You likely didn’t choose a career in veterinary medicine because you hoped to spend most of your time marketing your practice. You undoubtedly chose a veterinary career because of a foremost desire to spend your time caring for the health of animals. The thing is, effective veterinary marketing is an integral part of providing animal health care.
When clients stop coming to your practice and seek the services of another veterinary clinic because they no longer feel engaged, they take their pets with them. That impacts your profitability (the linchpin of any business) and diminishes the scope of the care that you can provide to pets. When you retain clients by keeping them engaged and encourage new clients by attending to the health and growth of your practice through effective marketing, the more you ultimately support why you got into veterinary medicine in the first place.
Here are five quick, simple tips to more effectively market your practice:
1. Provide Client Testimonials on Your Website
Showing something to someone has a greater impact than telling someone about something. You can tell pet owners that you provide the best quality pet care but claims alone (however true) are not evidence. Claims require people to take your word for it and make a leap of faith, and the accompanying sense of risk often stops people from taking an action, such as booking an appointment with your practice.
When you evidence claims with accompanying client testimonials, you reduce the sense of risk and encourage a high level of trust, which encourages action. According to recent findings from BrightLocal Research, 88% of consumers trust online reviews as much as personal recommendations. This helps attract new clients and improves engagement with existing clients by reminding them of why they originally chose your practice.
So how do you go about getting testimonials?
- Offer rewards to people to incentivize feedback.
- Add a comments section to your website and ask clients for feedback.
- Ask for feedback through email, along with permission to use any feedback on your website.
- If you receive a particularly good review on social, drop the person a message and ask them if you can use their testimonial on your website.
- Don’t be shy. If people are happy with your practice, they’re usually happy to share their experience so that other pet owners (and their pets) can benefit from your practice.
2. Profile Your Veterinary Team Members
Few people buy food exclusively based on ingredients and nutritional value. If they did, Brussels sprouts would outsell pizza. People primarily choose foods they like, meaning their first influencer is emotion (which drives 95% of all consumer decisions, according to Harvard), and emotional resonance is a key marketing element when creating website profiles for you and your team.
Information about credentials, specialized training, and ongoing training are certainly mandatory profile elements for creating trust and credibility. Yet credentials appeal to the logical side of the consumer brain, whereas showing the personality of team members in their profiles appeals to the emotional side of the consumer brain to help them decide, “I like this person.”
So, make sure to include emotional elements such as when and why team members decided to get into animal health care, what continues to drive their love of animals, and even a bit about what they do in their spare time. The easier you make it for pet owners to emotionally connect with your team members, the more pet owners will emotionally connect with your practice, which strengthens engagement and encourages repeat business.
3. Review the Curb Appeal of Your Practice
Real estate agents know the importance of a home’s curb appeal—the attractiveness of a property when viewed from the street. When a home looks clean, fresh and well-tended from the outside, prospective buyers are more apt to put the home on their shortlist of possibilities based on the expectation that the interior of the home will be as appealing as the outside. When a home looks dingy, outdated and in need of repairs, they’re more apt to keep right on driving. And the same applies to veterinary practices.
You may have the most immaculate, warm and inviting of reception areas to welcome both walk-ins and repeat clients. Yet those walk-ins may decide not to walk in if your practice exterior lacks curb appeal. So, make a careful and honest review of your practice’s exterior aesthetics.
- Is your signage clean, fresh-looking and in good repair? Do the colors jump out or do they look faded and tired?
- Are there exterior materials like cracked boards, damaged bricks or broken metal that need repair?
- Do landscaping elements like trees, shrubs and grass look healthy and inviting, or are they forgotten and dying as dry implication to pet owners of what may await inside in terms of pet care?
- Are the windows facing the street clean and open to minimize the mystery of what awaits pet owners once they step through your door, or are they dingy and off-putting?
- Is there a trash bin sitting by your door or nearby curb to give foot traffic a reason to keep on walking, or is your trash stowed neatly out of sight?
Overall, the exterior of your practice is like another room in your practice. The more inviting you can make it for pet owners to walk in, the more they will walk in.
4. Use Your Lobby
Clients in your waiting room are a captive audience for reading materials, videos, electronic presentations and other media to educate them about pet care and incentivize them to book a repeat appointment. So, use your waiting room to your full advantage.
During tick season, for example, set educational handouts on tables and place tick prevention posters on your walls and inside exterior-facing windows, and focus on immediately grabbing the attention of pet owners. An example headline: “Don’t wait until summer to start your flea and tick prevention.” The implied urgency generally causes pet owners to ask, “Why?” Then quickly inform pet owners about the dangers of Lyme disease and other tick-borne diseases before encouraging pet owners to speak with your practice right away about tick protection for their pets.
5. Maximize Your Appointment Reminders
Practices often don’t think of appointment reminders as marketing. Many view appointment reminders as an administrative task that happens after marketing efforts have been completed to acquire a client. Yet companies of all types devote significant and ongoing marketing efforts and resources to track existing customers and keep them engaged because repeat business is a significant driver of profitability, and that’s where many appointment-tracking systems fail practices.
Whether through appointment-tracking systems designed by companies that are less than optimal, or appointment reminders lost to manual email systems, veterinary practices on average have over 1,091 active clients who are missing reminders, and 19 chances per day to schedule additional appointments.
In other words, many veterinary practices (whether they’re aware of it or not) do not have the tools in place to optimize one of their most important marketing assets. All that’s missing is the right system to fully track daily appointment opportunities and make it easy for staff to send out reminders, and that’s exactly what ALLYDVM was designed to do.
Trusted by organizations like Zoetis, Elanco, and Merck Animal Health, the ALLYDVM Communication + Retention System is one of the veterinary industry’s most powerful and customizable software solutions for improved client communications, engagement, and profitability.
ALLYDVM’s industry-leading Retention Calendar automatically tracks appointment opportunities, and built-in system prompts make it simple for your staff to send out appointment reminders with automated email, text, and postcard communications.
What kind of difference can ALLYDVM make for your marketing and profitability?
According to research published in Veterinary Advantage, one group of practices saw a 17.9% drop in missed appointments and $59,000 in additional revenue over nine months using ALLYDVM.
See for yourself how ALLYDVM can optimize your client communications and clinic profitability.