When I was in college, I wanted to study English. Not as a major, mind you- that was always going to be biology- but just a minor, you know, a way to exercise the other half of my brain. I made the mistake of consulting my engineer father, who scoffed and told me not to waste my time with something so banal as writing. So I minored in math, a fine, respectable minor- at least in Pop’s eyes.
We were so snotty, us science people. We low-key made fun of the business majors for picking something so easy, then spent the next four years of weekends studying while the business majors partied it up. And where are we now? Staring down the barrel of corporate buyouts headed by those same business majors.
There are lots of directions one can take in veterinary medicine, and for that, I’m grateful. But this one fact remains: for the substantial subset who want to own their own practice, your marketing and business elements are just as important as your medicine when it comes to your long-term success.
I’m not a business consultant. I’m a storyteller with a DVM. But I’ve discovered over the last few years the inescapable overlap between telling your story, your success as a businessperson, and our success as a profession. And what’s the current story of veterinary medicine?
- According to us: we treat pets like family.
- According to the public: Money-hungry, except for that one I like and trust.
Affordability of care is a whole huge can of worms we can open later, but for now I posit this: instead of fighting the narrative of veterinary medicine as a whole, what if you could just focus on that one little part of the narrative where even those skeptical people admit there’s one person they like and trust? Isn’t that what you really need to be successful?
Myth: Your business goal is more clients.
More people in the door. I don’t care who they are, price shoppers or vaccine deniers or self-described “nutrition experts” or (insert your own personal nightmare.)
Reality: Your goal is better clients. You don’t need to appeal to everyone. You don’t want to appeal to everyone, because there’s a lot of people out there that you aren’t the right match for.
Remember that 80/20 rule? 80% of your revenue comes from the top 20% of clients? What would you rather have, 15 of the 80 percenters or 1 or 2 more people in the top 20%? More people to haggle with over invoices and leave bad reviews, or one person who nods at every estimate and says thank you when they leave?
We are crippled by our noble assumption that the owners are secondary to the pets when it comes to whether or not they are a fit for the practice. I don’t care how much you like Golden Retrievers; if that person in the room is already telling your tech that they read dogs only need one parvo vaccine, ever, you’re in for a rough road. You’re going to go in there and fight the good fight, and you’re going to be exhausted.
After a decade watching the inevitable outcomes play out online (they always play out online these days,) I’ve realized that pre-sorting our clients is the number one easy way to make your life better, and no one is doing it. Well, corporate practices are because they have marketing departments. But are you?
What story is your online footprint telling?
According to my daily survey of websites, the vast majority of websites are leaning into one of two stories:
- We treat your pets like family– a vague, non-descript promise I think of like the pumpkin spice latte of brand slogans
- We are a vet located here. – a vital piece of information that nonetheless does nothing to attract anyone aside from people in your town, regardless of their beliefs about pets.
You have to stand out. You have to. Ideally, you have to make it clear that of all the clinics in Anytown USA, you are the one to go to if: (insert irresistible candy for your ideal client.)
And what is that candy? What do you need to write on your website? Yep, there’s the kicker. Even if you know you need to up your brand game, no one knows how to do it.
Well, except that one non-English major DVM who writes full time and loves nothing more than rubber-stamping people with their own unique labels. I’m here to help because I want you to fill your day with people who fill your cup. And you know what? Those amazing clients who have had bad experience after bad experience want to find you too. There’s no Tinder for vet clinics, so for now- your website is your matchmaker. How’s that working out so far?
So stay tuned as we explore how the brand works for you, and if you’ve seen the possibilities already and want instant help, right this second, drop me a line.
I want you to love what you do the way I love what we all do. You deserve it.
(P.S. My Dad is super proud of me now and, once he saw my book in Barnes and Noble, realized that even dads get it wrong sometimes.)