The Veterinary Industry, According to NAVC

AUTHOR: Peter Alberti

Our trip to the North American Veterinary Community (NAVC) conference in Orlando last week was incredibly gratifying.  It’s no secret that the veterinary industry as a whole is in the midst of a transformation, and not all of those changes favor the business – or practice – of animal medicine.  Yet, through a period that could rightfully be characterized by many as “difficult at best”, the overall sentiment by everyone I met was upbeat and optimistic.  That was a pleasant surprise, to say the least!

Transformation?  Really?

Nearly everyone – from doctors, techs and office staff to vendors and service providers – agreed that things have become more difficult for veterinary professionals over the last few years.  For example:

Certain revenue streams have been materially reduced (or in many cases obliterated) from top lines.  In an industry where it was common to reduce fees and even give away services when appropriate, such concessions have become completely impossible for many.  For caregivers who enter the profession because of an unwavering love for animals, this is a tough nut to swallow.
Technology advances, although a fantastic enabler for medicine, have created pressures on practices to acquire more skills, equipment and resources in order to remain competitive.  Those who cannot (or will not) advance with the rest are more and more disadvantaged.  The new technologies are great and the intentions in using them well meaning, but the holistic impact is not always favorable.
The overall reputation of practitioners as a whole is, in some places, at severe risk as more pet owners increasingly vent frustrations in their social media circles and turn to Dr. Google for “facts” about their fur babies’ conditions. “My vet doesn’t care about my pet; only about money” is unfairly uttered far too often and inappropriately. The taint of that ill-conceived sentiment unfortunately spreads far too wide.
These and other factors tend to result in significant distractions from the fundamental job at hand: Care for pets and clients in the best possible way.

How the NAVC Crowd Saw This

Although very few people disagreed that there are challenges, nearly everyone maintained a supportive, optimistic outlook.  “What Moves You?” was the theme of the conference, and it was abundantly clear that everyone there was motivated to support the industry as a whole, and each other as individual people and practices.

Almost every conversation I had with exhibitors (and others) had the same theme: “We just gotta be there for the vets!”  Numerous terms were used to characterize the sentiment:  “Boost the industry”, “Support the vets”, “Enable the practices”, etc. But they all said pretty much the same thing – that the noble profession of veterinary medicine is important and well-deserving of material support to keep it alive and thriving.

How cool is THAT?  It’s very gratifying to be in an industry full of people who care!


About Pet Cause Media

Pet Cause Media is the national leader in veterinary pre-education and digital out of home marketing in veterinary offices. We work closely with our veterinary and sponsor partners to ensure full compatibility and maximum results. Visit our website (petcausemedia.com) or contact Marshall Akita (marshall@petcausemedia.com) for more details.

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Staying Adaptable and Responding to What Matters to Your Customers

AUTHOR: Marshall Akita

In my post from January 2nd, The Truth About the Omnishopper, I mentioned three ways in which you could work to make your product’s messaging feel good to the modern consumer. Here I’ll talk a bit more in depth about the second—staying adaptable and responding to your customers’ interests.

Every good marketer should be responsive to his or her customers, but doing so is not necessarily as easy as it may seem. The main reason for this is, simply put, people are fickle. One day they want savings, the next day they want features, the next day they want aesthetics, then ergonomics, then savings again. It can be a challenge for the consumer to keep their desires straight, much less the marketer attempting to predict them. This is where research is key. Large market studies are invaluable for helping to understand general market trends and consumer behavior. These, in turn, can give you a general idea of how to target your messaging to better reach your customers.

The problem with research like this is that it can’t get you the specifics that you need to make your marketing efforts really resonate. To do that, you need to perform your own marketing research, something that all large companies already do. This typically involves multiple small runs of various related but slightly different messages, followed by an analysis of which variation produced the best results. The advantage of performing this type of research is that it is far more comprehensive than a large study. In effect, you can let your customers fine-tune your message for you. The problem, however, is that, when done by traditional methods, the process is long and expensive. Not only do you have to put up all the content that you wish to test, you have to take down and replace everything that didn’t work.

