How to Build a Marketing Plan for Your Veterinary Practice
Remember that time in school when you were taught how to create a marketing plan? No? You're not the only one: Most veterinary professionals — from practice managers and owners to associates, technicians, and client service representatives — have never received formal marketing training. So, rather than creating and executing a successful marketing initiative, many of us just throw a few emails together, share some fun posts on social media, and mail out a couple of postcards, hoping that something will work.
But, is it working? How much time and money are you spending on your current marketing efforts? What's your return on that investment? Marketing is an essential component of running a thriving veterinary practice, and to do it successfully, you'll need a solid marketing plan.
What Is a Marketing Plan?
A marketing plan is a document that outlines the strategy that your practice will implement to achieve your business objectives. It should include:
- An overview of your objectives and goals. Do you want to increase your practice's dental revenue by 50%? Are you hoping to add a certain number of new active clients? Do you want to reach clients who haven't visited your practice in more than a year and convince them to schedule appointments? Include your specific goals in your plan so you can measure your success.
- The details and timeline of your tactics. Who, specifically, are you trying to reach with each marketing initiative? Which marketing channels will you use to reach that target audience? Which topics and promotions will you focus on? Define your target audience and determine how (and how often) you'll reach them.
- How you will measure your success. Which key performance indicators (KPIs) will you track? How will you know which marketing initiatives were successful, and which fell flat?
Why Your Practice Needs a Marketing Plan
Will your veterinary practice survive without a marketing plan? Yes, for the short term. But, if you want to propel your practice to greater success and be able to measure the return on your marketing investment, a plan is crucial. A marketing plan will help you to:
- Stay focused on your practice's high-level goals
- More successfully execute your specific marketing initiatives
- Identify what's been working — and what hasn't — so you can adjust your plan annually
- Put your marketing dollars to better use
How to Create an Effective Veterinary Marketing Plan
Step 1: Know where you stand
Take a close look at your practice data. How many new clients are you attracting each month? How much revenue is each veterinarian producing? What's the average client transaction? How much revenue comes from your various profit centers, like dentistry, feline visits, diagnostics, etc.? Are these numbers where you want them to be? Are they stagnant? Improving? To determine what you want to market, you need to know what you want to improve.
Step 2: Use your data to create specific goals
Based on your data, you've decided that over the next three months, you want to book 50% more dental appointments, and you want to attract 100 new clients.
Step 3: Determine how you'll track the success of your marketing
Which key performance indicators will you measure to track your success? For the aforementioned goals, perhaps you'll want to track the number of dental procedures booked, the number of dental procedures performed, overall dentistry revenue, and number of new client appointments.
Step 4: Define your audience
Who do you need to target to reach your goals? To successfully market, you must know who your audience is and how they will most effectively be moved to action.
Step 5: Describe your marketing strategies
This is the heart of your marketing plan. Here, you'll describe:
- The kinds of content you'll create — blogs, social media posts, infographics, videos, direct mail pieces, paid advertising, etc.
- How often you'll create that content — weekly blog posts? Daily social media posts? Be specific, and include the overall time frame of each marketing initiative.
- The channels used to distribute the content — your website, Facebook, YouTube, Instagram, the local news station, the U.S. Postal Service, etc.
Step 6: Define your budget
Will you be hiring freelancers to write blog posts or marketing copy? What will the postage cost for mailing those postcards? Are you planning to pay for Google or Facebook advertisements? Include your budget and define how it will be allocated.
Step 7: Identify Your Team
Include the names and titles of each contributor to your marketing initiative, and describe the specific responsibilities of each person.
Stop flying by the seat of your pants, and start creating your practice's marketing plan today. With a well-thought-out plan, the success of your marketing initiatives will be measurable and assured.