Missives, milestones, and other happenings at Pillar Pet Products.
A few months back, our Service Team received a call from Janis in Cabo San Lucas, Mexico. She explained that she and her husband split their time between their homes in Cabo and Seattle, WA, but that since living in Cabo, they have become very involved in caring for a local colony of Feral cats as well as promoting spay/neuter programs and education in the area.
The reason she was calling was to inquire about the ability of the Perfect Petfeeder to maintain a steady diet for the four or five cats they take care of and whether it would work outside. We explained that as long as the unit were protected from rain and direct sunlight, it should work out fine. She decided to give it a try and promised to keep us updated as to how it went. True to her word, we received a terrific email and picture.
"Here is an update on our "garbage can" idea. It has been upgraded to a storage chest with an access/egress on each end. The feeder has worked flawlessly. After beginning with the 2-bowl option, we did change to the single bowl. We have found that fewer moving parts is better. When there would be a feral who would not wait his/her turn in line, a confrontation would send bowls and food flying. The 5 ferals are extremely protective over their food-source. We seemingly have a fairly controlled environment and have not needed to trap (to spay/neuter) for 2-3 months. All is good here in Cabo.
Thank you again!"
Janis & Greg
This past weekend we attended our very first consumer pet event; America's Family Pet Expo in Orange County, CA, and we're still recovering. This expo is - by far - the largest of it's kind in the U.S. It occupies 4 large buildings and two circus-size tents at the O.C. Fairgrounds. We wanted to make a great impression, so we arrived on Wednesday and began setting up along with hundreds of other pet product companies, service providers, and pet rescue organizations - most of which had done the show before and knew the routine. We quickly got up to speed with the help of the terrific organizers and other participants.
The doors opened on Friday and it was non-stop through the close on Sunday evening. About 60,000 people attended and it was wonderful seeing and hearing people's reactions. Most had never seen or heard of the Perfect Petfeeder before and the 4 display units we had set up stopped many in their tracks. Lots and lots of positive feedback. And lots and lots of people asking us to develop a waterer of similar quality. (pssst - it's on the way ;-)
PAWS stands for Pets Are Wonderful Support, and this outstanding organization based in the San Francisco area has been dedicated to helping struggling pet-parents maintain their pets in their lives. Since 1986 PAWS staff and volunteers have been providing an array of services as basic as walking the dog to subsidizing pet food and veterinary care.
Petchitecture 14, PAWS annual fund raiser event, will be held on April 24 at the Fairmont San Francisco atop Nob Hill, and has the unique twist of enlisting architects and architectural firms to design and fashion pet-centric dwellings which are then auctioned at the event. Each year brings dozens of entries that garner a lot of attention and interest. In addition to these creations, the event hosts a silent auction raising funds for PAWS to continue their tremendous work.
We are pleased that PAWS invited us to participate and a Perfect Petfeeder will be included in this year’s auction items. We invite you to consider supporting PAWS and, possibly, attending the Petchitecture event. Unfortunately, we won’t be able to attend, but we’d love to hear from those of you who do. Maybe even send us some pictures?
It's not every cat, that will indulge their parents by wearing an outfit, rarer still, cats that actually enjoy it. But "Benny the cat" of Sedona, AZ is one of a kind, and not just because of his penchant for wearing costumes. Under those funny, big-nose glasses is a head for business and the stock market. The self proclaimed, "Smartest Cat in the Room" shares his passion -for free- by making weekly stock market recommendations and observations on the economy at his very own web site, www.askbennythecat.com
Recently, Benny's Dad contacted us to purchase a Perfect Petfeeder for Benny. Apparently, all that sedentary computer work had caused Benny to get a little heavier than is healthy. Benny realized with so many people counting on his weekly updates he needed to stay in form. We were thrilled to hear about Benny and even happier still to know that he planned to track his weight loss progress on his web site. We'll look forward to the "before & after" photos, and you can follow Benny's progress on Benny's Diet Page.
We are going to be attending our first consumer pet show in (hopefully) sunny Orange County, California on April 17, 18, & 19, 2009. The event is the America's Family Pet Expo and is the largest of it's kind in the U.S. With attendance expected to be around 40,000, we expect to talk to a lot of caring pet-parents about the many benefits a features the Perfect Petfeeder offers. If your in the area, please come by and say hello. We'll be in booth 1125. For more information about the event, visit www.petexponovi.com
We occasionally get the opportunity to talk with a customer when they either call to order or have a question once they've received a product. In doing so we always learn a LOT. We also hear some amazing and heartfelt stories.
