Veterinary specialty practices have been clients of Fetching since 2003. We appreciate a hospital’s dual audience of pet parents and referring DVMs, and understand the nuances of marketing to each audience. Through local and regional publicity, Fetching shares our client-hospitals’ cases, services and innovations, earning coverage for the hospitals’ veterinarians.
Along with the news item is the emphasis on compassion and expertise that is so important to the audience of pet parents, to any veterinary hospital’s integrity and to partnerships with rDVMs.
Here are five ways your practice can reach pet parents through public relations campaigns and veterinary marketing:
- PUBLICITY: Pet parents read the local and regional newspapers and online news sites, watch local and regional television news, and read blogs authored by local bloggers. Each time your practice participates in a community event, or publicizes a positive outcome about a local patient, the pet parent audience gets a glimpse into how your practice operates. News coverage gives you the opportunity to show how you work within the triad of veterinary care, i.e. the specialist/the rDVM/the pet parent; the quality of your client service and facilities; the expertise of your staff; and your connection with the community. Your publicity specialist can guide you to find newsworthy angles and cases that will spark interest with media outlets.
- WEBSITE: Your website’s content is usually the very first touchpoint with a potential patient. If the concept of overhauling an old website is too daunting for you right now, you can instead pay attention to a few important pages: Newsroom, About Our Staff and Contact Us. Your Newsroom must be current, with press releases and photographs, and a public relations specialist for media outlets to call. About Our Staff should include well-written, brief biographies that are relatable while simultaneously showcasing your staff’s expertise. The Contact Us page must give a phone number and email address. A “contact us” form can be viewed as impersonal, and a prospect may instead decide to look elsewhere.
- TESTIMONIALS: Sometimes there is a natural inclination to wait patiently for a testimonial to appear. We think being proactive will yield a more positive outcome. Therefore, when a pet owner checks out after an appointment, set up an email system that will automatically ask the pet parent to share how their appointment went. If the pet parent had a good experience, write back or call to thank them for their positive comments, and ask whether you could share that information in a testimonial on your website, on a dedicated page.
- FACEBOOK: You’ve heard this again and again, and it’s still true. Pet parents are on Facebook. They want to participate in the pet parent community, stay up to date on wellness tips, and share photos and stories about their pets. Give them a safe and fun forum to do this within your practice’s Facebook page. The key is to generate content and engage with your fans. While Facebook itself is “free,” the effort needed to keep a Facebook page robust is not free; it takes time to write posts, read replies, engage in conversations, update graphics, watch for new Facebook rules, and it takes advertising dollars to reach the right audience and grow the base of fans. But it’s a tool that all veterinary practices should use consistently. Most practices find that outsourcing this task is a relief from what can become a daily responsibility, consider that possibility.
- COMMUNITY EVENTS: Get a booth and join an event that enables you and your staff to meet your community. It could be a local pet expo, heath fair or dog walk – any event that gives you an opportunity to talk to pet owners, share your practice’s marketing materials, introduce staff and gain new fans on Facebook. Your participation is also a good path to earning local news coverage.
Contact Liz at firstname.lastname@example.org or call 877-703-3824 x105 to get started on a program to reach pet parents more effectively. These tactics will set you apart from your competition.
Since 2003, Fetching Communications has been the agency of choice for specialty veterinary practices. We appreciate a hospital’s dual audience of pet parents and referring DVMs, and understand the nuances of marketing to each audience. Some tactics are traditional, while others are digital and ever-changing, but one thing will not change: to be successful, specialty veterinary practices must bring their news and expertise to both pet owners and rDVMs. For examples of these tactics, visit Fetching Communications’ Portfolio.
