Why didn’t your veterinary practice’s newsletter garner the results you were looking for? You poured precious time and energy into developing a newsletter, spending weeks writing, editing and collecting information, and then even more time editing and finalizing the content and design. You anticipated a great response (read: return on investment) from your target audience. And yet, as far as you can tell, your newsletter did nothing. You aren’t even sure that the digital version sent to pet parents was read, or that the rDVM’s office paid attention to the printed version.
From our experience working with veterinary practices, a lot can go wrong with newsletters when it comes to measuring ROI. However, there is a fix to this problem and it’s called content! The secret about content is that it must add value to your readers’ lives. Did you give actionable advice that veterinarians and technicians can use when discussing treatment options with patients? Did you provide information to help pet owners understand the causes and treatments for particular symptoms they might notice with their pets? Overall, did your content successfully show your expertise?
Writing effective newsletter content can be hard, so we’d like to help! Here’s a cheat sheet of topics you can consider for your next veterinary newsletter, to better promote your business and share content your audiences will actually want to read.
Target Audience: rDVMs and/or Veterinary Technicians:
- Profile of a pet’s case/case study
- Hospital expansion or move
- New rooms, medical equipment, tools or technology
- Profile of a staff member (doctor, technician, manager)
- Diagnostic tips
- Treatment updates
- A “technician’s corner” with tips for technicians
- Seasonal or timely information (e.g., canine flu virus, food recalls, Bordetella)
- Invitations to your lectures, roundtables, doctor meet-and-greets or wet labs
- Invitation to visit your booth at a conference or event
Target Audience: Pet Owners:
- Profile of a pet parent with the pet’s case in laymen terms
- Hospital expansion or move
- New rooms, medical equipment, tools or technology
- Profile of a staff member (doctor, technician, manager)
- General pet health tips (e.g., weight loss, exercise, how to read a pet food label)
- Disease, illness or injury information (e.g., diabetes, Cushing’s Disease, cruciate ligament tear)
- Examples of recent media coverage of your practice or a staff member
- Ways your practice or staff members are giving back to the community
- Invitations to open houses, educational discussions (such as pet first aid classes) or to visit your
booth at a pet event
Would you like a printable version of this newsletter content cheat sheet?
Click here to download your veterinary practice newsletter content cheat sheet. Fetching Communications specializes in building and managing newsletters for practices like yours. Contact Liz Lindley by clicking here or email firstname.lastname@example.org so we can discuss your practice’s specific challenges and the solutions available.
Now that you’ve crafted engaging newsletter content, you’ll want to create a design that attracts attention and is easy to read. Ask your in-house designer or vendor for a layout that’s streamlined and simple with lots of whitespace for readers’ eyes to rest.
Besides the usual items – a masthead, table of contents, page numbers – we find it’s the little, but crucial things that often get missed when designing a print or electronic newsletter.
Here are the five newsletter design essentials you shouldn’t overlook:
- Contact information
If readers want to get in touch after receiving your newsletter, they should be able to do so by quickly skimming your newsletter to find your contact information. Be sure to include your address, phone and fax numbers, and client service email address. Plus, if you have multiple locations, listing all of them helps build awareness of hospitals that could be more conveniently located to the reader. If you’re creating an e-newsletter, you can link your hospital information to a page on your website so the reader can click through, generating more traffic for your site, and hopefully encouraging them to look around a little bit while they’re there.
- Social media links and icons
It’s important to promote your social media accounts in multiple ways. Let readers, who may be keen to communicate via social media, know you’re on there, too. On a print newsletter you could include the Facebook icon plus the phrase “follow us on Facebook” and your Facebook URL, which usually looks something like this: www.facebook.com/COMPANYNAME. In an e-newsletter, you can simply insert the Facebook icon and link the image directly to your Facebook page, so the reader can click the icon to access your page.
- Your website
Don’t forget to send readers to your website for more information. Besides including the website address at the bottom or top of your newsletter, you can also offer special, online-only content. If you have text or images you couldn’t fit into your print newsletter, you can ask people to go to your website to read more. For example, if your story is, “The Crazy Things Dogs Eat,” you can insert a teaser at the end of the article that says, “To see all the x-ray images of weird things dogs eat, visit ABCVeterinaryHospital.com.” For e-newsletters, don’t forget to link your logo to your homepage. You can insert links to specific pages of your website as well.