We recently had a call from Julie M. of Narberth, PA and learned that after becoming disabled some time ago, she took it upon herself to take up crocheting so that she could make blankets for animal shelters around the country. Incorporating an array of colors, each blanket is supervised, inspected, and approved by Julie's furry companion, Miss Hazel Lucy. The grateful recipients of her loving handiwork consistently report that the blankets have an immediate and apparent calming effect on all the animals they were given to. So when Julie decided to offer her blankets online for purchase, coming up with a name was easy. Tranquility Blankets was born and her web site is now populated with pages of happy cats and dogs with their blankets and included crocheted collars and hats. It's worth visiting for the pictures alone.
We've been privileged and proud to be involved with a number of Seattle area animal shelters dedicated to the cause of providing shelter to homeless animals and their eventual placement in a "forever home". We never cease to be amazed by the number of caring, good souls who choose to devote large amounts of their time, energy, and talents to the myriad of demands, both administrative and practical, that these shelters must cope with every day of the year.
One such shelter is Homeward Pet based in Woodenville, WA, not far from our headquarters. On May 10th they celebrated their 10th Annual Anniversary Benefit Auction and Dinner and we were happy to donate a Perfect Petfeeder for the event. These kinds of "gala" fundraisers are very common for such organizations. They allow those involved in the day-to-day operations the opportunity to dress up, get out, and celebrate their achievements. And for those who appreciate the efforts of these organizations but are unable to donate their time, they're an opportunity to learn more and contribute financially.
This year's fundraiser broke previous records by topping $220,000, an amount that will allow Homeward Pet to maintain and expand their rescue, shelter, and spy/neuter programs in the Seattle area.
If you're visiting our site for the first time, we hope that the primary impression you are getting is one of quality. When we set out to design and manufacture our flagship Perfect Petfeeder we were determined to NOT put another poorly designed, cheaply constructed, short-lived product into the marketplace. The question was, would there be a market for an automatic pet feeder with the quality, build, and price point of a high end espresso maker, when there were "Mr. Coffee" offerings already available.
Since launching last year, we're happy to relay that there is, indeed, a market for our product. In fact many, if not a majority of our customers have had one of the other automatic dog and cats feeders and have been very happy to learn of ours after a, let's say, less than satisfactory experience with them. In addition to hearing about the health and behavioral benefits our customers and their pets are enjoying, we also very much appreciate the comparisons to quality, innovative brands like Dyson and Apple Computer company, for example:
"I've not been this pleased with a household purchase since buying my Dyson vacuum several years ago."
"The design and implementation remind me of the look and quality of Apple Computer products."
High praise, and good company, indeed.
Several weeks ago we received a call, as we often do, from a caring pet owner, Chris, who had some questions he wanted answered before deciding to buy a Perfect Petfeeder. As is often the case, he and his wife had had another brand of pet feeder that just hadn't worked out for them. Their cats had figured out how to get into it and they needed something more reliable. We answered his questions and said he would make a decision soon. He then called back several days later to order one but needed to know if we could ship it to them in Australia. Come to find out Chris is a serviceman stationed outside Brisbane. So we made arrangements to ship it to his APO (Army Post Office) address. It's been fun to know we now a have Perfect Petfeeder "down under" and we just received his glowing feedback and pictures. You can read what he had to say by clicking here.
A few days ago we were contacted by Kim Pope-Zukowski, Director of the Aurora Animal Shelter in Aurora, CO. She told us the very sad history of one of their recently rescued dogs, Neeko, and how a Perfect Petfeeder would make a real contribution to his recovery from an abusive past.
At the time Neeko, a Belgian Malinois, was rescued, he was nearly starved to death. After 5 months of veterinary care, love, and devotion he had regained physical health and, miraculously, the ideal foster family came forward to take him in. It was a ready made family for Neeko as they already had a sister for him, another Belgian Malinois named Pika, and they will officially adopt him once the legal proceedings against the former owner are complete. But while Neeko was physically healthy, and was calm and relaxed most of the time, he had, understandably, developed issues with regard to food. He became very nervous and panicked if too much time passed between meals. His new oster family worked hard to allay his fears and to get him onto a schedule he could rely on, but it was proving difficult, especially because he wasn't able to go all night without eating and so they were getting up to feed him in the middle of the night to maintain his routine. They had checked into the available automatic pet feeder options and knew that a Perfect Petfeeder was just what was needed. That's when Kim called us and we were happy to donate one to Neeko. We know it will make a real difference in his life and we're looking forward to hearing of his progress which we'll post here.
