Have you heard people talking about “it”? Murmurings are happening in convention halls, small group presentations, and in one-on-one conversations. The buzz is growing louder, and people are getting excited. Energy is building, and people are ready to start implementing “it.” Maybe you have already started “IT”:
- Do negative clients exhaust you?
- Have you given up watching the news because it just bums you out?
- Are you looking for a solution that focuses on the positive vs. the negative?
- Have you started to notice big box stores nibbling away at your customer relationships?
- Are you realizing you are tired of being a victim to fear?
- Do you feel happier when you are helping others than thinking of yourself?
Then you have already started “IT.” The Positive-Based Marketing Revolution vs. the old Fear-Based Model. It is liberating, and it is working. Hospitals that are focusing on the positive are thriving. What is Positive-Based Marketing vs. Fear-Based Thinking? It is a new way to view life, and it is a paradigm shift. Here are some concepts to get you started.
Focus on what you can control in your life versus what is out of your control.
We have been trained extensively through the main media channels to get riled up by events that are out of our control. Think of the daily news channels. Their primary focus is fear. However, most of the items being shown on the news are completely out of your control. The most you can do to help the people in an accident, or the people suffering drought, or the swings on Wall Street is to send positive thoughts or prayers. Instead of pouring emotional energy into something that you have zippo control over, take that wonderful energy and create and change what you can influence.
For example, look at product placement sales. As Fritz Wood, CPA, CFP, states in his recent lecture:
“God, grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change, courage to change the things I can, and wisdom to know the difference. At the Central Veterinary Conference, one of my presentations focused on the Serenity Prayer and, specifically, its application to product sales in veterinary practices.
The quality of your life may improve dramatically if you let go of those things over which you have no control. Examples of things you cannot change include:
The fact that popular parasite control products are sold online
The fact that popular parasite control products are sold by big box stores
Yeah, yeah . . . life’s not always fair. Now stop complaining and compete! Have the courage to change the things you can. Now focus on the things you can control, such as:
Price (price matching? price competitively? display price per month or dose? etc.)
Reminding clients to refill (phone, text, email, postcard, etc.)”
Read the rest of Fritz Wood’ suggestions next week on this blog.
Empower the relationships in your life and work together.
Focus on creating relationships that are empowering and in your circle of influence. These would be your current clients, future clients, staff, and other veterinary professionals in town. How can you make their lives better?
Client Relationships: For your current and future clients, how can you influence your pet owners to leave in a happier, more positive place? Hospitals that make their clients feel better have strong relationships with those clients. The stronger the relationship, the more likely pet owners will keep using you rather than another source for veterinary care. Seriously, don’t we all like to do business with companies that make us feel better? We dread dealing with “Debbie Downer” people because it drags us down. In fact, people are now comparing service against their “gold standard.”
As Dr. Robert Cartin from Mission Animal Hospital states:
“Businesses, including veterinary practices, no longer operate and compete solely in their sector. Clients evaluate our service and image not only against other veterinary hospitals, but also against the best service and image they experience anywhere. Pet owners do not say, ‘This practice’s service is good by veterinary standards.’ They compare us with the service they receive at Nordstrom’s, Disneyland, or the best hotel they have stayed at. The client does not think, ‘This is a good veterinary website.’ The client simply thinks, ‘This is a good, user-friendly website’ or ‘This is an amateurish, cluttered, and difficult to navigate website.’ And what message about how you practice does that send to the subconscious mind?”
How your hospital relates to other businesses is becoming the new focus, not how your business compares to the guy down the street. Time to shift your thinking to this new paradigm.
Staff Relationships: Staff relationships and interactions in the hospital, both positive and negative, are noticed by clients. Dr. Don Morshead from Pet Medical Center-Chatoak says, “We recognize that staff relationships at all levels (doctors, techs, and front office staff) can highly influence client satisfaction and decision making. This is a frequent topic of discussion at our staff meetings. We emphasize and practice edifying each other, which means building up or saying something positive about each other when communicating with clients. For example: Dr. Jackson will be caring for Fluffy tomorrow; you will be in very competent hands… she’s the best or Isn’t Dr. Jones great? His clients really like him (especially important when seeing another doctor’s patient or a referral). This type of communication starts the relationship out on a very positive note.” If the opposite is done (making yourself look good at the expense of another staff member), Dr. Morshead said, clients will feel uncomfortable and lose confidence.