Digital marketing can offer a way to fast-track your market research in an economical way. Unlike other media, digital can be altered almost immediately. In addition, it is easy to test multiple variations on a particular message, because distribution of content is greatly simplified. Digital out of home advertising has an additional advantage, because managers at the site of your advertisement (for example, the veterinarians at the vet’s office) can report customer feedback on your messages directly to you or your advertising agent. Because of this, it pays to foster a good relationship with the locations that you advertise in—if you can benefit them by some form other than simple payment, you would be wise to do so. Digital marketing is, therefore, your best tool for staying adaptable and responsive to customer concerns.

All this discussion, however, still begs the question: how does being responsive and adaptable make your product feel good to the customer? Simply put, if the client feels that the marketing messages are directed to them and for them, they will feel good about the product. Customers want to know that the product being sold to them is being sold to them for a reason—if it is marketed to them, it should really help them. Of course, the only way to be sure of this is to know the customer, or at least to give that impression. If they do feel like they are understood, they will be more inclined to trust the product and to buy it. Combined with the first tip, customers will understand that you don’t just know when where they do their important thinking, but what their main desires are when they are in that state of mind. Combined, these two go a long way towards making the customer feel good about the product.


About Pet Cause Media

Pet Cause Media is the national leader in veterinary pre-education and digital out of home marketing in veterinary offices. We work closely with our veterinary and sponsor partners to ensure full compatibility and maximum results. Visit our website (petcausemedia.com) or contact Marshall Akita (marshall@petcausemedia.com) for more details.

Reaching them When and Where it Matters

AUTHOR: Marshall Akita

In my post from January 2nd, The Truth About the Omnishopper, I mentioned three ways in which you could work to make your product’s messaging feel good to the modern consumer. I’d like to clarify the first of these—reaching your customers when and where it matters—here, with further posts on the latter two to come shortly.

First of all, to say when and where implies that these are two fundamentally different concepts. This is not the case. When your customer is in the frame of mind to consider buying your product, knowing where they are is crucial. Conversely, if you know that your customer will be somewhere that engages their mindset such that they will be susceptible to your messages, then that is always the right time. The one does not exist without the other.

Once you realize this, it should be clear how knowing the right place and time to interact with your customers can help to make your product feel good to them. Don’t think of that right place and right time as a moment, but rather as an experience. Your job as a marketer is to integrate your brand’s messages with that experience to the best of your ability. Furthermore, by doing so, you should try to add value to that experience.

Think of Volkswagen’s Superbowl ad with the Darth Vader kid, or almost any Geico ad you have ever seen. These messages keep you entertained, engaged, and enrich your experience. As a result, you consume them as you would any other product. What you might not have considered about those commercials is that you don’t simply remember them because they are good, but also because they are happening at the right place and time. When you are watching a show, and a clever advertisement comes on, you will be more inclined to watch it, because you came to that show for entertainment. Anything else that is suitably entertaining will therefore give you the same value that you are looking for (during the Superbowl, people even expect to be entertained by advertiser content). Imagine the power of knowing how to become a part of your customers’ experience at any related point. Entertain when and where they want to be entertained, alert when and where they want to be alerted, educate when and where they want to be educated.

Of course, it is hard to predict when your customers are going to be receptive to your messages if you don’t know where they are, especially when being in a particular place puts them in the right state of mind. But looking for your customers doesn’t have to be complicated. In the pet industry, there is one clear focal point: the veterinary hospital. In this industry, every customer will, at some point or another, go through this one key point that also serves as the intersection of customers, experts (the veterinary health professionals), and vendors. If you can help to improve the experience for either the clients or the vets, you can, in turn, produce a better experience all around. By incorporating your product’s messages into this improved experience, you have made it feel good in the eyes of the customer.


About Pet Cause Media

Pet Cause Media is the national leader in veterinary pre-education and digital out of home marketing in veterinary offices. We work closely with our veterinary and sponsor partners to ensure full compatibility and maximum results. Visit our website (petcausemedia.com) or contact Marshall Akita (marshall@petcausemedia.com) for more details.

Veterinary Professionals: NOT Sales People!

AUTHOR:  Peter Alberti

I read this article today and wanted to comment on it.  #2 resonated with me in a big way — veterinarians truly are “wired” for their chosen profession.

I’ve come to recognize that the best value Pet Cause Media can provide to veterinarians is helping them with something most of them find fundamentally uncomfortable: “selling” to their clients. As an avid observer of human behavior, I was delighted to learn that what we offer is not only beneficial to the business (the practice) but also materially to the people in it.

