Posts Tagged ‘Beyond Indigo Equine marketing services’

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.

Getting Started with Google+

Wednesday, June 20th, 2012

Google+ is a social media site, a search engine, and a news feed all rolled into one. In addition, content that is found in your Google+ pages and circle of friends is used to offer search results in the part of Google called Search Your World. Having content that is current is a must to keep your readers interested and secure a solid placement in the Search Your World feature. Here are a few tips to keep in mind when crafting content for Google+:

Update regularly. Posting one to two times per week on Google+ is sufficient to keep your page looking fresh and relevant, but don’t be afraid to post much more often than that if you’d like to devote a little more time to the site.
Create posts that are unique to Google+. If you already have Facebook and Twitter accounts, don’t just recycle the same content on Google+. While it’s okay to share some content, you should create posts that you haven’t shared elsewhere to give users an incentive to add you to their circles.
Share content. Similar to Twitter, Google+ is a great place for sharing links to useful blog posts and articles, whether they’re yours or someone else’s. When you’re sharing content from other people, be sure to add a short comment along with the link to make your posts more engaging.
Post links to online coupons and offers. Google+ doesn’t allow you to host promotions or coupons directly on their site, but you can link to special offers or promotions that are hosted elsewhere online, such as your blog or website. This is a great way to encourage people to spread the word about your business because they can share your posts with their friends.
Be engaging. Reshare content that your followers have shared on Google+, and request that people reshare your relevant posts as well. Don’t be afraid to ask your followers questions about what they’d like to see. Google+ is still a new network, so everyone is feeling their way around to determine what they want it to become.

SEO Ranking Reports – Considerations

Wednesday, June 13th, 2012

As most savvy online users know, search engine optimization (SEO) is the process of optimizing or improving the visibility of a website or web page so that searchers can more easily find that site. Needless to say, the more frequently a site is ranked on page 1 of search engines (e.g., Google), the better the chance that a searcher will visit that site. So, how do we measure how a site is ranking? A search engine ranking report is a simple way to give us a sense of where a website stands in major search engines such as Google, Yahoo, and Bing; these reports are a reference point for visibility and progress from month to month, especially given that traffic and queries can vary over time, from season to season.

For those receiving ongoing SEO services and ranking reports, broadly speaking, what are some basic aspects that are generally included?

Before we get into components of an SEO report, let’s first consider that the reporting should feature highly relevant keywords—meaning phrases pertinent to your industry, relevant to your area, and used frequently by searchers. Selecting appropriate keyword phrases is the foundation of getting a site found. Once these phrases are determined, elements of a ranking report basically include:

1) Monthly status updates
2) Keyword progress and change in status from previous month—again using keyword phrases that are relevant to your industry, your area, and what searchers actually use in search queries
3) Tasks performed
4) Recommendations for continual improvement

Numbers to look for: The lower your ranking number, the better your position. For example, if you are #1 in Google rankings, your site’s link is what searchers will see at the top of the search results page. Please note that rankings are definitely a moving target. Search engines are continually tweaking their algorithms and competitors are also working to improve their positioning and traffic. Your ongoing ranking will depend on such factors as the competition in your area, quality of incoming links to your domain name, and location for optimization, to name just a few.

Ranking reports should be kept in context and are certainly only one facet of the much larger picture of an online marketing campaign. Although good rankings do not guarantee traffic and new customers coming in the door, they are worthy of consideration and a piece of the overall performance pie.

Five ways to engage your clients through Social Media

Wednesday, January 18th, 2012

If you’re thinking about using social media networks like Facebook or Twitter to reach our to your clients, but haven’t known where to start, here are 5 easy ways to start building your presence:

  1. Decide to start

    For your social media efforts to have a real impact on your business, you need to be committed to them. Simply setting up a Facebook page and then forgetting about it will not help you to develop a better relationship with your clients. You need to commit to being present and engaging with your followers. This is what will keep them coming back, and telling their friends.

  2. Build your network with people you already know first

    It can be daunting to think about how to gain new “likes” on a page that currently doesn’t have any. The best way to start is by reaching out to people you already know. If you have clients who you know are on Facebook, send them an invitation to like your page.If you can’t find anyone online, ask them in person. Marketing your Facebook page outside of Facebook is a great way to get people interested. Put up a counter sign or a poster, add your Facebook URL to your business cards and clients’ invoices, put a “like us” box on your website. Promote yourself!

  3. Be real

    Don’t be afraid to let your Facebook page have a personality. Talk to your followers the way you would talk to your friends (while still keeping it professional, obviously).  People follow brands on Facebook because they want to interact with the people behind the brand. They want to make a connection with you. If you make your page too sterile, they’ll stop coming back.Answer client questions, share funny pictures and videos, give advice, inform clients of events or specials. But most important, don’t be afraid to have fun!

  4. Recognize and reward

    People love recognition. When your followers start participating on your wall, be sure to reward them for their activity. It can be as simple as replying to a post, or you can take it as far as offering them a gift certificate or discount to thank them for their activity, depending on the level of participation involved.

  5. Monitor

    Facebook offers “Insights” to help you keep an eye on how your page is growing. You should be monitoring this once a week or so to get information such as the average age of your followers, the ratio of men to woman, and, most importantly, the reach and virality of your page posts. This metric will help you understand which of your posts are the most popular with your followers, so you can adjust future posting habits to include more of that post type.

These are the basics for building a solid social media foundation on Facebook. Keep in mind, there are other social media channels to explore, such as YouTube, Twitter, and Google+. While you don’t need to be on all of these networks all the time, it’s important to know that they exist, and do provide additional opportunities for you to reach people.

For more information register for our free webinar, Five Ways to Reach Your Clients on Facebook & Twitter. If you’d like help in setting up or managing your Social Media presence, please contact Melissa Neff at 877-244-9322 ext 100 or melissa@beyondindigo.com.

3 Simple Rules for Internet Marketing

Wednesday, December 14th, 2011

The old saying goes that if you build it, they will come. We’ve found that saying doesn’t apply to online marketing. When it comes to the Internet, not only do you have to build it, you have to be sure it is built correctly. What’s more, you have to market it!

Here are a few simple rules that will help you on your way to online marketing success:

1. Content is King.

This phrase has been said so often that it’s become cliché, but that’s only because it’s so true! Just like you can count on your dog to actually sniff that fire hydrant, you can count on users to visit websites that have good and interesting content. Nowadays we are swimming in data; the key is to make sure the data your offering to your users is more interesting and compelling than that of your competitors. This is what will keep them coming back.

2. Consistency = Comfort.

We already know that your content needs to be compelling. Another key in online marketing is making sure your content is consistent. Think of McDonald’s. Whether or not you eat there, you know exactly what they offer and what you can expect from them as a brand. This is the type of consistency we as consumers have been trained to respond to. We trust brands that offer us consistency, and we’re more likely to buy from the brands that we trust.

3. Multiple Platforms Reach Multiple People.

Your clients are spending their time in a lot of different places these days, so it no longer makes sense to place a yellow page ad and think that they’ll come to find you. You need to go and find them in the places where they already are, namely: Facebook. We know it can be a little daunting if you’re not familiar with social media, but when you consider that 93% of adult Americans are on Facebook, it becomes a no-brainer. Your customers are there, and they expect you to be too. Don’t let fear of the unknown prevent your business from reaching potential new clients.

We are here to help you succeed! Call our Sales and Marketing Manager, Melissa Neff at 877.244.9322 x100, or send her an email.