Four tips for marketing to millennial pet parents
Just by sheer numbers, millennials deserve the attention of your veterinary practice. This generation, born between 1980 and 2000, is 80 million strong, with an estimated spending power of $170 billion. Even more striking, millennials now represent the largest segment of the pet-owning public in the United States.
The catch? Marketing to this generation presents some challenges: 84 percent of millennials say they don't trust traditional advertising practices. Even with this distrust, however, there are significant ways in which you can reach out to this important group of potential clients. Here are four tips to get you started:
1. Build meaningful relationships
As you look for ways to build a millennial client base, keep in mind that millennials are both highly tech-savvy and highly social. These traits are combined by frequent use of social media to connect with family, friends, and the businesses they interact with. While they dislike traditional advertising, they are eager to engage meaningfully with businesses such as veterinary practices. The key, then, is to build a relationship with your millennial clients — one that is personal rather than transactional.
To do that, show them you are a socially conscious business. Millennials value companies that seek to make a difference in the world. If they see you authentically promoting and supporting pet-related causes, they will remain loyal to your practice.
This generation, which came of age during the Great Recession, is also very value-conscious. Try offering millennials guidance on safe products that offer them peace of mind and can help prevent costly care in the future. An example of this is a pet care plan to help them manage the scheduling of preventative health services for their pets for a low monthly cost.
2. Meet millennials where they are with high-tech communications
Good client communication is an integral part of any successful veterinary practice. If you are trying to attract millennial clients, you may have to rethink how you communicate with them.
You can use technology to establish a millennial-friendly practice by:
- Optimizing your practice's website for mobile viewing.
- Taking advantage of integrated or cloud based communication systems. These services can make your practice more efficient and increase the ease with which you engage with your clients. The best of them even allow for multiple modes of communication (email, postcards, texting) to enhance client engagement and adherence.
- Offering teleheath visits. Millennials often prefer and feel comfortable with online interactions, so they will be attracted to businesses that offer this option. Connecting with a vet virtually and rating the urgency of their pet's healthcare need is an innovative and convenient way for this generation to access advice and support.
- Investing in electronic health records (EHRs). A mobile-based EHR system for pets allows for efficient online communication that is very millennial-friendly: the client checks in on their device and the vet can automatically see the animal's details, including medical history, current and past prescriptions, vaccination history and lab results.
3. Establish a strong social media presence
This generation spends an average of 25 hours a week cruising websites, blogs, and social media sites. To take full advantage of your digital presence, encourage your current clients to write reviews, detailing positive experiences they and their pets have had at your clinic. Since millennials are more likely to trust the opinions of other customers than by traditional marketing, hearing about your veterinary practice from their peers could spark interest. Offer incentives, such as discounts or complimentary services, in exchange for these reviews to help encourage frequent postings and promote loyalty among your current customer base.
4. Keep the conversation going
Merely having a social media presence is not enough to truly engage with potential millennial clients. Get creative. Pet photo contests, virtual tours of the services your clinic offers and educational videos on pet health are good ways to reach millennials. This generation likes to be part of the ongoing social media conversation and spends a lot of time pinning, sharing, snapping, forwarding, and commenting to their friends and community. This kind of positive publicity can also help stimulate word-of-mouth advertising, which remains a great tool for any business.
Traditional advertising approaches may not work with the millennial generation. But the right mix of authenticity and technology can be a great way to ensure this large population of pet owners finds its way to your practice.