So you think you need a marketing strategy?
Marketing for a veterinary practice, any small business for that matter, starts with deciding what you should sell, or more appropriately what your customers are buying.
For example: Starbucks don’t sell coffee, they sell a daily luxury and a comfortable friendly environment to enjoy it in. They make coffee.
BMW don’t sell cars, they sell a status symbol that is tempered by a performance driving experience. They make cars.
You’re buying what?
Customers (or clients if you prefer) of veterinary practice are, in general, not buying veterinary services, they are buying the wellness and health of a family member. If you are looking to sell to your clients you need to understand what your clients are wanting to buy, or will want to buy, and then taylor both your marketing strategy and, ultimately your business to that need.
Business or Marketing?
Marketing can act as an adjunct to your other business operations, however, I believe that things work best when marketing is integral to every part of your business. Marketing is about the dialog you have with your clients. That dialog could them visiting your website, calling your office, dropping by, or receiving services. Who you are as a business, will define how those interactions are handled – why wouldn’t you want them to be informed by a consistent, and well though out, marketing message that is self reenforcing.
Having a clear understanding of what you are trying to achieve in business, and how you want your clients to perceive that achievement, will define everything else about your marketing program.
A final work of caution…
Keep in mind that you may not always be able to control how clients perceive and pigeon hole you. This is not necessarily a bad thing as your clients are claiming ownership of their relationship with your business. Google would be a classic example of one of the most successful brands on the planet, that can fail totally with product launches because their clients do not feel the new products fit in with how they perceive the company. The trick is to maintain, cultivate, and nurture the relationship with your clients without stifling it.
Next week: Strategy to Branding and Back Again.