Promoting Clinics

Anyone who has attended a George Cooper (veterinary marketing guru) seminar will be aware of the importance of giving your service a name. As George says, the word "clinic" does tend to create the impression of something fairly serious and not much fun.

It is our aim to provide a service that is not only useful and informative, but pleasurable. Clients are often stressed at the surgery since they associate their visits with the anxiety that accompanies having a poorly pet. We should endeavour to educate them into realising that a visit to the surgery can be a very positive experience and that we are there for every aspect of their pet's needs - not just the medical ones.

It is very difficult to strike a balance between a name that sounds drab and a name that is downright naff. The nearest we got was "The Pet Healthcare Adviser Service".

A new service is pretty pointless if your clients are unaware of its existence! Here are some ideas to help you to market the clinics:

  • Word of mouth - easy and free! You may be working on reception and notice a large, panting Labrador sprawled out over the floor. Use this opportunity to offer to weigh the dog. Having a chart available showing ideal breed weights is a good back up. Explain the problems associated with obesity, but do try to be tactful! Once you have the client's trust, it is then time to impart information regarding the nursing clinics and how the weight reduction programme can help. The veterinary surgeons can also help to promote the service during their consultations.
  • Business cards - to create a professional image. These need not be formal. The idea is to create the impression that by attending the nursing clinics, the client is experiencing a privilege. Our nursing appointments are always free, but the clients don't know this! By handing over a card stating "Nursing Clinics - Free Attendance for 1 Year!" the clients really do feel that they are getting something special. This is something for the client to keep in their purse or wallet with the name and contact number of an experienced nurse who they know they can call for advice when needed.
  • Posters - a smart and striking design displayed in the consulting rooms, waiting and reception areas can be effective. Always laminate these to avoid them becoming torn and dog-eared (laminating sheets are available from any large stationary company - you don't need to buy an expensive machine). Posters can also be displayed in local pet shops and rescue centres.
  • Flyers - professionally printed designs work best. Send these out with vaccination reminders and invoices to newly registered clients. You can include them in welcome packs, puppy and kitten packs and post-operative advice packs. Make sure they are also available in a leaflet rack in the waiting room and consulting rooms.
  • Website - if your practice has a website, make sure there are pages devoted to the nursing clinics. We operate our nurse's pages in the format of a question and answer forum covering a variety of subjects.
  • Other promotion - please refer to the chapter "Marketing".