Today's Veterinary Business

DEC-JAN 2017

Today’s Veterinary Business provides information and resources designed to help veterinarians and office management improve the financial performance of their practices, allowing them to increase the level of patient care and client service.

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Page 23 of 67

22 Today's Veterinary Business Communication When I went to veterinary school many years ago, there were no marketing classes, no search engine optimization lectures, no discussion about social media or Twitter followers, and not a single hour on how a web- site can "make or break" your practice. Communication FEARLESS By Natalie Marks, DVM In fact, I don't think these topics were even a glimmer in my mind as a fledgling DVM trying to pass the board exam. But now, as a practice owner, I spend quite a bit of time everyday creating content and reading analytics on these incredi- bly important marketing areas. To be successful in marketing and growing a practice, one must know not only what the import- ant measured parameters are, but also how to properly include and promote premier aspects of the practice, including new strategies to reduce fear, anxiety and stress in patients and clients. This isn't a topic that comes naturally to most veterinarians, including myself, so let's start with a brief introduction about the search engine world and why it is a crucial component of veterinary business today. Can Pet Owners Find You? Search engines are such an essential part of life for almost everyone with a mobile device that psychologists call our dependence "The Google Effect," referring to the utilization of search engines as personal memory banks. This is important for practice owners to remember be- cause two key indicators that should be measured are new-client acquisi- tion numbers and where these clients heard about the practice. According to SEO. com, when people search for something "near me," 88 percent do it from a mobile device and 72 percent of clients actively visit a search result within five miles of their current lo- cation. These two percentages easily show veterinarians that the major- ity of marketing outreach needs to be local and readily available on a client's cellphone. In Chicago, where I practice, Yelp and Google are the two most highly searched engines for practice reviews and website links. Another statistic to consider is that the largest group of U.S pet owners is made up of millennials, according to the research firm GfK, and this group, ages 18 to 34, interacts with a smartphone more than anyone or anything else. However, knowing this data is not enough; it needs to be utilized to focus a targeted, measureable marketing plan. Make sure your client service represen- tatives or receptionists are asking clients not only where they heard about the practice but also are doc- umenting the answer in a field in the practice management software database so reports can be run. Ad- ditionally, email addresses should be collected or verified with every client interaction. Get Their Attention Once new-client demographics have been targeted and the ma- jor search engines in your region identified, the next step involves maximizing and interpreting search engine optimization (SEO). It is in- credibly important to have original content on your website in the form of blogs, personal photos or videos. This is a perfect arena to promote and explain your strategies for help- ing to reduce fear, anxiety and stress in your patients and clients. Don't fear the unknown Market your stress-free clinical approach by capitalizing on social media options and optimizing your practice website. When blogging, it's very important to include other key words to narrow your practice location and help optimize searches.

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