recently read a blog about self-publishing that suggested, “Instead of
‘promoting,’ go participate like a reader and you’ll be surprised what will
happen.” Veterinarians might want to adopt a similar approach to marketing and
promoting their practices: Think like a
client. Start with the why and how of getting new clients for your
Why do clients come to your
practice? Primarily because they have animals they love and need to care for.
An animal in their household or business (think farms, dairies, ranches, fairs,
shelters, etc.) seems to be ill or has been injured. Someone gave them – or
their kids – an animal as a pet and they have no idea what to do next. They’re
new to town. They’re unhappy with their current veterinarian.
practices exists for all of these reasons:
You’re there to serve clients by treating their animals, both preventively and
in emergencies. Your marketing efforts are aimed at making it easier for
those clients to find you and use your services.
How do new clients find you? That’s
something you could find out by simply asking new clients what brought them to
your door. It’s usually pretty straightforward: from your marketing efforts – ads in the Yellow Pages or local
newspapers, recommendations from your current clients, seeing your office or
building as they go about their usual errands, contacting a local or regional
are all marketing techniques, and they all work, but they can probably work
better. If new clients don’t mention noticing your ads, pull the ads or
redesign them. If no one says they noticed your office door or clinic building,
do something more effective with signage. If no one mentions being recommended
by a current client, let clients know that referrals are appreciated – consider
rewarding them with a gift or free service for every new client who comes in
through their recommendations. If no one has heard of you through your
professional organization, join, rejoin, become more active or check to make
sure your clinic is listed accurately.
is a lot more you can do. Increasingly, your marketing efforts have to be
through social media – having a presence at Facebook.com, LinkedIn.com,
Twitter, etc. More and more, those
environments are where people look for new business partners and services, so
you need to be there. Your clients are active in those environments, so you have
to have a presence there as well.
you aren’t comfortable with using social media, see if a staffer in your
practice is (they probably are all active in all of those sites!) and make
social-media activity part of their job descriptions. Just be sure to see what
they plan to post before it goes up
anywhere, to be sure their posts reflect well on you and your practice.
Angie’s List (angieslist.com), which is considered a reputable site where
companies are reviewed by their customers, and encourage clients to post
comments there about their positive experiences with your practice. Your
clients are checking there for services like yours, so it’s another place for
you to be visible. Once you join, you’ll be notified whenever someone puts up a
post about your business; respond right away, even if it’s just a quick “Thank
you! We were glad to help.” (Just be aware that a site like this can result in
the occasional negative comment, often unjustified; be prepared to deal with
any negative comments calmly and unemotionally.)
don’t forget your practice newsletter! As has been discussed in previous
marketing columns, a newsletter is a great way to bring back “lapsed” clients
and bring in new ones.
bottom line: Thinking like your clients
makes it easy for them to find you when they need services like yours for their