Doing Your Duty

Sunday, August 23, 2009

Since I (try to) make my living selling homemade dog treats, I feel an obligation to follow the dog treat cycle to it's natural and inevitable conclusion:
Dog poop
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Think about it.
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You put one of my treats in one end of your dog and it eventually comes out the other end so shouldn't I feel just a little responsible to help with the clean-up?
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So...I created a new product. I had a basic design in mind so I used Excel to sketch it out and calculate the dimensions. (I think of Excel as the duct tape of software...it can do anything.)
The Creative Process began with me cutting the toe off an old tube sock. wth? Well, Before I started cutting into expensive fabric I needed something with the same basic shape I had in my mind and if you squint at my design you can see a tube sock...can't you? Really? Squint harder.
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I stuffed it with a plastic bag full of rubber dog poop, (a gift-someone's idea of a great place to hide a front door key) safety-pinned it to a leash and went out for a walk to see how it would/should move while hanging from a leash. While Gracie seemed oblivious to the fact that she was trotting around with a rubber poop-filled sock dangling from her leash handle, we didn't venture any further than the yard.
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The neighbors (all cat people) already think we're a bit strange.
No point in proving them right again.
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I’ve named my new product the “Dog Duty Pouch”.

It looks a lot more dignified in print than it does when you say it. You read the label “Dog Duty” - as in "Good for You! You're an upstanding citizen and you take your responsibility to clean up after your dog seriously"…but if you say it aloud it’s…Dog doodie! OK, I resorted to playground potty mouth humor but it's kind of cute, doncha think? There are plenty of chuckles when customers read the sign, so I guess they get it.

Hmm...We're talking about a dog poop bag here, how am I going to market it?

I now know the quandary the Gas-X marketing folks must have felt. How do you promote the need for a slightly unmentionable product? Think of the squirming interviewee who is “flatulent in three languages.” My answer: very carefully, with humor and some sincere empathy.

The name usually breaks the ice for a discussion. “What is that ?” I explain that I’ve always had a problem with having to carry a filled and flimsy plastic grocery bag after cleaning up Gracie's calling cards so I created an attractive, discreet alternative. (BTW, my problem is not the carrying as much as the perception. I’m walking a 50 lb. red heeler and people assume the bag I’m carrying has tomatoes in it? Get real! everybody knows what's in the bag) The mental image of a bag of steaming dog poop is…Ugh! Get it out of my head!

So then I show them the slotted dispenser for the clean bag. I provide a biodegradable Mutt Mitt bag (http://www.muttmitts.com/.) with every pouch (my treat- after that you're on your own) and how the...ahem...used bag is easily slipped into the pouch where the flap folds down to close the pouch with a hook & loop closure. (The Trademark Police don't like you to say Velcro so I won't.) Voila! The job is done. It's what I call the peek-a-boo theory. If you can't see it- it's not there. It's simply a stylish green pouch attached to your leash handle. "You're carrying dog poop? Amazing! It never crossed my mind! You could have the Hope Diamond in there for all I know."

I point out the mesh pocket in front which is handy for stashing keys or a cell phone. I fill the pocket with my dog treats as an added value with every purchase. I explain the pouch is made of Sunbrella brand fabric (designed for outdoor furniture upholstery) and can go right into the washer. And it can be used to store your leash between walks.
(Insert Vanna White hand flourish here)
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Customer Reactions range from... "Hmm...Interesting", (exit stage right) to "Brilliant! What a great idea!" A couple of ladies had the...um...brass bells to turn one inside out to see how it was made while discussing their plan to go home and make one. I gently explained they should certainly do that but not with MY design. Jeez, where's a rabid rottweiler when you need one?

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My first DDP sale. Thanks, Emma's owner!
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So that's my latest creation. Would really appreciate your feedback, comments and suggestions.
I have no idea where my imagination will take me next. I mean, how do you follow a dog excrement carrier?

3 Comments:

Kathy said...

Another fantastically Bevish idea. You MUST work on the packaging and shipping aspect Bev. Then.... get thee to Craigslist and EBay with this item. Include a link to this particular blog page for further illustration, description and explanation.

AND... do this in plenty of time to utilize the Christmas season. I promise to be one of (if not THE) first customers. I will be ordering 3 of them as Christmas gifts for Massachusetts friend's pooches.
ps.. Get working on that Christmas stocking packaging for the dog treats as well!

pps... these bags? How about getting some season/holiday specific fabric? Then, the same customer will need more than one... one for Halloween, one for Thanksgiving, one for Xmas, one for St. Valentines, St Patricks... and on and on and on..
trust me on this. There are plenty of wacky folks like myself out here that would have to get one for each occasion.

BevB said...

I think I may hire you as Creative Director of my LLC, Kat. The pay stinks but the Christmas parties are fun.

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