Digital Marketing Part 1: Will Your Veterinary Practice Avoid The Slide Into Irrelevance?

November 2, 2017

Last month I had the great privilege of speaking at the NVC 2017 conference in Moscow for the first time.

 

On day two, my topic was digital marketing; specifically, my digital marketing success mantra of Create, Connect, Convert. I’ve not written much on the subject lately, but it’s a subject area worthy of a great deal of time and attention. Alongside leadership, digital marketing remains one of the least well understood and executed areas of management in veterinary medicine. So for the next few weeks, I’m going to shine some light on the subject.

 

Many of you read my first book published in 2011 called The Yellow Pages Are Dead. (If you haven’t then you can still get a digital copy here).

 

 

This was the book's premise: To harness the power of digital marketing, a veterinary practice must be capable of doing the following things.

 

1. Creating content pet owners want to consume.  (Create).
 

2. Connecting with pet owners online and interacting with them, using the content to build a relationship. (Connect).
 

3. Converting those online connections into sales, reviews or referrals that help grow your business. (Convert).

 

Despite the rapid development and changes in social media and digital services that pet owners use, the core principles of this approach remain unchanged.

 

There is no rocket science in this process; the hard part is the execution concerning consistency and quality. For those that achieve this, there are significant wins to be had. For those that don’t... I’m predicting an accelerating descent into irrelevance.

 

If your marketing plan means a brochure website, mailed out vaccine reminders and a quarterly newsletter, then you are a sitting duck, waiting to be picked off by a rival who understands digital marketing. A business who can empathise with the way pet owners think and the problems they have.

 

Because this plan, when it’s well executed, is outstanding. I've built three veterinary hospitals from nothing to high performing hospitals using this strategy and left my rivals scratching their heads.

 

We've also witnessed a sea change in how we make decisions as nations based on the very same strategy. America voted in Trump and Britain voted for Brexit, both victories were attained against the status quo, against the book-makers odds and using digital marketing techniques the mainstream did not understand.

 

Leaving aside the politics and ethics of how these campaigns were fought. It is an absolute fact that decisions are increasingly - if not wholly - made based on the "truth and evidence" presented in a Facebook feed or an Instagram photo collection. Decisions like what president to vote for, or what products to buy, or what movie to see on Friday, or what veterinary practice to visit with your new puppy,

 

That’s the chilling reality of marketing today. Ignore it and sink like Clinton (or Britain).

 

Now, I understand that this is a very confronting topic and I'm being direct. I also know that us vets tend to zone out when the marketers and geeks talk CRM, CPC and marketing automation. But the fact we don’t like this reality and don't speak the language doesn’t mean we can ignore the way the market is moving. To do that guarantees future failure.

 

So let’s take a few deep breaths, calm our minds and come up with a plan.

 

Over the next 3 weeks I’m going to detail each of the sections of my digital marketing mantra.

 

Next week, I’ll get into the art of content production (with a focus on blogging). The most common question I get asked about digital marketing is how to write more effectively and keep up the content production required. So I’ll share my secrets to how I managed to publish two blogs per week and a monthly podcast and still run two businesses.

 

The following week, we’ll take a look at where to post your content and how often. There’s no point having great content if no-one is looking at it.

 

And finally, I show you some simple ways to start improving your conversion rates from people browsing, to people doing things that benefit you as well as them.

 

By the end, you won’t be a marketing genius, but I guarantee you’ll be less overwhelmed and you’ll have built up some familiarity with the language and process.

 

I hope that you can take value regardless of your current expertise level. If, for example, you know zero about marketing, then perhaps all we’ll achieve will be to help you realise that it’s time to outsource this to someone who can do it for you. No worries, at least you’ll have a clue what you are asking your external marketer to do for you.

 

And for those more accomplished, then you’ll get some great pointers that will improve your outcomes or reduce the stress involved in running your campaigns.

 

So stay tuned for next week when we’ll jump into content production.

 

And if you do have any questions or can’t wait to get deeper into the subject then you could do a lot worse than downloading a copy of The Yellow Pages Are Dead, here.

 

Have a great week.

 

Dr D.

 

 

 

 

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