It used to be that building brand value was only important if you were a multi-million dollar company. Marketing campaigns were so expensive that small business owners didn’t even think to add it to their toolset. Nowadays, marketing and branding tools are accessible to almost anyone, thanks to social media like Facebook and YouTube.
With the millennial generation becoming the largest pet owning generation in history, it’s more important than ever for vet practices to have a strong brand.
If you have a logo, website, or handouts, then congratulations, you have a brand! So how do you discover what your brand is saying about you? Here is a quick exercise to help you answer that question:
First, put yourself in your clients’ shoes. Review your major marketing pieces such as your logo, website, and even your mobile app. Do they tell a story about your brand that’s consistent with your values and mission? Next, go all the way through your service experience, from making an appointment to checking out after your appointment is done.
Now, describe your interactions and experiences in 3 adjectives. Are these adjectives the ones you hoped would come to mind when interacting with your brand? If not, you’re not alone! It’s not too late to turn your clinic’s brand into one that helps attract new clients and retain existing ones, through the power of your brand connection.
Here are 10 easy ways to build your brand:
- Revamp your logo – Online services like fiverr.com design great logos for a minimal fee.
- Update your website – Visit your clinic’s website. Do you think the website is relatable to your clients? If not, change out your photos to ones that are relatable and promote your client’s connection to your brand. For example, not many clients will connect to your brand because of the state-of-the-art building your clinic is in. They WILL connect with a photo of your team playing with their pets and looking happy while doing it.
- Get a custom-branded phone app. – As of March 2017, 77% of Americans own smartphones. Americans stare at their smartphones on average over 4 hours per day (make it 5 if you are a millennial).
Getting your own app with a custom icon matters to allow your clients to interact with your brand in-between visits. Check out Vet2Pet to get a custom branded app!
- Create high quality printed materials for your handouts. This will help to polish your look.
- Use authentic, high-quality photos instead of stock photos. This will help build trust in your content and brand.
- Create original content on social media. Original content will get your brand more ‘likes’ on social media than canned content. For example, ask your clients for a photo of their pet and with their permission, post it to your Facebook! They will likely share that photo and now your brand has spread. If this is too time-consuming for you, you may be better off canceling your social media accounts as old or canned content can do more harm than good for your brand.
- Clean up the front desk. First impressions matter.
- Evaluate the scrub situation. If your brand is about kids and fun, then Hello Kitty scrubs make sense. But if your brand is about high end, progressive medicine, it’s hard to take a $2000 estimate seriously from someone wearing Snoopy scrubs.
- Update your business cards and hand them out to every client on dismissal. Add your cell phone number to feel more accessible to your clients. If that makes you nervous… trust me, it will be ok! I have actively promoted my cell phone for the last 5 years in my very high maintenance practice and most people are respectful and grateful.
- Be consistent – Regardless of what your brand is, just make sure you are consistent across the communication channels: phone skills, emails, postcard, social media, app, staff, and doctors. If everyone knows the brand’s mission, it will be easier to make the best choices.
Remember, your brand matters, so make sure that your brand is spreading a sense of confidence and loyalty in your client community.
Dr. Stacee Santi, CEO/Founder Vet2Pet
Dr. Stacee Santi is a 1996 DVM graduate from Colorado State University and the founder of Vet2Pet, a technology startup that builds personalized custom apps for veterinary practices. With over 20 years of clinical experience in small animal and emergency practice, Stacee brings an “in the trenches” approach to innovation and solutions for veterinary teams. She has also served as a medical advisory consultant for NVA for 5 years, medical director for a general/ER practice in Colorado as well as current President of the Colorado Veterinary Medical Association. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.