It's every pet owner's worst nightmare - there's an emergency happening and suddanly, in the midst of it all, they've been separated from their pet.
Saturday, May 13, 2017 is National Animal Disaster Preparedness Day. It's important for pet owners to have a plan in place for the whole family, including pets, in the case of an emergency or disaster. From storing food and water properly to pet first aid supplies, it's better to have a plan in place and never need it rather than scramble to find what you need as it's happening.
VHA has put together a downloadable checklist of things your client's can utilize to help them be prepared. It includes:
- Food & Water: Have enough food and water for three to five days. Keep your food in an airtight container and rotate every three months to ensure freshness. If you feed canned food, include a manual can opener. Don’t forget bowls!
- Medication and Medical Records: Keep your pets updated medication and medical records in a waterproof container. Also include photographs of you and your pet to prove ownership.
- Pet First-Aid Kit: In addition to a standard first-aid kit, you should also include a nylon leash, self-cling bandages, pet carrier, muzzle, and a pillowcase to confine your cat if needed.
- Have a Plan: Research pet-friendly hotels or kennels where your pet will stay in case of an evacuation, or exchange information with neighbors, friends, or family and set up a plan in the event that they need to evacuate your pets for you (or you for them).
- Microchip: Ensure your pet is microchipped and that the registration is up-to-date. It’s the easiest and quickest way to be reuinted with your pet in case of a separation due to any emergency or disaster.
Help your client's become prepared today by downloading and distributing this complimentary checklist today!
Click to download a helpful Pet Preparedness Checklist, compliments of VHA!
Your veterinary team is extremely busy, from running the front desk and seeing patients to performing lifesaving surgery and educating pet parents. Add the stress of researching and putting together the most basic marketing plan, and your team can quickly become overwhelmed.
We put together the 2017 Unique Holiday Calendar for Veterinary Clinics. If you haven’t downloaded it, it’s recommended as the rest of this post ties directly into it. The 12-month calendar lists fun, unique, and bizarre animal-related holidays that veterinary clinics can market around. We are taking that one step further and outlining a basic marketing plan you can step-and-repeat with any and all of the holiday’s listed in the calendar.
Offer a Special Promotion
For months with themes, such as National Heartworm Awareness Month for April or Lyme Disease Prevention Month for May, offer promotions to entice new clients and those clients who rarely visit to make appointments. Using April as an example, you could offer heartworm prevention discounts or buying in on promotions (buy 6 months, get 15% off 6 months) or tie in with a service, such as a discount on preventatives when the client has a complete heartworm screening performed.
Once you’ve determined the holidays you’re going to celebrate and/or the promotions you’re going to run, create several different graphics using a service like Canva or Pablo. You will use these graphics through all your marketing pieces, so it’s important to have a few different ones so audiences don’t see the same one repeatedly and tune out. Select easy-to-read fonts, complimentary colors, a fun pet-related image, and to-the-point wording for the graphic.
Continuing our plan for National Heartworm Awareness Month for April, a timely, educational blog is a very effective marketing tool for your veterinary clinic. Not only does it add new content to your website, it can also be shared across other marketing vehicles such as emails, social media, and as handouts in your clinic.
Blogging doesn’t need to be an exhaustive effort, either. A brief 400 to 600-word blog with important information and statistics is more than sufficient, and can easily be reached following a simple outline:
- What is a heartworm?
- Why is heartworm prevention important?
- Who is at risk to be infected by heartworms?
- How do pets become infected with heartworm?
- How do owners determine if their pets are infected?
- Call-to-action to visit your clinic to take advantage of your promotion during April (example: Call today to schedule your appointment to save big on heartworm prevention. Hurry, the promotion ends April 31, 2017!)
If you’re considering adding photos to your blog posts, use your best judgement when doing so. While you’re used to seeing surgical procedures and other aspects of veterinary care, not everyone who reads your blog is. If you plan on using photos of patients, whether on your website, social media, or email, ensure you have the consent of the owner (in writing, preferably).
Your promotion is ready and blog written, now you need to get your information out to the masses. One tactic is through email marketing. One step in your patient check-in procedure should include asking the client for their email address. Not only can you send them helpful appointment reminders but the occasional email from the clinic, such as sharing money-saving events – both of which most clients will be interested in receiving.
Utilizing a service like ePetHealth, MailChimp, or Constant Contact will help you create an email quickly and professionally. Once again, email marketing doesn’t have to be exhaustive if you follow a simple formula:
- Header (like your clinic logo, photo of your clinic waiting room, etc.)
- A brief paragraph with any news or updates about the clinic.
- A graphic showcasing the month’s promotion with a brief description.
- Hyperlink the graphic to your blog post with a CTA to learn more in the description.
- A call-to-action to take advantage of the promotion (example: Call to schedule your appointment to take advantage of this limited-time promotion!)
