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Business Briefs: Effectively Marketing New Veterinary Services

How will you best tell your clients that the practice has new capacities to help their horses?
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If you or one of your associates has become certified in an integrative therapy, such as acupuncture, you need to let your clients know so they can take advantage of that service.

During the course of growing your practice and your professional skill set, it is very likely that you or one of your associates will learn new skills in clinical areas in which your practice did not previously offer services. Or your practice will purchase a new piece of diagnostic equipment or treatment modality that expands your capabilities. Perhaps your associate has become certified in integrative therapies such as acupuncture or equine chiropractic, or you have attended rigorous training in ultrasonographic diagnosis of musculoskeletal injuries. Maybe you have purchased a gastroscope or undertaken advanced training in dentistry. 

Business Briefs, authored by Amy L. Grice, VMD, MBA, are available in each issue of EquiManagement magazine and are brought to you in 2022 in the magazine and monthly online by CareCredit

How will you best tell your clients that the practice has new capacities to help their horses?

Telling your current clients as well as other horse owners that are potentially your  clients about your new services is marketing. For best results prepare a plan that considers all the channels that might be needed to reach the potential customers. 

Making sure that clients see your brand as more than just a practice trying to sell them something comes down to three things: 

  1. helping them understand how their horse will benefit, 
  2. making them feel good by appealing to their emotions, and 
  3. entertaining them. 

When creating marketing content, try to include all three elements.

Many different generations own horses, so marketing efforts must be targeted to the people who make up your practice’s client base. The median age of horse owners in the 2018 American Horse Council study was 38 years old, while in the 2021 American Horse Publications survey, over 76% of respondents were age 45+. It isn’t clear if horse owners are trending older as horse keeping becomes more expensive, or whether the demographics of those reached by these studies was different. In any case, your clients’ demographics are important to know.

In our connected world, there are many channels where information flows. Each individual has preferences about which channels they prefer. 

Information is readily passed visually through posters, billboards and banners posted at places where horse people congregate. 

Text messaging is ubiquitous, but most do not like receiving marketing messages in this way. 

Podcasts are very popular, especially with those that are auditory learners. 

Videos on YouTube have become a preferred media type for learning, and video is now the most effective marketing technique for all but Baby Boomers. 

Social media has a huge presence. As of 2021, Facebook had 222 million active users in the United States. The variation of content—including text, visual images and video— allows an array of marketing approaches. 

More than 112 million people use Instagram every month, and three-quarters of Millennials use Instagram at least once a week. They like the platform for its messaging with images rather than words. Instagram users visit business profiles daily and use the app to discover new products or services. 

Snapchat, Twitter and Pinterest are also popular, with the vast majority of the saved pins coming from business sites. 

Although TikTok is gaining in popularity, it is not yet a strong destination for advertising.

To market your new services to your clients, first you need to understand their demographics and preferred channels. While some older people prefer the written word in a printed form that they can hold in their hands, most use email and social media. 

Among Americans 65 and older, 46% use Facebook compared with 38% on YouTube, 15% on Pinterest, and 11% on LinkedIn. Middle-aged folks are also often still heavily invested in email. 

Contrast this with Millennials, of which over half watch video several times a day on different devices, and most consume content across multiple devices all day long. Over 85% of Millennials use Facebook and/or YouTube at least once a week. As a result, if your clients include Millennials, you will need to create content with a “multi-platform” strategy spanning multiple social media outlets as well as being compatible for desktop, mobile and tablet users. As a bonus, if your website features video content, it is way more likely to show up on Google’s first page of search engine results.

When creating video content aim for two minutes or less to keep viewers’ attention. Consider including some humor if it seems appropriate, and engage the emotions of the viewer by showing how your new skill or capacity helps horses. 

When using text as a stand-alone post or as subtitles, remember to avoid being excessively clinical—instead, engage your audience with a story or a something funny. Stories are powerful ways to create information that sticks. 

Be creative, and let the brand identity of your practice show. Think of a word that captures what is most important to your practice and use it liberally.

Creative marketing that engages your audience will help you attract the right clients to your practice—those that share your values and care about the same things. 

Brought to you by CareCredit

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