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Issue: 57 - Sep 15, 2013
Are Your Clients Listening to you, or Someone Else?
By: Michael LoSasso

I’m sure your clients listen to you, but only during the 15 minutes you spend with them, once a year.

The rest of the time, they are listening to breeders, groomers, and Dr. Google. Why? Because they are accessible, and because they interact with them more frequently than they do with you and your hospital. “But I have a Facebook page,” you say, “and 793 people have ‘Liked’ our page.” Well, that’s certainly a start, and interacting through social media certainly has value, especially as trends in online activity shift more and more to mobile phones. But, did you realize that only about 1 out of 7 “fans” of your Facebook page actually have your post appear in their newsfeeds?

There is a way to

  1. Educate your current clients about taking care of their pets
  2. Inform them of services you offer that they do not realize
  3. Increase referrals
  4. Make your practice the source for pet information
  5. Increase your credibility and reputation

Start sending newsletters to your clients. At least monthly.

Formats include printed and online (email) versions

These newsletters can be printed, or sent by email. Printed newsletters are tangible, something your client can hold in her hands, and therefore has more value. They are pretty easy to produce, too – chances are you (or someone in your office) can lay out a newsletter in MS Word. A common format is using one sheet of legal paper in a landscape orientation, then folding in half, twice. This results in 8 panels, including one for the address information and one “back cover”, leaving 6 panels for articles or announcements. The downside to printed newsletters is cost. Printing and postage can be expensive!

Email newsletters are much less expensive to produce, but do have a slightly steeper learning curve. You probably already collect client email addresses in your practice management software, and it is only a matter of setting up an account with an email service provider like MailChimp (and those accounts are free, if you have less than 2000 names on your list), importing your address list, and then creating the content, just as you would for the printed version (the format is actually more forgiving, because you are not trying to make your content fit into any pre-determined space).

Content: Make it easy for yourself with an editorial calendar

Sitting at your desk, staring at a blank screen is pretty intimidating, and one of the biggest reasons that “monthly” newsletters tend to become bi-monthly, then quarterly, and are then discontinued. Spending an hour or so creating a list of topics, and assigning those topics to months. Most of these topics should generally center around pet care, but not all of them. If you want to promote boarding for the Labor Day holiday, for instance, make the last article a brief history of the Labor Day holiday, and mention your boarding services (with a call-to-action) at the end of the article. If you read an interesting article about dogs sniffing out ovarian cancer, write a short article about it (and include a link to the original if sending an electronic version).

Set a goal of 4 articles a month, just one per week. You can post these articles on your practice website as blog posts (and assign categories to them) – the search engines love regularly-updated content. Whether you are sending printed or electronic newsletters, you can “re-purpose” those blog posts for your newsletter.

Be smart with pictures and images

Images and photos are subject to copyright laws. Make sure you comply with these laws by using a combination of your own photos and images from micro stock agencies (like

Don’t be afraid to show some personality

No one likes to be lectured, so try to keep your information short, easy-to-understand, and avoid the “doctor words.” When you’re done writing, read your article silently to yourself, with a timer, and strive to keep your articles less than 2 minutes long. Then, read it aloud – you’ll be surprised how many mistakes you can catch, simply by hearing them.

Your clients definitely want more information from you about their pet – what vaccines are for, about this disease or that toxin, or other dangers of the season. But they also want to know more about you and your staff. If you get married, have a baby, your daughter has a baby, or you hired a new staff member, tell you clientele, let them into the inner circle. This will definitely help strengthen the bond they feel with your practice.

Newsletters are one of the most cost-effective forms of marketing

Ask major marketing gurus like Dan Kennedy or Bill Glazer, and they will say that a regular newsletter is the best way to “build a fence” around your customers or clientele. Quality content that educates and entertains will strengthen the bond your clients have with your practice, increasing client retention. Both email and printed newsletters can be passed and forwarded among friends, potentially increasing referrals. And sending good, regular newsletters will build your own credibility and reputation.

Dr. LoSasso runs a subscription e-newsletter service for veterinary hospitals, for those practitioners that want the benefit of a custom newsletter without any of the hassle. Find a great deal for ImproMed users at