This lesson, along with #2 from the article above, reminded me about my own preferences and how my own brain operates.  I started college with music school (sound recording technology) and had to take physics-based calculus.  I failed it twice; I could never get my head around the concept of gravity and falling objects.  But when I switched to business school and applied the exact same math to money (marginal rate of return, for example), I got an “A”.

Now that I have three kids and can see their preferences emerge through their school work and their activities, it’s that much more clear to me that people are just “wired” differently.  This isn’t a major revelation.  But how to make this concept productive?

Well, getting back to the veterinary profession — and why #2 in the article is important — Continue reading Veterinary Professionals: NOT Sales People!

The Truth about the Omnishopper is… It’s You

AUTHOR: Marshall Akita

Despite what you might have heard, the omnishopper is not an entirely new phenomenon. She is not some mysterious Generation-Y computer genius that can simultaneously process thousands of reviews on Amazon while, at the same time, skipping over every digital advertisement that she comes across. The omnishopper is, in fact, you. Don’t believe me? Think about your buying behavior today. If you make a large purchase, you probably spend some time considering your alternatives. You’ll look on company websites and read reviews online. Then you’ll go to the store, ask a sales rep about the product, and finalize your decision. During the course of your search, you will have consumed marketing messages from at least a dozen sources before finally settling in on you choice.

If that sounds like a far cry from the nightmare scenario of omnishoppers ‘winning’ some sort of battle against marketers, you would be correct. In fact, people have been consuming marketing information from as many sources as possible for millennia—there are advertisements scratched into the walls of Pompeii—but with each additional medium, marketers have had to learn to adapt. With the advent of the newspaper, advertisers had to learn how to give their messages truly mass appeal; with radio, marketers had to figure out how to make their products sound good; with television, the trick was to get the product to look good. Each new era built off of the successes of the past to create increasingly effective messages. What then, is the trick to reaching today’s digital omnishopper?

Where digital media can help the modern marketer is in making the product feel good. The trick here is to use what has already worked, incorporating the advantages that digital media offers. Don’t just give the consumer features; give them a rich experience that begins with your marketing by:

Reaching them when and where it matters:

Digital gives you unparalleled access to your customers at the time and place in which they make decisions related to your product. Nowhere is this more true than digital out of home, which can allow you to reach your clients in the hospital, at the store, or anywhere else that both you and they do business. By engaging the customer while they are in the right frame of mind, your company can ensure the best results from it marketing budget. A recent Neilson study showed that four out of five companies saw up to 33% sales increase from digital out of home strategies.

Staying adaptable and responding to what matters to your customers:

The pace of marketing is increasing, so it pays to be adaptable. Conventional marketing strategies take a long time to prepare and to change if necessary. Digital, on the other hand, can be altered almost immediately to better suit the needs of your business. Whether you are running promotions, testing different variations of a message, or simply trying to keep your marketing campaign fresh and novel, nothing moves at the speed of digital, making it the ideal platform for staying directly responsive to your customers.

Presenting a diversified media campaign:

Traditional media is not going to go away, but it is also not as relevant as it once was. This has always been the case with the introduction of new media forms—radio threatened print and television threatened both—and that can be both a cause for excitement and concern. It pays to be ahead of the curve, and there is no better time than the present to begin. Digital media, especially digital out of home (see my previous post on the Dos and Don’ts of Digital Marketing), allows your company many more opportunities to reach your customers and to actively engage them. Pairing this with a mobile, web, or retail strategy can help to move customers down the sales funnel, keeping them engaged and interested the entire time.

The omnishopper isn’t a new person, simply the same people that you already know with access to new tools. These new tools necessitate a softer approach to marketing, but not an inherently different one. Change where you interact with your customers, not how, and ensure that you are keeping them engaged while you do. Marketing hasn’t changed, simply where you can market. The balance doesn’t have to be swinging in favor of the consumer, but could just as easily favor the smart marketer who knows her customers and who can engage them when and where they make their purchasing decisions.


About Pet Cause Media

Pet Cause Media is the national leader in veterinary pre-education and digital out of home marketing in veterinary offices. We work closely with our veterinary and sponsor partners to ensure full compatibility and maximum results. Visit our website (petcausemedia.com) or contact Marshall Akita (marshall@petcausemedia.com) for more details.