My goodness! 2009 is here and it looks to be a great year for us given the tremendous reception the Perfect Petfeeder has received in that last 6 months. It was long time in development, but these first 6 months have justified our belief that if we developed and offered a solid quality product at a fair price, people would recognize it and respond. To all our valued customers and friends we offered this delightful New Year's Day ecard from the amazing Jacquie Lawson. Click the picture to see the card.
Not that we want to fill our "What's New" page with videos, but we just had to add this one. Enjoy!
In connection with our advertising campaign with Arizona Foothills Magazine, we offered a Perfect Petfeeder for the magazine's November Giveaway. The Editors were blown away by the response. They received over 1400 entries! A record for any of their giveaway contests. But, alas, there could only be one winner. Melissa Y. of Scottsdale, AZ is the lucky entrant and told us she hasn't been able to stop smiling since she won. "I told all my family and friends that if I won I wouldn't need anything else for Christmas. Now I'm a little worried I won't get anything."
Just about every day we hear from customers who's primary motivation to purchase a Perfect Petfeeder is beautifully summed up in this hilarious little animated short.
Entitled "Cat Man Do", by Simon Tofield, it's all the reason any cat owner needs to get the Perfect Petfeeder and enjoy a good night's sleep.
With Thanksgiving almost here and the inevitable blip in weight gain most of us will experience in the coming weeks, it's been very gratifying to hear from more and more customers who are successfully bringing their pets weight into an ideal range with the tremendous help of the Perfect Petfeeder. Just some of the comments:
"Kesari is down about a quarter of a pound--he needs to loose about 4 pounds..."
"Now, many months later, (Taz) is back down to a healthy weight of about 15 lbs. and he didn't even notice the food withdrawal."
"We just had a visit from our mobil vet and he was VERY complimentary of Bella's weight improvements since his last visit. He said he just doesn't often see that kind of success and wanted to know what our "secret" is."
It's really gratifying for all of us here who have been working to develop the Perfect Petfeeder to hear these kinds of comments. We really are all about making products "for your pets best life", and maintaining pets at an ideal weight is a big part of that goal.
After having our web site up for several months we started to notice that some of our visitors weren't finding what they wanted as fast as they wanted and were leaving before they might otherwise. How do we know this? The miracle of Google Analytics, which makes it possible to see the general geographic location of visitors to our web site and many other things like how long they stay on average, which pages are most popular, what pages they leave from, etc. Really helpful stuff when you want to provide a web site that people can really use to find out what they want. In our case, it's usually to learn about our product. Most of the changes have to do with streamlining some of the information and greatly shortening the Flash animations which we think might have been more distracting than informative. So we'll wait and evaluate the response and tweak as needed during the coming months.
Cat Fancy Editor's Pick!
We just recently learned that Cat Fancy has chosen the Perfect Petfeeder as one of their Editor's Choices for best new pet products of 2007. We had sent them an evaluation unit back in August and were certainly hopeful they would include it in their picks. Anything to get the word out! They have a picture in the current issue with one of the editors cats eating from it. Pretty cute, and several customers have noted seeing it there. Thank you Cat Fancy!
We knew, for better or worse, that eventually someone, somewhere would post a video on the internet of the Perfect Petfeeder in action. We've thought about doing our own, but the very talented Ann G of Chandler, AZ beat us to it, and we couldn't be happier.
She informed us that she had been on a month long search for a reliable, quality pet feeder for her and her husband's two kids (dogs), Skye and Chewy. She was thrilled to find out about the Perfect Petfeeder and ordered two because she wasn't sure if her dogs would be able to eat side by side with the two bowl set-up that's included with each unit. She was so excited to get them that she video taped the "unveiling" and the whole family joined in. This is probably the closest we'll ever get to being "a fly on the wall" of our customers.
"We love the pet feeder!! My husband was all over it and was more excited to get it programmed than I was... guys guys guys (LOL)"
We get calls and emails every day from people who have a question or two about the Perfect Petfeeder, but this one gave us pause. A very sincere gentlemen emailed us with this simple question, "Is it skunk proof?" Upon further inquiry we learned that he had several outdoor kitties and that his work schedule kept him from being able to feed them regularly. He wanted something he could place outside. Skunks had gotten into the gravity feeders he had been using and he needed another solution.
