Marketing veterinary care for new bundles of furry joy

By Kelly Baltzell

Squeals of delight when the new fur baby arrives home are pretty infectious. Oh, the cute little bellies, the puppy/ kitten scent, and the big doe eyes melting your heart (cue Hallmark music). Then, the metal screeching of the brakes in the background can be heard as the new pet owner comes to grasp with the full meaning of their little bundle of joy playing chase around the bedroom at 2 a.m. At these moments, new pet owners are turning to the internet and social media for information. As an animal hospital, these moments are a great time to be seen and heard.
young girl with her gray kitten

Okay, before we go any further and your eyes glaze over about all the ways to reach new pet owners, there needs to be a small conversation about time management. It is a given fact that hospitals are strung out with exhaustion, are low in staff, and have zero minutes left in their collective busy lives to even think about marketing. However, without marketing, the funnel of clients will dry up and it will be hard to get the process of bringing tails through door working again down the road. Heck, just marketing to current clients needs to happen, even though most hospitals do not have the time or the desire to do so.

When difficult events happen in our lives, we change. How we change is up to us in some cases. Right now, with staffing issues and other stressors, how the hospital is managing is changing. Before, many hospital owners thought: “Heck, we can do marketing ourselves. It’s just posting a photo on Facebook right? How hard can that be?” The internet has grown into a more complicated, interlocking mess of factors to navigate for a business to be seen and there are no more minutes in the day to make it manifest. Reflection and introspection can show that it is time to embrace change and partner with outside assistance to make sure the hospital is seen and found.

If the thought of this galls you, this is the bottleneck that needs to be addressed first, before kitten/puppy owners can be reached. Internal honesty about bandwidth will help drive success. Finding the right fit for a marketing partner means they will manage the how, when, and where to reach your new puppy and kitten demographic. Take a few precious seconds to interview some marketing firms to see if they are going to manage your brand the way you want it handled. For example, at Beyond Indigo Pets, we look at your data, set marketing goals, create marketing campaigns, monitor, adjust, and measure the marketing outcome. We also reflect your brand on the internet and craft custom, creative messaging to bring tails through your door.

The sticky wickets of marketing in today’s world are the options. Previously, you threw an ad in Yellow Pages, showed up at local social events, and had a cute sign up in front of your practice. Now, one must have an up-to-date website that Google loves, be found in five different types of search engine optimization areas, be engaging on multiple social media platforms, educate people through blogs that are uniquely yours, and also look at non-digital ways to reach your pet owners. Oh, and update all your marketing platforms on a continuous basis because everything on the internet changes 1000s of times a year. (Did your eyes just cross?)

Regardless of where a marketing campaign is posted, it is important to have concise messages that are consistent across all platforms. With new pets in the home, topics that might be a well-worn path for you are brand new to others. For example:

  • Wellness plans: What are they? How do they work? When should people sign up for a wellness plan? What are the benefits of them?

  • First year check-up schedule: Many people do not know all the health care that a new pet needs the first year of life. Educating people on what vaccines are needed, and why, creates an informed pet owner. The more a client is educated, the more likely they will regularly use veterinary care.

  • Importance of regular health visits after the age of 1: Discussions on care after the age of 1, and when does a pet become a senior, are helpful. What bloodwork is needed and why? What should they do when a pet has an injury? Describing what sick “look like” in an animal helps pet parents to know when veterinary care is needed.

  • Health screenings: What are they? When should they be done and why should they be done.

  • Pet insurance and how to pay for your pet: The first vet bill can make eyebrows raise up. So, how do you address the cost of care? Do you embrace pet insurance or other payment options?

  • Spay and neuter: What is it? When should it be done? Make sure to answer all the questions pet owners ask when looking at this (most likely) first surgery for their pet. What is the home health care after it is done? Blogs and other content can help address these pet parent concerns.

  • Housebreaking tips and tricks: Many new pet owners lately have never had a pet. Teaching these owners how to create a healthy home environment through your marketing can help bond that owner to you. The hospital/ doctor becomes the authority and not Google. Even though you have said it a 1000 times, remember that it is the first time for that pet owner.

  • Behavioral training: Many COVID puppies did not have the socializing that other pups did in the past. Discussing the why, how, and where training needs to happen can lead to a successful placement of this new baby in the home. Lack of education can lead to rehoming of the pet or a return back to the foster/shelter.

  • Dental care: Brush my dog’s teeth? Make sure the chompers are glistening and white? Why? A good, healthy dental care program right from the start can go the distance on the health and well-being of the animal. Promoting the type of care that you favor across marketing can lead to healthy, happy lives.

These topics need to be pushed out to the world, but not all at once. Instead, put them on a marketing plan that “drips” them out over months. Even before staffing shortages, having a person able to be the steady creator and provider of marketing content on the team was rare. For better or for worse, humans are bombarded daily with marketing messages, to the point we are conditioned on the pace of them—think any big brand like McDonalds or Nike. Same message, everywhere, all the time is the engine that drives their marketing train. This is why partnering with outside help makes a hospital’s marketing program run like clockwork and eases the stress of making it happen internally.

Marketing to new pet owners has reached my doorstep as well. Watching my oldest daughter have her first fur baby, a kitten named Harriet, is awesome. She is going through all the new pet owner experiences, even though she had a cat growing up. The first vet visit was proudly videoed and sent around to the family. The vet bill was discussed, mixed with the relief of how much pet insurance was going to pay. Photos of the young furball are shown with pride everywhere, on and offline. Wild eyes of holy @)(@)(#*, she is into everything abound on text and social media. Discussions when we get together are now centered around behavior training and the new toys that have been purchased. What is clear to me is that my oldest wants to be a good pet mom and she wants to learn. Make sure you are the hospital to teach these new pet owners what being a good pet parent means, or risk losing them to other sources of care.

Marketing requires work, but it matters. At Beyond Indigo Pets, we create, manage, monitor, and report the success of your marketing campaigns. We do the heavy-lifting and require very little of your time. The best part is, we deliver bottom-line-impacting results with a custom touch. Think of us as an extension of your business. Want to call and talk to me personally about it? I’d love to hear from you. Or, you can email me at Kelly@BeyondIndigo.com. We are here to help whether you are open, reopening, or adjusting to the new normal. Call 877.244.9322 ext. 123, or go to beyondindigopets.com/contact/

Also check out:

Beyond Indigo is an MWI Animal Health Distinct Advantage™ program partner

To discuss how your practice can qualify for a free Distinct Advantage program membership, contact your MWI Territory Manager

About the Author

Kelly Baltzell

President and CEO
Beyond Indigo
View Bio