What might have been…

April 26th, 2013 by Peter Weinstein

In July 1975, I listened intently to the match race between the great filly Ruffian and the great stallion Foolish Pleasure.  As a young veterinarian wannabe, I didn’t understand the significance of what happened to Ruffian during the race- when she broke down;  and shortly thereafter when even after surgery she had to be put down.  I was determined to be an equine orthopedic surgeon.  Never was a racehorse with an orthopedic injury going to be put down again!

Fast-forward almost 40 years and NO I didn’t become an equine orthopedic surgeon.  I didn’t even become an equine veterinarian even though I wanted to through most of veterinary school.  And, after being in small animal practice, I really didn’t like surgery.  Obviously, it  wasn’t meant to be. Read the rest of this entry »

What is your client relationship rating?

March 21st, 2013 by Kelly Baltzell, MA

Trust is the first word that comes to mind when describing a meaningful and lasting relationship. Next may be the word respect.When consumers trust and respect their veterinary hospital employees, a true relationship has formed. Unlike transactions based on price and convenience, relationships based on trust and respect last for long periods of time. Clients will give a high rating to clinic relationships that display empathy, compassion, and competence.

When clinic owners make hiring and evaluation decisions, they should look at each candidate or employee through the eyes of their most critical clients. Every position in the clinic plays a critical roll in garnering the trust and respect of each client. Clinic owners and leaders are reselling the services of his or her staff in the veterinary clinic. To create a lasting relationship, employees have to provide sound reasons for each client to highly value his or her experience and desire to return in the future. Read the rest of this entry »

The 5 P’s of Marketing: Product

March 7th, 2013 by Kelly Baltzell, MA

Last time we talked about Price and the role it plays in marketing your veterinary practice.  Today I’m going to discuss another of the “5 P’s” of marketing, namely, Product.  In veterinary practices, we sell both tangible products (i.e. prescription food) and intangible services (i.e. sick pet visits), though every practice has a different mix of products and services.  As few veterinary practices actually produce products, acting more as “resellers” of prepackaged items they purchased elsewhere, the service component of our businesses is by far the most important “product” we offer.

Practice owners need to be constantly growing their business because there is no “treading water”:  you’re either growing or dying.  And I believe that one highly effective way to grow your practice is to focus on the little things that have an outsized effect on the way your clients and employees view you.  That’s right….the way your internal clients (i.e. employees) view you will play a big role in how they act in front of clients.  Especially in a service business where clients have a choice of where to go, little things matter.  If they see you cutting corners, they’re going to cut corners.  If something is not important to you, it won’t be important to them.  If you don’t return client calls enthusiastically, it will send a message that client communication isn’t that important. Read the rest of this entry »

The 5 P’s of Marketing: Price

February 7th, 2013 by Kelly Baltzell, MA

Many medical professionals don’t think of pricing as part of their overall marketing plan, but correct pricing for products and services is critical to long term success and profitability.  If you don’t charge enough to cover your costs and leave a healthy profit, your business will suffer.  For example, maybe you are starting to realize that you’ve been working hard for 40 years and have no retirement savings to speak of other than your practice, which isn’t worth as much as you had hoped because it isn’t very profitable.  Or maybe key staff members are leaving because they haven’t had a raise in 5 years.  As an aside, the “dead wood” and embezzlers never leave, but that’s a topic for a different day.  In this regard, employees are like clients:  many don’t tell you the REAL reason they’re leaving because most humans are inherently conflict avoidant.  They just smile and “vote with their feet”, but you never learn the reasons why.  This is one reason that exit interviews are such a great tool.  (You are doing these, right?) Read the rest of this entry »

Your Marketing Journey – Part 2: Where to Stop

January 31st, 2013 by Kelly Baltzell, MA

Many times at Beyond Indigo we talk to people who are moderately to extremely overwhelmed with their marketing Journey. For most veterinary hospitals they do not even know where to start, what to do or how much time it is going to take. I don’t blame people for being overwhelmed. There is significant amount work, time and knowledge involved in a marketing program. If you are on the overwhelmed train, here are some points to consider that I have gleaned from 1000‘s of veterinarians about why planning for this Marketing Journey can be so overwhelming. Maybe you can relate to some of them.

