Top Marketing & Communication Mistakes & How You Can Fix Them
World Small Animal Veterinary Association Congress Proceedings, 2018
Eric Garcia
CEO/Digital Strategist, Simply Done Tech Solutions, Tampa, FL, USA

The Keys to Marketing Success

Making sure your veterinary practice is running smoothly day-to-day is your priority, as it should be. But what about expansion, marketing, return on investment and all of the elements needed to truly ensure that your veterinary practice isn’t just open for business, but is also thriving like never before?

A surprising amount of veterinary practices are operating with old software/infrastructure in place and are even avoiding the huge array of tools that can help them to truly maximize their marketing efforts across the board. On the other hand, some veterinary practices are achieving unprecedented growth and success by utilizing both new marketing techniques and software, while continuing to dedicate their efforts to delivering remarkable service, day in and day out.

The difference is in the effort put forth and the dedication it takes up to keep up with evolving tools and trends when it comes to social media, marketing and digital infrastructure.

While some of the advances and changes can be daunting at first, all it takes is a slight adjustment in thinking to realize that these new tools, whether we’re talking about survey responses or social media, can help us to get our veterinary practices running in top-gear with a full roster of very happy clients.

Fortunately, for veterinary practices that may have yet to make the transition toward a new world of marketing, there are tried and true techniques that can enhance marketing efforts for all types of practices; whether emergency care, specialty, general practice or other.

When things are moving quickly within your veterinary practice, it’s especially important to make sure that there are techniques already in place to ensure that your clients are satisfied, feeling appreciated and consistently leaving your veterinary practice in full confidence that both their time and money have been well spent. You might be surprised at how many veterinary practices handle a full client load, but forget to capitalize on strategies that could be enhancing their business from the inside out. This might mean that they are missing opportunities to gain new referrals and gain crucial feedback on what may or may not be working when it comes to their veterinary practice. This could also mean that they are being out-paced by their local competitors, without even knowing how to keep up…

Here are a few proven techniques that can help you to successfully implement a marketing strategy that’s built for the twenty-first century and beyond. Using these techniques, while making adjustments that allow you to customize the strategies to benefit your specific veterinary practice, will allow you to retain your current clients, expand your outreach in order to gain new ones, spend your marketing dollars far more effectively and enhance the way that your veterinary practice operates each day. By following and implementing these simple rules, you can set your veterinary practice up for total success, with the tools needed to keep improving each day:

Measure Client Satisfaction

1. The importance of measuring client satisfaction cannot be overemphasized. Every client that leaves your practice without giving feedback on services and their overall experience is a lost opportunity to improve and gain invaluable information from the most important person to your veterinary practice: your client.

In order to measure client satisfaction successfully, you may want to focus most intently on clients that have recently visited your practice, preferably within the last one or two days. Their visit with you is still in recent memory, and any feedback and/or critique can easily be garnered at this stage. You can complete this step by sending out surveys via email, or even handing out a final form once the client is making payment and scheduling a future appointment.

Techniques for the client survey can vary, but should effectively monitor satisfaction and ensure that you’ve provided good service that will render future visits and references. You may try asking questions with a “One to Ten” level of response to most effectively gauge the services that can be improved by your veterinary practice. Use this strategy to measure the promptness of the visit, friendliness of the staff, knowledge of the primary veterinarian, etc. You can design surveys to be anonymous or to even enter the client into a contest as incentive for completion. For example, “Tell us what you think and you can win a $100.00 gift card!” Different clients have different ways of rendering their experience in total candor, so you may want to experiment with different incentives and techniques here.

You can also measure which techniques of giving a survey yields the most results, I.E. sending out an online survey the same day or the next day after a client appointment and/or giving out a physical survey which can elicit an on-the-spot response.

The technique you choose to use is of course up to your veterinary practice, but should allow for honest feedback to be gauged, analyzed and recorded by your veterinary practice, resulting in room to improve service and consequently ratings, for future appointments. Even the most successful veterinary practices have room to improve and measuring client satisfaction is one of the best possible ways to do this.

Track Your Return on Investment

2. It can be tempting to start plugging money into marketing techniques that are polished, newly released and seem exciting. Why not spend $100.00 to promote a cute Facebook post or $50.00 on a new Facebook advertisement? Well, the truth of the matter is that you should not spend money on marketing without putting the necessary tools in place to track your return.

