It’s not enough to have an idea when it comes to marketing. You need to know why that idea works. Here’s 10 marketing ideas that do work, with an explanation as to why. By Daniel Warren
There are an extraordinary number of marketing experts offering free advice online, but very little of it is practical. “Many suggestions for how to market your practice predate the great growth in digital media,” says Rob Johnson, co-founder of Engage Content. His company creates content and strategy for veterinary practices, and sees a lot of practices that treat new media as a hobby for front-office staff.
“Just being ‘on the web’ doesn’t really cut it,” he adds. “Over the last few years, social media, mobile internet access and software automation have all changed. They’re a lot more sophisticated than they used to be. But the marketing advice hasn’t changed.”
As an antidote, Johnson offers these marketing ideas you can do immediately, along with an explanation of why they work.
1. BUILD BACKLINKS BY REVIEWING YOUR TOOLS
“One of the two key factors in increasing your ranking in search engine results is having a lot of links going back to your site,” says Johnson. “Not just any links, but links from sites with higher domain authority and page authority than yours. Backlinks are hard to get from those sites, and often involve a lot of hard work.”
If you write something for a magazine, journal or newspaper, you could request a backlink to your site when they publish online. They will probably have higher domain authority than you—and giving you a link shouldn’t cost them anything.
2. BLOG REGULARLY
The second key factor in improving your website’s ranking is blogging regularly. “It’s just maths,” says Johnson. “Having a blog greatly increases the number of pages on your site. This in turn increases the chances of you being found in Google searches. Committing to a regular schedule of publishing original content gives people a reason to come back to your site. It increases your authority as you’re spreading helpful information.”
3. BOOST FACEBOOK POSTS
Even if you are posting lots of things about your practice on your Facebook page, you are not reaching your full audience. The only way to reach a large number of people on Facebook now is to pay. “Set aside about $30 a month to boost any posts that link back to your blog,” says Johnson. For what is a very small investment, you will get much more attention.
4. SPONSOR A TEAM
Not all promotion has to be online to achieve a good online result. One off line place where your community still gathers is at community sporting events. And all of your local community teams are keen for sponsorship. Keen enough that it seems reasonable to request a link to your website from theirs and a logo on the jumpers.
5. CUT DOWN YOUR EMAIL LIST
“Over 90 per cent of the emails your practice sends out are being ignored,” says Johnson. “If you keep sending emails to these people, their email provider will start tagging your emails as spam, and just deliver them straight to spam filters or junk mail folders. And when you send more emails in the future, they will all be treated as spam.”
Instead, limit your email list to people who have BOTH opted in AND interacted with previous emails. They’ll be easier to track and judge what’s working and what isn’t. And you give future emails a much better chance of getting to where they’re meant to go.
6. TIE PERSONAS TO PETS
Using basic character types, or personas, to describe groups of your best customers is smart practice, and helps you target marketing effectively. Johnson suggests taking that a step further—if you cross match your personas with pets (using your patient data), it will paint you a picture of exactly who your best customers look like, what motivates them to use your services, and which services you offer that will draw similar people in.
7. AUTOMATE YOUR NEWSLETTER
“Newsletters are a bit of a pain,” says Johnson. “But you don’t have to put them together manually. There are apps you can buy that will integrate with your RSS feed on your website and send out a newsletter containing links to your most recent blog posts. This not only saves you time, but guarantees your marketing message will get out even when you’re too busy to think about it.”
8. RUN A CONTEST
You see pets when they’re sick. But why not celebrate them when they’re well? Create a landing page on your site that is just dedicated to a cute animal competition. Put a form on it that allows people to submit their own cute animal pictures. Offer a prize each month for the cutest. The prize can be a voucher for some free service, or something supplied by one of your suppliers (some pet food, for example). Promote it on your Facebook page and in your newsletter. It gives people a reason to just feel good about you, and reminds them that you like their pets nearly as much as they do.
9. JOIN A CLUB
Your community, both online and offline, is filled with groups of people who love their pets. Join them. See what they’re talking about. Add to the discussion when you have something to say.
10. GET STAFF SHARING ON SOCIAL MEDIA
“The Holy Grail of modern marketing is to have a piece of content about you, or by you, go viral,” says Johnson. “And like all similar dreams, for 99.99 per cent of us, it’s never going to happen.”
What does work is ‘diffused broadcasting’. This is where you broadcast a blog post, for example, to one defined group of people, and every one of those people shares your post once.
To get the best reach for any post, then, you need the largest possible initial group who can be guaranteed to share it.
“You have that group,” says Johnson. “It is called your staff. You can politely ask them to share something.” Looking after animals is a large part of your staff’s lives. Why wouldn’t they want to share?