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Marketing and advertising in the veterinary field: Where do I start?

Today’s guest blog is by Dr. Alex Molldrem, Emergency Veterinarian, Animal Emergency & Referral Center

When it comes to marketing and advertising in the veterinary field, what should you focus on?

Don't focus on advertising too much, instead, focus on creating a great service. If you can create a great service that is worth talking about, people will talk about it. The best advertising you can achieve for your veterinary clinic is by having friends talking with each other about their remarkable visit. If you're not remarkable, you're invisible. Invisible businesses don't succeed.

You don't need to be a marketer to have great marketing. You don't even need a marketing department to have great marketing. You don't need to be a business owner to make a difference. You can see what people want if you look for it. Don't be scared to make a change or introduce a new idea, product or service. It's fun!

So what is a great product or service? Look around, notice things, and put yourself in the client's shoes. Listen to your clients in the lobby or on the phone. Eavesdrop on people talking about their pets out in the public. You've all been to the doctor before and know what frustrates you. Long wait times, repeating your medical history to um-teen people, or feeling like a number. You also know what was remarkable about your visit. People were courteous, the place didn't smell, someone offered to hang your coat for you, or they knew your name when you walked in. Find out what people want, then figure out a low-cost (or free) way to give it.

For example:
• I want to feel like they know me. Use their names or small clues to personalize their visit. (A simple way is to, write a note in their record to remind yourself of something you can ask them at their next visit).

• I want to be able to bring my pet in without having to take off of work. Offer more convenient hours, such as early mornings or later evenings.

• I want to be able to bring my kids to the vet where they are welcome, where there's a place for them to play or to be distracted.

• I want my 11 am appointment to be at 11 am, not 11:30 by the time the Dr. comes in. Allow some flextime in your schedule to keep on schedule.

• I want my pet's nails trimmed without having to ask for it or feeling bad that I can't (or didn't) do it.

• I want to feel like I'm a good pet owner. Give at least 1 compliment.

These are really pretty easy things to do. Sometimes, these extra things are more important to a client than the vet care itself. It's these little perks that may make the difference between a successful business or not. If a client's vet visit is a remarkable one, word can spread exponentially with social media (e.g., Facebook, Twitter) or review systems (e.g., Yelp, Angie’s List, etc.).

You might have 20 ideas and just 1 of them may make a huge difference. So how do you know if your idea is a good one? First, create a circle of business friends, vet or non-vet, and don't keep your ideas to yourself. Mediocre ideas can grow to be great ideas by getting input from other perspectives. Adjust your idea and try it out. If your idea is cheap (or free) your return on investment could be pretty good!

Have any ideas? Chime in under comments and give us some hints!

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