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.
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.
I have facilitated many SWOT meetings, and I assure you that the time you spend reviewing your Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities and Threats is a relatively brief and perhaps surprisingly affordable investment, especially when in light of the outcome, which is a valuable, revealing and forward-thinking plan based on new insights and decisions.
How does a SWOT work?
A SWOT takes place on a conference call, with a time allocation of about two hours (breaks are included). There is minimal advance planning; just a review of the purpose of the SWOT and the conversation triggers to expect. As a facilitator, I take all of the notes, capturing each contributor’s viewpoint, prompting additional questions, and leading the discussion so that everyone feels comfortable being candid.
If you or your colleagues need a few reasons to schedule this time together, here are five to start with:
- It’s fast. The SWOT process is not a slow-moving, agonizing process. The meeting is a few hours, and the deliverable of priorities and strategies derived from the meeting is in your hands within a few weeks.
- It’s revealing. The group conference call setting brings about a focused and comfortable environment for full engagement, and you’ll find that participants share insights and previously unsaid observations that will lead to new ideas and actions.
- It’s energizing. The SWOT effectively returns you to your practice’s mission, vision and purpose, giving those important concepts, and the people who support them, a renewed passion. Just think of how this energy will impact your pet parents and referral community.
- It’s forward-thinking. It’s exciting to consider the future opportunities for your practice. Your perspective about your strengths and future growth will take shape in the form of actionable tactics that can really happen, moving beyond ideas into actual solutions.
- It’s a smart thing to do. The SWOT process will set you up with a road map for success.
To schedule a SWOT analysis, contact Liz directly at firstname.lastname@example.org, or 877.703.3824 x 105.
The Strengths and Weaknesses of the SWOT are an internal look at your past performance, present situation and strategy, current capabilities and resources. These are the areas of business generally within your control.
The Opportunities and Threats of the SWOT are an external look at your environmental factors. Generally not within your control, these factors can be economic, political, social, technological, legal, competitive forces, etc.