Why Defining Your Audience Matters to Your Veterinary Marketing Plan

Whether you're the only veterinary practice in town or one of three within a half-mile radius, veterinary practices face tough competition. Therefore, it's up to you to create compelling marketing plans to attract and retain clients. But, before you can effectively market your practice, you must determine to whom you should be marketing.

Defining your audience pays off. Truly understanding whom you're targeting will help you customize your messages to reach pet owners, motivating them to act. Here are three steps to defining your audience and capturing their attention.

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1. Collect the Data

What do you already know? Comb through your records to find some basic facts about your current clients. What you don't know can be learned through surveys. Use a free online survey service, like SurveyMonkey or SurveyMoz, or have clients complete paper surveys before or after appointments.

Client data that can help you define your audience includes:

  • Age
  • Gender
  • Income
  • Location (specific neighborhood/area within your geographical area)
  • Marital status
  • Number and types of pets
  • Number of children in the home
  • Charitable causes (knowing what makes your clients "tick" will help you create content they value)

2. Segment Your Audience

Once you've collected the data, organize it so you can segment your audience into a few key profiles. Some examples:

  • Profile #1:
    • Married male
    • 35-45 years old
    • Annual household income of $175,000-$200,000
    • Two children in the home
    • Two dogs
  • Profile #2:
    • Single female
    • 20-30 years old
    • Annual household income of $50,000-$75,000
    • No children in the home
    • One cat

3. Customize Your Marketing

How you reach profile #1 (above) should differ from how you reach profile #2.

Profile #1 is probably busy and stressed. Don't complicate his life by sending too many emails or calling too often; instead, ask him how he prefers to be contacted. Then use that method to clearly and concisely communicate how your practice makes pet health care easy and convenient. He would likely appreciate a practice app that simplifies refills, reminders, and other communications.

Profile #2 calls for a different approach to interactions. It's no secret that this generation loves digital communication and social media. Millennials also constitute the largest segment of pet owners today. According to a 2016 Bank of America survey, 39 percent of millennials say they interact more with their smartphones than they do with their significant others, parents, friends, children, or colleagues. These digitally savvy pet parents are also notable for how deeply they adore their pets. A 2018 survey from zulily found that 84 percent of millennial pet owners worry about their pets when they're apart, even for a short period, and 71 percent would take a pay cut if they could bring their pets to work every day.

So, it makes good sense to reach profile #2 digitally, through social media, text messages, email, etc. Show that you understand how important her "fur baby" is to her. Make your communications fun by adding emoji and embedding GIFs.

Defining your audience will help you develop a veterinary marketing plan that speaks to the people who matter to your business, and your business will benefit as a result.

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Sarah Rumple
Owner, Chief Creative Officer of Rumpus Writing and Editing

Sarah Rumple is an award-winning veterinary writer and editor. Since 2011, her work has focused on pet health/behavior and veterinary practice management topics. Her clients include individual veterinary practice owners, national corporations, nonprofit associations, media companies, consultants, and others. Learn more at sarahrumple.com.

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