In recent posts, we’ve explained the elements and advantages of the Business of Wellness and Practice of Wellnessin your veterinary practice. Today, we dive into concepts that might seem foreign running a pet wellness program — branding and marketing.

A veterinary practice can be hectic and full of daily surprises, not allowing much time to concentrate on branding and marketing.  But, your new wellness program provides the perfect opportunity to further define and promote your brand, create a club concept to differentiate your practice and provides the perfect dialog to build even stronger relationships with your clients.

Simply put, wellness plans are a membership program and provide a great opportunity to not only promote preventive care, but build all areas of the practice in the pursuit of helping more pets, providing consistency in care and message.

The Bayer study found beliefs about marketing and advertising were tied to practice revenues. Practices that believed advertising harmed their credibility saw a drop-in client visits, while practices that recognized the value of marketing and advertising enjoyed an increase in client visits.

Building your veterinary brand is an investment in your practice. The first step is creating an authentic, cohesive brand.

What is your brand?

It’s natural to feel a bit skeptical about how a brand connects to your wellness plan program. You might think: I’m a veterinarian, not a marketer. And – isn’t my wellness program brand and marketing simply an extension of what I already have?

Branding ties back to a concept we discussed in a previous post (find it here) about membership programs, like those popularly offered by Netflix and Costco. When you go to Costco, you know exactly what to expect. Costco’s brand is reflected by its marketing messages, its employees — and throughout the consistent look of its stores. Costco’s marketing doesn’t change what the big-box discounter does, or detract from its business or credibility, but it does convey its brand.  And your experience at one location, is pretty much the same at all locations.

Likewise, your brand expresses the identity of your practice. Your brand sets you apart from the big discount chain down the street.

As with the Costco example, your brand isn’t expressed in a single logo. Instead, the brand message infuses your entire ecosystem, reflecting your business values, business personality, key differentiators, competitive advantage, the experience promise, and guides your team to consistently deliver your values to your clients.   Simply put, your brand is the personification of your business, it is what your clients relate to, it is the image and feelings that come to mind when they visit or discuss your practice with others.

A trusted partner can help you define your brand and apply it to the elements of your practice, including your wellness plan program through consistent messaging and marketing.

How does marketing relate to branding?

Once you have determined your brand, find ways to continually communicate it — through your tagline, images, and colors. Brand communication extends to professionally designed marketing materials, including:

  • A logo
  • Client communications and team interactions
  • Social media images
  • On-hold messaging
  • Radius mailings
  • Website messages (doctor’s message, wellness plan program messaging)

By delivering a consistent message, look, and feel, you build long-term relationships with your pet owners, who then may become brand ambassadors for your practice.

Making your brand part of your practice culture

Educating your team is fundamental to conveying your brand proposition to pet owners. Your team is the embodiment of your brand and consistent delivery of message and experience is vital.

Focus on staff education and buy-in. Arm your team with clear, digestible marketing messages to share with clients. Make sure your associates understand the basics of your various wellness plan programs, along with the “why” and value proposition of the plans, and why they are important to you and why they are offered by the practice.

Direct, concise messages will enable the team to communicate a consistent message to clients and potential clients. Your staff is ideally situated to share information about the benefits of your wellness plan, and can do so if they’re knowledgeable about the features of your various plans and monthly subscriptions.

Make sure your staff is aware of the latest promotions, too. Although a wellness plan program isn’t about discounts, it is about demonstrating value. By adding promotions and options to your plans, you’re integrating your wellness program throughout your entire practice to promote the use — and value — of non-preventive services.

If this sounds like a heavy lift, consider working with a wellness plan partner to help train employees around messaging and other marketing elements.

Your wellness plan program is a tangible way to bring your brand promise to life.  Wellness plans enable more pets to get the care they need and build compliance using your preferred treatment protocols.  Plans help educate your clients about your professional views on pet care and build a relationship with you, cementing their view of you as the trusted advisor. Thoughtful communication builds consistency in messaging and communication between your team and your clients, further providing a consistent and memorable experience at your practice. All these are proven touchpoints in branding and marketing, and all are part of a successful wellness plan program. It’s easy to see that a wellness plan program delivers much more than a healthcare plan, it delivers upon the promise of your practice to each client

Next week, we’ll continue this line of thought with a discussion of sales in a veterinary practice.