Why visual storytelling matters in veterinary medicine

By MWI Animal Health

Using photography to connect with clients
Black woman on couch with tablet and dog

Amid the constant deluge of digital information, how can you increase the chances your clients will pay attention to your online content?

Use photos to grab attention and slow the scroll. They'll help boost your clients' engagement with your pet health messages.

“Photographs have no language barrier. They can resonate with anyone," says documentary-style photographer Elizabeth McGuire, who specializes in nontraditional portraits of families. “A great photo can tell an entire story in one image, and in today's world of short attention spans, there's a lot of power in that. You can send an immediate, succinct message that might otherwise get lost in all the noise."

Photos can engage veterinary clients by:

  • Conveying your practice's mission, values, and top-notch animal health care
  • Sharing perspectives not available to clients in the moment, such as when you care for patients behind-the-scenes
  • Focusing attention on important and happy moments in daily practice that capture your passion for animal health work
  • Documenting treatment results and case progress to deepen client education and compliance efforts.

Photos and other visuals play a critical role in email marketing, social media marketing and one-to-one interactions with veterinary clients.

Photos for clinical uses

Many animal health practices already use pre- and post-surgery photos or radiographs to give clients a clearer sense of their pets' cases, such as showing examples of dental procedures or orthopedic repairs.

Other clinical uses of photography in companion animal veterinary services include:

  • Documenting incisions at discharge as part of educating clients about what to watch for during the healing process
  • Giving step-by-step visual instructions for any required at-home care, such as taking vitals, administering medications via syringe, applying topical treatments, or doing subcutaneous fluid therapy
  • Providing standards and context for descriptions of certain scenarios, such as fecal scores or urine color that indicate clinical issues requiring veterinary intervention

Photos for client engagement

Photos also support valuable exchanges with clients about their pets' cases when the pet is onsite with you, or to enhance between-visit connections. Here are some strategies to try.

  • When COVID-19 restrictions keep clients from being with their pets onsite, send photos via text message while they wait in the parking lot so that they feel a greater sense of participation
  • For those pets who truly do better behind-the scenes-and away from their families, a photo proving that point can put people at ease, even if they're just down the hall in an exam room

Consider adding a same-day photo of pets to take home or as part of the discharge instructions for an extra personalized touch following various animal health services

One of the highlights of our day is the little photo shoots we have each morning of our surgery patients," says Janice Jiuditta from Colorado Canine Orthopedics and Rehab. “They are why we do what we do, and we get to capture those beautiful faces each and every day. Our pet parents love to see their furry kids on Facebook, and we get so many great comments. Our staff also love to see those pictures and remember each of the special pets that have shared a day with us."

Photos for practice marketing 

You don't want pet-lovers noticing they've seen the same stock photo ten times elsewhere. Share real-world photos of your patients and your practice's team in your marketing efforts, including digital advertising, social media, and emails.

Photos of your team with patients demonstrate your affection for each one and the top-notch animal health services for every pet on your patient roster. For the best success:

  • Use original photos to show team pride and appreciation
  • Feature team members to solidify clients' recognition of individuals' names and roles
  • Share behind-the-scenes images to build client confidence

These customized views into your work, team, and patients carry more marketing oomph than generic or stock photos. Your photos build stronger bonds with clients. They inherently praise your team in front of your core audience. Plus, personalized photography provides marketing assets that cannot be duplicated by others — serving as proof of core differentiators.

Jarka Haan of Paw Print Memories Photography says of her work: “I don't take pictures. I create memories." That sums up the importance of pet and veterinary photos to clients.

Targeted email marketing

Photos are just one part of a comprehensive marketing campaign