- Opt-in and opt-out messages
These terms are used for e-newsletters, but can also be applied to print. An opt-in message is a reminder about why the reader is receiving an email from you. It generally sits at the very top or bottom of the email and says, in small print, something similar to: “You are receiving this email because you requested pet news and health updates from us.” An opt-out message is usually at the bottom of an e-newsletter and offers a way for people who no longer want to receive your e-newsletter to unsubscribe. Both messages should be included in every e-newsletter you send. This helps reduce the number of people who might label your email as spam and also ensures that the subscribers on your email list truly want to receive information from you.
When it comes to print newsletters, it’s a good idea to mention how readers can contact your organization to update their mailing address or doctor names, or ask to be removed from your mailing list.
- Brand identity
Your brand identity is something that helps rDVMs and pet parents quickly recognize your practice. It’s your logo, the fonts used within all of your external documents and publications, and the signature colors you use on your website, brochures and signage. In two words, it’s style consistency. Don’t forget to carry your style through to your newsletter design as well. It should feature your colors, logo and preferred fonts.
Want a FREE design assessment?
If you already have a newsletter design, but know it needs work or want to make sure it’s in stellar shape, we can help. Click here, or contact Liz Lindley at email@example.com to get a complimentary review of your newsletter. We’ll use our 5-point checklist to identify what’s working and what needs tweaking.
This is the fun part, and here’s how it works.
Once you’ve decided to kick-start your newsletter project, what comes next? After you’ve identified your target audience (referring veterinarians or pet owners), as well as who on your team is going to manage the newsletter process, it’s time to brainstorm story ideas. This is the fun part – no, really! Just keep the following fundamentals in mind to come up with content your readers will enjoy.
Show you care
Contrary to what you may think, your newsletter should focus primarily on helping your readers, not promoting your services. 90 percent of your content should focus on reader concerns with only 10 percent of the content dedicated to talking about your business.
Entertain and educate
Referring veterinarians need practical information to help them be successful in their own clinics, while pet owners are looking for advice to make their pets’ lives better. For example, an article for referring veterinarians could cover ways to improve the orthopedic exam. Images of x-rays could be included for illustration. For pet owners, you could share tips on what to expect during an orthopedic exam, with a photo of a patient with your specialists and staff, showing the human-animal bond. Would you like more ideas? Grab our list of newsletter content ideas. It’s free!:
Don’t forget pictures
It’s easy to get wrapped up in the telling, but showing is just as important. Readers skim headlines, photos and captions before deciding if reading the text is worth their time. Colorful, interesting pictures can compel readers to take a deeper dive into your content. So, as you consider various article ideas, think about the pictures you could use to go with them.
If you’d like to use snapshots from your hospital, be sure you have signed releases from employees pictured as well as from owners whose pets are featured in the images. Also, keep in mind that too many “subjects” in the shot will make your photo look cluttered. Try to include no more than four subjects in your photos. Additionally, opt for photos that have at least one of the subjects making direct eye contact – it instantly connects with the reader.
You can also purchase general pets and people images from websites like istockphoto.com and stock.adobe.com. Look for good quality images with a resolution of at least 300 pixels per inch for print and 72 pixels per inch for e-newsletters.
Share next steps
Most important: Before you and your newsletter editor call the copy “final,” double check to make sure that you have included a direction for your readers on what to do next. Termed a “call to action” (CTA), these end messages are requests or reminders of what you want your reader to do after reading a piece. For example, “Call Dr. Lynn for a phone consultation” or “Like us on Facebook.”
As you write your rDVM-focused newsletter, consider CTAs such as invitations for seminars, meet-and-greets, open houses or phone consultations.
For your pet owner audience, CTAs could include inviting them to events at your hospital such an open house or holiday pet photo sessions, asking them to forward your e-newsletter to friends, inviting them to share their story with you, or suggesting they ask their family veterinarian for a referral to your practice.
Skip the Work
We specialize in building and managing newsletters for practices like yours. Contact Liz Lindley at 877.703.3824 x105 or firstname.lastname@example.org. We can discuss your practice’s specific challenges and the solutions available.
Be sure to sign-up for our blog updates so you don’t miss the next one: “6 Design Essentials for Veterinary Newsletters.” Whether you’re designing it in-house or working with a graphic designer, these tips will give you the info you need to ask for an effective and easy-to-read layout.
Is a Newsletter on Your “If-Only” List? Move it to a “Must-Do.
For most veterinary marketers, there’s not only a big “to-do” list but also a long “if-only” list. The if-only list is packed with ideas you’ve pulled from case studies, the competition and industry journals. It’s all the “stuff” that’s working for other veterinary practices.
