The ultimate marketing strategy for vets

The ultimate marketing strategy for vets

Paul Green Content, marketing and sales

Today I’m running a sold out marketing seminar for a group of practice owners. It’s called The Ultimate Marketing System.

How can I justify calling it that? Well, it’s based on more than seven years working with vets on their marketing.

And at the heart of the whole day is a piece of marketing strategy that goes against how many practice owners get new clients.

These methods don’t work any more

See many people still spend money on some of the old fashioned marketing tactics.

They can sometimes get you new clients. But they’re not efficient, and don’t deliver a good Return On Investment (ROI).

We’re talking:

  • Adverts in magazines and newspapers
  • Flyers
  • Sponsorships of events and roundabouts
  • Yellow Pages (yes, they’ll still sell it to you, if you’ll still buy it)

All of these marketing tactics, and many more, are known as interruption marketing. Because they interrupt someone who’s trying to do something else.

No-one reads a newspaper for the adverts. The adverts interrupt someone trying to read the news.

This is why interruption marketing is highly inefficient. It requires volume to work.

Interruption marketing worked just fine in 1989. But not in 2019.

The proof of this, is how advertising spend has flown away from the traditional media over the last 15 to 20 years.

This is the easier way to get new clients for your practice

The best time to catch someone’s attention is at the point they are looking for a new vet.

Sounds obvious. But you’d be surprised how many practice owners ignore this core principle.

You see, we all have a section of our brain called the Reticular Activating System (RAS). It has several functions – the one most useful to marketing, is that it acts as a relevance filter.

If you had to consciously deal with every single piece of information received by your senses, you’d be completely overwhelmed. So instead your RAS filters it for you.

The best example of this is cars. You decide today you’re going to buy a blue BMW 5 series. And then you go out for a drive.

What do you see, everywhere? Blue BMW 5 series!

You say to yourself “wow, they’re more common than I thought”.

Actually, they’ve always been there. You just didn’t perceive them before.

Your eye sees a Mercedes E-Class. It reports it to the RAS. Which decides it’s not relevant to you and discards the information. Then your eye sees a BMW 5 series. The RAS knows this is relevant to you, and delivers the information to you.

I love Teslas. I can be doing 70mph down the motorway, chatting to my family, and will suddenly spot a Tesla going the other way just using my peripheral vision. It’s incredible when you realise your RAS is scanning EVERYTHING all the time.

This explains why interruption marketing doesn’t work. People’s eyes see the adverts… but they don’t perceive them.

This is why targeting everyone in town is a waste of money. Instead you should think 10

Today there are 10 people looking for a new vet in your town. Tomorrow, there are 10 different people. The day after, another 10 different people.

I’ve made the number up. But the principle is sound. Every day new people open themselves up to looking for a new vet.

This is why you must do marketing 7 days a week. In a way that reaches those 10 new people every day.

Make your life hard: Blast a message out to everyone hoping to catch people at the right moment

Make your life easy: Put your practice in the way of the 10 people who are looking today for what you do

Of course, the big problem is that you don’t know who these 10 people are every day.

You could just use pay per click adverts on Google. But the cost has risen dramatically; the competition has increased; and the ROI has dropped. For most practice owners it’s not the route I recommend.

Instead, I suggest a three step system that allows you to stay 100% in control of your own marketing.

This is a very powerful marketing strategy.

Because it’s a long-term one. Every £1 you spend building audiences today, will continue to deliver results for you for years.

In my last business I spent at least £120,000 building an audience of 12,000 people. That was a one off cost (spread over a couple of years). Then I mined the audiences for a significant level of revenue for years afterwards.

Once someone’s in your audience, you have multiple bites at the cherry. You’re there in front of them as often as you follow them up (more on that in a minute).

And that means that the day they wake up and are ready to pick a new vet, it’s dramatically more likely to be you.

1) Quality traffic

Ask yourself who you want to reach. And where do they hang out?

You will need to invest resource into traffic – either time or money. Focus your efforts into getting traffic from 3 to 5 sources, rather than scattergunning over 10 or more.

A few you might look at:

  • Google
    • Organic
    • Ads
  • Facebook
    • Organic
    • Ads
    • Other people’s Facebook groups (dog walking, specific breed owners etc)
  • Instagram
  • Local news and blogging websites
  • Local events
  • Direct mail (i.e. to people who’ve moved into the area)
  • Related businesses (i.e. groomers, pet sitters etc)

2) Build multiple audiences

What’s an audience? It’s a bunch of people who have chosen to listen to what you have to say.

It’s very easy to do this today. For practice owners I recommend 3 audiences:

  1. Email list: People who have chosen to give you their email address. You will need some kind of data capture on your website, with an ethical bribe to swap for their contact details. Such as a pet health care guide; or better still a discount voucher to encourage registration and first visit. If a discount voucher isn’t appropriate, make it a voucher for a free pet toy at the first visit
  2. Instagram followers: It’s not just for da kids, you know. 33% of 30-49 year olds and 18% of 50-64 year olds are active on the platform
  3. Facebook group: Your Facebook page gets a lot less traffic than it used to, thanks to algorithm changes. A Facebook group is a more powerful way to build a following. “Ask a Townname Vet” is the most powerful veterinary marketing idea I’ve ever seen

Consistently follow them up

Understand this: The reason for following up people is to build a relationship with them, before they’re ready to buy.

Most practices just build relationships with their clients. I say build relationships with your prospects too. The technologies that are routine and easy make this a pleasure, not a chore.

The best follow up is teaching. This is about generating educational content. You assume that people in your audience don’t know what you know, and so you teach them.

Just make sure you educate at the level of the layman. And don’t show them pictures of surgery, wounds and yucky stuff… what’s fascinating to you, is very off-putting to normal people ????

The best content comes from the questions that normal people ask you every day. Just answer those.

If you’re not a comfortable writer, then dictate content and get it transcribed at Rev.com. Or find a writer at Fiverr or PeoplePerHour.

Three other content ideas:

  • Cute animals in your practice: Photos and videos (with permission from the owners, of course). Don’t show sick-looking animals. We want to associate your practice with happy, healthy animals
  • The expert says… advice from a vet / nurse. Again, layman’s stuff, but stuff you wish people did. Why you must vaccinate every year… why worming isn’t a once a year task… why a health plan is better for their pet’s health, etc etc
  • Borrow funny vet or animal cartoons from Google. This is normally OK on social media (not legal advice), but don’t put these on your website or the lawyers will find you

And remember that mix means variety – do an article this week, a video next week and an infographic the week after.

How to win

Understand this: The practice that builds the biggest list, builds the best relationship with that list and markets it the most, typically wins.

It’s not rocket science. It’s about having a great strategy, and consistently implementing it, week in, week out.