We’re all about helping veterinary practices grow in a smart and predictable way. We find the best way of doing that is by helping you think clearly about the specific obstacles between your practice and its growth goals. Time and time again, we find that there is one concept that eludes clear thinking from veterinary practices, and it has deep repercussions. The most obvious one is stagnant growth. Today, we’re going to demystify that concept – the buyer’s journey, and it will help you create a much smarter and more effective plan to accelerate your practice’s growth.
The buyer’s journey is the path that a prospective client takes to find their veterinarian. It is absolutely crucial to understand, because you need to develop a framework that leads the prospect to your waiting room! Many years ago, the buyer’s journey looked like this:
- Ask a trusted friend for a referral
- Look up business information in the yellow pages
- Call the number, make an appointment
Of course, this doesn’t represent the only possible buyer’s journey (some people may see your sign and make a mental note to stop in), but it was a very common one, and you could put a structure in place to optimize the steps. However, the digital age has completely revolutionized this journey, and made the old one obsolete. Practices who struggle with growth are simply stuck in the past – they have no idea how to optimize their sales funnel for a modern buyer’s journey. So today, that’s exactly what we’ll teach you.
With the digital age, the buyer’s journey fundamentally changes. It essentially puts the prospect in charge of the process. The buyer has a wealth of information at their fingertips, and research shows that’s exactly what they’ll use to determine whether or not to see you. Today, the typical buyer’s journey looks like this:
- Google search for veterinarians in the area
- Interact with your website
- Compare your website with other local practices
- Examine your reviews (Yelp, Google or Facebook)
- Call for an appointment
Sometimes the buyer skips ahead a step or two, and sometimes a step is left out. But these are the most common steps that a prospect takes in order to find their veterinarian. What does this mean? It’s pretty simple, really. If you are really smart about optimizing each step for your practice, you will make it much more likely that the buyer’s journey leads to you. That means big things for your growth, because this is the path that prospects are taking now.
Your marketing strategy needs to be totally focused on the modern buyer’s journey. This is the path that the vast majority of prospects take, so it’s by far the most cost-effective plan to invest resources in. There are three principles steps that you need to take, and we’ll discuss each now.
When the prospect starts out, they’ll likely only go through the top few search results. They might only go through the top one! Your ranking on google has a direct correlation with the amount of traffic on your site. In fact, each spot you go down gets about half the traffic as the spot above it. The lesson is simple: your search ranking matters. A lot. Your brand needs to be as visible as possible to the buyer during this beginning stage.
A lot of times, SEO can seem like a complicated subject. That’s just because there are companies out there who try to make money by confusing clients with technical jargon so that they don’t feel empowered to ask good questions and expect real results. SEO requires a very simple strategy:
- A website built with modern engineering with a focus on a great user experience
- An ongoing blog campaign that covers common pet health issues
- An active social media presence that engages with its followers
- Quality back-links from trusted directories and relevant businesses (such as your local humane society)
Your website is where the buyer will largely determine their interest in taking the relationship further. When the prospect gets to your website, they’re almost always trying to answer two questions. The first is conscious and logical: who you are, what you do, where you do it. The second is unconscious and visceral: can I trust you?
Your success is directly related to how well you answer these two questions. To be effective, your website will need to take advantage of modern engineering capabilities, such as an image and video oriented structure, with beautiful design and a logical hierarchy to serve the questions that the buyer has. It will be helpful for you to look at a website that does this extremely well, so spend a few minutes here: http://southwestvetaustin.com/
Taking charge of your reviews
Online reviews have totally disrupted the old buyer’s journey. They are now more trusted by prospects as an objective measurement of trust. Veterinarians are often flummoxed by negative reviews, and that’s totally fine! If you see a lot of clients, you’re going to get a few negative reviews, no matter how great of a veterinarian you are. Usually it comes down to break downs in communication rather than the overall quality of care. What matters is that you really take charge of this situation.
Every 3 days, you should have your office manager check your reviews on Google, Yelp and Facebook. Responding to positive ones is great, and will help to encourage the community to submit more positive reviews. But what you absolutely, positively need to do is to respond to the negative ones. If you don’t, it will seriously damage trust for the buyer in their journey. You’ll want to respond in a similar fashion to this:
“Mary, we’re so sorry to hear this. Honestly, we’re so very committed to providing excellent service at every step of the way, that it really breaks our hearts to hear that we might have fallen short. Your business and your pet’s health mean a great deal to us, and we’d really like to work together to mend our relationship. Could you please contact us at (your number) at your convenience so we can talk more?”
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