© 2023 MJH Life Sciences™ and dvm360 | Veterinary News, Veterinarian Insights, Medicine, Pet Care. All rights reserved.
Calls that promote a marketing opportunity vs. good will
The decision to market your services is a personal one and needs to be planned.
The decision to market your services is a personal one and needs to beplanned.
One must distinguish between marketing through advertising and publicrelations.
"Public relations" is, in effect, a way to promote "goodwill" for your business.
Many of the promotional opportunities that come in the front door arereally opportunities to support other organizations in your community.
These opportunities, in turn, can promote good will toward your business.These promotions may or may not result in direct promotion of your veterinarybusiness. These promotions are, for the most part, general in nature andare not directed to the animal owner. However, 'good will' itself generatesawareness and an image within your community that can lead to secondaryreferrals from non-pet owners. This is highly desirable and often overlooked.
External marketing offers
Marketing is something with which the veterinarian needs to be proactiveabout and not reactive.
Other than the usual marketing outlets such as the Yellow Pages, thereare any number of companies or institutions out there that want to "help"you react to your external marketing efforts. Most of these offers comein by phone or by unsolicited arrival at your practice door. Among theseare:
- Aftermarket phone books
- Chamber of Commerce maps and brochures.
- Office calendars with advertising from all types of organizations.
- Grocery store visual aids of all types
- Youth groups
- Real estate companies that want you to 'help them promote themselves.'
- 'Government' agencies that sell official-looking items that come in official looking document form.
- Welcome Wagon
- Nationwide discounted 'preferred pet provider' organizations.
- Political organizations that promote small business.
- Direct mail
As mentioned, some of these are really public relations opportunities.Sometimes potential clients (a local unpaid sales force) will come callingto promote their own special interest organizations. These are golden opportunitiesto create good will.
You will also be surprised that a number of these people will becomeclients or spread your name to others. "Word of mouth" promotionis still the best and most effective form of promotion.
On the other hand-be wary
Be very careful with many organizations that say they have opportunitiesthat are 'indispensible' ways to grow your business. It should be said thatsome of these promotions are valid and helpful to many businesses. However,a veterinarian must carefully evaluate what his or her objectives are andthe type of image that you need to be promoted. Therefore, tread lightlyand be wary of the following:
Groups that want you to offer discounts to grow your business are in direct opposition to the image that most thinking veterinarians want to promote.
Although these opportunities may be good for some businesses, they are not often a valid choice for veterinarians. These promotions include Welcome Wagon, nationwide discount clubs and related promotions.
- New arrivals to your area:
People who move to your area usually find your veterinary office by word-of-mouth referral and your proximity to their new place of residence. Therefore, promotions by real estate companies, Welcome Wagon, aftermarket phone books, chamber brochures and direct mail (very expensive) are mostly ineffective. Direct mail can create a terrible image and the effort can be monumental.
- Visual ads in high traffic environments
Ads in grocery stores and on park benches fall into this category. Ads of this nature are categorically useless unless you are promoting discounts of some nature. You will be right in there along with the local laundry and the adult film industry.
A final charge to the uninitiated
If you have a marketing plan or a public relations company working for you, that is just fine. Plan your work and work your plan.
However, to the other 99 percent of the veterinarians in private practice, watch out-you are a target for the rest of the world that does not understand veterinary medicine and unwittingly will only contribute to the expense side of your balance sheet.