You have the holiday selected, a promotion created, and a blog published. Now it’s time to share it all on your social media! Don’t feel like you must share everything at once; spread out the information over the month (it’s why having several graphics on hand will be beneficial). Consider a spaced out posting schedule:
- Graphic and announcement on the 1st of the month
- Blog on the 7th
- Graphic on the 14th
- Last-minute reminder on the 28th of the month
That way you’re spreading out your points of activation across the entire month, reaching followers each time with a different message with the goal to bring them into your clinic. If you’re not already using a social media management tool, consider HootSuite, Buffer, or DrumUp.
Not everyone is signed up for your email list or regularly checks your website for new blog posts. To reach these individuals, consider printing out your blog post to hand out to clients in your clinic. If your blog is long without bullet points, consider condensing and adding points to make it easier to scan and read.
If you’re looking for pre-made client handouts, continue to check back on our blog as we will be producing regular handouts for specific months, like Heat Awareness in June! Or sign up for our email newsletter to receive an update as soon as they’re available for download.
As part of a developed marketing plan for veterinary clinics, consideration must be given to the fun, unique, and bizarre holidays that have been established outside of the traditional holiday schedule. These days, like National Lost Dog Awareness Day on April 23 or National Take Your Cat to the Vet Day on August 22, are perfect opportunities to reach out to your target market in an entertaining manner. You can share educational information for pet parents to utilize, like developing a family plan to deal with natural disasters like flooding or earthquakes during September for National Disaster Preparedness Month. You can also keep it lighthearted and share fun photos of cat's being herded with a motivational message to clients for Cat Herder's Day on December 15.
Consider the special days most important and relevant to your veterinary clinic and develop a marketing strategy you can step-and-repeat for every event. Such strategies can include:
- One Facebook post per event;
- Two Tweets with appropriate hashtag per event;
- One graphic (which you can create with Canva for free!) to utilize across social media;
- A brief fun or informational blog you can post to your website;
- And a brief email to send to your clients alerting them of the special day, why it's important, and a call to action to visit your clinic if appropriate.
Not sure what would work for your clinic? Important holidays and special months to pay attention to can include:
- January 2: National Pet Travel Safety Day (How can pet owners keep their pets safe while traveling by car or plane?)
- February: Pet Dental Month (Why is it important to have your pet's teeth regularly checked, and a call-to-action to set up an appointment today.)
- February 28: World Spay Day (Help control the pet population by spaying your cats and dogs.)
- March 19 - 25: National Poison Prevention Week (What can pet owners do to ensure their pets are safe in their home? What are some uncommon things that can be poisones to pets?)
- April: National Heartworm Awareness Month (What damage can be done by heartworm and a call-to-action to come to their veterinarian for preventative medicine)
- May: National Chip Your Pet Month (Call-to-action to get pets microchipped) & Lyme Disease Prevention Month (call-to-action to have preventative medicine)
- June: National Best Friends Day (Share photos of your clients and their best friends)
- July: National Hot Dog Day (Perfect for sharing fun photos of dogs in hot dog costumes!)
- August: National Immunization Awareness Month (Reinforce the importance of preventative care for pets)
- September: World Rabies Day (Discuss the importance of rabies vaccinations for pets and how often pets should be vaccinated with a call-to-action to schedule an appointment today)
- October 15 - 21: National Veterinary Technician Week (Great way to feature and thank your team for their hard work!)
- November 23: Thanksgiving (What not to share with your pet from the Thanksgiving table)
- December 31: New Year's Eve (Time to thank your clients and patients for making the whole year so successful)
Download the full list of unique, fun, and important pet holidays for all of 2017 in
a handy 12-month calendar that your veterinary clinic can utilize
in your marketing strategy all year long!
If you haven’t heard of the new mobile game Pokémon Go, you could ask your staff or children if they have and I bet the answer will be a resounding yes. It’s dominated airwaves, TV time, social media, and just about every major publication has published an article about the records this game has shattered in the few short weeks it has been out.
July means mid-year marketing reviews for businesses. It’s a perfect opportunity review how the last six months have performed for your business, and if any changes are needed to obtain the goals you’ve set for the rest of 2016.
If you’re looking to add a little boost to your marketing efforts, there are several ideas you can implement:
In today’s digital world, a website is a must-have for business success. Claiming your space in the internet and having a digital footprint is vital to competing in the industry and being found by local clients. But it isn’t enough to just have a few web pages and photos haphazardly thrown up – there needs to be a reason why visitor come to your site, stay on your site, and ultimately make the decision to visit your clinic.
To have a successful website, there are a few things that every veterinary clinic must have present:
#1 – Basic Information is Easy to Find
If your basic information – location, phone, and hours – aren’t easy to find, you will lose potential patients quickly. In addition to having a Contact Us page with this information easily accessible, also include your location, phone number, and hours on the homepage above the fold. Above the fold simply means before the user scrolls down. Additionally, put this information in the footer of your website so it is visible across every page they visit.