Professional Relationships: Finally, working together with the other veterinary professionals in town is important. The big box stores are starting to form relationships with clients over pet care. Instead of worrying about the hospital down the street, focus instead on keeping your clients visiting a veterinarian for medical information instead of Target, Costco, Wal-Mart, or Kroger’s grocery stores. Banding together and helping each other to educate pet owners about the quality of care provided by veterinarians will help everyone.
As Dr. Robert Carton from Mission Animal Hospital states:
“One of my colleagues asked why I want to share ideas that have made us successful. I believe that the more practices that understand these things, the higher the bar is raised for all of veterinary medicine, which is a good thing for all of our stakeholders—pets, pet owners, the veterinary team, and practice owner.”
Give Up FEAR.
You will then have more energy to create and empower yourself, your business, and other relationships.
Focus on abundance versus lack
Another aspect of our fear-based conditioning is we focus on what we don’t have versus what we do have. By focusing on this negative conditioning, we are funneling our limited energy and time, which curtails our ability to create and empower ourselves to find new solutions. By giving up our focus on “lack” and turning our attention to “create/empower,” we have the opportunity to grow and enrich our businesses.
New Way of Thinking, But Isn’t It a Relief?
We get it. We know this is a new way of thinking that, for some, will make you feel vulnerable. For others, it will be a relief with the comment “it is about dang time.” Welcome the change and focus your marketing on these principles versus ones based in fear. To help you along this new path, we have created a new blog at www.positivebasedmarketing.com that is linked to a Facebook page at www.facebook.com/positivebasedmarketing/ and a Twitter feed at @GetPositiveNow.
Hello! This is Kelly, the CEO of Beyond Indigo. We have taken our focus on Positive Based Marketing a step further and putting our research and knowledge into a blog as well as a Facebook page. This week we are focusing a post from this new blog. We look forward to your liking our Facebook Page as well as following our new blog on Positive Based Marketing vs. Fear Based Marketing.
The idea seems “cool” to be positive, but really what is Positive-Based Marketing vs. Fear-Based Marketing? When a business uses Positive Marketing, what they are doing is creating and empowering relationships between themselves and their current/future clients. This creates a whole and a oneness with all parties that are involved. Ideally, the business creating the marketing is trying to improve the value and quality of the life of the person using that business’ services. In return, the person using the services is enabling that company to stay in business through his or her engagement and interaction with the business. It is a win–win and creates a positive atmosphere. Plus, people are encouraged to think whether this particular product or service is a good fit for them. People tend to be happier and more fulfilled with Positive-Based Marketing.
Now, think of the negative marketing campaigns that you have seen. Fear is used in Fear-Based Marketing to sever relationships or isolate people from their relationships. It backs people into a corner and makes them panic thinking they will no longer be accepted by the group/society if they don’t use the product or service being marketed. Fear-Based Marketing also encourages people to react — and not to think. For example, if a female watches a cosmetic commercial, she is usually told that she will not be beautiful or accepted by society unless she wears that exact shade of red. She will be “kicked” out of the group, so to speak. To be included in the whole, she needs to wear that shade of red and, therefore, she must immediately go buy that shade of red. She is not empowered to think: This shade is great for me; therefore, I will purchase it. People tend to be more fearful and anxious with this type of marketing.
To read other posts on this blog please click here.
Just as we were enjoying our Memorial Day weekend, Google went quietly about making some significant changes to its algorithm that heavily impacts local businesses. If you want to understand how to keep being “seen” in Google, these new changes must be adapted in your practice’s online marketing program.
First Change: Google Search Results Went Hybrid
This past year, when we used Google for an online search, the results would show paid advertising at the top or far right (which only 25% of people click on), with local search results shown next — listed in packs of 7 or 10 and accompanied by corresponding map markers starting with the letter “A,”, followed by organic (non-local) results. Google has now integrated organic and local search results together, which currently display on the search results page in varying ways — in packs of 3, 5 or 7 for example, depending on the search query. Search results are still formatted with paid advertising at the top or right under the map on the results page, but you’ll now see organic results listed BEFORE, and blended with, local search results. How does a business become listed in this new hybrid format and at the top of local search results? What we have learned is to focus on the following:
- It is crucial to have a custom-designed website that can be optimized (coded) down to the page with local search terms, specific relevant industry keywords (veterinarian, pet cancer, etc.), and appropriate geographic regional terms.
