Alexis Wells, CVPM, CCFP- Senior Practice Coach with Veterinary Growth Partners
As our nation begins to recover from the unexpected and startling lifestyle changes and economic challenges caused by COVID-19, veterinary practices are pressed to rethink how they do business. Most practices are working on sustainability through COVID-19. Many clinics do not have as many pets coming through the door or as many people leaving their homes and just stopping by the practice as they were before. Yet, out of crisis often comes opportunity. During the pandemic, there is an opportunity to connect with your clients through our marketing and your online platforms.
Reaching out and connecting at a time such as this also means rethinking our marketing focus and strategies. For example, it is flea, tick and heartworm season and that is usually a huge focus for the month. Depending on your social distancing protocols, you may not be asking our clients to come in for their pet’s heart worm test, and depending on your location or state, that may not even be allowed. Our focus right now should be on educating clients about heartworm and the importance of getting their pets tested and on prevention as soon as COVID-19 policies dissipate and allow it. Along with continuing monthly awareness campaigns, it is important to communicate through your marketing any updates or changes in the practice. Have you changed your hours? Are your new curbside protocols easy to understand for your clients? Do you have an online pharmacy for home delivery or are you offering Telemedicine services? Below are some great tips to help you communicate with your clients effectively and build brand awareness in your community.
Tip #1: Update all platforms and communication channels
Be sure to update all of your communication channels consistently with any changes. It is important to have the most up-to-date information on any site that clients may utilize; Google My Business, Facebook, Instagram, Yelp, Nextdoor, on-hold messaging, signage, etc., and especially your website. As things are everchanging, make a list of all the social platforms that you utilize or have your information on so that you can easily post or update that information on a regular basis.
Tip #2: Update your website
A quick look at a number of vet practice websites shows that many have not yet updated their websites! It is imperative that your website has current and up to date information that is readily accessible. If clients are in need of services for their pets, most of them will start by looking at your website. Create a COVID-19 page or a spot for information on what the practice is doing to keep your teams, clients and patients safe during this time.
Tip #3: Showcase your offerings
Showcase to your clients that your practice is doing everything to protect your team and them, but also that you are here for their pet’s needs. Many practices are offering curbside services, online pharmacy, and telemedicine. Online pharmacies, such as Vetsource, are also great revenue drivers for practices, especially during these times where clients may not want to leave their house. Telemedicine has also been making waves recently for our industry. If you are starting to do telemedicine services or 2-way texting options, focus on posting content about these great services and offerings.
Tip #4: Post Consistently, Compassionately, and Creatively
I often hear people say, “Well, is it ok to post things other than about COVID-19 right now?” And my answer for that is “Absolutely.” We need to be mindful of what is going on, be compassionate, and have situational awareness during COVID-19, but we absolutely should post about other things. Some examples include the updates on COVID-19 services mentioned earlier such as curbside service and COVID-19 focused information, but there are also other options. People are home with their animals, so this is an opportunity to post safety or training tips or healthy pet information.
People need inspirational or uplifting messages, as well! Right now, it is not about creating a call to action and looking at your metrics to see if you had conversions on those posts. Right now, it is about showing compassion and concern for your current and potentially future clients through your outreach efforts, services, and messaging. As you do this, you will be building your brand awareness in your community and becoming the “go to” for information regarding their family pet(s) and even for some lighthearted pictures and videos.
It is also a great time to utilize some creative video marketing. As people are scrolling through their Facebook posts or surfing on YouTube, give them something compelling or inspirational to watch and see your brand awareness increase as a result! Drive traffic to your YouTube posts via other social media outlets such as Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter with links to your videos. It is easier now than ever to create dynamic short videos with programs such as iMovie, Animoto, and even TikTok. Here is just one video idea . . . Perhaps, you could ask some of your clients to record short clips of how their pets are managing during this time. Compile a few of them into a short video with a themed message!
It is important that we continue to do marketing and we must do this consistently, compassionately, and creatively. Refocus your marketing to provide clients with pertinent information, get utilization of your online pharmacy and also continue to build brand awareness in your community. Let them know… we are all in this together… and you are there for their pet!