29 Apr Admin or advert?
Onswitch HQ recently read a post on LinkedIn exhorting practice managers to focus on booster reminders as “one of the most important items in your practice marketing toolbox” as for many clients “receiving their booster reminder might be the only contact you make with them for the whole year”. This drew us up short for two reasons, firstly a booster reminder should absolutely not be the only time a client hears from you in twelve months, and secondly, is a reminder email even marketing?
The Chartered Institute of Marketing defines marketing as “The management process responsible for identifying, anticipating and satisfying customer requirements profitably”. If a customer’s requirement is to keep their pet or horse happy and healthy, then sure, having an annual booster is one of their needs. But sending an email saying it’s time to book in for booster vaccinations is an administrative task, it’s not going to bond the client to your practice as the only bit of communication all year. Quite the opposite in fact – if the only contact a client has is a short message effectively saying, call us so we can charge you some money, then that’s not marketing in our book.
Practice marketing should always be focused on the customer experience, enhancing every interaction the owner has with the team. Building a regular communication campaign, through social media posts, blogs or newsletters, will place the need for preventative care (of which vaccinations are just one part) firmly in the context of a more universal and caring approach. With the increasing prevalence of apps, owners can now log on at their convenience and manage their pet’s care just as they do many other areas of modern life – from their sofa, on their phone. Texting or emailing clients to tell them their boosters are due is important, but it’s not really marketing.
In the veterinary sector, word of mouth and personal recommendations are hugely important – every research focus group we ever run attests to this. When clients are happy with the care you provide for their beloved pets and horses, they tell their friends and family, they leave glowing reviews online and on your Facebook page. If you want to ‘do’ marketing, then you can’t do better than ensuring the care provided by every single member of the team, at every touchpoint, every day, is superb. Delivering a consistently excellent customer experience will help you retain delighted clients and attract new ones through positive word of mouth. Far more important than huge banners outside the building, or glossy mail drops. And even better, far more cost effective.
Invest in training the team to understand the client journey, starting way back at the Zero Moment of Truth before they’ve even found you. Coach them to provide a warm and caring service over the phone, in the consult and at the reception desk. Make sure your website and your social media presence showcase your practice as a place where animals and their carers come first. Help owners self-manage their pet and horse’s care with lots of functionality on your website (appointment booking, remote consults, new client registration, prescription ordering, pre-payment and bill payment, webchats and so on). Use apps to help clients access their animal’s records and highlight where boosters are due. This is marketing – a joined up, client-focused approach that speaks in your practice’s unique voice. Banging out a booster reminder once a year is not marketing, it’s simply admin.