ROI is a term that you should learn inside and out. Simply put, it means return on investment. Unless you know that a specific advertisement is bringing new patients directly through your front door, there is no way to ensure that you’re effectively advertising. Ineffective advertisements can actually do more harm than good, causing your veterinary practice to spend money and direct attention to a specific medium, without actually garnering results. Practices that do not implement a proper infrastructure to measure their return can blindly spend money, without ever achieving the results that they desire. This can actually be trickier than you think. For example, if you do spend $100.00 on Facebook and get plenty of replies and shares, this may seem like a successful campaign! The post may even lead more people to visit your website or to follow your Facebook account. Still, if the visitor is not contacting your veterinary practice directly to schedule an appointment, you may be spending more money on web-traffic and your online promotion, than you are actually securing a new client! There are however, ways to distill your marketing efforts and ensure that dollars spent, result in dollars earned:

One great place to start is with; a tool that records incoming calls and determines where the client came from before calling you directly. For example, if a client finds you on Facebook (a very common example) and proceeds to your website before calling you, CallRail will allow you to gain valuable insight on the process, noting which lead resulted in the call (in this case, Facebook) and other important data about their process. You can then distinguish if the call came from a targeted Google search, Google AdWords, Facebook, Twitter, etc.

One of the largest advantages of our digital age, is the ability to leverage new tools and analytics to derive more data than ever. While the process of caring for your clients and delivering impeccable service may stay more or less the same, the process of tracking leads, traffic and growth has changed more than ever before.

By making sure that your veterinary practice is adjusting to these changes and implementing the right software, you’ll be poised to compliment your great service with great tools and marketing as well. You’d be amazed at what can be achieved when great veterinarians and staff deliver outstanding care, while implementing the right tools to measure their success.

Appreciate Your Loyal Clients

3. While showing appreciation to your local clients may seem like it goes without saying, it’s actually something that a surprising amount of veterinary practices forget to do on a daily basis. When you’ve got a packed calendar, it can be easier to focus on the next client coming in, than it is to thank the one that’s walking out the door after spending money on your services. Instead, show your appreciation by saying thank you, leaving a note, calling the next day to follow-up, or building in a client loyalty program to your practice. One way to do this is to create a referral program, which is an all-in-one way to reward existing clients, attract new ones and spread a feeling of generosity to your existing clientele. This can be small but significant, allowing the person who refers the practice to receive $50.00 (or another appropriate amount) toward a future service or an additional purchase.

Many times, a client has a built-in network of friends and family that they could easily recommend to your veterinary practice, but this additional step is often overlooked. Simply by appreciating your loyal clients and adding in this extra layer of incentive, you can extend your outreach to a new level and bring in new clients who already may be right around the corner. If your client has had a positive experience, the best thing you can do is parlay this positivity outward. By showing your appreciation for the client and offering a small monetary incentive, you can do just that!

Companies like Uber do this same thing, utilizing referral codes directly through their app. This occurs to the tune of tremendous success, as those who are already utilizing the app can actually offset the cost of the service by recommending it to another. For a rider who is in transit, this may just be the most effective use of their time. Similarly, if you offer these incentive based strategies while your client is in the waiting room or while they are making a final payment, you may just find that they are eager to use the time to offset existing costs.

Little things like gift cards, discounted purchases or free pet treats can make the difference between a new referral and a shrug.

Customize For Your Practice

These strategies allow room for you to make changes and implement the techniques that will work best for you and your veterinary practice. This can also read: there is no single way to go about any one of these specific marketing techniques and the strategies will require adjustments and fine-tuning to fully optimize them toward your individual practice. A large part of successful implementation will rely on your understanding of your individual veterinary practice and your individual clients, including how to customize your client survey/satisfaction techniques, marketing strategies and reward/incentive programs directly toward your clients. You may find that certain strategies work with incredible consistency, while others need to be scrapped or fine-tuned along the way. The key is to take the larger themes, and work within them to enhance what’s already working and fill in the voids where you may be lacking a strategy at all.

While technology as a whole continues to accelerate, it’s more important than ever to tune into the increasing needs, wants and expectations of clients and consumers alike. From text-message updates to newsletters and online pharmacy prescription refills, we rely on the digital world more than ever to get things done every day. Your clients expect the same, wanting to experience an exceptional veterinary experience while ensuring the health of their pet is totally optimized. Sure, expectations are high. But so are the opportunities to deliver and amaze.

With all of the tools at our disposal and new strategies that can be used to enhance marketing and customer experience, the only thing left to do is implement accordingly and reap the rewards.


Speaker Information
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Eric Garcia
Simply Done Tech Solutions
Tampa, FL, USA

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