Branding and marketing your vet clinic doesn’t have to cost you a lot of time and money. You can reach far if you pay attention to a few important things and make small investments in the right areas.
In my work with vet clinics dealing with a busy everyday life, I’ve found realizable approaches to branding and marketing.
Let’s face it, there is no quick fix when it comes to marketing of a vet clinic. The vet industry is about building long-term confidence. But this doesn’t mean that you can’t start with a simple plan and a few effective actions and move along from there.
1. Building a Brand
1.1 Getting Your Brand Right the Easy Way
Thousands of campaigns show that you have to get your customers emotionally involved in order to make a lasting impression and to achieve additional sales. That’s what makes a strong brand so important and worth using as your beacon.
You can’t create a brand out of the blue. You have to find it. For that purpose you don’t have to initiate a big and expensive market analysis. It starts with asking yourself: Why did I become a vet? Or a clinic owner?
I recommend the ‘Why’-model of Simon Sinek. You can find it on ted.com.
This can also be done as a team with main topics like: Why do we exist as a clinic and why do we go to work every day?
Your answers will be the strengths and values that you should build your brand on.
The next step is to find out if your clients’ impression of your clinic reflects your strengths and values. Personally I’ve used a simple method: I’ve spent quite some time sitting in the waiting room interviewing clients with a questionnaire and listening to what they preferred to talk about.
You will be surprised how much you will learn about you clients using this method.
You can find a lot of advice on how to make your own market analysis and create your own questionnaire. You may ask: But doesn’t it have to be made by a professional analysis company and include hundreds of clients in order to be representative? Of course, engaging professionals would qualify the result a lot, but DIY is better than not asking at all.
Now, you have the keynotes for building you brand.
1.2 How to Collaborate with Externals the Right, Cheap, and Efficient Way
Using professionals for tasks that require special skills can be a good investment. Unfortunately, a lot of clinics end up paying too much because the tasks are not well defined or well-planned. Make sure your collaborators help you with the right things and get an overview of what you can actually do yourself with a little effort.
If you want to pay for as much help as possible, this part of the lecture will give you an idea of what to be aware of and how to build the best teamwork with your collaborators.
Logo and Design
A cheap way to get a professional design is to use designcrowd.com: You will need to write a brief of what you want and freelance designers will compete for the task. You usually get the first design suggestions within 1 day and you can choose a deadline between 3–10 days. During the process, you can communicate with the designers and ask them to adjust the design. You set the price - starting from about 100$. It’s easy, cheap, and fast - and will most likely give you professional-looking designs. If there is no satisfying match, they do have a money-back guarantee (note the refund policy).
Before you decide between the logos, you should make a small survey among a small group of people in order to test the signal of the design in accordance to your brand.
Before you purchase you should also make sure to ask the designer for logo mock ups for different contexts (business card, letterhead, company sign, website, etc.).
When you have chosen a winner remember to require lay outs of all parts of the task and elements like codes for the colors, name of fonts, and suggestions of recognizability use of the design.
I will present examples of brands and discuss their signals at the lecture.
Using a professional photographer is a must. Make a specific order list. And remember: Close up shots of persons and animals will catch attention. Remember also to capture 10 of your own stock photos that will support your brand and be useful in many different contexts.
The typical process could be: You hire a photographer to take a lot of pictures at the clinic. You should choose about 100 of the pictures relevant for your website, social media, prints and publications, advertisements, etc. Out of the about 100 there will hopefully be about 10 pictures where the photographer managed to capture the brand and the values spot on. These pictures you will use more frequently in order to support your brand and create recognizability.
- Requirement of approval of picture before buying.
- Make appointments with staff and clients about photoshoot on a specific day at the clinic.
- Acceptance from persons and pet owners who are on the pictures.
There are websites with (to some extent) free stock photos, like: unsplash.com, finda.photo, gratisography.com, visualhunt.com, pexels.com, thestocks.im, and canva.com. I will recommend to use them occasionally as an alternative to your own.
Make sure you choose a CMS system that’s user friendly not only for your clients but also regarding the administrative system and if you have a developer/webmaster, make sure that the person shows you how to edit basic elements like text, pictures, and tables. It’s just too expensive and troublesome if you have to ask an external vendor every time you want to change a price, post an event, etc.
1.3 Living Your Brand
Building your brand is also about living and maintaining it in your everyday life at the clinic. It’s about spotting the good stories which are in alignment with your values. It’s about getting the ideas of how to do something outstanding with your brand.
2. Making It Happen
2.1 Getting Things Structured
This part will be full of examples from vet clinics about making realistic plans and structures. You will get templates for marketing plans and action plans. Find them also on vetfokus.dk.
A way of making marketing tasks visible is to use a Kanban board as a tool for projects. This will also give you an overview and make it easy to involve everybody and discuss your expectations to each other.
Online alternatives are tools like:
2.2 Using Easy, Free, and Cheap Marketing Tools
The list of free and cheap tools that you can use for marketing purpose is unbelievably long. And it takes time to find the suitable ones for you and to learn to use them. But once you are familiar with them they will save you a lot of time and qualify your work.
A few recommendations:
- Rebutter.me: A tool that will find all the questions on Google including the keyword you have typed in. This gives you an indication on the interest in that specific word; for example, pet, dog, cat, etc. And you can use it for your content on social media and in publications. It’s free.
- Canva.com: An easy way to make designs for social media, prints, etc. You choose what you want to design and then you drag pictures, illustrations, background, and text designs into the template.
- Millwardbrown.com: ‘Make a lasting impression’ presents results based of facial coding (filming and analyzing of faces people getting commercial messages). One of the major results: Emotional messages have the biggest impact on us and our purchases. That result gives the vet industry a lot of possibilities!
3. The Big Wins
The last part of the lecture will be about tricks and advises:
- I will share my success with getting stories in the newspaper and online platforms.
- I will share the process of building an event in alignment with the brand and creating a big success.
- ‘Community rules’ - how to engage people on what a community can do for you.
- Reviewing big wins on the marketing channels.
- Be inspired by other vet clinics. And do it even better.
I will invite the participants to share their big wins and get inspiration from each other during the session.