How to use the 7Ps in veterinary marketing
This is the second in our series on veterinary practice branding. To learn more, read Understanding branding as a companion veterinary practice owner.
As a business owner, you understand that marketing brings awareness to services which generate revenue. But have you given much thought to a comprehensive marketing strategy? The 7ps of marketing are a useful framework to examine your veterinary marketing practices. First introduced as the 4 Ps—product, price, place and promotion— by E. Jerome McCarthy, Bernard H. Booms and Mary Jo Bitner later expanded the framework to include people, process and physical evidence.
The extended marketing mix added considerations for businesses that market a service, like veterinary practices. Taking a step back, looking at the various elements, and knowing how they all connect is a useful exercise that will help you grow your business.
In the case of veterinary practices, product equals the services the animal hospital provides. The question owners must ask themselves: “Is our current service right for the market and customers today?" In a crowded marketplace, product is the distinguishing factor. Does your practice offer a superior service to the competition? If not, it's time to assess whether you can offer a stronger product.
Periodically, your internal stakeholders should align around product to make sure everyone is on the same plan. A conversation could uncover varying definitions of your veterinary practice's core services. Before marketing your products, there must be agreement over what they entail and corresponding strengths.
Many owners don't consider pricing a veterinary marketing function. Yet, price and brand are linked.
It's important for clinics to discuss where they see themselves in the wider marketplace and whether their pricing reflects the value they offer customers. If a clinic charges high prices and pet parents perceive equivalent high-quality service, they will feel as if their animals receive a more professional care experience.
Introducing a payment plan into your veterinary practice can encourage uptake of pricier services, as it makes it easier for customers to fund them. In fact, setting higher prices could attract better customers. As a practice owner, if you have the confidence to niche your products and not attract everyone, it could bring a stronger clientele. Check who brings in the most revenue. Is it a small percentage of clients? They are the people to continue to target, rather than any pet owner.
Place has transformed. Previously, it was just about office location. Pet parents were attracted to animal hospitals based on proximity and convenience. The COVID-19 pandemic and corresponding lockdowns permanently altered how we think about place.
Veterinary practices adjusted by offering online booking and telehealth services. The challenge now is to find a way to embed the digital technology adopted as part of a global crisis into business as usual. For some clients, like those living in remote areas, it's more convenient to access remote care for their pets. Practices should consider keeping these online services to entice more pet owners.
Periodically reappraise your veterinary marketing tactics to make sure they continue to work for their needs. They all contribute to the story you tell your customers about your product.
How do you broadcast your services? Think about the animal owners you are looking to target. Before selecting a platform or publication for promotion, you should consider whether it will reach the core demographic. As a result, you may favor Facebook over TikTok or a local magazine over a national broadsheet.
Remember to include a clear ‘call to action’ with any promotional activity. Include phrases like ‘call to book’ or visit the website.’ Give the audience a clear understanding of what they need to do next to access your services.
Periodically reappraise your veterinary marketing tactics to make sure they continue to work for their needs. Some of the other P's, like place and physical evidence, are closely tied to promotion. They all contribute to the story you tell your customers about your product.
How your practice presents itself to potential employees is a crucial part of branding. What sort of workers do you want to attract? Your employees will represent your veterinary practice's brand to your customers. Beyond proficiency in certain skill sets, it's important to consider cultural fit. Are you hiring staff who share your values?
How do you differentiate yourself in the market? What do you present as your veterinary practice's core strength? You want to reassure the clients they made the right choice in picking you as their veterinarian. As with product, it's important for stakeholders to align on processes. One partner might believe your price is the most important and another might believe it's people. Think of process as the value words that communicate your brand.
7. Physical evidence
Your practice's presentation adds to the overall brand experience for your customers. This includes everything from voicemail messages to office décor and marketing collateral. Is there coherent look and feel? Do leaflets look neat and tidy when collected in their rack in the waiting room? Appearances matter. One often overlooked opportunity for veterinary marketing are bags for prescriptions and other takeaways. Anything a pet parent carries home should be branded.
Your marketing strategy should be aligned with your annual business plan. Consider the 7ps the base of that strategy. These step-by-step actions will serve as your checklist and ensure all the staff are thinking the same way. You already understand the concepts described above. It's the process of joining them together that makes the 7ps such a valuable veterinary marketing tool.
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