As a Veterinary Surgeon or Veterinary Nurse, trying to find the time in your busy day to effectively promote your practice can seem like a tall order. But no matter whether you’re adding marketing to your skill set at a ‘need to have’ level, or you’re a full-time in-house Marketing Manager, there are five core activities that should underpin everything that you do, and we explore them here . . .
1 Get a GOOD website
The emphasis here is on the word ‘GOOD’. Consumers in this 21st Century have access to more information than they could ever need, delivered at lighting speed. As such, the attention span we are capable of having has been trained out of us… But what does this mean for your website?
- Your website should be simple, uncluttered and user friendly, with a clear navigation – don’t risk losing your potential customer’s attention when it can be easily avoided
- Your website should be mobile friendly – very few people will take the time to consider a website that does not load in a mobile-friendly format
- Your website should convey, within the first few seconds of landing, your core messages and USP – to help make up that potential consumer’s mind as quickly as possible
Top tip: When choosing an agency to help you create, develop or manage your website, consider the websites of their previous customers; do they hold your attention? Are they user friendly? If they are achieving this for others that’s a great start for your project.
2 Use your FREE opportunities
Research suggests that over 80% of consumers use the internet to find local businesses. But your website isn’t your only chance to have a virtual shop window… You can create free business profiles on a large number of online directories, as well as more bespoke pet service finding websites.
Top tip: Include images as much as possible; Yell, Google+ and the Good Vet and Pet Guide are a great places to start
3 Be social
One article** suggests that “the power of social networking is such that, the number of worldwide users is expected to reach some 2.95 billion by 2020?, around a third of Earth’s entire population”. With so many social media users being exposed to news, brands and life-enriching content on a daily basis, you really want your practice to be part of it.
Top tip: It’s better to tackle one channel effectively than to dabble in many. Facebook provides an opportunity to engage with your existing and potential customers in a way the other platforms do not; through the sharing of images, education pieces and stories, as well as benefitting from the review platform which serves to further ‘sell’ your business.
4 Balance acquisition with retention
It is very easy to get lost in the world of client acquisition – trying new and innovative marketing channels and activities to reach out to the widest local audience possible. However, in all of this, it’s very easy to take our eye off one of our most powerful assets; our existing clients.
One of the simplest ways of keeping your existing clients engaged with your company is with the creation of a regular newsletter. Taking the opportunity to give your brand a voice, to create a regular reminder of you and your services for your existing customers is invaluable. Monthly is a good interval – frequent enough to engage your clients without bombarding them.
Top tip: Try mixing practice updates with educational pieces and perhaps some client success stories, as well as any offers you may be running. Anything that makes that client feel informed and involved.
5 Mobilise your advocates
Every practice has advocates – those customers who have been delighted with your service over the years and wouldn’t even consider another practice. Mobilise them with the encouragement to post a Google or Facebook review. Further still, you could consider a referral scheme, whereby the existing and new clients are rewarded with a gift or discount on their first visit.
Top tip: Don’t rest on your laurels with your advocates – invest in them by delighting them through the year and the subsequent promotion reaction can have endless benefits.
So there you have it, my five Top Tips. But whatever method you choose to market your practice, be assured that a little time investment can go a long way…
Marketing Manager, easipetcare
VMA Young Marketer of the Year 2016
* https://www.invespcro.com/blog/customer-acquisition-retention/ – Khalid Saleh