Benefits of branding through mission and vision statements and social media
At the 2022 New York Vet Show in New York, New York, Rhonda Bell, CVPM, CCFP, PCM-Digital, CDMP, president/CEO of Dog Days Consulting, began her lecture on branding your practice by quoting Warren Buffet: “It takes 20 years to build a reputation and 5 minutes to ruin it.” However, Bell disagrees with this statement, sharing she thinks it takes even less than 5 minutes, “You can shoot yourself in the foot pretty quick.”
Bell further explained how branding through vision and mission statements and social media can help you maintain a positive reputation, which is vital to continued success in the veterinary practice.1
According to Bell, a brand is a perception that matches what is happening in real life. Brands aren’t something you can fake or put on appearance of as both clients and staff members will see through it. The practice should establish mission and vision statements in line with its brand that become living, breathing things as the team embodies them and should be displayed through social media. “If the culture in your practice doesn't match that mission and vision statement, either rewrite it, or retrain it, or do something. Because what you're doing right now is a disconnect. And it's going to disconnect with your clients.” Additionally, Bell noted that brands can evolve over time and what you initially set out to be the brand doesn’t have to be what it becomes.
Primarily, branding helps build client affinity and retention. They will trust you, respect you, learn what they can expect from you, and understand your reputation in the community. “It can kind of make or break you at this point, you can have a bad reputation. And your social media can show that you're irresponsible or lack professionalism,” said Bell.
She added that social media branding can promote new hire social proofing, which means that potential employees can fill in the gaps of what they don’t know about your practice’s reputation by going online and seeing your posts or what others have to say. “When you have people looking for a job and contemplating whether they're going to apply with you, they're going to look around at what other people are doing. They're going to look on your social media, and see if your team members look happy, or do they look like they're being held hostage?” Share on social media the practice’s welcoming environment, its authenticity, and the elements that make you proud of it. And if you’re not on social media, she advised it’s critical to get on it so new hires don’t view your practice as outdated.
When team members are showcased on social media, clients recognize them, plus it gives them status and authority. “Your receptionists need authority, your assistants need authority, everyone working in your practice needs authority, because clients will chew them up and spit them out,” stated Bell. Providing the staff with that sense of belonging and ownership in your practice will allow them to get their job done, educate, and build client relations.
Branding enables clients to know what to expect surrounding their pet’s veterinary care so it’s less intimidating. “We do a lot of unknown stuff,” said Bell. “We do everything behind the wall. We do everything and it costs a million dollars. They don't know what's coming. How many times have you seen a client who gets an invoice at the end—even though they signed an estimate—but they still get the invoice at the end, and they are shocked. Right? Because they just don't see it coming.” However, she explained that social media and your branding can help prevent those miscommunications.
An especially beneficial aspect of branding is answering frequently asked questions (FAQs) on your social media or website so clients can conveniently get answers to questions that they have, without costing them much time or any money. How do you determine the most common FAQs? Bell advised to consult your receptionists who receive the most questions daily. “What I have my clients do whenever we bring in a practice for social media management, I have them go to their front office, have them make a list for a day or two. And then those are the questions that we start with on social media. That's what your clients want to know.”
Bell R. Branding your practice doesn’t have to hurt! New York Vet Show; New York, New York. November 2-4, 2022.