You know those cheerful, gushing pet owners who compliment your services each time they visit your veterinary clinic? The ones who give you cards over the holidays, and frequently pledge their loyalty to your practice? Every clinic has a few devout regulars, and they’re usually a delight to be around. What if you could harness their positive experiences and share them online to attract new clients and keep the regulars engaged online?
Turns out, you can! It’s all about the art of the genuine online review and finding the most efficient way to build a stronger network of them.
A recent survey found that 92% of consumers read online reviews, and another study found that 72% of consumers trust online reviews as much as personal recommendations. With numbers like those, it’s easy to see why online reviews are crucial for your veterinary practice. So how do you get great online reviews?
It all starts with making sure that your veterinary practice provides excellent service to all clients, and obviously to their pets. Provided this is something you already strive for every day, your greatest marketing resource might be right under your nose, completely untapped.
They’re called brand advocates, and they may just be your next best online marketing asset—at a fraction of the cost.25784

What is a brand advocate?

A brand advocate is a marketing term for those diehard fans at your clinic who love your practice and aren’t afraid to shout it from the rooftops. These smitten individuals are so thrilled about the care you provide their pets, they’re eager to share the experience with others.
Whether sharing positive reviews online as an ambassador for your clinic or through word-of-mouth recommendations to friends, family, and peers—brand advocates represent a truly unique opportunity to build brand awareness and improve your engagement with pet owners online.

Why should your veterinary practice invest in brand advocates?

Connecting with pet owners through traditional advertising alone isn’t enough in today’s digital culture. These days, pet owners are quicker to trust recommendations from friends, family, and other clients, before trusting the brand itself. As such, brand advocacy holds tremendous value for your veterinary practice’s online presence.

Related Reading: Looking for ways to earn the trust of pet owners? Check out our blog on How to Build a Transparent Veterinary Practice.

When you invite satisfied pet owners to share their positive experiences with others, two things happen: The client is likely to be thrilled that you asked, and you get to encourage others to give your clinic a shot.
The other benefit is that this type of marketing is virtually free. All you’re doing is asking—and in fact, most review sites actively persecute paid reviews. Brand advocacy is a great way to get your name out there without a money budget. Just be prepared to put time into it!
As a bonus, you won’t have to look far to find brand advocates. The majority of them are already part of your clientele! A little recognition and gratitude goes a long way, especially when it comes to already-happy customers.

How do you find brand advocates?

Think back to the last time you encountered a cheery regular client, who’s always saying things like, “This is my dog’s favorite place to visit! He’s so weird.”
Or maybe that first-time rabbit owner, whose constant refrain of, “My rabbit won’t stay still for anyone else but you, she usually hates getting her nails trimmed,” makes you certain you’ve got a client for life.
Yep, you guessed it—these pet owners could be ideal candidates for brand advocacy!
Keep your eyes and ears open for your most devoted clients, whether they praise your practice vocally or offer positive feedback within client satisfaction surveys.
That said, be sure to expand your search online too. You’ll find a plethora of potential brand advocates who are already engaged with you on social media, or those who’ve written great reviews on websites like Yelp.

How can you engage and maintain active brand advocates?

Now that you know where to find them, all you need to do is ask! Feeling skeptical? That’s understandable, but consider this: Are there businesses or brands out there that you’re totally jazzed about? Chances are, for your favorites, you’d be willing to write an online review, like them on Facebook, or share their posts if they asked.
Your clients are the same way—they’re real people with whom you’ve built real relationships. If they love what you do for their pets, they’ll likely be more than happy to say so publicly.

What are some ways to approach clients about brand advocacy?

  • Invite them to connect with you on social media. Here, they can like your page, share your content and interact with you.
  • Getting good feedback at the clinic? Refer those clients to your veterinary website, where they can leave a review if they wish.
  • Ask interested clients if you can feature their pet on social media, your blog, or your website. More often than not, they’ll be thrilled!
  • Using client satisfaction surveys, ask exuberant pet owners if they’ll leave a review or testimony on your website, social or some other website of choice.

It all feeds into reciprocity—that feeling that if someone does something nice for you (e.g., provides you with great customer service or goes the extra mile in providing care for your pet), you want to do something nice in return. If you really knock it out of the park for your clients, they’ll be more than happy to put in a good word for you in return.
Once you’ve found your veterinary fan base and convinced them to join forces with you to help generate buzz for your practice, do make a point of keeping them engaged. To reward your ambassadors’ loyalty, you can offer cost-effective incentives, or send handwritten thank-you notes and personalized emails. However, it’s important to realize that this doesn’t guarantee you reviews—you’re rewarding their loyalty, not rewarding them for reviews.
By continuously identifying new advocates, your network stays fresh and grows stronger to the ultimate benefit of your marketing success.
With many businesses opting for elaborate advertising campaigns with extensive budgets that burn through time and money faster than you can say “broke,” using brand ambassadors as a marketing resource is a great way to save money and stand out from the competition.
So if you want to engage with pet owners on a deeper level, try partnering with some brand advocates to enjoy the benefits of these symbiotic bonds at your veterinary clinic!

Ready to find your own veterinary brand advocates? We can help! Every WebDVM website comes flush with marketing tools designed to help identify advocates who can generate positive online reviews of your practice.

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