You know the ones I’m talking about.
They’re the pet parents who spend more money with you more often. They don’t hem and haw about complying with your recommended services and treatments. They take advantage of the extra services you offer such as your pet resort and vet wellness plan.
In fact, you’re probably picturing one or two specific clients right now.
Don’t you want more of them? Of course! They make your job more enjoyable, all while making you more money. It’s the best of both worlds.
Finding Your Best Veterinary Clients
The question to ask, then, is what do your best veterinary clients have in common that your other clients don’t?
Actually, there could be a number of questions to help you find the commonalities:
- Which neighborhoods do they live in?
- Do they rent or own their homes?
- How large of a house do they live in?
- What types of cars do they drive?
- How did they first hear about you?
- What types of pets are they bringing in?
- How many pets do they have?
- Are they married?
- Do they have kids?
- What types of cell phones do they carry?
You get the idea. We’re trying to find a pattern so that later on we can reach out to other people like them. Knowing this pattern will also help us craft a message that will resonate with your best veterinary clients.
The late Chet Holmes was a national best-selling author. Not only did he know how to sell books, but he could sell just about everything else, too.
The Dream 100 strategy in his book The Ultimate Sales Machine stood out to me the most. To summarize, there’s always a smaller list of “best buyers” than a list all potential buyers.
Narrowing Your Target Market
I’m sure there are more, but here are at least three reasons that focusing on duplicating your best veterinary clients is a much better way to market than a broad, I’ll-target-anyone approach.
- It’s easy to identify who your best buyers are.
- It’s cheaper to target a list of 100 pet parents than it is to target 1,000 of them.
- With such a small list, you can personalize the marketing message, thereby producing better results.
Candidly, following Chet’s approach to the letter is probably not the way to go for an animal hospital. However, you can still apply the general concept to your marketing. I’ll give you a few simple examples:
If you have one location and you’re not a mobile veterinarian or in a small town, radio advertising is probably a waste of money.
So many of your commercials will likely fall on deaf ears, either because the audience doesn’t have a pet, or they don’t live anywhere near your practice.
Radio advertising is a broad approach to marketing that should be left to the big dogs.
Analyze who your “best buyers” are and see if they have anything in common. You may find that 70 percent of them live in the two high-end neighborhoods to the west of your office.
With this information you could create a personalized, classy direct mail campaign to match your audience’s high-end tastes.
Once ready, send the direct mail pieces to a saturation list for those neighborhoods. By the way, EDDM (Every Door Direct Mail), offered by the U.S. Post Office, is another way to saturate the neighborhoods.
Take your direct mail strategy to the next level by creating and mailing an interesting print newsletter each month. Doing so will help you stay top of mind the next time they’re looking for a veterinarian.
Hopefully you’ve been collecting the email addresses of all your clients. If not, the time to start is now! Email addresses are good for more than just email marketing.
Again, analyze your “best buyers,” and gather all their email addresses into a spreadsheet, and upload it to Facebook. It should come as no surprise that Facebook knows a lot about its users.
By uploading your email list you’ll be able to run an ad campaign that is targeted to others that Facebook sees as similar to your “best buyer” audience.
Guess who your best veterinary clients hang out with? You guessed it — your future best veterinary clients!
You need three things to cultivate more referrals:
- Provide awesome service! This may seem like a no-brainer, but I have to say it. If you’re not awesome, then you’re not going to get as many referrals.
- Offer an incentive: Give clients that extra push to talk with their friends. If permitted by law, you can offer discounts, prizes, or gift cards as rewards for referring you. If these incentives are against the law where you’re located, maybe a donation to charity in your client’s name or recognizing them in your monthly newsletter will be okay.
- Make it easy: Help your clients by streamlining the process of referring your vet practice. Software like RevenueJump is designed to do just this.
Targeting vs. Branding
Your brand is your image in the marketplace. The problem is that branding can be quite expensive as a standalone marketing strategy. It’s an arena where it’s easier for the bigger vet hospitals to compete simply because they have deeper pockets and can outspend smaller independent practices.
Avoid falling into the trap of marketing just because it will boost your animal hospital’s image. Instead, narrow your target audience and market to them.
Branding should be considered a byproduct of your marketing, not the focus of it. Then, if you improve your image and exposure along the way, great.
Time for Results
Truth be told, most vets reading this article are not going to do a dang thing with it. Be different and implement these ideas!
Also, be disciplined! If you hear a competitor’s radio sponsorship or see their ad in the coupon mailer, just smile and understand that they probably don’t know what you know. 🙂