It’s difficult to tell from one day to the next whether the economy is improving, or getting worse.

Some people are finding jobs and going back to work. Some couples now both have to work, whereas only one person did before. And some people are taking second or even third jobs to make ends meet in these days of no wage increases. A natural result of these new situations is that more people are spending more time away from their homes, their families — and their pets.

For me, a pet CPR and first aid instructor, this has resulted in an increase in business. More people are asking me how they can set up their homes to be pet-safe, so they don’t come home from a hard day’s work and find their pets have gotten into things. More people are interested in learning how they can minimize veterinary costs, as they don’t have as much money to spend these days. And it’s not just emergency care — more people want to know how to take care of their pets’ overall wellness.

Partly because of this new interest and partly at the urging of my friends, I decided to upgrade the marketing strategy for my company, CParf!

Up until this past year, I’d been marketing CParf! services mostly to dog daycare and boarding facilities. But at the start of 2011, I began expanding my business by advertising at veterinary hospitals. Not only did the veterinarians allow me to leave my cards and brochures in their lobbies, but the doctors themselves wanted to take my classes.

I also ramped up my online advertising in two ways. First, I listed CParf! with all the major online business listing services. I created business pages on Facebook and LinkedIn. I also put a small amount of money toward both Google Adwords and Facebook Ads. Second, I improved my Web site to make it more attractive. I updated my course offerings and added a place for video blogs, which are in progress. My thinking here was that more people are searching for bargains online, and I wanted to be able to reach those people.

To date, both of these strategies have increased my business two-fold over all my previous years, in spite of the state of the economy. I’m not only filling classes to capacity, but I’ve been able to add new classes to my schedule. People have mentioned they’ve seen my ads online, or looked at my brochure while they were waiting in their veterinarian’s office.

People love their pets and want to take care of them — which is always a good thing. Adoptions at our local humane society haven’t slowed — they’re actually on the rise. And with more pets out there and more people concerned about their pets’ welfare, this creates a lot of opportunities for people like me to help educate and bring peace of mind.

Diane Troup owns and operates CParf!, a pet training service based in the San Francisco Bay Area.