Pet owners have their fair share of options when it comes to finding the right veterinary practice for their pet. That’s why it’s so important to reach new and returning patients at the right time, in the right way. To do this, you need marketing strategies that will attract and retain clients.
Why Your Practice Needs an Effective Marketing Strategy
Whether you’re looking to grow your practice or maintain client loyalty, a strong marketing strategy is a key component of your overall business plan. A marketing strategy can help you reach a wider audience, gain more referrals, establish your doctors as local industry experts in their field, stay top of mind for potential clients, and ensure your business appears as the best choice when pet owners search for veterinary services.
To be successful, your marketing strategy must involve:
Planning – Before you jump in, take the time to make a plan. Think about what goals you want to achieve with your business, and how you will reach them. Your plan should include a budget, as well as who within your practice will be involved, what kinds of content or channels you will use, and a timeline or schedule for implementation.
Consistency – If your marketing is haphazard and inconsistent it will be less effective. This means developing a consistent brand voice, tone, and feel (consider the logos, fonts, colors, and images you use in your marketing). If you are blogging or posting on social media, sticking to a regular publishing schedule will help keep your audience engaged. And, consistent marketing means you may need to try a new tactic for a month, three months, or six months to know if it works. If you start and stop all different marketing tactics, you won’t know which ones are most effective.
Measurement – In order to market your business effectively, you need to know what works and what doesn’t. Establish key performance indicators or KPI that you will track over time. This might include traffic to your website, clicks on your blog, phone calls to your office, new patients through your door, or all of the above. Measuring your marketing’s effectiveness will allow you to make informed decisions about how to allocate your resources and plan new initiatives.
Marketing can be expensive, but there are a number of free or low-cost ways to connect with your audience as well. Here are some strategies to help you market your veterinary practice.
Your audience is on social media, so meet them where they are. Social media is a place where you can not only build your brand, but also build relationships with people in your community. Take this opportunity to share your professional knowledge and also to let people get to know you in a more personal way. Rather than posting purely promotional content (which people will see as spam and ignore) you can share updates about your practice like changes in policy or special offers; share your blogs and pet care tips; spotlight your veterinary staff and/or the pets you care for (with their owner’s permission, of course), or share photos and videos of your own pets!
Your existing clients can be one of your best sources of new business. After all, there’s no better ambassador for your brand than a happy client. You can encourage your clients to refer new patients to your clinic by offering incentives or rewards for clients who refer a friend or family member, and offer special discounts for new clients referred by existing clients.
You can get your name out there and create some goodwill by sponsoring pet-focused events in your community. For example, you can sponsor a festival at a dog park, a pet adoption event or fundraiser for a local shelter, or a nail clipping event in partnership with a local groomer. Event sponsorship is a great way to stay top of mind, get some publicity, and meet people who can become future clients.
As business owners, we know it’s more expensive to gain a new client than to keep an existing client. Email is a great way to stay connected with your existing client base in between appointments. You can use email to send annual checkup appointment reminders, share the latest blogs from your website, send monthly newsletters, or share offers and sales. Here are some great tips.
Blogging is a great way to engage with your audience, share your expertise, and boost your website’s search performance all at once. Blogging will provide value to your audience by sharing useful information and advice, and will present your vets as industry experts who are ready to help. At the same time, blogging about frequently searched topics about pet ownership can improve your website’s search performance and drive traffic to your site. Blog about pet care tips, seasonal topics, pet ownership lifestyle. Some examples of veterinary blog topics include:
- Tips for traveling with your pet this summer
- Human foods your dog can and cannot eat
- How often should you bathe your dog?
- What you should know before fostering a kitten
The possibilities are limitless. If your veterinary practice specializes in a specific area like exotic or large animals, a blog is the perfect way to demonstrate expertise you have that your competitors don’t.
Partner with Related Businesses
Your potential clients likely frequent other local businesses like pet supply shops, groomers, boarders, and trainers. Build a network by leaving your flyers, business cards, or pens in their cashier area or lobby (with permission of course) and offer to do the same for them at your clinic.
Your online reputation is an important part of your marketing strategy because reviews will influence potential clients’ opinion of your practice and ultimately their decision about whether or not to do business with you. Choosing a vet to care for their pet requires a high level of trust, so reading online reviews is one form of due diligence pet owners will take. To put your best foot forward, take control of your online reputation. You can’t make everyone happy 100% of the time, but if you dedicate yourself to providing superior customer service, the positive customer experiences will far outweigh the negative. The key, then, is to make sure those positive experiences are reflected in your online reviews. You can ask your satisfied clients to leave a review on Google or Yelp. Better yet, send a link to their phone after an appointment to make it easy for them to give feedback.
Claim your Business Listings
Your online business listings are often the first point of entry for potential clients. Claim your business listings on Google, Yelp, and Bing, and make sure all information is accurate and up to date. This includes your name, address, website, phone number, and business hours.
Invest in Your Website
The vast majority of pet owners will perform some type of online search before buying a product or choosing a vet. Your online presence is crucial, and your website is your opportunity to tell potential clients who you are before they ever set foot in your office. Your website is also the ideal place to communicate what special services you offer or what makes your practice unique.
Consider your practice website your first impression. What does it communicate about your services and staff? Can users easily and quickly find the information they need? If it has been a while since your last website redesign or update, it’s time to look at your site.
Your veterinary practice website should appear modern and professional but still friendly; be easy to navigate; and provide information that is current and up to date. Look at your site from a client’s point of view. Does everything function the way it should, or are there broken links. The information they’re likely to look for include your office’s hours of operation and contact information, information about your veterinary doctors and staff, and perhaps information about your office policies. Be sure this information is accurate and current, especially if you have changed your hours or hired new doctors recently. Any COVID-19 policies or health and safety practices your clients should be aware of should be stated here too.
You might also wish to provide the ease and convenience of an online scheduling tool or online bill pay. Online scheduling makes it easy for clients to request an appointment at their own convenience, rather than having to call during business hours or leave a voicemail and wait for a call back. Plus, online scheduling can be a competitive advantage; clients and patients value convenience, and if your scheduling process is easier than your competitor’s, clients are more likely to choose you.
Finally , always include a call to action. Whether you’d like users to call your office or schedule an appointment, include encouraging language and make sure your phone number or scheduling icon will catch the user’s eye.