Marketing emergency facilities


What marketing endeavors can I undertake to get the name of my emergency hospital out there?

Q: What marketing endeavors can I undertake to get the name of my emergency hospital out there?

Ann Selander

Most pet owners consult a phone book in an emergency, so a noticeable presence there helps ensure that these clients find your emergency hospital quickly and efficiently. "They shouldn't have to waste precious minutes searching for a veterinarian during a critical situation," says Ann Selander, CVT, CVPM, MBA, hospital administrator at WestVet Emergency & Specialty Center in Boise, Idaho.

Marketing campaigns for emergency practices should be focused on creating awareness, Selander says—after all, you're providing a necessary service to the pet-owning public. Consider creating an emergency quick-reference card as an affordable way to make pet owners aware of your services. On one side, list clinical signs that might indicate an emergency situation; on the other, explain your partnership with local veterinarians, along with a map, directions, and your hours. Hand out these cards to your referral base, Selander says. These practices can include the cards in their puppy and kitten packets and give them to established clients.

Another marketing strategy Selander suggests is to offer pet first-aid courses. The content is emergency-focused, so it doesn't involve topics best left to referring veterinarians. The American Red Cross conducts a training program for team members interested in becoming instructors. Instructors can then teach a four-hour course on basic pet first aid. Clients who complete the course receive an official wallet card indicating they've been through the course, much like human CPR certification.

Some emergency hospitals shy away from advertising and marketing for fear it will jeopardize relationships with the referral community. Selander says you don't need to worry if you do it right. "You do need to develop clear communication and transfer policies with your referral veterinarians," she says, "but marketing and advertising should be an integral part of your practice."

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