We did a little research, found this great web site on the subject, but had to inform him that, although it's built like a tank and has proven to be pet-proof, we couldn't guarantee that a family of determined skunks with sharp claws and teeth wouldn't do irreparable damage to the unit. That, and it's not made for outdoor use. We pointed him to a few possible solutions, but as one of our team pointed out, "Skunks have to eat, too."
Today we received our first repeat order from a customer in Illinois who bought his first Perfect Petfeeder in September. In the customer comments he wrote, "I'm now purchasing a second unit (for downstairs cat) after receiving the first (for our new upstairs kittens), which is working perfectly." What an endorsement! But we're left wondering how it is that someone would have upstairs and downstairs kitties? We'll have to get in touch and ask. In any case, this kind of thing is very gratifying to all of us here at Pillar Pet Products. We love to hear about people's satisfaction and experiences with our products.
We recently decided to begin using Google Adwords to introduce web surfers to our site and the Perfect Petfeeder. In the event you don't know about these, Adwords are the ads that appear on the very top and right sides of the page of results when you do a search on Google. They are similar in appearance to the regular search results on the left side of the page, but these are actually ads someone or a company has written and asked Google to display when certain "keywords" are a part of anyone's search. In our case, if someone does a search for "automatic pet feeder" our ad will appear. And if someone clicks on one of the ads, the company pays a small "click-thru" fee to Google. Yahoo and MSN have very similar programs
We were hesitant to use this service, at first, basically because we were unfamiliar with it and there have been problems with a few companies unscrupulously clicking repeatedly on their competitor's ads to cost them money. But on the advice of a business friend, we decided to give it a go and now wonder why we waited so long. It's amazing how many people, every day, are looking for a solution like ours and our traffic and sales have increased significantly since we started. So thank you Google Adwords. We recommend them to anyone trying to get the word out about a new product or service via the internet.
That's what a customer who called us yesterday to order her new Perfect Petfeeder told us. She has two cats that she loves dearly and had recently put on a strict weight loss program. Predictably, things had become a bit adversarial. The last straw was when the kitties started waking her up in the middle of the night begging for food. Such a familiar story.
We assured her that our automatic cat feeder would be the solution she was seeking and asked her to please tell us her story after she had it operating for awhile. Caring pet owners know that free feeding is not the healthiest way to feed their furry friends and it's sad when their relationship is transformed into being "all about the food" because they feed them a measured diet. While it's a familiar story to us, we never tire of hearing it since we know we can really help by allowing them to "take food out of the equation". Once the pets understand that the food is coming from the appliance and not the owner, the begging stops and everyone is far more relaxed. We look forward to hearing from you Karen K. of PN!
For those of you who are not familiar with Animal Wellness Magazine, we at Pillar Pet Products highly recommend you check it out. It's the kind of magazine readers actually keep for future reference or pass along to a friend who's pets have a health problem. It's a publication with a LOT of integrity and they actually refuse advertisers that offer products the magazine's publisher and editors don't believe in. They were, for instance, reporting on the shoddy pet food production practices long before this most recent pet food contamination scare and, to their credit, none of the recalled foods had ever been allowed to advertise in Animal Wellness Magazine.
We decided early on in development of the Perfect Petfeeder that we wanted to advertise in Animal Wellness. When we contacted them, they were interested in our product and asked to send a unit to them for evaluation and a possible Editor's Pick. Not long after receiving the unit, CEO Scott Mcllarky received a call from their editor and CEO, Tim Hockley. He wanted to call personally to express his utter amazement at the quality and well thought out design of our product. Moreover, he wanted one for his own cat. We asked if he'd be willing to write a "testimonial" and he happily obliged. You can read it on out customer testimonials page. And we will be featured as an Editor's Pick in their November - December issue that should be out around mid-October. Can't wait!! And an added bonus is we now may use the "approved" logo in our advertising and promotions.
Earlier this month we discovered that there are blogs solely dedicated to announcing to the cyber world the existence of unusual, unique, and/or innovative products. Who knew?!? Well, apparently ,we are among the LAST to know. No matter, we sent a nice brief email to a couple of them suggesting they have a look at our Perfect Petfeeder at our web site, and made ourselves available to provide more information if they were interested. We started with Luxist.com and then a few others.
