Today's Veterinary Business

FEB 2018

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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39 February/March 2018 • TODAYSVETERINARYBUSINESS.COM or even alarming, but are they going to serve as a call to action? Facebook's chief operating officer, Sheryl Sandberg, nailed it when she called this the "invisible victim" sce- nario. There's no real way to identify personally with the statistic being given, so the fact is stated but no real action is taken as a result. Feel-Good Stories Work The scenario changes drastically once a narrative is used and you communicate the prevalence of a preventable disease. Why not share the story of a dog that was treated in your practice for heartworms? Now, the disease isn't just an anon- ymous threat; it is real and relevant to your local community. Any feel- good story or important message, if communicated with a genuine and compelling story, is going to be exponentially more effective. Many practice teams have told me that clients are willing to share their stories to ensure that other pets don't suffer like theirs did. This is especially true with preventable dis- eases and illnesses. Sharing authen- tic stories and successful outcomes is a winning scenario across the board. The content helps you to stand out, inform clients and empower the pet owners who allowed you to use their story. (Yes, you need client consent to share personal stories). What is important to note is that this type of dedicated effort helps combat misinformation. Sure, we've gotten upset when a pet owner read a faux fact online and then came rushing in to tell us about it. But what are we doing to combat misinformation? By sharing stories of your patients and the diseases you protect against, you raise awareness about the issue and personalize the process as a whole. Use the Good and the Bad While successful outcomes are easier to share and what I typi- cally recommend, occasionally a negative outcome is important to reveal as well. I encourage this if you know the client well and asking her to share the story won't be considered obtrusive or upsetting. For example, a practice told me Socially Acceptable columnist Eric D. Garcia is an IT and digital marketing consultant who works exclusively with veterinary practices. Learn more at www.simplydonetechsolutions. about a cat with a urinary block- age that came in too late and was euthanized. The veterinarian asked the owner for permission to share the cat's story on social media. The owner agreed. She told the veteri- narian she didn't want other cats to suffer like hers did. Ultimately, the story was presented as a cautionary tale that informed pet owners about how common the issue truly is and how sometimes it can be overlooked. The pet owner was comforted knowing that her pet's case was used to promote healthy aware- ness of the issue and would help prevent other premature deaths. This is perhaps the best possible use of a negative outcome story: raising awareness of an issue while paying homage to a pet that succumbed to an illness or disease. If other pet owners are inspired to take action by scheduling a wellness visit or asking a question, they may avert the same fate for their pet. When sharing positive or negative stories via Facebook, your posts will gain far more traction if they receive organic comments and likes. If you post flat statistics that don't connect with your au- dience, Facebook will begin to re- duce the number of people whom your posts can reach in the future. Sharing a lone stat is easy, but will it have an impact? No. Share Tender Moments I tell practices, "Find beauty in what you do." Find the beauty and amplify it with care and attention. If you do, clients will be more likely to take your recommendations. For instance, your Facebook page, website or Google listing probably says that your veterinary practice provides compassionate care. The question then becomes, what does this mean to the av- erage pet owner? Narratives can amplify your brand and show the true meaning behind your practice. Look at all the little things you do each day to show compassion within your practice. Perhaps it's snuggling up with a pet that just finished surgery, or a technician administering IV medication to prevent nausea, or a veterinarian handling a cat with the gentlest restraining technique possible. At the end of the day, practices that share tender moments and personalized stories —sometimes all you need is a photo — will stand out time and time again. Stories help to build trust with new and existing pet owners and show that your practice truly goes above and beyond to provide compassionate care with a tender touch. Your commitment to each one of these pets and their individual story is what makes your veter- inary practice unique and your messages authentic. It's the stories we remember. And it's the stories that remind us of how caring for animals is truly incredible. The scenario changes drastically once a narrative is used and you communicate the prevalence of a preventable disease. Why not share the story of a dog that was treated in your practice for heartworms?

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