This post has been updated from an earlier post.
Why do some people choose one product over another, even though both products may be virtually the same? The decision is often based on brand perception—what people think and feel about a company producing a product and whether they like that company.
Take the famous Nike phrase “Just Do It,” for example. The phrase has nothing to do with shoes. Rather, the phrase speaks to the heart of people in an encouraging way, effectively saying, “Whatever your dreams are, just go for it.” Nike’s shoes are simply vehicles to help people reach their goals (athletic or otherwise). So, buying a pair of Nike shoes represents a larger investment by a person into their ultimate vision of themselves, and because of the encouragement that Nike provides (along with a nifty selection of footwear), people like Nike and buy their shoes to the tune of 780 million pairs each year.
Said more simply, “Just Do It” compellingly answers the fundamental consumer question, “Why should I choose your product over any of your competitors?”
For service businesses like veterinary practices, brand perception works the same way. Pet owners have many options when it comes to caring for their pets, and for some pet owners, the cost of services and practice location will remain a main deciding factor. Yet many pet owners will drive to a practice—even though another practice is closer—because they like that practice for any number of reasons:
- They like the values the practice team holds and reflects on their website and in social posts
- They feel empowered by the pet health care tools and resources that the practice team provides
- They feel a social and psychological sense of relationship with the practice team
Based on the above emotional factors (and others), many pet owners choose one practice over another based on how a practice’s brand image resonates with their own ultimate vision of themselves as good pet parents, and costs and practice location become secondary.
In short, a practice’s brand image answers a pet owner’s fundamental question, “Why should I choose your veterinary practice above any other competing services?”
The important thing to keep in mind is that branding is not marketing. Branding is the process of looking beyond the medical equipment, instruments, and furniture to identify what you stand for, what you represent, and what truly sets your practice apart from your competition. Are you a cat-only practice? Are you a fear-free practice? Do you take a uniquely holistic approach? Whatever makes your practice unique, consider how your branding can communicate that. Branding is the creation of an indelible image that will stay with clients after they encounter you on social, discover your website, or leave your practice, and keep your practice foremost in their minds for repeat appointments.
To help develop an idea of your practice brand, ask staff members what they think, what practice values and/or benefits they see as unique, and how they contribute. Ask friends what comes to mind when they think about your practice and ask repeat clients why they keep coming back.
Once you gather your information, try to capture one key practice differentiator in a single short sentence that reflects an emotional value for pet owners. A few real-life examples:
- Welcome to [XYZ Animal Practice] Where Your Pet Is Family
- “The Kind of Care Your Pet Deserves.”
- “We’re Here to Make Your Life Easier.”
This exercise will help you boil down your practice’s important brand identifiers into one or two sentences that will help guide all your practice’s marketing assets, including:
- Website design
- Educational handouts and tools for clients
- Appointment reminders and other client communications
- Social media posts
Your brand identification also plays an integral role in your practice culture, pet-care philosophy, telemedicine consultations, curbside service, and the experience that your customers can expect from your practice during remote or in-person visits.
In summary: Branding is the identification of what makes your practice stand apart from competitors. Marketing is the communication of that branding, and the key to effective marketing is consistency in brand message—especially when it comes to sending out client appointment reminders and other email or text communications.
To simplify consistent brand messaging, save time, and improve efficiency for practices, the ALLYDVM – Customer Communication & Retention System includes customizable, automated emails, texts or appointment reminders.
With the new normal creating a busier-than-normal situation for practices, having an efficient way to communicate important protocol changes and appointment reminders directly with clients is critical. With automated appointment reminders and mass communication templates, ALLYDVM helps practices quickly and easily communicate vital information to clients while always staying on brand. ALLYDVM’s industry-leading retention calendar automatically identifies missed reminders and appointment opportunities and prompts your team to book past-due appointments and increase revenue.
What sets ALLYDVM apart from competing client communications services?
ALLYDVM’s proprietary practice management software sync solution lets your team tailor communications based on data from your practice software to ensure you’re reaching the right people with the right information. ALLYDVM’s retention calendar automatically pulls client and patient data, prompts your team to update missing information, and schedule past-due appointments.
In other words, if part of your brand identity involves strengthening the message to clients that your practice considers them and their pets as family because you’re thinking of them and don’t forget them, the efficiency of ALLYDVM delivers that message.
See for yourself how ALLYDVM can optimize your brand, client communications, and profitability.
We’ll be happy to show you a quick free demo of ALLYDVM and answer any questions you may have.