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On paper, running a business sounds so easy. People want a product or service, so you provide it! You run a business, so you know that reality doesn’t make it quite so simple. There’s no such thing as a service or product that “sells itself”: your customers need you to tell them why they need your service, even if it’s something as obvious as healthcare.
To help you piece together that puzzle, let’s consider your On Hold Marketing – a huge touch-point with your customers and a major opportunity most people waste to communicate why your business makes up such a necessary part of their lives. When it comes to communicating with your callers, we’ve got 5 approaches that work pretty consistently:
1. The Lame Joke
No kidding. “Dad jokes” may make everyone roll their eyes, but they grab attention, and if you can clear that hurdle, you already have an advantage over most competition. Managing a veterinary practice, you don’t need to be reminded what an important role a feeling of empathy plays in your relationship with your clients. Ultimately, the diploma on the wall means much less than the clear communication that you love those little balls of fur as much as your clients do. Having a sense of humor can play a huge roll in making your practice seem more human and your staff more approachable.
“But isn’t that bad taste? We do serious work here, after all!”, you protest. Yes, you do very important work, and taking your vocation of healing seriously makes your practice great! So, ask yourself: how do you get that across to all your callers? Like any consumer, your callers and clients have defenses that need to be lowered for your sales message to get through. The lame joke makes people laugh because it lacks subtlety – in other words, your callers know immediately you’ve deliberately inserted the joke knowing that it’s lame. It creates an atmosphere of genuineness.
2. The WebMD Entry
People trust veterinarians – as general trust in the medical profession has been shaky, vets have kept the trust of their clients. That means when a veterinary practice gives advice, people will listen – so why not give your callers useful advice? Not only will it help them, it will reinforce your image as a helpful, knowledgeable practice of professionals.
This provides you with a few benefits. First of all, you get the chance to educate your clients, which you might find difficult to do in other cases. After all, the pet owner visiting because she’s worried that Lucky has an intestinal blockage probably won’t want to hear about flea-and-tick medication or regular teeth cleanings after – or worse, in the middle of – a prognosis for her sick puppy. On Hold presents this important information in a different, and more effective context.
At the same time, people who already trust you listen when you speak, and listen more when the advice you gives works. A good public service message can increase your authority and the perception of your reliability. It also demonstrates clearly that you are thinking about the health of your patients holistically – a major selling point in today’s market.
3. The Hallmark Card
Sometimes the best way to communicate a heartfelt message is to just say it. “We love your pets just as much as you do” – a simple message that, if you don’t overload your callers with it, can both tell callers precisely what kind of clinic or hospital you are, and even become a brand for you. Best of all, it communicates the message your clients look for from their veterinarian: your work depends as much on the heart as on the head.
Your brand as a loving, caring, compassionate practice where every life that comes through the door has tremendous value to you can make you the veterinary medical practice-of-choice in your area. It also communicates your business philosophy – after all, you do run a business, not a charity, and that’s not a secret to your callers and clients. The heartfelt message stating your philosophy and commitment can communicate clearly a realistic, believable image of a compassionate business.
4. The Financial Aid Package
You run a business, and that’s not cheap. Your clients feel it, too. With the price of medications and procedures, some of your customers who want to provide everything they can for their pets still might not be able to afford the level of care their pets need. Acknowledging that reality not only makes you more trustworthy, it offers you an opportunity to sell services that your clients might not otherwise take advantage of.
Payment plans, insurance policies, even just special offers and deals, all represent great ways to get people to spend money they have, but might not otherwise be inclined to leave behind when they walk out your door. If you have a particular month that focuses on a particular service, having seasonally fresh On Hold messaging will give your callers something think about. Maybe you have someone calling to confirm an appointment for a routine check-up and they find out it’s dental month—and by the way it’s discounted. Now you’ve sold that pet owner a service they’re likely to take advantage of again.
With the increasing cost of medical care for pets, insurance policies are starting to crop up – mentioning a few you accept and find reputable does two things: first, it informs them of a service they may not have known existed and, second, it gives them a means to give you more business! Letting people know you can help them afford to let you help their pets is just good business.
5. The Open Sales Pitch
Like we said, you run a business. Don’t be afraid to actually come out and sell something. Whether it’s carriers, collars, or kibble, you have some products – and maybe more services – your clients should know about. Your clients already trust you for medical care, and you can help their pets live happier, healthier lives with the best foods, over-the-counter medicines, and a variety of other things you have to offer but aren’t often talked about.
There’s also some marketing wisdom contained in this: you make more money selling to your established clients than trying to win new ones. Don’t make the mistake of trusting your existing clients to come to you exclusively, either. Your clients think of you primarily as their veterinarian—it remains up to you to expand that perception into their pet store, their pet’s pharmacy, their groomer, or their obedience trainer.
Maybe you’re not a marketing expert – but you know how to run your practice, so make the smart choice and hire some on hold marketing experts who will work with you to sell your practice and your brand on hold.
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119 N Sage St Suite 201
Toccoa, GA 30577