The first few months of your new practice’s existence are a critical period, and many practices that flounder in this period fold later on. You’re a veterinarian, not a marketer — but if you don’t learn at least some marketing techniques, your start-up practice may not survive.
What’s more, starting a new veterinary practice poses a unique problem: You have to carve out a new niche for yourself and create an identity for yourself out of nothing (or almost nothing). Thankfully, many veterinarians have done it before you, and there are several tried-and-true techniques out there to promote your new business.
Get Listed on Business Listings
The first step as soon as you get a location picked out is to get listed on all the business listing directories. Google is still the pack leader so make sure you start there. Other directories include Bing, Yelp, and Yahoo. Most of them require a way to authenticate that you are truly the owner of the business. So you may need a way to receive mail at the location or have a business phone number already set up.
Write a Press Release
Writing a press release is one of the most time-honored ways of getting your message out. By sending a press release to TV and radio stations, newspapers and other news outlets in your area, you can drum up plenty of interest. But your press release won’t do much good if these outlets don’t run it. With that in mind, you need to make it as enticing to reporters as possible.
Your press release shouldn’t be an advertisement: Write it from a neutral point of view, in the same style as a newspaper article. Press releases are for news, not just information, so be sure to reference something new like an opening date or an announcement. Remember that reporters are busy people, and they’re much more likely to run your press release if they don’t have to edit it. If you have any questions about how to write the best possible press release, you might hire a professional writer.
Notably, you should put your name and contact information at the end of the press release. Even if a news outlet doesn’t run your press release, they may reach out to you for an interview.
Social media has largely supplanted traditional advertising media, like radio and TV spots or newspaper ads, as a way of getting your message out. Making a social media account and posting to it is a free way of getting publicity, so you should consider having a social media presence on major platforms like Facebook and Twitter.
Unfortunately, just making free posts won’t necessarily help you break into your target market. Most social media platforms won’t prioritize your posts on users’ feeds unless you spend money to run advertisements or promote posts.
The good news is that platforms like Facebook allow you to carefully craft advertisements to promote your practice. You can choose precisely the audience you want in terms of location, interests and demographic variables like pet ownership. What’s more, these kinds of ads generally aren’t too expensive.
Opening Specials and Other Deals
Opening specials, sales and other special deals will only work if potential customers already know about your practice. So be sure to use other techniques to build buzz, but bring customers in the door — and build word of mouth — by sweetening the proposition with an opening deal.
What, exactly, you’ll choose will depend on what you can afford and what you think your customers will be interested in. Maybe you’ll give them a discount on their next visit if they refer a friend. Maybe you’ll offer a hefty discount on services for their first visit or give them a discount if they book another appointment before they leave.
When you’re starting a new practice, you have many marketing techniques available to you to bring customers in the door. By using a combination of many approaches, you’ll reach a broad audience and increase your odds of a successful opening — and a thriving practice for many years to come.
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