Veterinarians are trained as applied scientists and are very good in that role. Running a business can be a distraction from what we really want to do. Sometimes we can be almost as bad at business management as we are good at practicing medicine. Furthermore, some in our profession are averse to marketing, assuming that our service will sell itself and that we can count on word of mouth to bring the clients to the services we happen to provide. Like it or not we are marketers if we are in private practice.
Are your clients interested in diagnostics? Treatments? Biosecurity? Long-range or short-term planning? Labor from their veterinarian or consultation? Identifying what type of clients you have can help you offer them the right services. Veterinarians are educated to provide a wide array of services to multiple species. The opportunities to serve are far greater than any one person could possibly fill. We all have a wide variety of abilities and interests. One goal is to match our goals and interests with some segment of the veterinary service market.
A marketer can rarely satisfy everyone in a market. Not everyone likes the same automobile, restaurant, soft drink or movie. Likewise not every cattle owner wants the same vaccination program, has the same goals in getting his cattle bred, or even wants the same input in the same format from his veterinarian. As marketers we have a tool available, market segmentation, to help bring order to our marketing effort.
Market segmentation, correctly applied, is about understanding the needs of customers and, therefore, how they decide between one offer and another. This insight is used to define groups of customers who share the same or very similar value set. A marketer is then able to determine which groups of customers it is best suited to serve and which product and service offers will both meet the needs of its selected segments and outperform the competition.
Market segments can be identified by examining the demographic, behavioral, and value differences among clients. Market segments may vary by needs and wants, scope, business strategies, locations, focus, and goals.
Requirements for market segments are that they must be identifiable, substantial, have unique needs, and are durable.
• Identifiable: the differentiating traits of the segment must be measureable so they can be identified.
• Substantial: the segments must be significantly large to justify the resources required to service them.
• Unique needs: to justify separate services, the segment must have unique needs.