When we say “content” we are referring to a variety of information presented for your patients’ families to consume. This is the type of content that your current and potential patients’ families want to consume. This includes information presented as:
“Content marketing” is the strategic marketing plan with specific tactics for consistently publishing these types of content. It allows your business to increase its presence in search queries based on the keywords and phrases that your content addresses. This is also the type of information people like to share. It’s not simply publishing random content, but carefully curated pieces that educate your clients and help establish you as a thought leader in the industry.
Content marketing is the antithesis of advertising. While advertising highlights the benefits of your practice, content marketing is all about the needs and pain points of prospective patients and their owners. It helps bring your practice to them. Similar to traditional advertising, the strategic goal of content marketing is to build your practice’s client base, however the means of doing so through content marketing is by educating and connecting with the client – making it all about them. In this way, when they are seeking credible answers from thought leaders online, they are naturally drawn to you through the valuable content that you thoughtfully provide that answers their questions.
Designing the specific strategic plan for content marketing your practice can look many different ways. You might utilize such social media tools as an Instagram page or a Facebook business account, a YouTube channel, create your own podcast, or publish a regular blog on your website – or a mix of two or more of these. We’ll look at each of these options further in a minute, but one important thing to keep in mind is that the strategic goal of content marketing is to bring potential clients back to your practice’s website and provide them with an easy way to seek out your services. Let’s look at several options and what each might look like for your veterinary practice.
With the primary focus of social media being on engagement, content marketing on these platforms will often look like directing potential clients to your website by sharing a blog post, podcast, or video content. It might also be sharing an infographic or quiz, which if strategically designed, fun and shareable has the opportunity to be shared many times and drive many more clients your way. If it truly “connects” with your audience, it may even go “viral” (getting shared thousands of times) but hard to predict if or when that may happen. As engagement is key on Instagram and Facebook, your engagement with potential clients through commenting on their posts and following potential clients is a critical part of strategic content marketing in those spaces.
YouTube is one of the web’s most popular media sites, drawing more than 1 billion unique users each month, and people are particularly drawn to animal videos on this platform. Videos of your doctors and staff sharing tips about pet health and nutrition can garner attention from many potential clients as the credibility and awareness of your practice is also boosted. A content marketing plan including video can bring your business before many potential clients who might not find you through a basic web search. And these videos can also be embedded on your website to make it easier for visitors to find.
Similar to video, podcasts provide a medium for you and your practice to build credibility and position yourself as a thought leader in the field of veterinary medicine by sharing valuable information. As you address their needs and pain points, you show your business to be worthy of their following. With a regularly scheduled release of podcast recordings, you can see your client base grow organically from your listeners and their friends (and their friends, etc.) as it gets shared.
Perhaps the simplest and most direct form of content marketing, blogging is a means of publishing your own written content so that you can build a library of information that potential clients are searching for. This strategy helps to position you and your practice as a thought leader in the industry, organically attracting new clients to your practice. You might share links to these articles through other email or social media, but these are often strategically planned to coincide with what your potential clients need in a particular season or to address a question or concern that many potential clients are facing today, such as how to keep their pets safe when summer temperatures climb high.
You’ve probably seen these online or even tried one (or more) for fun. These allow you to provide educational material through “did you know” or “test your knowledge” quizzes or assessments. You could also be providing a calculator to estimate costs, for example the “cost of ownership” for that pony the client’s child wants. These are begging to be shared via social media. And setting them up can be quick and easy with the many software programs available for you.
As you consider what type(s) of content and approach fits into your overall marketing strategy for your veterinary practice, the most important thing to remember is that in order for content marketing to be successful, you must provide value to your audience. When your audience finds value in your content, they will continue to seek you out and refer you to others, which is where you can have the potential to significantly grow your client base.