Internet marketing can transform practice revenue, increasing the numbers of new clients and increasing the spending by existing ones. However, only a few practices have mobilised this powerful force. To do so, a 5-step marketing program is discussed for practices and individuals hoping to build strong brands. Using detailed case studies, this session reviews SMART goals, creating a clear brand, and building a modern social media and digital marketing strategy.
Your brand should encapsulate the best features of your practice and those that make you stand out from other competing practices. Once established, the brand should be consistent in all areas of marketing. As Simon Sinke tells us, ‘People don’t buy what you do, they buy why you do it’—so think carefully about why you are doing what you do and experiment with methods of communicating this.
Evidence shows us that people will pay more for a brand they trust, and that if people trust your brand, they are far more likely to use your services. Demonstrating that you are trusted by your clients is straightforward and requires only minimal investment and time input. Displaying third-party reviews on your website and having an active social media profile are two easy ways to get going with this.
Once your practice has an established brand, careful planning is necessary to ensure that the brand comes across clearly on every platform. There are a plethora of available platforms, and decisions need to be made, taking into account your core values, target demographic and return on marketing investment. It is essential that you play to the strengths of each platform.
Content going out across the various digital platforms should work in sync with any offline marketing activities and reflect any seasonal aspects of the caseload. A good mixture of “pure marketing” and relevant educational content is valuable. Content should be tweaked for optimum performance on each platform—what works on Facebook may not work on a website or an email, for example. Where possible, content should be targeted to the most appropriate audience segment—too much irrelevant content (the “shotgun approach”) can damage your brand image.
Publishing relevant content and having a strong brand are only useful if they are seen by local pet owners. Facebook Ads and offline marketing will help to build up the ‘Likes’ or potential audience of the page. Creating a vibrant community and Facebook Ads will ensure that people who like the page see important posts. Search Engine Optimisation will ensure that the practice is found when local owners are searching for a vet or for relevant content.
One of the joys of digital marketing is that its results are usually measurable. Defining the measurements that will be used as key performance indicators should form part of the digital marketing strategy. These should be used to optimise and refine the approach on a regular basis, allowing your practice to be responsive to your client base and local communities.