Overwhelmed Issue Number One: Since most veterinarians and their staff have had to conduct very little marketing until recently, there is a steep learning curve to get up to speed. Most veterinarians still tend to be between 1996 and 1999 in their online marketing initiatives. Hospitals still try to build websites themselves, have servers located in their physical buildings and are struggling weather to use Yellow Pages or not. The problem is how to quickly learn 15 to 17 years of knowledge in a short period of time? Where to start? Read the rest of this entry »

Your Marketing Journey – Part 1: What to Pack

January 24th, 2013 by Kelly Baltzell, MA

When a person goes on a Journey we think of a trip that has multiple stops and extends over a period of time. Other times we use the word “Journey” to mean a process that is an every changing that allows us to grow and develop. It is time to think of your marketing program as a “Journey”. A process that involves more than one “stop” and is every changing and every growing. Why? Because frame of mind is everything to embracing a process. If you are still in the mentality that you check the box once a year on your marketing and then go back to medicine, then your business has a higher chance of not maintaining and gaining new relationships. Lack of maintaining relationships could mean less customers and that would be suboptimal.

For your marketing Journey there are a few essentials to sneak into your travel back pack that will be your roadmap and guide along the way. Every aspect of your marketing should fall into these guidelines.

Guideline number one is your marketing must get your found. If pet owners cannot find you then they are unable to utilize your business. Your website needs to be found in search on Google, Yahoo and Bing in local and organic search as well as other areas such as Facebook, Twitter, blogs and more.

Guideline number two is to educate your consumers. Right now other companies such as Pet Meds, Walmart, Kruger grocery stories are educating pet owners that veterinarians are expensive and a hassle to use. In fact, they are starting to build relationships with your customers through education.  Your edge is you already have a relationship with your clients. You are their trusted source of information. Provide education about your services and products through content rich marketing to keep a strong relationship with pet moms and dads.

Guideline number three is engagement and interaction. Every single aspect of your marketing program needs to elicit two way conversations between you and your pet owners. In fact this communication has a name. It is called “InBound Marketing”. Examples of engagement are, leaving thank you notes when people write your business a review or forms on your website where people are able to sign up to be a client. Social media marketing needs to ongoing and daily with conversations happening between you and your viewers.  Today’s standards on the Internet is the expectation that we can build and have a relationship with your business 24/7/365.

Guideline number four is connectivity. Every aspect of your marketing should connect with every other aspect of your marketing. Think of a spider web and how the points of the web connect with the other points of the web to make a single whole. Everyone uses a different “door” when they are searching for information on the Internet. Some people start with Google, others look at online reviews like Yelp or places like Facebook, Twitter, Blogs, Pinterest and more. Regardless of where a person starts their search they need to be able to find your business easily and quickly on other places of the Internet.

While we are on this marketing journey remember the rules of the road that people have come to expect when using the Internet. If you violate these rules of the road you either will cause frustrated users or just won’t be used at all.

Give me what I want when I want it. Meaning if I want to find information I as a searcher expect to pick up my device (phone, laptop, computer, tablet etc) make a quick search and find a satisfying result immediately.

Do not make it wait for it. I want it NOW. Slow pages, having to hunt for information causes frustration from the searcher. This starts your relationship off to a bad start with your current and future consumers.

Do not make me work for it. Minimal effort is what we have been trained to use when finding information. In fact if it takes to much effort to find what we are searching for we just all give it up.

The next stage of your journey is deciding what “stops along the way you need to be making. Next month we will be covering the “must see and be” places for your marketing journey. It is time to start your adventure.

Who owns your domain name?

January 17th, 2013 by Kelly Baltzell, MA

Ever wondered how to check if you own your domain name? Watch our new video that show you how to check. Just follow the link below or click on our YouTube Channel.

