A commonly cited paradigm for how we should think about marketing is “The 4 P’s”: product, price, promotion, and place. For our use, place is synonymous with distribution: how do your clients receive products and services from you? The obvious answer is “at the clinic”, and that might have been the end of the discussion when I graduated from vet school in 1995. In 2015, however, the complete answer is far more complex than that. Where else are you providing service to your clients? The Internet has completely revolutionized the idea of “place” with respect to the traditional definition of marketing mix. Truth be told, this is the one “P” that has changed the most in the digital revolution.
While the concept of “place” might be irrelevant to Dropbox (www.dropbox.com), it’s still relevant for veterinary practices. In order to understand a bit more about the marketing mix for today’s modern veterinary hospitals, we have to get beyond just the “bricks and mortar” definition of a medical facility. For example, where do your clients want to find you on the Internet? What are they looking for when they do find you? Can your clients request prescription refills online? Schedule appointments? I presume you have a website, which is a good start, but remember that having a lame website is almost as bad as having no website at all.
Attention to detail is critical with client facing marketing. When the majority of your clients are on the Internet multiple times a day, and they’re interacting with world class websites like Google and Facebook, your website can not suck. Remember the last PowerPoint presentation you saw where the speaker put up a hideously complex slide that looked like the complete Krebs Cycle? Don’t make that mistake. Your site needs to be clean and inviting. Who should be the judge of whether your website needs help? One possibility is to ask a trusted employee who is in his/her twenties. Members of the “connected generation” have never known the world without an Internet, and may be a good source of ideas. Ask them to be honest with you, LISTEN, and don’t kill the messenger. Then ask them to help you improve it.
Maybe you should take an online course from Udacity, or perhaps an adult education class at your local community college? Joining VetPartners would be a great start too. The time you spend learning about SEM (search engine marketing) and the way Google ranks search results will pay big dividends for many reasons, but here’s the biggest one: internet marketing is extremely cost effective. There is simply no better way to reach potential clients than with a comprehensive web-marketing plan.
You don’t need a 5-figure budget to make some serious headway in this exciting area of practice marketing. Start by asking the next 10 clients you see if they’ve ever been to your website. Ask those who have visited to tell you what they liked the most AND what they liked the least. Talk to your clients in an open and honest way and you’ll be surprised what they tell you. Click to edit your new post...