring that out — and she shared her tips for marketing a controversial service.
DON’T rely on vets to sell your product.
People tend to trust medical professionals when it comes to flea medicine.
But when ViaGen went to vet conferences and asked vets to help them educate people on cloning, those conversations didn’t drive sales.
Turns out pet cloning isn't a medical decision. It's an emotional one.
DO collaborate with #petfluencers.
In 2017, Rodriguez attended a conference called BlogPaws. At the time, she didn’t really understand that pets could be influencers.
Then she met the owner of petfluencer Bruce Wayne — a chihuahua with 55K+ followers — and a partnership was born. When Bruce Wayne’s owner announced she’d cloned her dog, commenters asked a lot of questions.
Influencers turned out to be the best educators on ViaGen’s product.
DON’T offer discount codes.
Cloning with ViaGen costs $50K, a price tag that “scares a lot of people away,” Rodriguez said.
But when ViaGen’s first influencer partner offered followers a discount code, “it really didn’t do as well as expected,” Rodriguez said. “People didn’t know what to do with that.”
ViaGen’s sales funnel can be years long, and discount codes rushed people to make a purchase before they were ready.
DO highlight the low initial costs.
When influencers and celebrities get media coverage for cloning their pets, Rodriguez often gets a surge of calls from regular people, asking how much the service costs.
“I never start with $50K,” Rodriguez said. “We have to start at the bottom.” So she tells them about ViaGen’s cell banking service, which starts at $500.
That’s something lots more pet owners can afford, and then cloning will always be an option down the road.
When you’re marketing an expensive, controversial product, industry awareness is more important than brand awareness — and influencers are your friend.
People eventually come around to the fact that “there’s nothing weird about a cloned animal,” Rodriguez said.