Here are five ways your practice can better reach rDVMs:
- NEWSLETTERS: Newsletters are one of the best marketing tools — even though this is a “traditional” and “print” tactic – it really puts your practice right in front of your referring audience. A newsletter process must begin with agreement on its purpose: to deliver your hospital’s expertise straight to the rDVM, and to encourage that rDVM to refer patients to your practice. The newsletter must be visually appealing of course, but its content is what truly matters. Case studies, department highlights, patient testimonials and specific calls to action are requirements for any newsletter. It can be quarterly, or even less frequent. Its reach must be a metric that you can track – the address lists you use must be current, and the calls to action must be measurable — examples can include RSVPs to invitations to register online for a program or a continuing education event.
- TRADE PUBLICITY: The rDVM audience will usually read about specialty veterinary hospitals in two ways – one is through trade publications like Veterinary Economics, Veterinary Practice News, or state VMA newsletters, and the other is through more mainstream media outlets (see #3). Your veterinary practice’s publicity specialist can inquire about bylined article/case study opportunities with your state’s VMA or an industry trade magazine, and upon publication, that article will reach the rDVM community. This exposure bolsters the practice’s visibility and the expertise of the author.
- MAINSTREAM PUBLICITY: rDVMs read the local and regional media, just like pet parents do. Each time your practice participates in a community event, or has a positive outcome about a local patient, you have an opportunity to share news with the local and regional journalists. The outcome could be a written article with photos and quotes from the pet owners, or an on-site TV segment, for example. The “media hit” as we call it is what your target audience sees, and with the rDVM audience, they will gain greater confidence and familiarity with your practice, and will note the traits that show you are active in the community, cutting-edge with treatments and services, and compassionate with your patients and pet owners.
- POSTCARDS: Snail mail is still a very effective delivery system in our veterinary industry. Many veterinarians actually prefer to receive a hard copy of a publication rather than a digital version. Similarly, when you want to tell the referring community that you have hired a new specialist, a very effective tactic is direct mail. But not just any direct mail. The mail piece needs to stand out from the stack of mail on a desk. We like to design and send an oversized postcard to the rDVM list each time a client hires a new specialist or offers a new treatment. If you include a Call to Action, such as an invitation to meet the new specialist at an Open House, you can track the ROI of this tactic. And once you have a professionally designed postcard in place, it can be used again and again by switching out copy and images. It’s a worthwhile investment.
- LINKEDIN: Veterinary professionals are definitely Internet-savvy, but not everyone uses the same platforms. For professional purposes, LinkedIn, as opposed to Facebook or Twitter, seems to be the social platform of choice for the veterinary community. Using the practice manager’s LinkedIn profile, your practice can begin a LinkedIn campaign by connecting with rDVMs who have LinkedIn profiles, and incrementally you can build a referral network right on the LinkedIn platform. We advise that our clients keep these connections informed about practice news by posting articles and announcements about treatments, events, CE offerings and new hires.
Contact Liz at email@example.com or call 877-703-3824 x105 to get started on a program to reach rDVMs. We will help set you apart from your competition.
Five Tangible Ways to Measure ROI of a Veterinary PR Campaign
With more than a decade of experience managing marketing campaigns for specialty veterinary practices, our team at Fetching Communications knows the importance of measuring success and ROI. Veterinarians, like other service providers, need to find the metrics that matter most to them, and then in collaboration with their marketing partners, note the baseline numbers and conduct regular benchmarking assessments. If your practice is implementing a multi-tactic campaign, there are many types of measurements that can help with assessing ROI. Some metrics are revealed quickly, others can take more time.
So how can veterinary specialty practices measure the success of marketing campaigns? Here are five ways to measure ROI.
- INCREASE IN REFERRALS: The purpose of conducting media outreach to the veterinary trades along with marketing communications to the owners and practice managers of primary care hospitals is the same: to remind the rDVM community that your practice can serve their needs. The publication of case studies and bylined articles in veterinary trade outlets, such as state VMA newsletters or national veterinary publications, reinforces your practice’s expertise and credibility. Paired with rDVM-facing newsletters and direct mail campaigns, these tactics are meant to raise the visibility of your practice. In turn, this increase in awareness can translate into more referrals.
