As the the CEO and President of Beyond Indigo Pets, I have had the opportunity to speak to hundreds of vets over the last month and I have noticed a common story. Most of the vets I’ve met have never had to do much marketing, if any, until the last two years. Some vets even tell me they have been blessed with double-digit growth until two years ago. Wow, those were the days!
Two years ago, as we all know, the economy slammed on the brakes. You could no longer take growing your business for granted. New clients stopped streaming through the doors and annual profits hit a wall. Your natural instinct may have been to run a few more ads in your local newspaper. But in your gut, you knew that wasn’t enough. Today technology has taken on an enormous role in how businesses market themselves with online advertising, re-marketing campaigns, social media, and more. It’s a lot to learn and a lot to become an expert at. If you are a vet struggling to make sense of it all, we recommend the following:
1. Cut yourself some slack. If you have never done any marketing before, there is a real learning curve. The best way you can help yourself is to open your mind and to educate yourself on your options. For example, do you want to keep your marketing in-house or hire outside help? A good place to educate yourself is our new updated website at redesign.beyondindigopets.com. On this site are questions to ask yourself in tutorial fashion to help figure out the strengths and weaknesses in your marketing program.
2. Realize that sometimes it takes money to make money. Most vets I have spoken to haven’t spent a dime on marketing because people just walked through the door. Ah for the good old days! To gain new clients and have your current clients spend more of their dollars at your clinic, you need to educate them. It’s not enough to simply say your business exists and is located on Main Street. Your outreach needs to offer tips, advice, and real-time interaction. I have found this notion of “education and outreach” is a bit of a paradigm shift for people in the vet industry.
3. To reach people where they are today your business needs to have a website, a Facebook page, and be visible in local searches with online reviews. I had one woman stand up and say, “I am not comfortable with Facebook and interacting with people in this fashion.” Many veterinarians can relate! But this is how people now expect to communicate with one another, whether you are comfortable or not.
4. Don’t go it alone. There is help available once you open your mind and acknowledge that in order to grow, your business needs to do more. Your website needs to be up-to-date and search engine-optimized, and your digital footprint needs to span multiple outlets, including review sites, Facebook, YouTube, and more. Work with a company that educates you on your options. Start reading some of the news about social media and see the power of transformation it is having on entire countries, the world, and how we communicate.
Yesterday, Facebook rolled out the new design for Pages. If you have a personal profile page on Facebook you won’t have any problem adapting to the layout, because it resembles the recent upgrades to both the Places and People pages. While it’s nice to have visual consistency, the real reason for the change (according to Facebook), is to better meet the communication and engagement needs of its Page users.
The real benefit for a marketer is that you can now see how your fans interact with your page, as it happens. By clicking the “Notifications” button on the top left of the page, you can quickly see when someone has Liked your page, shared content from your page, and Liked or commented on one of your posts or pictures. This will help you determine what type of information is most relevant to your fans, as well as respond to comments in a timely manner.
You will now also have the ability to navigate the site as your page, Liking other pages and commenting on their posts. Once you Like another page, you can follow their activity on your News Feed and stay abreast on new content.
Facebook plans to make more improvements to Pages in the coming months, but the features outlined above are available on your page now. Not ready to make the switch? Want to spice up your info or add new pictures to enhance your page? You still have time. All Pages will automatically be upgraded on March 10.
Read more about the Page upgrades in more detail here: