Market your message for senior wellness

Market your message for senior wellness

Appeal to veterinary clients and get senior dogs and cats in the door with a five-step marketing plan.
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May 01, 2013
By dvm360.com staff

Senior wellness evaluations are an invaluable way to ensure your clients’ pets are on the right track as they enter their golden years. But unfortunately, unless their pet is sick, clients don’t always realize the value in these senior wellness exams and health screenings.

That’s why Karyn Gavzer, MBA, CVPM, a veterinary business consultant and nationally known writer and speaker, recommends developing a marketing plan. “Senior wellness exams and screens are a good buy for clients,” Gavzer says. “But it’s a low priority to a pet owner. It doesn’t have the urgency that something specific does.”

Her advice? Narrow your search and appeal to clients by giving them a single, concrete reason to bring their pet in. Get started with these steps, then download your own customizable marketing plan:

1. Search your database. Enlist the help of your veterinary manager to conduct a thorough search of all patients older than 7 years of age in your practice. You can narrow it down even further and search by condition, too—after you have a pool of patients based on age, go back and fine-tune that list by tracking patients that came in for symptoms of arthritis, renal disease, or any other common age-related ailments.

2. Plan a doctors’ meeting. With the results from the database search in hand, round up the doctors in the practice, review the findings, and select one condition to use for a marketing campaign. For example, did the results show that quite a few older patients had presented with signs of arthritis or had been prescribed a pain management regime consistent with arthritis treatment? Make that your focus and discuss what kind of diagnostic plan and treatment protocol your practice will promote to help senior pets with arthritis.

3. Get the team on board. Now that your practice has determined a specific focus, you’ve got market the idea to your staff—and get their ideas, too. “If an idea isn’t built right inside the practice, even the best marketing in the world goes flat,” says Gavzer.

So round everyone up and have a brainstorming lunch meeting. Does someone have a great idea for a catch phrase or slogan for your senior pet wellness plan? Gavzer points out that this is the time to get creative with your marketing effort. Send the message to clients that your practice wants to “Make old pets feel young again” or ‘Tackle those over-the-hill troubles.” If you invite your team’s input in the planning stages of your marketing plan, they’ll be much more excited about it and convey that enthusiasm to clients.

4. Send it to the masses. Have your practice manager draft a letter promoting your new service for older pets. Send it out via email if you can, but don’t hesitate to send it via snail-mail, too—it’s just as effective. (Visit dvm360.com/seniorcaretoolkit to download a sample letter.)

But don’t stop there. Get a media campaign started on the social media channels and your practice’s website, too. Post something about your senior wellness plan at least once a week on social media. Keep the message simple and make sure it ties in with your letter. Ask clients if they’ve noticed their pet slowing down on walks or hesitating to climb stairs and encourage them to make an appointment. Just make sure you notify your staff before the letters are mailed and the social media posts begin. You want to be sure everyone on your team is fully prepared and ready to talk about your senior wellness plan once clients start calling your hospital for appointments.

5. Track and measure. Set goals and stick to them. “Without goals, there’s never reinforcement,” says Gavzer.

Set a marketing goal and track how your practice is doing on a weekly basis. When clients come in for an arthritis evaluation exam, ask how they heard about it. Was it on social media or through the mailing you sent? Code each possible channel and evaluate which one is performing the best. And even if you don’t see results right away, give it time. Online campaigns can take up to nine months before they gain traction with their audience.

Gavzer recommends planning what promotional material you’ll send out for the next 12 months. Post something arthritis-related every week on social media channels. Send a mailing once a month, reminding pet owners of your service and using any new success stories as a hook. Clients want to hear about pets you’ve helped and how you could help theirs, too. Social media is also great for promoting a success story. As you start evaluating and treating patients for arthritis, take before-and-after pictures or videos (with permission, of course) of a senior dog with arthritis who’s now doing much better thanks to a pet owner who heeded your advice and brought her in, and post the progress on Facebook. Other pet owners will see it and want their pets to feel young again, too.

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