- WEBSITE TRAFFIC: Your website’s analytics are a great tool for measuring the ROI of public relations campaigns. Each time you send a press release or provide your contacts with a link to an article, you may see a correlative spike in website traffic. We recommend that campaigns promote specific landing pages, sometimes developed for a particular campaign, to more readily measure traffic. We also like to see an increase in visitors to the practice’s Newsroom, to view press releases and media coverage.
- NEW CLIENTS: A simple metric, certainly, but similar to the number of referrals, this metric can only be tracked if a baseline number is first written down. Practices sometimes struggle with keeping track of metrics. If your practice is in that category, ask us for help with tracking. Clients who track and benchmark are more easily able to see an upward climb in new client visits, and can usually link the climb to a campaign timeframe.
- REVENUE: An increase in revenue is worth taking a closer look at, to reveal the services that generated that increase. For example, if during the course of a marketing campaign, the practice’s Oncology Department publicized positive treatment outcomes along with the expertise of the specialists, you may see an increase in visits associated with the oncology practice. Similarly, if the practice promoted the addition of a new specialist in Internal Medicine, a close look at that department’s revenue could reveal more referrals that came from the rDVM recipients of the direct mail piece and newsletter that spotlighted the internal medicine team.
- OPERATIONS: If you see an improvement in the collection of client payments, you might be able to attribute that to your marketing campaign. Why? If your marketing campaign has focused on positioning the value of your practice and its people and services, then one successful outcome is the target audiences’ perception about that value. Clients who appreciate your service, your time and your expertise are more likely to feel good about paying their bills on time.
Contact Liz at firstname.lastname@example.org or call 877-703-3824 x 105 to get started on a smart, budget-conscious program to promote your practice.
Veterinary marketing, when done strategically and with purpose, can yield the results you want to obtain, and set you apart from your competition.
Perhaps your company is one of the pet and veterinary businesses that successfully exhibited at this summer’s tradeshows. Your teams have now returned to their offices with new leads and sales, helpful customer feedback, booth photos, and maybe even a few awards. The next trade show is months away, but to maintain the momentum you just built, here are six PR tools to use between tradeshows.
- Distribute a Press Release
There are a lot of news triggers that happen after a tradeshow ends. See if any of these ideas might work for your business:
- Award won at the tradeshow
- Availability of new product line demonstrated at tradeshow
- Top industry trends identified by company executive who spoke at the tradeshow
- Post photos on Facebook, Instagram and Pinterest
If your team took pictures at the show, post them with captions on your social media platforms. These might include:
- Your team at the booth, demonstrating your new product line
- Your company receiving a tradeshow award or recognition
- Team members engaging with other tradeshow attendees
- Audit your website
Web traffic often spikes after a tradeshow, so make sure your site is current and up-to-date.
- If your company launched new products at the tradeshow, does your website accurately reflect everything that is new?
- If not, now is a perfect time to audit your website and update the content on product pages.
- Add a Newsroom tab to your website’s navigation, and populate it with your new press release along with an email and phone number for media outlets to use for product samples or interview requests.
- Develop a new Press Kit
If your company’s Press Kit is out of date, update it with these documents:
- New press release, with a post-show topic
- New product information sheet, with current links and images
- New FAQ, based on customer feedback at the show
- Comment on a trend
Follow the industry’s trade publications and think about ways you can add to the post-show conversation.
- Do you have an opinion about an industry trend that could be newsworthy to a trade publication editor?
- Speak to your PR team and determine if your comments are newsworthy enough to support a pitch to be included in post-show stories.
- Plan PR and marketing for the next tradeshow
You may have just broken down the booth and packed the boxes, but more tradeshows are ahead. Start preparing now by:
- Getting organized with deadlines for exhibit reservations and submissions due to conference organizers.
- Do a “lessons learned” on the prior tradeshow. Which tactics were most successful? Did you take advantage of all of the marketing tools available, including social media posts, direct mail invitations prior to the show, publicity while at the show?