- When choosing location keywords, check how close your business is to the center of the city. To do this, go to Google Maps (maps.google.com) and type in your city and state; e.g., Minneapolis MN. Google will then display a marker on the map with the letter “A” — where it considers the center of the city to be located. This letter “A” is what Google calls the “centroid.” The closer your business is to the this centroid, the more “votes” your local business listing receives toward being near the top of local search results for that city. With this approach, Google is attempting to make the search experience most relevant to the searcher’s query.
- Plentiful (five or more) positive online reviews help maintain good positioning in Google Local Search. Google purchased the Zagat review site and is now incorporating these reviews into Google local listings. Reviews are becoming increasingly important. Having reviews associated with your business listing is yet another key ranking factor and one of the many signals Google looks for.
To read the rest of this article in a PDF format please click here: Fasten Your Seat Belt – Google Made Changes Again
More so than ever a business has to watch its brand on the Internet. People can interact and define your brand without your input. As I have stated in many speaking venues even though most veterinarians are face to face and on the phone type of people doesn’t mean your pet owners are! Here are some tips to get you started with your brand management.
Where People Can Interact With Your Brand
People perceived your brand and your business differently 10 years ago than they do today. Now, people have choices and the ability to research information themselves before making a purchasing decision. In the past, we used to have to rely on the vendors to give us information about their businesses. Now, with a few quick taps of our fingers, a wealth of knowledge is available for us to consume. What people find about your business and where they find it determines how they see your brand. Does your business seem trendy? Up to date? Resourceful and helpful? Can a viewer find the information he or she needs quickly on any device, 24/7? These are questions to ask when reviewing how your business is perceived online. Where are people making these decisions?
Today, people are using multiple touchpoints when making a purchasing decision. A touchpoint is a place people start at or go to when researching. A pet owner could start at Google, read reviews, leap over to a business website, click through to Facebook, follow on Twitter, read a blog piece, and so forth. These touchpoints, when joined together, turn into a marketing circle. The goal is to keep an interested pet owner in your marketing circle. If there is a disconnect, a person might leap to another business’s marketing circle and you have potentially lost that sale. Each of these touchpoints (or platforms) defines your brand in the eye of the viewer. Here are some key points to keep in mind.
- Google now focuses on local search for a business. This local search feature focuses on online reviews, Google+, Twitter “tweets,” and blog comments. Google’s goal appears to be to give us as much information about a business in one “snapshot.” For example, take a look at Animal Medical Hospital in Charlotte, NC. You will see my picture listed under the search result because I +1 this brand or “liked” it, in other words. Google is providing social media information now mixed in with search engine optimization results. Why? To keep a person using Google and not Facebook.
To read the rest of this article please download this PDF. YourBrandYourReputation
Note from Kelly Baltzell CEO Beyond Indigo Pets: We are going to take a few weeks to review what has happened on the Internet the past year. We will be posting pieces that I have written from AAHAMarketlink through MWI to catch hospitals up to speed and to review what we have learned. Thank you for joining us!
This first piece covers one of the basis of marketing – Know Thy Self. If we do not know how we think and how our market thinks then it is much harder to engage and interact with our clients.
How Do Pet Owners Think?
After speaking to more than a thousand veterinarians and their staffs this past year, I have recognized several general concepts regarding how veterinarians view the world versus how their pet-owner clients view it. Talk about a cultural divide! Following is a list of ways in which vets think and what pet owners actually expect.
1. Vets are check-the-box type of people. “I have a website. (Check!) Does it work? I have no idea, but I have one! The Yellow Pages rep came around, and I handed him a check. Are my clients finding me in the Yellow Pages? Who knows? But I am done with my marketing, right?” When speaking to vets and their staffs, I ask them how many still use the local Yellow Pages to find information. Maybe 5–10% of the people raise their hands. Then I ask how many businesses in the rooms still advertise in the Yellow Pages. About 95% of the people raise their hands. Even among veterinarians, there is a disconnect on ad placement versus use.
On the other hand, pet owners want ongoing interaction and engagement with the veterinarian, who is their credible source of information about animal health. The majority of people shopping online today consult from 2 to 10 sources before making a purchasing decision (Google, ZMOT). This search tends to follow the path of starting on Google, going to online reviews, and then going to a website. Or, people start their search on Facebook, go to websites, and then to online reviews. Other sources include blogs, YouTube, e-newsletters, next-door neighbors, a business sign, and a few look at court reports for criminal records on a prospective
2. Vets have said to me: “My medicine stands for itself so why should I ask?” Veterinarians have been trained not to ask for reviews or accolades. They believe that they either practice good medicine or they don’t.