You know those tactics could boost your business, if only you had the staff, time and resources. What usually tops the “if-only” list? Revamping a tired, old, print newsletter or getting into the e-newsletter game.
Having worked with veterinary practices on marketing for many years, I can tell you that when you let your newsletter project languish another year, you’re missing out on one of the most effective marketing tools for your practice. Here’s how newsletters – whether targeting referring veterinarians or pet owners – connect your business with its core audiences to build caseload.
- Stay top-of-mind:
It’s far more cost-effective to get repeat business from existing clients than to try to find new ones. According to Bain & Company, raising repeat customer rates by 5% increases profits by 25% to 95% per customer. But it takes effort to earn repeat business nonetheless. Even though a specialist just referred you a new patient, or your ER just had a first-time pet owner try your service, there’s no guarantee they’ll do it again. After all, they’re inundated with marketing messages from your competitors, right? But…if you can get those new people onto your newsletter mailing list quickly, you can stay top-of-mind, reinforce your brand and messaging, and regularly remind them of your practice and available services.
- Build loyalty:
There’s more to a newsletter than being a simple branding tool. Newsletters help build trust and confidence in your doctors and staff – the stuff good relationships are made of. Your newsletter’s content can strengthen your connections with clients, by sharing information that addresses their concerns and provides educational tips for their pets’ wellness.
It’s crucial to build a newsletter that readers relate with if you want to see a return on the time, money and effort you put into the project. Remember, customer loyalty can pay off big: 80% of your company’s future revenue will come from 20% of your current customers. In addition to phone calls and face time with your referring veterinarians and pet owners, newsletters are the next best option for staying in touch.
3. Spread the word:
Newsletters are easy to share. Printed newsletters have a long shelf life, often being passed around from person to person or posted on bulletin boards (especially in a clinic setting). E-newsletters are even easier to share with built-in links that allow readers to forward on to colleagues and friends, or share on social media, with one mouse click. Think about it…your effort in writing a newsletter can impact many people – clients, referring veterinarians, and pet owners who want to know more about your practice.
- Further your reputation:
Here’s what happens as you regularly write newsletters: your expertise comes front and center. By providing relevant content to your target audience, your practice’s status will grow and you can earn a reputation as the go-to veterinary experts. Sending content that family veterinarians and pet owners need and want reminds your constituents that your practice is an industry leader.
- Announce company news:
Newsletter content is best when focused on “what’s in it for the reader.” As marketers, we know that a newsletter is a promotional tool, and so it should be used as a path for sharing news about what’s going on with your practice. Regular columns can inform readers about new services, events, recent media coverage or how your staff has given back to the community.
What you’re probably thinking right now is: My company definitely needs a newsletter, but the reason it’s on my “if-only” list is because I just can’t deal with everything it takes to make it happen: writing articles, finding photos, setting up a design, creating a mailing list. Not to mention actually distributing it somehow.
I know. It can be overwhelming to coordinate all of the moving parts of a newsletter program, and to do it with frequency. So how can you take this important task off your “if-only” list and move it to a “must-do” list? We can help. Start here with a free download of our free “Veterinary Practice Newsletter Content Ideas” checklist.
Fetching Communications specializes in building and managing newsletters for practices like yours. Contact Liz Lindley at 877.703.3824 x105 or email@example.com for a complimentary review of your current newsletter. We can discuss your practice’s specific challenges and the solutions Fetching Communications can offer.
Have you written a press release yet about your pet tradeshow presence?
It’s a hectic time for pet and veterinary businesses around the globe right now, preparing unique exhibit booths for upcoming tradeshows. There are show events to plan, designs to approve, collateral to print, flights to reserve…you name it, and it’s on a long to-do list!
Where is PR on your to-do list? Have you written a press release to announce where you’ll be in the exhibit hall, and what you’ll show at your booth? No? We get it — and we can help! Click below for a free tip sheet you can use today to write that release!
One of Fetching Communications’ public relations specialties is helping pet and veterinary businesses prepare for tradeshows. From a philosophical standpoint, we really love helping businesses that help pets and their people, so we want to help your business succeed and be recognized by the pet and veterinary media. So, set aside an hour or two, and let’s do this!
Follow the eight tips for writing your tradeshow press release, and then submit it for distribution via PetPR.com’s unique news service for the pet industry. Use the promo code HOLIDAY25 to automatically receive 25% off any PetPR.com distribution services you select, with the exception of PR Newswire’s distribution option.
CLICK HERE FOR TIP SHEET.
Contact me personally if you need help! firstname.lastname@example.org.