Top 5 Marketing Ideas for 2013

January 3rd, 2013 by Kelly Baltzell, MA

2o12 has come and gone.  What will your 2013 marketing look like? Join Kelly Baltzell, Beyond Indigo CEO, as she discusses practical tips and suggestions to boost your business in the coming year. You will learn:

  • Top marketing tips for the year ahead
  • What kinds of marketing are most effective for your practice?
  • How to manage marketing time and costs

Didn’t have a chance to participate in our December 12 webinar conducted by our CEO, Kelly Baltzell?  Don’t fret for a limited time you can review this latest webinar by clicking on the link below.

https://student.gototraining.com/8q508/recording/1850664234019871488

We will be offering more webinars in the new year and encourage you sign up for these free webinars hosted most Wednesdays at 12 :00  PM Central Time.

What is the most important three seconds in your clinic’s marketing plan?

December 27th, 2012 by Kelly Baltzell, MA

The first three seconds after a prospective client opens your website, social media pages, or types something into a Google search are the most critical moments in the purchase decision. The client’s first impression determines whether or not he or she will take the next step to read about you, your staff, and what you have to offer. From a marketing standpoint, it is more important in regard to the volume of your business than anything else, even the appearance of your building and grounds.

The first marketing dollars you spend should go toward purchasing a professionally constructed website that is search engine optimized (SEO). The next dollars go to create high-quality content social media sites. I recommend that clinic owners create a monthly allowance for maintaining their position on the first page of a Google search and for refreshing the content of their website as well as social media pages. The Internet is not a new kind of Yellow Pages where people go to get your office hours, telephone number, and directions. Internet searches are the way people perceive the value you have to offer your clients.

Most clinics spend very little on marketing-related activities. Even the ones that do rarely have an effective marketing plan determining where and when they spend money to attract new and keep existing clients. Furthermore, few clinic owners fully appreciate the impact the Internet has had on all industries, especially the veterinary industry. Veterinary clinic owners are accustomed to an introverted marketing style. Typical introverted activities include building a nice facility and hiring nice staff, and then hoping to be found when pets gets sick or needs shots. The introverted marketing style works well and is cost effective as long as the market being served is a growing and expanding market. Once markets mature and stop growing, or even begin shrinking as in the pet care market, then the businesses serving those markets must compete with each other for fewer dollars.

When a pet owner is searching for a care provider, the clinic that gets chosen is the one with the highest perceived value. The clinic that is perceptively better than the others is chosen. Today, virtually every pet owner uses the Internet to determine the perceived value and convenience of businesses even if they’ve previously had a word-of-mouth recommendation. If you’ve got a free or low-cost website, it’s probably costing you lots of money every month.

When clients ask me what uplift they can expect from an SEO website and social media content, I tell them that they can expect a 5–10% increase in new clients. Given estimates that every client spends about $25,000 on each pet over a lifetime, web-based marketing generates a high return on the investment.

Your clinic only has three seconds to make yourself perceptively better. That’s less time than taking one breath—so don’t blow it.

Just Because You Say It – Do People Hear It?

December 20th, 2012 by Kelly Baltzell, MA

Communicating tends to be one of the hardest aspects of all relationships.  For the doctor/patient relationship, it’s easy to assume that because the doctor provides health information the pet owner hears it. But do they? Not really.  Why? Horse owners today tend to:

  • Have their face in their phone.
  • Are overwhelmed with the medical information the doctor is presenting.
  • Focus on other anxieties in their life and aren’t focusing on the present.
  • Are emotionally processing the first piece of information presented and miss the rest of the medical update.
  • Forget or modify the content of the information presented over time.  (Think of the game telephone).

Retention of information by the horse owner can occur.  It takes awareness and education.  First, the doctor needs to recognize that one pass at the medical information is insufficient.  Additional educational avenues need to be established through the hospital’s marketing program.  For example:

  • Written information about the medical problem given in the exam room and shown on an iPad where that data is located on the hospital’s website and blog.
  • YouTube videos made on the most common how-to pet care tips such as giving medicine to a cat, disabilities care, post surgical care etc.
  • Handouts in person and online that explain why using the hospital’s services like the pharmacy, is better than other big box vendors.

Giving horse owners multiple ways to continue their relationship with your hospital outside of your brick and mortar walls is essential.  Just remember, if you say it make sure your clients hear it.