A dog with kennel cough? A cat with fleas? These are easy cases to solve! Marketing your practice? Not so much. Veterinary hospitals often push marketing to the back burner due to prioritizing their four-legged patients, but it is a key factor for continued success. Below are tips to help promote your hospital in the community to new and existing clients.
It’s no secret that world swoons at adorable puppies and kitties in social media. Veterinary practices hit the jackpot with the perfect natural content to post. In today’s world, a business must have a presence on at least ONE social media platform; Facebook and Instagram are likely the most popular with your clients. Not only does this help legitimize your business but it also helps clients get to know where they are taking their beloved fur baby. Once your hospital page is set up, we recommend posting at least 3x per week to keep your followers engaged. We know this can be tedious at times, so we recommend using the Facebook scheduling tool to schedule the easy posts in advance. The quality of your content is even more important than the quantity; make it fun and educational! Clients enjoy getting to know the team, seeing cute pets (of course!), as well as learning how to keep their pups canine’s clean. Not sure where to start for ideas? Check out this list of fun pet holidays! The PPV marketing team provides quarterly guidelines with a content strategy, content ideas, fun hashtags, general and pet-related holidays including fun images to share away.
Your website is likely the first place that potential clients visit to learn more about your practice. That is why it is crucial to create a first impression that will establish trust in your practice’s abilities to provide fantastic care for their pet. Your hospital’s website should be easy to navigate, mobile-friendly, and professional, while also showing a bit of your personality. Important information to share includes services offered, hours of operation, client testimonials, contact information, and location details. In addition to sharing the essentials, we recommend adding staff bios, offers/promotions, testimonials and educational material that clients can refer to. Take a few minutes to assess your practice website, and ask yourself if it is time for a refresh. Now that we have touched on the importance of a website’s aesthetic and functionality, let’s discuss the value of search engine optimization (SEO). The goal of SEO is to get a web page a high search engine ranking, the better a web page’s SEO, the higher a ranking it achieves in search result listings in Yahoo, Bing or Google. In order to achieve this constant optimization of your website content, such as page meta descriptions, title tags, URL formats and more is required. At PPV, we’re experts at SEO and our partners always get a bump in site health after we do our wizardry. For other practices, we recommend you find a marketing vendor that can help.
Speaking of search engines, clients are likely discovering your website through online location listings. Do you know the information you see on the right side of Google Searches that provide lots of relevant information to businesses? That’s Google My Business. Yours can look great too, and it doesn’t take much time. Your potential clients will love it. An important component of your digital presence and internet ranking is accuracy across all local listings online. PPV takes all the guesswork out of managing this and consistently improves and optimizes our location’s digital presence.
Maintaining your online reputation is just as important as a client’s in-person experience at your clinic. Existing clients likely go to Google, Yelp, or Facebook to review their experience with your hospital. Potential new clients visit these platforms to research their options before deciding to trust YOU with the care of their pet. We encourage our team to respond to ALL online reviews, whether positive or negative. If a client takes time out of their day to give your hospital accolades, we believe the least you can do is thank them. This is also a great way to show your personality. Rather than a quick “Thanks”, considering taking it up a notch with something like “Awwww, thanks for making us blush with your kind words. You made our day!”.
If you receive a negative review, we always recommend calling the upset client first to address their concerns. Whether the situation is resolved via phone or not we encourage hospitals to respond to the negative review so potential new clients see that you care and acknowledged the client’s concerns. If monitoring your online reputation becomes cumbersome, look to these tools for support. We love having a one-stop-shop for our team members. It takes all the guess work out and makes it easy to stay on top of this important tactic!
Pet paw-rents today lead active lives and value appointment reminders, surgery status updates, general pet health information, and other communications that help keep them informed. The more you show clients that your communications are a service they can rely on, the more you build client trust and loyalty, which inspires repeat business and new client referrals. In addition to quality patient care, regular and strategic communication is the best retention tool out there!
Our hospitals utilize a client communications platform that integrates with most PIMS (Practice Information Management Software) to further amplify and automate your PIMS functionality. This integration enables your hospital to manage your customizable communications strategy across all channels, including physical postcard, email, and two-way text messaging from a single dashboard. Having appointment reminders and other automatic trigger campaigns in place free up time for your front desk staff to focus on other administrative responsibilities.
If you are noticing a lull in new client flow, consider implementing one or more of the tactics below to give it a boost:
- Offer a new client discount in the community. Have someone on your staff distribute branded flyers with a $20 off the first exam for new clients.
- Create a referral program that incentivizes your existing and new clients. We love the 10/10… $10 off for you on your next visit + $10 off for your friend on their first visit. It rewards both parties!
- Put together a wellness plan package for clients with a new puppy or kitten and/or senior pets. The transparency of the package and an affordable monthly cost for common services can be less overwhelming than larger sums such as a spay or neuter.
- Activate a paid media plan to promote your hospital in the area. Facebook is a great platform to generate brand awareness, but Google Search Ads are most effective for driving conversions…aka calls that your staff can turn into appointments.
Enabling one or more of the above tactics will help bring new patients to your hospital. Heather Bern, People, Pets & Vets, Chief Marketing Officer shares how, “We partner with our hospitals to determine the best media mix to promote them to their local community. There is not one silver bullet to marketing, but if you do all these things well, you will absolutely see the results. Speaking of results, measuring your campaigns is the most important thing you can do. If you are going to spend marketing dollars, you want to see that the tactic is actually working and driving results. We live by our ROI reporting to ensure we are investing in tactics that are effective for our family of hospitals”.
Get involved in your community and get to know your clients! Consider hosting an adoption event at your hospital, partnering with a local shelter, sponsoring a 5K, setting up a booth at the fall county fair or speaking at the local high school’s career day. Each of these events gives you the opportunity to meet people in the community and helps educate them on the importance of pet care. Best practices suggest that you do two events per year to get your name out there and give back to the community. We get it, they are tough. Our partner hospitals enjoy the support of our marketing team to make these easy breezy.
Marketing is one of the key pinnacles to success for your veterinary hospital. We know it takes a lot to run your business which is why we provide our partners with extensive marketing support along with other resources. This support allows you to focus on what you love doing most. Start exploring joining our family today by clicking here to chat.