The Vicious Cycle of Bad Veterinary Practice Marketing

Posted by Mark Olcott, DVM on Feb 2, 2016 4:27:53 PM

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I just read the 2015 Banfield State of Pet Health Report and I cannot recommend it strongly enough to anybody who works in the veterinary profession.  The report “..focuses on the differences between how veterinarians and pet owners perceive preventive care and what that means for pet health.”  

It’s a real eye-opener and explains a lot of the downward sloping lines we are seeing in visits/year, visits/FTE DVM, and other indicators of decreasing veterinary demand.  I wish I could tell you I’m surprised, but I’m really not.  Veterinarians for too long have been using outdated marketing tactics that focus primarily on reminders and “interruption marketing” as Seth Godin calls it.

Here’s how the Vicious Cycle looks:


It starts innocently enough but before long your “emotional bank account” is overdrawn:  the ratio of spam to value soars. You’re talking more than ever, but nobody is listening.  

Perhaps the most stunning statistic in the Banfield report is this:


Think about it: every veterinary practice in the United States does monthly routine care reminders and thousands of practices also use tools like DemandForce to confirm appointments, etc..  Despite the virtually universal prevalence of these tools from 2011 to 2014, pet owner’s perceived need for veterinary care went down by 50%!  It got WORSE!

My friends, the problem isn’t that we need better reminder systems or more reviews or cleaner websites.  Unfortunately, the problem goes much deeper than that--we need to completely rethink year-round engagement and focus on education.  WHY do they need to come in for labwork?  “My cat looks fine…..WHY do I need to bring him in every year?”  There’s only so much you can say in a 20 minute office visit once a year, so how are you adding value during the OTHER 364 days a year?  

Topics: Innovative Technology For Vets, Marketing For Veterinary Practices