This article, the first in a three-part series, was written by Eric Rooker, DVM, Dairy Doctors Veterinary Services, Plymouth, Wis. Bovine Veterinarian thanks him for the excellent information he provides here for other practitioners' consideration.
The benefits of increased technological use are vast. Technology can improve communication, increase efficiency, stimulate innovation and provide a mobile work environment.
The use of technology can help improve your practice’s communication by providing a way to bridge differences in generational attitudes, personality types and the failures of poor communication networks. Poor client-practice communication can cost the practice more than lost time. It can result in less efficient service to your clients resulting in frustration and dissatisfaction with rendered services. It can also lead to clients being ‘out of the loop’ and unaware of potential services that you provide.
Technology can improve overall efficiency when providing service to your clients. Efficiency is defined as the ratio of useful work performed by a machine or process to the total energy expended. There is a finite amount of time we can work and thus a finite amount of return possible per veterinarian. Technology allows us to raise the maximum return per veterinarian while still providing quality service to our clients.
Technology also provides us with a never-ending platform for innovation and creation. It is my personal experience that if you give this freedom for innovation and creation to new associates they will develop new services with modern technology for your practice.
Finally, technology allows us to work in a mobile world. This ability to work remotely has established an attitude that people want to be able to work anywhere, any time. For food-animal veterinarians this might mean in the office, a field, a pen or over a sick animal.
The ability to function anywhere means veterinarians have more unique opportunities to educate clients in real time through videos, trainings and access to many more documents than ever before.
I would be remiss if I didn’t acknowledge that there are potential contraindications for increased technological use. Technology provides an ideal endorphin-releasing distraction media, which can result in poor work quality, reduced revenue and intra-office relationship issues.
Generally the more expensive technology is the better it is. I would suggest any practice considering a technological investment create a partial budget for technological purchases to prove profitability prior to implementation.
In addition, and perhaps more concerning is technology can fail. I encourage practices to enter any new technological venture with an open mind and to partner with parties that understand the headaches that come with early adoption.
While technology does have its detriments, the benefits outweigh the contraindications. It is my firm opinion that to ignore today’s technological advancements is a direct threat to our status as the leading non-biased consultants in the food-animal industry. Stewart Brand says: “Once a new technology rolls over you, if you’re not part of the steam roller, you’re part of the road.” If veterinarians want to continue to embrace their position at the forefront of food-animal consulting, they need to embrace the promise of increased technological use.
MARKETING IN THE MODERN FOOD-ANIMAL PRACTICE.
It is often easy to overlook and undervalue a good marketing plan for a food-animal practice. Plus, many practitioners feel they lack the skills and financial resources to create an effective marketing campaign for their clinic. It is my belief that with the emergence of new online software and the use of small, local marketing and print shops, large animal practices can find viable options for marketing.
A targeted flyer campaign can improve communication with your clients, allowing you to better service their needs. While many people scoff at the thought of returning to paper after building beautiful websites or with the advent of email, I believe marketing research should sway those opinions.
Digital marketing campaigns often cost hundreds to thousands of dollars just to get a potential client to open an advertisement. However, the UK Postal Service found that 92% of mail gets opened versus a MailChimp study where they found only 15% to 28% of emails are opened.
Using physical marketing techniques means practices have a better chance of clients receiving the marketing message. Most practices still rely on paper bills for clients, so many food-animal practices have access to a readily deliverable mail stream with no additional costs to begin such a flyer campaign.
Research by the Australia Post has found physical marketing, i.e. papers and flyers, resulted in 62% more influence than digital media. Many marketing agencies suggest this is because paper stimulates multiple senses — touch, sight and often smell — which increases the neuro-engagement it causes.
Compound all these factors and you can see why flyers, while “lowly,” are a good option for food-animal practices. Flyer creation is easy today. You no longer need to learn Microsoft Publisher or Photoshop, as there are several online and software sources for easy marketing creation.
My preference is the service of Canva, an online company that has many different preassembled marketing medias for paper and electronic usage. Combining this design software with a local print shop or online print shop allows practices to easily make high-quality flyers in one to two hours of total work.
However, if the practice culture or scheduling doesn’t allow for design time, there are also freelance sources available. Practitioners can still maintain a high standard of quality by providing the required information to freelancers who can be bid out designs at websites such as fiver.com, freelancer.com or funnelroledex.com, among others. These sites will provide qualified graphic design artists from around the world and will then have them compete against each other for your business.
The use of flyers should also be encouraged because of the low-cost ceiling required for each marketing campaign. Canva itself only costs $9.99 per month and print costs for 75 to 100 copies of a quality flyer will range from $75 to $150. These costs plus some minor postage costs mean a monthly advertisement campaign centered around flyers would only total $90 to $165. While this is a cost, please note the majority of marketed services should return that investment in one to two hours of dedicated work or a handful of product sales.
It is my personal experience that such a campaign will work if well thought out and executed. One anecdotal example for this was a milk culture flyer advertising our milk quality lab. We sent this flyer, pictured above, out to all of our dairy clients that received a bill that month.
The next month we increased our milk quality sales significantly and landed a new client that resulted in over a $1,000 of gross sales the following year. While not every advertisement will strike gold this way, it only takes one or two successful campaigns per year to pay for the marketing campaign.
One final important statistic of note is while many marketing gurus disagree on the true number of exposures to a product before buying, Microsoft research suggests it takes a potential client between three and 20 exposures before they are influenced to purchase. This is the final advantage of using digital design sources such as Canva, because these types of media are readily converted from paper flyer designs to email and social media campaigns that can also reach potential customers. Supplement this with an explanatory video or podcast and you can now provide the client yet another type of exposure to your product or service. Using readily available media marketing programs today and a quality print company can result in improved sales and uptake of new services for today’s modern food-animal practice.