Tools for Target Marketing

Tools for
Debra H. Boone, CCS, CVPM
2 Manage Vets Consulting
Gibsonville, North Carolina
arketing experts use many tools for
gathering information about potential
and existing clients, including location,
education level, household income,
ethnicity, and age.1
32 January/February 2016
s with any business, veterinary practice owners and
managers must know their
clients to maintain and
grow their practice.
Demographics can be
found in several
isit the U.S. Census Bureau
website for up-to-date information
about the population near the
isit to review a report
that describes the buying habits
and life stages of people in close
proximity to the practice.
se the services of a professional
This information allows the
practice to determine service
offerings and understand the level
of care the majority of the clients
will accept. For example, holistic
medicine and acupuncture would
be more readily accepted in a
well-educated population. More
affluent clients tend to travel, so a
boarding facility would be a logical
However, although demographics
are helpful, they do not tell the
entire story. Practice owners must
also know their competition, the
neighborhood’s potential for
growth or decline, and how to
stand out.2
Marketing is often perceived as
advertising; however, true marketing
requires a cohesive internal and
external approach. A well-trained,
motivated veterinary team is the
most powerful internal marketing
tool; external marketing reaches
outside the practice (eg, community
involvement, social media posts,
print or online advertising). Not
everyone is the perfect client.
Identify the perfect client before
creating a marketing strategy
because all marketing should focus
on that segment of the population.
Following are
marketing strategies
from the author’s
personal experience.
Practice 1: An AAHA-Accredited Practice
in an Upper-Middle-Class Community
As well as understanding the
demographics, practice owners and
managers must be able to segment
their client population to customize
their marketing effectively.
ecause the management team
understood that this practice’s many
affluent clients were usually pressed
for time, they marketed a drop-off
service available before clients’
working hours and communicated
examination outcomes by telephone.
he practice later added a limousine
service that transported patients from
their home to the practice for
treatment. History and service needs
were communicated by telephone,
although clients often picked up their
pet after work rather than scheduling
a return limousine ride so they could
speak to the veterinarian face-to-face.
he practice instituted playtime for
pets in the boarding kennel. Clients
paid extra fees for team members to
take pets out to play ball or swim.
! The practice owner, managers, and
associate veterinarians participated in
business clubs (eg, Rotary International)
and community art and theater events
that clients would likely also attend.
This practice engaged a professional
advertising agency to create a practice
logo that personified and promoted its
sophisticated brand. These services
would not have been appropriate in an
area with a different client base but
were a necessity for the practice’s
affluent clients.
January/February 2016 Veterinary Team Brief
Practice 2: A Rural Mixed-Animal Practice
This mixed-animal practice opened in
1938 in a small, rural North Carolina
town and grew with the area. Its client
base included 3 segments that each
required different marketing
anufacturing workers, farm
laborers, and local factory and
business owners: This group of
clients enjoyed coming to the practice
and seeing their neighbors; they used
preventive-care services but rarely
invested in expensive procedures for
their pets, which were often wellloved but considered expendable. The
marketing strategy therefore focused
on gaining their trust and establishing
the practice as the local authority.
Veterinarians and managers gave
radio and newspaper interviews,
worked with local shelters to help
reduce overpopulation, and promoted
better pet care at area schools. The
goal was to lay the groundwork of
education about responsible pet care
and to create familiarity that would
drive business to the practice.
arge-animal owners: The clients
who owned livestock were most
interested in animal husbandry, so the
veterinarians focused on becoming
recognized as the experts, lecturing in
the community about herd health and
working horse shows and National
Future Farmers of America (FFA)
Organization and 4-H events. Social
media was used with the younger FFA
and 4H clientele.3
rofessional dog and cat breeders:
Marketing to the professional dog and
cat breeders was the most interesting
and challenging aspect and
encompassed extreme pampering
When marketing to clients, never
focus on only one internal or external
tool—create a well-rounded plan
that supports both efforts. Also,
always remember that one of a
practice’s best marketing instruments
is every team member’s laser concentration on outstanding customer
service. Enthusiastic, devoted clients
will drive new, quality clients to a
practice more than will any formal
marketing program. n
1. Veterinary Demographics Expert. Scott
McDonald & Associates. https://doctor Accessed November 2015.
2. Godin S. Permission Marketing: Turning Strangers
and over-the-top accommodation to
the breeders’ schedules. The major
focus was on networking with these
show people, whose dogs and cats
included many Westminster
champions and Vogue models. Team
members learned the do’s and don’ts
of special grooming and hair coat
protection. They also learned about
the travel documents and recordkeeping required to transport animals
nationally and internationally. They
kept the products for artificial
insemination services and other
special tests that were routinely used
stocked and ready. Flexibility was key
because rarely was a single animal
presented for an appointment. Once
the breeders were confident of the
team’s abilities and understanding of
their world, their referrals drove even
more breeders to the practice.
Veterinarians: Offer your expertise (via interviews, newspaper columns) to
serve as a medical authority to the community.
anagement Team: Become involved in community clubs and events to
become acutely aware of local needs and act as ambassador of your
ursing Team: As you talk with clients, listen carefully; are there any clues
that their sentiments or thoughts are indicative of a larger clientele base?
Talk about it!
lient Care Team: Pursue surveys or studies of the practice’s clients and
share with team to identify and tailor services to their specific needs.
Into Friends and Friends Into Customers. New
York, NY: Simon & Schuster; 1999.
3. Godin S. Purple Cow­—Transform Your Business By
Being Remarkable. London, UK: Portfolio; 2009. January/February 2016
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