Now 70% of people, per Google, research online reviews before making a purchasing decision.
To read the rest of this article please download the PDF of the original AAHAMarketlink publication: Veternarian vs. Pet Owner Thinking
Ten years ago, people perceived brands differently. We relied on businesses to supply us with information, and we accepted what they told us. Now, we have choices and can perform our own research before making purchasing decisions. This means that online research dictates how we perceive different companies.
We now use multiple “touchpoints” when making purchases. A touchpoint is a place where people go to research information. Many pet owners start with Google, online reviews, corporate websites, Facebook, Twitter, and blogs. When strung together, these touchpoints form a “marketing circle.” At Beyond Indigo, we strive to keep pet owners in your marketing circle. All aspects of your marketing circle should be consistent. This means that one person should be in charge of your brand and your content. Many people can implement your message, but one person should oversee it.
Google now focuses on local search for businesses, which offers a complete snapshot with online reviews, Google+, Facebook posts, Twitter feeds, and blog comments. Facebook and Twitter aid brand recognition and consumer engagement. A new study by aytm.com found that people prefer brand updates via Facebook and Twitter instead of email. It also found that 58% of Facebook users have liked a brand, 42% of people have mentioned a brand in a status update, and 41% have shared a brand link, story, or video.
Remember that your brand’s reputation is crucial to gaining and keeping clients. It’s an investment that takes time, effort, and money — but it pays off handsomely. The first step is taking an inventory of your online brand reputation. We’re here to help. For a free personalized consultation, visit beyondindigopets.com/contact.
Upcoming Free Webinars
Facebook Alone Is Not Enough
February 22, 2012: 12:00 to 12:30 p.m. CST
Even if you have an active Facebook page that engages regularly with fans, you still need an interactive website. This free 30-minute webinar will discuss what works for your business on Facebook, what should be on your website, and how to cope with changes in the social media landscape.
February 29, 2012: 12:00 to 12:30 p.m. CST
Now more than ever, people rely on online reviews to make all sorts of purchasing decisions. Join this session to learn everything you need to know about creating, generating, and maximizing online reviews. We’ll also cover how and where people review your practice, how the “review cycle” works, and how to improve your overall review rating.
Visit redesign.beyondindigopets.com/webinars to sign up.
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When it comes to online reputation management for your veterinary practice, Yelp is one of the major players the realm of online reviews that you should be monitoring closely. Founded in 2004 as a website devoted to helping online users connect with local businesses, Yelp has grown into one of the most popular review sites on the web. According to information provided on the Yelp site, on average more than 50 million people visit Yelp every month in search of services, and to read and post reviews. While there are a number of other websites that also offer consumers this option, what separates Yelp from the rest of pack is that it employs a fairly stringent review filter. The result is that some reviews that may seem benign and credible will not be displayed and will get filtered out. If a new-to-Yelp business is striving to establish credibility, they may of course get frustrated with reviews that they know are submitted by legitimate customers, but are still being filtered. Fortunately, in these cases consumers can still read filtered reviews by clicking on the gray link indicating the number of filtered reviews (“X Filtered”) at the bottom left of any Yelp business listing. In the event you cannot not see this link, then the business listing does not have any filtered reviews.
How Credible Reviews Make It Through the Yelp Filter
Let’s take a closer look at how the filtering process works. As quoted from their site:
“Yelp’s review filter is designed to help protect against fake reviews, including those that might be written by a competitor or a disgruntled former employee. Since it’s not always easy to distinguish the good guys from the bad guys, the system sometimes affects perfectly legitimate reviews, especially those that are written by less established users. Some businesses might fear that they are being singled out among the millions of businesses on Yelp. Rest assured, the review filter is automated to reduce human bias. It affects both positive and negative reviews, and doesn’t have anything to do with whether a business is an advertiser or not.”
Note the word “established” in the above explanation: For those reviewers who have only posted one review on Yelp, and have not been active otherwise on the site (such as those who do not have a profile, photo, or have not “friended” others), they are much more likely to have their reviews filtered. This “filtered” status will usually change once the reviewer becomes more involved and “established” on the site — meaning more credible in the eyes of Yelp. When it comes to making it through the Yelp filter as a reviewer, it’s really just about making efforts to be active on the website, and regularly posting helpful reviews.
