When it comes to marketing, promotions are a key go-to for any business. Companies like Groupon and LivingSocial structure their entire business on the search for the perfect deal. While promotions can be largely successful for clothing stores and restaurants, that’s not always the case when it comes to veterinary practices. However, when done correctly, discounts and loyalty programs can provide a handful of benefits to your practice.
How promotions can hurt your practice:
- Loss of continuity. The clients who would use the discounts are already coming to your practice, now they come in with a larger margin off their total. Your practice would lose money by offering returning customers a discount on a service they would be paying full price for. Veterinary medicine isn’t a coffee shop, clients are not choosing to walk in your doors because most of the time they have to for the health of their pet. Why would you offer a discount for something they’d pay full price for out of necessity?
- Loss of credibility. Discounts can make your practice appear less credible. There is a reason Ferrari dealerships don’t have sale signs plastered all over their windows, Ferrari’s would lose their appeal. It shows a lack of confidence in your company and produces an image that your product or service isn’t worth full price. Most customers value a product or service based on its price. If the phrase “you get what you pay for” is true, then no one would want to visit a practice that is continuously offering discounted services
- Unhappy customers. Clients may hold off for check-ups if they believe your organization will run another special and those who paid full price for the same service will be disappointed and cheated that they weren’t offered the same courtesy.
- Loss of profit. Cutting prices is bad for business in general. The margin that practices make off of medical procedures is very small, so to cut into that deeper by offering discounts could lead your practice to lose profit. It sounds obvious, but it’s not revenue that keeps the doors open and helps you make payroll: it’s the profit that’s left over at the end of the day that matters. Since giving discounts comes right off the bottom line, it’s very difficult to “make it up on volume.”
With that said, promotions can be successful when properly tailored to fit the veterinary field. Practices should review non-routine appointments, such as dentals, and plan promotions around them. You could also consider a loyalty program to drive new customers and foster stronger relationships with current clients.
How promotions can help your practice:
- Target new customers. A “Get Acquainted” free office visit can work as an incentive to entice new clients to your business. A client is more likely to go to a practice that will show them appreciation for their business over one that doesn’t.
- Building a relationship. Loyalty programs make clients feel appreciated because they are being rewarded for their spending. Clients appreciate a business that can appreciate them. Because pet parents often times don't have the option to choose whether or not they need to take their pet in, loyalty programs reward them for choosing your practice to visit. Which, in return, provides an opportunity to create better client engagement and trust that will ultimately drive more return visits and increase client loyalty.
- Increases referrals. Clients can be influenced to refer your practice to other potential clients, especially if your loyalty program includes a referral program. Word-of-mouth marketing is often considered the most influential marketing technique.
- Increase in customer return. Clients will be more likely to stick with your practice if it means they will be accumulating credit. If a client knows they can accumulate credit for their purchases at one practice, they are more likely to return rather than search for a new business and program.
- Increase recognition. Loyalty programs additionally work to generate name-recognition, word-of-mouth advertisement and boosted reputation based on clients getting rewarded for referrals, reviews, in-app engagement and social media sharing.
- Understand your audience. You can gauge your clients’ needs and desires by addressing which incentives interest them the most.