The coronavirus pandemic has required many medical practice owners to take a closer look at their finances — especially their marketing budgets. Between closure orders making it difficult to bring in new patients and, now, a nationwide increase in pet adoptions causing a spike in calls, veterinarians have had a hard time deciding how much to invest in patient acquisition efforts.
“We’re already getting more patients than we can handle — why would we spend money on marketing?”
But there’s an issue with this line of thought. Even if there’s not an immediate opportunity to put appointments on the calendar, there are reasons why you shouldn’t completely “switch off” your digital marketing efforts.
Digital marketing isn't all about patient acquisition. A consistent online presence benefits your business in a number of ways.
Increased Brand Awareness
Building brand awareness is incredibly important for veterinarians — you want to be the first name that pops in people’s minds when their pets need medical attention or are due for their wellness exams. The more you promote yourself and connect with your community, the more local mindshare you’ll gain, the more you’ll prepare yourself for long-term growth, and the more high-quality talent you’ll attract to work in your office.
Put yourself in a pet owner’s shoes. Even if you’ve been waiting to schedule an appointment due to safety concerns, you’ll need to at some point. And if one veterinary practice has been consistently reminding patients that they’re there to help — implementing and communicating new drop-off and pick-up procedures, advertising emergency services, even posting content about keeping pets safe and happy during lockdown — wouldn’t you be inclined to give them a call when the time comes?
A Better Patient Experience
Your brand and your patient experience go hand-in-hand — but that experience begins even before your potential patients schedule an appointment. It begins with your online presence: Is it easy for visitors to find your basic business information (hours, location, etc.) on the Internet? Can patients see the steps you’ve taken to prevent the spread of COVID-19? Can they seamlessly set up an appointment online? When practices get busy, it’s easy to cut corners and not deliver the time and full value with patients that you would if you weren't so busy. But over the long term, the influx will slow down as patients choose veterinarians who are continuing to go above and beyond.
Utilize technology where you can create efficiencies, but don't stop looking at your patient experience through the eyes of a pet owner who has just shopped around and found what they hope is the best possible option for their pet. Your online presence gives you credibility. If you're not making an effort to stay top-of-mind with patients and remind them that you’re always working to provide the highest possible level of care, you can bet a competing veterinary office will.
Fostering Long-Term Success
In the world of digital marketing, success is a long-term game. The longer you commit to consistently promoting your practice, the more you’ll build up your image and the stronger the returns you’ll see. 2020 may have thrown a wrench into your plans, but if you take a step back, consider innovative ways to fill revenue gaps, and keep telling patients why you’re the best choice in their area, you’ll be positioned for success in the post-crisis transition.
That being said, it’s important to avoid complacency. It’s not enough to simply commit to a marketing budget every year, or to “set and forget” your strategy. As time goes on, new technologies will pop up, patient expectations will change, and your competitors will be looking for any advantage they can find. If you want to protect your veterinary practice and give yourself the best chance at long-term growth, your best option is to find a reliable marketing partner with experience in the medical industry.
If you’re interested in seeing how Scorpion can help your veterinary practice stay top-of-mind with patients during the pandemic, as well as set you up for stability in the years to come, just contact us here.