One of Fetching Communications’ specialties is helping pet and veterinary businesses prepare for tradeshows. But our philosophy about public relations is that every tactic can support another tactic, meaning that we maximize the value of every opportunity to promote your business. A post-show press release can promote messaging that can also be added to your website, or as posts on social media, or as a pitch to earn editorial coverage.
We would love to help you navigate the PR possibilities in between tradeshows, and invite you to have a complimentary consultation and marketing needs analysis. Just reach out to Liz Lindley, CEO of Fetching Communications & PetPR.com, at email@example.com or 877-703-3824 x105. Or please complete the Marketing Needs Analysis online, here.
Our work with veterinary specialty hospitals typically includes the use of newsletters to reach pet parents and referring primary care veterinarians (rDVMs) . The newsletter development process can seem overwhelming to a hospital, due to many moving parts and deadlines to meet. But the result can be very powerful in terms of branding and visibility. Read on to learn how Fetching’s staff works with veterinary specialty hospitals on this marketing tool, and the process we put into place to make it work.
Why should a veterinary specialty hospital use newsletters as a marketing tactic?
Newsletters have the unique ability to control messaging, share important information, reach a precise audience, and provide performance indicators. They can also provide rDVMs with an inside look at how a specialty hospital operates and how the referral process works, so that they may feel more comfortable referring patients and clients in the future.
How many times a year should a newsletter be distributed?
Quarterly, if possible.
Why do so many newsletter projects get stuck?
Newsletter development often starts off with the very best of intentions, with quarterly dates on the calendar and excitement to share hospital news, department and staff updates, case studies, and more. The excitement can fade though, when everyone realizes the amount of work required to get the newsletter designed, written, proofed, and out the door. A process must be established that works for your specific group. One person needs to be in charge, but he or she will need to depend on many other people to help pull the newsletter together.
How does Fetching help clients develop newsletters?
Our team provides the veterinary specialty hospitals with the structure and process for newsletter development, not only as the project manager, but often as the designer, writer, and proofreader. We keep everyone on deadline and on message, with the ultimate objective being business development for the hospital.
How does the process begin?
We start with questions. We consider the objective and intended outcome. What does the hospital want to do: attract new pet parents to the practice? Encourage more referrals from the primary care veterinarians? Both?
We think about the audience and our experience with the different needs of pet parents and rDVMs. What does the particular audience want to know? What do we want to bring to their attention?
We consider the delivery of our messages. How can we best provide practice information and communicate our core messages to each audience? What kind of content is required? Do we want to include case studies, department focuses, staff highlights, photos, invitations, and links to websites or social media? How should this be accomplished, as editorial and visual content?
Where is the Call to Action? How will that Call to Action allow us to measure the value or success of the newsletter to the audience?
Questions pertaining to design, colors, print/digital delivery, frequency, timing, budget, etc., are all discussed in the process as well. A chart showing a table of contents and the first newsletter’s details is then provided for review.
How long does the process take?
For the initial newsletter, a client can expect the process – from concept to content to delivery – to take 8-10 weeks. Thereafter, the process takes less time, of course, because the foundation has already been set up.
Who writes the content?
Content can and should be written by Fetching staff and by the client. We advise clients to consider the schedules and availability of their staff to contribute to any given issue of a newsletter. The flow of the content will dictate who is best situated to write, i.e., a case study would be written by a veterinarian, whereas an overview of a department can be written by marketing staff or the Fetching team. Style, tone, and word count are followed. Images are selected. Our team always reviews the newsletter from the perspective of the client and the intended audience.
Do you already have a newsletter? Would you like a complimentary audit?
If you already distribute a newsletter, but would like our opinion on its content, we are glad to review and offer recommendations for improvement. Contact Liz Lindley at firstname.lastname@example.org or call 877-703-3824 x105 regarding this complimentary audit.