If you find your business is receiving negative reviews on Yelp it is important to remember that reviews can change from negative to positive over time. One of the ways to help this happen is to reach out to those reviewers who were unhappy with the services you provided. An unsatisfied customer might reconsider changing their low rating to a higher one if they feel acknowledged and that the issues they mentioned in their review have been addressed. Yelp reviews are not static, and can morph in status over time. To help overcome the Yelp Review Filter, strategies can include: voting the review useful or funny, sending the reviewer a compliment, letting them know their review is being filtered and encouraging them to fill out their profile, or asking to be added as a friend on Yelp. Making efforts such as these to engage the review and the reviewer will help in getting those filtered reviews to show up on your Yelp business page.
Why Yelp is Important to Your Veterinary Practice, and Your Clients
A large percentage of consumers check online reviews when seeking a specific product or service, and often rely on web-based feedback early in their decision-making. However, a much smaller percentage actually post online feedback, and as such, a more vocal minority may have a greater impact on the decisions that your potential customers make. Becoming involved and proactive at online review sites such as Yelp is a crucial part of online reputation management for your veterinary practice and will pay off in the long run if you are willing to stay on top of it!
- Create or claim the business listing for your veterinary practice on Yelp (and other online directories/review sites), fill out all applicable fields, and engage with consumer feedback regularly.
- Encourage satisfied clients to write and post reviews by offering great customer service.
- Reach out to your reviewers (that includes both positive and negative).
Check out Yelp (and other online directories/review sites) to see what consumers are saying about your business!
Creating a visible website can be one of the most important components of your marketing strategy, giving your veterinary practice an opportunity to utilize the web to branch out to potential customers. However, some practices find that their websites still are failing to bring in a noticeable amount of new clients, even when their web traffic is good. What causes this lack of conversion? A recent survey found that your design might be the culprit.
According to the survey conducted earlier this year by OnePoll, 70% of respondents stated that they simply do not trust a poorly designed website. Such data highlights the importance of establishing a presence for your veterinary practice on the web, but making sure that your website is serving all of the functions that it should.
So what separates the good websites from the bad? Well, its all about looks, functionality, and navigation.
The Look: You might not be able to judge a book by its cover, but you can certainly judge a website by a similar standard. It is important that you ensure your website has a look that the aesthetic expectations of potential clients, and comes off as professional, clean cut, and tasteful.
The Functionality: On of the biggest parts of making your website successful is making sure that all of the “behind-the-scenes” work is functioning correctly. This means your website should not crash, show error messages, or limit the browsing abilities of your client with broken code.
The Navigation: The final part of what makes a good website is making sure you have fully organized all of the content, and helping to direct your potential clients to the places that they would like to go. If your clients do not know where to look, you cannot expect them to stay on your website.
In a perfect business world, it would be great to expect that high-quality service would be enough to keep potential customers interested. In reality, however, it all comes down to how well you are able to sell your practice, and making a substantial impact on the client every opportunity you get.
A recent veterinary usage study identifies bold web presence, internet-oriented business as one of the keys to boosting visits to your veterinary practice. How does this affect your practice? What else can you do to bring in and retain clients?
Bayer HealthCare Animal Health recently released a study where researchers examined the factors behind a decline in the frequency of pet owners bringing their pets to a veterinary clinic to treat ailments and conduct routine checkups. The study identified six factors responsible for the decline in visits:
Economic downturn – pet owners simply have less to spend on veterinary services
Fragmentation of veterinary services – there are now more vets in more type of practices
Internet information – pet owners trying to solve pet health issues with Google aka “Dr. Google”
Pet owners don’t understand need – why should my pet’s exams be annual, and not biannual?
“Feline resistance” – transporting cats to the vet can be a hassle
“Sticker Shock” – many pet owners turned away by price, cost is usually much higher than anticipated
The study recommends that veterinary practices aim to be as “internet oriented” as possible, citing a robust website as key to drawing in and retaining clientele. This necessity for an internet-savvy clinic stems from the findings within in the study, which concluded that most pet owners use the Internet in some capacity. More than just the website, maintaining an online presence also extends to social media services such as Facebook, and Twitter.
While you can’t control the economic downturn, the good news is that you can ensure that your website is providing your practice with the web presence needed to reach out to current and prospective clients. To see if your website is meeting the needs of your clients, ask yourself Beyond Indigo’s 10 questions to ask about your veterinary website.