How to market to pet owners without feeling pushy

by By Caitlin DeWilde, DVM

8 min read

Most of us joined this profession because we wanted to care for pets and their people, not offer them a sweet deal on preventatives or push the latest dog food.

Many veterinary professionals are uncomfortable having financial discussions about even the most essential pet care with owners, not to mention making non-essential recommendations (even when we know they have positive impacts on the health of our patients). For the same reasons, marketing to pet owners outside the exam room can also feel a little stressful.

As uncomfortable as it may feel to you, marketing is a necessary part of veterinary medicine. Use the following marketing tips to help you communicate in a way that benefits you and your clients, without feeling pushy.

Know your audience and your why

The first step to any successful marketing strategy is to have a clear understanding of who you’re marketing to and why. This may be different at each practice and may even change at your practice over time.

Spend some time identifying who you want to market to (e.g., existing clients, lapsed clients, potential clients, etc.). Similarly, you must know why you want to market to them, like to increase appointments or product sales at your practice, to demonstrate the value your practice delivers, or to build loyalty. Knowing these key factors will ensure you’re marketing to the right people for the right reasons.

Tailor your recommendations…and your content

Don’t blast every client who has ever visited your practice with every marketing effort you make. Think quality over quantity. Send emails about senior pet health care tips only to senior pet owners. Target your cat-focused social media ad about appointment booking to just your practice’s cat owners.

Use your practice app or prescription management platform to send push notifications about canine heartworm testing or emails about preventatives. Communications are more likely to be read and acted upon if the messaging and imagery resonate with and apply to that particular owner.

Show the value

One of the best ways to market without being pushy is to offer value to your audience. Instead of focusing solely on selling a product or service, create educational content that your audience will find useful. Explain the value behind what you’re marketing and clearly identify how it will help the pet and pet owner.

Social media posts, infographics, videos, and ebooks that provide helpful tips and advice benefit everyone: Clients benefit from a better understanding of the pet health info you’re sharing, the practice benefits when clients take action on recommended products or services, and, best of all, the pet benefits from improved care.

Be you, be human

People like to do business with those they know, like, and trust. Pet owners can’t build those bonds with a brand name and logo — they need to see trusted content from the people they’ve worked with in the practice.

Don’t be afraid to personalize marketing content with photos, videos, or information from your practice’s experts. For an email subject line or social media post opener, try “Dr. Smith’s favorite products for senior cats” or “Three winter tips for Chicago dogs.” Get pet owners to open your emails by tying in pet health news or outbreaks in your geographic area (e.g., “Lyme disease stats for New York are in — Dr. Ng shares how to keep your pup safe”).

If you want to include videos in your social media posts, emails, or blogs and are worried about the quality, don’t be. Few practices have full-time marketing team members, and pet owners don’t expect a polished, cinema-quality video. Simple and short can be powerful and effective, so set up your smartphone for a quick video, come up with a list of tips to talk about on screen, and be sure to display your humor and personal touches. Showing off the “real you” is more likely to help your practice continue to build bonds in and out of the exam room alike.

While marketing may not come naturally to you, remember that it helps you achieve what you set out to when you began your career in veterinary medicine: care for pets and their people. When done right, more pets will get the care they need and deserve.

Need help authentically engaging your clients? Reach out to learn how Vetsource’s marketing tools and client engagement solution can be tailored to your specific needs.

Caitlin DeWilde, DVM

Caitlin DeWilde, DVM

Caitlin DeWilde, DVM is a practicing veterinarian graduate from the University of Illinois and is the founder of The Social DVM, a consulting firm devoted to helping veterinary professionals learn, manage and grow their social media and online reputation.

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