Archive for the ‘Veterinary Marketing’ Category

What is your client relationship rating?

Thursday, March 21st, 2013

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. (more…)

The 5 P’s of Marketing: Product

Thursday, March 7th, 2013

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. (more…)

The 5 P’s of Marketing: Price

Thursday, February 7th, 2013

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?) (more…)

Your Marketing Journey – Part 2: Where to Stop

Thursday, January 31st, 2013

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? (more…)

Who owns your domain name?

Thursday, January 17th, 2013

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

Thursday, January 3rd, 2013

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.

Veterinary Medicine in the 21st Century

Sunday, October 28th, 2012

It’s no secret that today’s veterinarians face a number of challenges that our predecessors didn’t. Oversupply of veterinarians, educational indebtedness and loss of pharmacy revenue to major retailers are but a few issues facing the profession. I’ll be writing about all of these in the coming weeks, but each of these “clouds” has a distinct silver lining if you know how to find it. As a practicing veterinarian and, more recently, an MBA student I have come to grips with one cold, hard fact: that’s business. While challenges certainly exist, we must remember that the wind is at our back in many important ways. The pet industry is one of very few TRULY recession resistant industries in the US. Americans spent over $50 billion on their pets last year, despite tough economic times, with veterinary medicine representing about $14 billion of that total. More and more people are considering pets to be members of the family, and this is a meta-­‐trend that I believe will continue for the foreseeable future. Will our profession be the same in 10 years as it is now? No, it won’t. Rather than grow frustrated about market realities that may be beyond our control, we all must redouble our efforts on those things we CAN do something about. For example, don’t get overwhelmed by how fast computer technology is changing or that you don’t understand “the cloud”. Focus on making small, easily reversible decisions that will grow your practice. Even if something doesn’t work, you want to “fall forward”. For example, do you have a website? Are you on Facebook? You may not be online, but I promise you that your clients are. Ignore this at your peril.

In my next post I’ll take up the topic of pet insurance, and why you should be embracing it in your practice. And I don’t mean just putting brochures up front and hoping people ask about it. I mean you, your technicians, and front desk staff should ALL be discussing it with each and every one of your clients, ESPECIALLY during puppy visits.

About Mark D. Olcott, DVM: Originally from upstate New York, Dr. Olcott received his Bachelor’s degree in Biology from State University of New York at Geneseo.  He graduated from the New York State College of Veterinary Medicine at Cornell University in 1995 and moved south to get away from the 6-month long winters!  After an 18 month stint as an equine veterinarian, he has been a small animal practitioner since 1997.  Over the last several years he has been the co-owner of 5 DVM small practice, a mobile ultrasonographer, and an emergency clinician at The Life Centre in Leesburg, VA.  Dr. Olcott has particular interests in cardiology, pain management, and the use of ultrasound as a diagnostic modality in small animal practice.  He is a published author, and holds two patents for an intelligent, automated pet feeder he invented.

He lives in metro Washington, DC area with his wife and 3 children.  They have numerous pets including a dog, 3 cats, a rabbit and a saltwater tropical fish tank.  Dr. Olcott in enrolled in the executive MBA program at the University of Maryland, and in his limited free time is an avid outdoors-man.

Choppy Copy

Tuesday, October 23rd, 2012

This is an excerpt from one of our latest free Wednesday Webinar series.  Presented by our Director of Project Management William Lindus.

As a veterinarians, office manager and/or other veterinary professional you have quite a bit of experience with writing.  You probably have written for print media all of the time, from reports, to articles, to client handouts.  However, you can’t apply the same principles that you use for print writing to web copy writing because your audience is different.  With print materials, your audience is trained to read word-for-word, start to finish. With an article or a handout, you are expecting your reader to read the entire body of work as a complete entity. Otherwise, key points may be missed!

