Ideas for Marketing a Veterinary Practice Successfully
There is virtually no business that has no competition. Even small-town veterinary practices are feeling the competitive challenges. One thing is for sure, the hardest thing to see is a viable, vibrant practice slowly eroding. Erode it will if you are not putting marketing first.
What is the Best and Most Inexpensive Way to Advertise a Veterinary Practice Today?
Used to be you could get off easy by sponsoring your local softball team or 4H club. Not anymore.
As a veterinarian, your top responsibility, above even treating patients, is to create a brand in your local area. You’re probably saying to me right now, “you’re nuts bud, my job is to treat patients first”. You would not be entirely wrong, but hear me out.
If you have built your practice into a brand in your local area you will have; one, recession-proofed your practice, and two, you will have ensured that when you decide to retire and sell your practice you get top dollar.
How Do You Know When You Have Built a Brand?
- If someone called 100 local residents in your area and asked them to name three veterinary practices and 75 people put your practice on the list. You would have built a brand.
- If you have a steady flow of business coming in the door that almost seems unstoppable, then you probably have built a brand.
- If you have a steady stream of qualified people applying for jobs. You have built a brand.
- If you always have a lot more money coming in than going out for bills. You have built a brand.
The funny thing about building a brand is that you can never stop. Why? Patients move away, pets die, someone gets their feelings hurt by one of your staff who is having a bad day or your competition steals them away. Your marketing is always on. Your PR is always on. Excellent care and personal attention occur every day. You are advertising more broadly and consistently. It does get easier.
The basics of marketing to build a local brand name includes direct mail, a professional web presence, and top-notch patient care and follow-up.
Direct mail works for veterinary practices because you can send a targeted mailer directly to pet owners in your area. You can even stipulate qualified pet owners who can afford services. With direct mail, you put something directly in the hands of a prospect and offer an invitation to do business with you. No other form of advertising can do that. There is a way now that you can track exactly the response you get from your mailer and follow-up with them regularly.
A strong web presence can mean many things today. When I say web presence I mean a professionally designed website.
In today’s market, the first thing interested prospects will do after they receive a mailer or see any other type of advertising is to go to your website. According to Google, 96% of people who go to your website will leave without taking any further action. Yet they are prospects. They are looking for your services because they went to your website.
There is even a way that we can identify prospective new clients who are on your website and follow-up with only them, conserving your advertising money.
Today it is vital that you have an active program to generate reviews on Google from your patients.
Existing Patient Marketing
Marketing to your existing patients is a vital action because it prevents you from backsliding.
Mailing a newsletter will go a long way to help patient retention and boost your referrals. Newsletters for a veterinary practice are affordable and easy to do.
Many veterinarians try to go “on the cheap” with their marketing to existing patients by sending emails. Email marketing is okay, but it cannot be your main marketing effort today. Why? The average person is getting 250 to 300 spam emails every day. And you want to send them more emails? They won’t read it.
Also mailing thank you notes to every patient you treat each week goes a very long way to separate your practice from competitors. Nobody mails thank you notes anymore today. Mailing thank you notes to a patient makes your practice stand out and makes an impression. Mailing thank you notes for your veterinary practice is also a good way to give a gentle nudge to write a Google review for you.
If you and your staff are providing great care, as well as, personal and attentive service the above steps will be like throwing gasoline on a fire with your practice growth.