5 Top tips to jump-start your start-up veterinary practice

If you’re a brand new veterinary practice looking to make your mark within your local community, there are many different strategies and tactics you could employ. But with so many options, how do you know which route will help you achieve the best outcomes in the shortest amount of time?

Firstly, it’s imperative to conduct some in-depth market research, as this will provide you with a wealth of information regarding your competitors, the demographics of your target audience, and the services that local pet owners are looking for.

Additionally, every successful business has a robust plan in place, which also includes a detailed marketing budget so you know exactly how much money you can afford to invest in helping your practice be seen in the local community and attract pet owners.

Let’s take this opportunity to explore 5 tried and tested strategies that will help you to quickly establish your practice as an important part of your local community.

1. Invest in an intuitive and informative website

Did you know that more than 35% [1] of consumers look at the layout and navigational structure of a website when visiting for the first time? So, if your website doesn’t have an easily accessible navigation menu or your page layouts are confusing, you run the risk of frustrating and losing visitors before you even have the opportunity to share your messaging with them.

Investing in the development of a website that is easy to navigate ensures that pet owners will always be able to easily locate the specific information they are looking for. Choosing the right navigational structure is key and should be informed by your target audience and their needs.

Some options include:

– A horizontal navigation bar

One of the most commonly used menu structures, horizontal navigation bars display pages side-by-side at the top of a website. Typically, horizontal navigation bars contain an ‘About’ page, as well as ‘Contact’, ‘Services’, and ‘Blog’ links.

Further customising your horizontal navigation bar will allow you to meet the unique needs of your ideal audience, so try to include pages that address the most common questions and queries visitors are entering into their search engine before landing on your website.

– A Dropdown navigation menu

If your website is particularly rich in content, a dropdown menu might be the ideal choice. It is also possible to utilise dropdown navigation alongside a horizontal bar, which may be useful if you offer an extensive selection of services for pet owners.

For example, when a visitor clicks on your ‘services’ tab, they would be presented with a drop down menu clearly setting out everything you do. From here, they could then click on the option that best matches what they’re looking for.

Remember, you need to communicate to your site visitors what sets you apart from your competitors. Taking steps to present information in ways that are easy to digest could be the first step towards convincing pet owners in your local area that you have the skills and expertise they’re looking for.

2. Increase your local visibility within your community

Did you know that increasing your offline visibility within your local community can benefit your online visibility? So, be the veterinary practice that shows up at community events, be willing to get involved and be generous with the amount of information you share. This is your opportunity to establish your practice as approachable, friendly and non-judgemental, which will ultimately encourage people to come to you for help and advice for their pets.

It is also important to make the effort to reach out and connect with other pet businesses in your local area, including dog walkers, pet sitters and groomers. Consider finding ways to connect with community leaders, as this demonstrates a genuine desire to play a key role in your local area.

3. Use PPC advertising to target local keywords

In addition to adopting an offline approach to building your presence locally, it is also beneficial to use pay-per-click (PPC) advertising to target the keywords people in your local area are using when searching for veterinary services online.

Although developing a strong organic search engine optimisation (SEO) strategy is essential, earning top organic ranking positions in search engine results pages (SERPs) will take time. So, to ensure that your practice is visible in local SERPs, running some PPC advertising campaigns will be beneficial.

Local PPC advertising involves using angles such as location extensions and location-specific keywords to display your adverts to people in the areas around your practice. When executed well, local PPC campaigns can help you quickly gain new clients, and increase awareness of your practice.

4. Create a lead generation funnel with a FOMO offer

The ‘fear of missing out’ or FOMO can be a powerful hook that encourages an audience to take immediate action. This can be an invaluable tactic when it comes to building your email marketing list as a new practice.

There are many ways to leverage FOMO offers, including encouraging pre-registrations by offering a limited time deal, such as a free pet health check, complimentary flea treatment or a percentage off their first visit. In order to claim this special offer, collect the email addresses and/or telephone numbers of interested pet owners so that you can contact them directly and fill your diary as soon as your practice opens its doors for the first time.

5. Use social media to connect authentically with pet owners

Social media can help you connect meaningfully and authentically with local pet owners, allowing you to create an engaged community with your practice at the centre. The key to a successful social media strategy is to focus on the platforms you know your target audience is already using.

Facebook is one of the go-to social platforms for pet owners, who participate in Facebook Groups and join pages run by specific pet businesses to keep up with new pet heath information and offers. Facebook supports a variety of content and can be an excellent way to communicate directly with local pet owners via posts, videos, and live streams.

Instagram is another solid platform for veterinary practices because it also supports a variety of different content types, including posts, Reels, and Stories, which are all ideal for sharing behind-the-scenes content and introducing your new practice and team.

Our team at VetsDigital have helped to launch many successful independent start up practices over the past two years.

If you’d like to explore how we could help jumpstart your new practice, please don’t hesitate to get in touch.

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