But why is this?  Well, for starters, the web is a user-driven medium.  Visitors to a website feel as though they have to click on things to ‘engage’ with a page.  Long copy makes users feel as though they are being inactive or that they ‘doing it wrong.’  Remember also that the web has millions of web pages, all competing for the attention of your visitor.  If a client can’t get the information they need at a glance, they are very likely to bounce to another site.  With the rise in popularity of smart phones, this becomes even important.  Currently, 10% of all Google searches are made using mobile devices, and studies show that by 2014, mobile users will actually exceed desktop users.  To keep up with this ‘on the go’ lifestyle, a website should have very mobile-friendly content.

We know how web copy is different from print copy… but how do we evaluate whether or not web copy is effective?  On a well-written website, the copy may appear ‘choppy’ or repetitive.  This is where you need to throw away everything you thought you knew about writing and look to web writing as its own entity.  Your website copy may appear ‘choppy’ with lots of bullet points, effective headlines, and short content, but this is useful for the 79% of web users that we discussed earlier.  Choppy can be good!

Keep in mind also that many users will never see the home page of your website; because of links from social media sites (such as Facebook, Twitter, Google +, Pinterest, etc) or through Google search returns, they may enter your website through one of your service pages.  This is why some information may be repeated throughout your website.  I said it before, but it bears repeating:  most users will not read your web page word for word, start to finish.

To be continued…

Got Serenity

Tuesday, October 16th, 2012

by Fritz Wood, CPA, CFP

God, grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change, courage to change the things I can, and wisdom to know the difference. At the Central Veterinary Conference, one of my presentations focused on the Serenity Prayer, and specifically its application to product sales in veterinary practices. The quality of your life may improve dramatically if you let go of those things over which you have no control. Examples of things you cannot change include:

  • The fact that popular parasite control products are sold online
  • The fact that popular parasite control products are sold by Big Box stores
  • The fact that some of your clients will choose to buy those products outside your practice
  • The fact that many rational consumers are motivated by low cost, convenience and wide selection
  • The fact that you lack a multimillion dollar advertising budget and the ability to buy product by the train load

Yeah, yeah…life’s not always fair. Now stop complaining and compete! Have the courage to change the things you can. Things you control include:

  • Price (price matching? price competitively? display price per month or dose? etc.)
  • Promotion/signage/merchandising
  • Reminding clients to refill (phone, text, email, postcard, etc.)
  • The value the client gets when buying from you (e.g. doctor/client/patient relationship, time, attention, advice, counsel, expertise, professional opinion, education, questions asked and answered, demonstration on how to apply product, peace of mind, manufacturer guarantee or warranty, etc.
  • If you want to provide complete product selection and total convenience, opt for a veterinary friendly online pharmacy that carries every product, never closes, and delivers to you clients’ home tomorrow
  • Doses dispensed (e.g. single-dose dispensing versus larger-dose dispensing)

I find myself silently reciting the Serenity Prayer several times each day. Now, when something hits me over the head, my learned instinct is to ask myself, ‘Can I change this?’ It’s proven amazingly helpful in my life. I enjoy much more peace and calm than ever before!

About Fritz Wood: Fritz is the former Personal Finance Editor for Veterinary Economics, the monthly business authority for practicing veterinarians. He has authored more than 100 articles related to the business of veterinary medicine and personal finance. He has also contributed content to several books and on-line educational experiences, including the Veterinary Nutritional AdvocateSM and VetMedTeam.com. Fritz conducts 50 to 75 seminars each year, each very well-received and highly evaluated by attendees. He teaches annually at most veterinary medical schools, as well as local, state, regional, national and international venues. Fritz has presented in nearly every state and in more than a dozen countries. His presentations have positively impacted thousands of individuals and practices worldwide. To learn more about Fritz Wood please go to www.fritzwood.com.

Yellowpages or No Yellowpages

Tuesday, October 2nd, 2012

It is so tempting to just send off that check to your local YellowPages (or equivalent) and call it done, isn’t it? I see so many businesses struggling with this issue. Most animal hospitals have little data to base their decision on whether or not to continue advertising in the YellowPages for another year. Either the practice lacks a system to ask how people found their business, or, even if they do track this data, time is a factor in collating the results.