Within a week we were featured on several of these blogs and those were picked up by a bunch MORE blogs. Thanks to the truly wonderful Google Alerts we received notice of all the blogs that reported on the Perfect Petfeeder and have put links to them on our coverage page. As a result, traffic at our web site has gone up substantially. So far it's more "loolie-lews" than buyers, but we appreciate them getting the word out!
We have, once again, experienced the power of the press release here at Pillar Pet Products. A little over a week ago we put out a press release announcing the launch of our automatic pet feeder solution. Not long afterwards a financial editor for the Seattle Times called to inquire about doing a short piece on our product launch. Our CEO, Scott Mcllarky did about a half-hour phone interview with the reporter and we offered to provide a picture as a way "to help illustrate the innovative nature of our product".
The reporter informed us the piece would be in the following Sunday's Seattle Times. We waited with baited breath to see how it would turn out and, especially, if they would use a picture. First thing Sunday morning, several copies were purchased with coffee and we all enjoyed reading the very balanced, well written piece accompanied by a shot of the feeder in white with a Dachshund eating from it. Woo Hoo!! Here's the link.
We were contacted by the long established cat-centric publication, Cat Fancy, several days ago to see if we wanted to send them an evaluation unit of our automatic cat feeder for their 2007 Editor's Choice Awards. Are you kidding?!?! You betcha!! There were only a couple of days left to get it to them, but thanks to the miracle of Fedex, we were able to get it there in time.
The entry requirements were that the product "must have been introduced to the market between August 1, 2006 and August 1, 2007, be innovative, reflect creativity and originality, fill a need in the market, and be safe and functional." The Perfect Petfeeder has all that in spades! How could they NOT choose it as one of their product picks!?! We won't know until mid-October when their Holiday Issue hit's the stands, but we've got fingers and tails crossed here at Pillar Pet Products that we'll be gracing the pages of Cat Fancy then.
We've been busy the last few weeks with, among other things, lining up our Fall and Winter advertising. We're running small ads in several pet-cenric publications such as Animal Wellness, Modern Dog, Bark, and our excellent local City Dog. We're also going to place ads in several "homes and lifestyles" publications since that is where many of the high end appliance brands tend to advertise and our automatic pet feeder was definitely styled to look right at home with those appliances. Basic advertising wisdom says that it takes about three ads or "impressions" on a potential customer before they are motivated to look into something and possibly make a purchase. We'll be anxious to see how the Perfect Petfeeder is received in print.
July 26, 2007
As of today we are open for business and our web site has been expanded into a full-on, ecommerce enable, center of the Perfect Petfeeder Universe. We believe we've done a good job out of the gate in developing an accessible site that quickly informs visitors of the advantages of a dependable, portion controlled diet and how our product is the ideal tool to help them maintain their pet's ideal weight and health.
We'll certainly be making improvements as we move forward and invite an and all comments and feedback about our site via email.
We have been getting media inquiries from several publications that saw our press release and are interested in featuring our "very attractive pet feeder" in their new products sections. This is just great! And, actually, what we had anticipated since we designed our product not to just work perfectly, but to also look great while doing it. So we've been spending some time providing additional information and print-ready photography of the Perfect Petfeeder to various publications and will put up links to those on our media coverage page. Now back to work on the web site.
We donated a Perfect Petfeeder to MEOW, a Seattle area cat and dog rescue. They included it in their recent "Fine Wines and Felines Too" wine tasting and silent auction event (you can read about it here). The package included personal delivery and set-up by a company representative at the home of the winning bidder. Company founders attended the event and a great time was had by all. The Perfect Petfeeder was very well received. In fact two attendees got into a bit of a bidding war and the winner paid quite a premium to have one of the first publicly available Perfect Petfeeders. Money for a tremendous cause. The people at MEOW do amazing, heroic things everyday, and we consider it an honor to support their work, now and in the future.
The winning bidder was Ruth M. of Mercer Island, WA, and above you can see one of her two kitties, Whenweeze, enjoying her first meal from The Perfect Petfeeder. Ruth had tried another automatic pet feeder but returned it when it proved unsatisfactory. Her other cat, Baby, was too shy to come out when we visited, but Ruth assured us that she checked it our after we left and that they are all loving it. "They are happy and so are we. At least we don't get in trouble any more when we get home and the food bowl is empty."
So what's up with that bib?? We wondered about that too. Here's the link to find out.