How veterinary practices can market to different generations of potential clients
With COVID-19 on everyone's minds, it's more important than ever that veterinary practices communicate effectively across generations. All pet parents do extensive research to find a vet offering both quality and value for their beloved companions, but how they prefer to access that information varies considerably from generation to generation. By tailoring your marketing and outreach efforts to accommodate the preferences and consumer behaviors of the four distinct age groups — especially during the coronavirus pandemic — you can attract new, loyal clients.
Provide security to baby boomers
Baby boomers (born 1946-1964) quickly adapt to changing times, buying a products and taking measures to enhance their safety. At or near retirement age, they prioritize freedom and advance planning. The COVID-19 pandemic disrupted that sense of security, and they're looking to restore it. Veterinary practices can tap into this need by partnering with companies that offer contactless payment options and stress-free payment plans — two alternatives that speak to advance planning and security.
"COVID-19 has led to uncertainty for millions of people who are now having to make difficult decisions about whether or not to get necessary care for their pets," shared Brian Topper, VP Product Strategy, MWI Animal Health. "Your practice's partnerships can ease this financial burden. The Premier Pet Care Plan provides preventative care through monthly payments spread out over time. Another way you can help is through Scratchpay, a financing platform that provides transparent payment plans and touchless payment options."
Baby boomers typically consume information from a variety of sources, ranging from postcards to emails to social media, so consider incorporating those channels into your marketing plan. Client engagement platforms allow your practice to easily access and customize some of those tools with targeted messaging.
To reach this generation, focus on how to provide security for the present—and the future. One way to do this is by communicating clearly how a practice is changing safety procedures in response to new information on COVID-19. Send emails or texts letting patients know about your practice's new safety procedures. For example, you might request that patients stay in their cars while you examine their pets in order to minimize exposure in a waiting room. Or you might add enhanced cleaning protocols while scheduling a smaller number of visits per day. Steady and consistent communication about changing policies can help this generation feel tuned in and safe.
Offer transparency and pragmatic solutions to Gen X
Gen Xers (born 1965-1977) are adept at learning new routines and handling any obstacles. They easily adapt to new technology, such as shopping online during a pandemic to minimize their exposure. They value pragmatism and transparency and seek simple solutions that help them feel relaxed. Apps that allow them to access their pet's medical records appeal to Gen X's pragmatism. Some of these tools store digital copies of their pets' records from multiple service providers.
When marketing to potential clients, a veterinary practice can emphasize how their participation in these apps makes it easy for pet parents to sync their pet's records from different sources, showcasing transparency. Apps also offer ease of use, providing in-hand reminders about important appointments and dates in their pets' lives.
A veterinary practice marketing to Gen X should keep messaging simple and authentic, showing just how much you care for their pets. If you've taken their pet in for an appointment while they wait in the car, snap a photo and text it to them while they wait. Or share a cute interaction you had with a client's pet on your social media pages (with the client's permission, of course.) Gen Xers also appreciate in-house patient portals that facilitate asking questions and scheduling appointments. Such portals can increase transparency with medical reminders, simple appointment scheduling, easy prescription refills and the ability to ask questions online.
"ALLYDVM's PetPage Patient Portal brings much-needed transparency during the pandemic, when everyone's feeling a little on edge," said Angela French, Head of Support and Success, ALLYDVM. "Clients can send messages to their veterinarians any time of day or night, make appointments when it's convenient, and review their pet's medical reminders whenever they need a little reassurance. Portals like this can bring a little stability in a world that's always changing."
"With the support of strong technology companies, we can be sure that pet owners can continue to have access to veterinary care, including through telehealth platforms."
Tap into millennials' desire for socialization and resilience
Millennials (born 1978-1995) get their news from streaming platforms and online videos as well as traditional TV. They gravitate to products that emphasize security and peace of mind. Still recovering from the Great Recession, millennials worry about having enough money and resources, but they have also grown resilient from overcoming obstacles.
Millennials appreciate client loyalty programs that can help them save on the cost of care. When crafting marketing messages for this generation, call out your practice's use of a client engagement program that automatically awards points and discounts. Marketing a partnership with telemedicine services may appeal to both millennials' consumption of streaming media and their desire for efficiency and convenience. Emphasize the easy-to-use symptom checker, real-time advice and consultations with your practices' veterinarians that telemedicine offers.
Millennials' love of household socialization suggests they might enjoy products that encourage them to involve the entire family in their pets' care. Medical record apps, for example, let users invite co-owners and friends to see and track their pet's health progress. Tap into this desire for collaboration when attracting millennial pet parents to your practice.
Help Generation Z make the world a better place
Members of Generation Z (born 1996-Present) are already feeling the need to grow up fast and confront the extreme socioeconomic issues facing society, from school shootings to climate change to social justice. They are strong and resilient, ready to solve the problems of the future with courage. Consider marketing approaches that demonstrate your desire to make the world a better place—whether it's raising money for environmental causes or supporting animal shelters in your community. Sincerity matters: Gen Z will see through blatant, inauthentic advertising efforts.
Gen Z's affinity for online videos also make them good candidates for telehealth options. Showcase how your offerings let them act quickly to address their pets' health, giving them a sense of ownership and control.
"We are a purpose-led company that is united in our responsibility to create healthier futures," Topper said. "It is what drives us every day – and specifically in the face of the current pandemic – to evolve, create and adapt to best support veterinarians. With the support of strong technology companies like Petriage, we can be sure that pet owners can continue to have access to veterinary care, including through telehealth platforms."
As you tailor your marketing to each generation, don't forget that authenticity and security resonate with everyone. Regardless of the marketing approaches you choose, communicate to your prospective clients your deep love of their pets and your priority for keeping them safe and happy.