Let’s discuss reality today vs. 1996. The “new” concept of marketing is called content marketing, which has been created and nurtured by the Internet. We expect to find answers to our questions, interact with friends and brands/businesses, and research products and services before we purchase them. As consumers, we have learned that this information is at our finger tips, 24/7, on a plane, train, boat, or automobile. Want to know what is at the foot of the ski hill for lunch? No problem, because at 12k (I have tried this) the Internet works on your phone. We are constantly connected wherever we go. In fact, by 2014, more searches will be done on mobile devices than on laptop or desktop computers.

The world is changing because of our new thirst for this on-the-go, two-way communication. Here are some facts that you may find interesting:

  • ATT, who owns YellowPages, is selling this portion of its business to a private equity firm because revenue dropped last year (www.brandchannel.com, April 10, 2012, YellowPages).
  • The city of Seattle gave residents a chance to opt out of YellowPages directories (www.seattlepi.com, May 5, 2011, Seattle unveils YellowPages opt-out registry).
  • The city of San Francisco has banned YellowPages directories from being delivered unless requested (USAToday.com, May 18, 2011, San Francisco Bans YellowPages).
  • “Use of the printed YellowPages has dropped from more than 15 billion instances in 2002 to roughly 11 billion in 2010, some figures speculate, and the trend shows no sign of slowing down” (www.seattlepi.com, April 3, 2012, Reputation Changer).

To adapt, YellowPages and its sister publications are trying to move online. Many vet hospitals I have talked to have said it is quite unpleasant dealing with their YellowPages representative because of strong-arm tactics and the clinic’s lack of knowledge about how marketing on the Internet works. Is the YellowPages representative right? Am I missing out on the market? Do I have to pay hundreds to thousand of dollars a month to YellowPages to keep my business running?

The answer is NO. You do not.

People, when searching online, want information immediately. Google has researched and found immediately means within 400 milliseconds or a blink of an eye. We do not want to work to find the information we are seeking, and we want to be satisfied on the first search. Try this for yourself. Either take out your smart phone or pull up your computer. Go to Google, type in yourtown, state, and the word veterinarians. For example, Maple Grove, MN veterinarians. Google will provide a list of results for you to view. The results at the top of the page are in a yellow or lightly shaded box. Only 25% of people click on this ad space and the space under the map. Within this space is where you sometimes find YellowPages listed. After this search result, you will find a new hybrid result (read July’s article for more information) and then the local search results. Regardless of whether you find a listing for YellowPages in paid search or in the hybrid results, you still have to click on that link and conduct a further search when looking for information.

How satisfying is that type of search? (Answer: Unsatisfying and frustrating.)

Instead, when we are searching, we want to do a quick eye spy and find a hospital by name right on the page, glance at the reviews, and click through to its website. Especially if we are on our mobile devices, we do not want to be making multiple clicks to find the information we are looking for. Because of this behavior, we have found our Beyond Indigo websites clients who still are holding on to YellowPages listings receive a measly four to six click-throughs from YellowPages to their website per month. YIKES. That is not many.

Beware if the YellowPages representative in your area shows you thousands of clicks or impressions a month for your business. What does that number represent? Is it the number of people who see the YellowPages link on Google but didn’t click through to YellowPages? Is it the number of people who scanned the page for all veterinarians in your town? Or is it the number of people who clicked on your link within YellowPages AFTER searching on Google to get to your website. Tricky business those statistics.

Remember summer of 2012 as the year your business gave up or drastically reduced its YellowPages presence. Give up the fear of the unknown and base your decision on facts. Start asking and analyzing where your new clients find your business. If it is the YellowPages, make sure what you are spending to advertise there brings in enough new revenue to justify the cost. If people are not using your local YellowPages, then it is time to move that investment to another aspect of marketing that will bring in new dollars.

Also, look inward at yourself and take the leap into that world of Internet marketing. Realize that as a veterinary hospital your primary communication space is face to face, which makes talking to a YellowPages representative in person a comfortable environment for you. Move beyond your own comfort zone and reach into the world where your consumers are engaging and interacting with your brand. Take the positive leap into content marketing. You can do it.