There’s one thing that veterinary school didn’t really prepare you for: how to successfully market your veterinary practice to grow your client base. Marketing is even more important if you’re just starting out. Like with any business, getting those first few clients can seem the hardest. But even established veterinary hospitals need to constantly market to keep a consistent flow of new clients walking through the doors. So now it’s time to consider guerrilla marketing.
What Is Guerrilla Marketing?
The term “guerrilla marketing” sounds like it uses high pressure sales tactics to gain new business. That couldn’t be further from the truth. Guerrilla marketing is a low-budget way of advertising your hospital to the local population, without making the hard sell. In other words, you’re using grass-roots tactics to target the people in your area who are most likely to use your hospital.
Guerrilla Marketing Ideas for Veterinarians
The following guerilla marketing tactics are easy to implement, require no special marketing skills and will barely put a dent in your advertising budget.
1. Suit up. You know how those mattress discount stores and tax preparers always seem to have some young go-getter in a mattress or Uncle Sam costume dancing out by the sidewalk? That’s because it draws attention to their locations and raises awareness for their services. A dog or cat costume can be rented from a costume store or purchased inexpensively online. Give a few dollars to a willing teenager to dance in the costume, add a sign produced at a local sign shop and you have a terrific weekend advertising campaign to snag the attention of passers-by.
3. Promote a cause. Promote a cause and your practice at the same time with bumper stickers. These little billboards have a captive audience at red lights. They can be customized and bought in bulk very cheaply from websites such as CafePress. The message on bumper stickers should be simple, perhaps about spaying and neutering or adopting a shelter pet. Your hospital’s name, website and phone number needs to be prominently displayed.
4. Put your car to work. Good-sized metallic signs are inexpensive and can be easily applied and removed. When your car is sitting at the grocery store or movie theater parking lot it can be working to raise awareness of your veterinary practice. You can always peel it off on occasions when you want to be a little less conspicuous.
5. Fire up the grill. Who doesn’t like a good barbecue? Organize the event at a local park. (Make sure to get the required permits). Invite your staff and current clients and ask them to tell their friends. Make the barbecue pet-friendly as well by offering free doggie treats so clients can bring their furry friends. One good way to gain extra publicity is to turn the barbecue into a fundraiser for a local animal shelter. And if it’s a fundraiser, you can help offset the costs by soliciting donations from local businesses for food and supplies.
6. Go to the movies with your message. Many movie theaters show advertisements before the lights go down and the movie begins. These ads are shown in slideshow fashion. This is another opportunity to get your veterinary hospital noticed in front of a captive audience. And surprisingly, these ads are relatively inexpensive. Your ad doesn’t need to be fancy or cost thousands of dollars to create. A good eye for basic graphic design and some catchy words are all you need. Often the local advertising representative will prepare the slide for you. You can generally have your ad shown for a specific period of time for specific movies. Keep in mind that the new blockbuster movie just hitting the theaters will cost a premium for advertising.
Get Creative with Guerrilla Marketing
The above are just a few guerrilla marketing ideas that you can test out to expand your hospital’s client base. There are hundreds of ways to do this and you’re only limited by your imagination. Brainstorm ideas with your hospital staff and commit to a few methods at least once or twice a year.