Dec
20
2018

 

First and foremost, I would put the emphasis on education and avoid discounting.”
– BILL SCHROEDER

Use Social Media Channels to Make Champions for Pets’ Dental Health

by Constance Hardesty, MSc

National Pet Dental Health Month is just one month away. If your February schedule is not already fully booked, now’s the time to ramp up your promotion. The good news is, there’s more to dental health month than offering discounts to attract clients. Trends asked several social media pros to share their ideas for National Pet Dental Health Month. The result is a simple plan to increase dental bookings without denting your bank account and to make your clients champions of pet dental care all year long.

Set Goals

Start by deciding whether you want to fill your February schedule, educate clients about oral health, encourage clients to develop the habit of annual dental prophylaxis, or all three. The experts confirm that filling the schedule is the number one goal of National Pet Dental Health Month. But maxing out the schedule is not the only solution.

AJ Thakore, CEO and founder of Doctor Multimedia, encourages practices to set goals based on the number of dentals they’d like to do per day or per week, considering the toll on equipment and staff. “Even if the promotion is a success by business standards, morale can be low,” he observes. “To avoid the stress, simply cap the number of dentals scheduled per day, and let the overrun spill into March.”

On social media, limiting the number of dentals you offer has a special advantage because it creates an air of exclusivity and scarcity. As appointments become booked, you can frequently post updates letting clients know how many appointments are left. Dwindling numbers take advantage of social media’s built-in sense of urgency to encourage clients to book quickly.

Whether you intend to limit the number of dentals performed or keep the dental suite humming, it helps to start with an idea of what your practice is likely to achieve. To establish a realistic goal, start by studying the performance of similar programs you have run in the past, and carefully monitor current efforts to stay on track, advises Bill Schroeder, senior vice president of InTouch Practice Communications.

So, for example, you might look at last year’s February schedule to see how many dentals you performed. Then consider boosting that number by a range, say, 5%–15%. The lower number is the minimum expectation, and the higher number might be a stretch. Setting goals in this way allows your team to celebrate an early success while encouraging them to pursue the greater challenge.

Whatever your goals, social media should be a central part of your strategy, Schroeder says. And it needn’t involve giving your services away.

“First and foremost, I would put the emphasis on education and avoid discounting,” Schroeder suggests. Social media is especially helpful in educating clients because it “offers practices a very unique opportunity to provide digestible content that should support the ‘why’ and ‘impact’ that a dental procedure can have on a pet’s health.”

Thakore sees linking oral health to wellness as a key opportunity for veterinarians. Human dentists have made a point of educating their patients about the link between the mouth and the body. Health issues in the mouth can cause or be caused by health issues elsewhere in the body, he says. Because veterinarians treat the whole pet, rather than just the mouth, they have an advantage over human dentists in getting this message across. And February is an ideal time to get started, Thakore says, because “the basic idea behind National Pet Dental Health Month is to make everything about the mouth.”

Start Early, Promote Often

Ideally, Thakore and Schroeder agree, promotion should start in December. (Remember that for next year!) That gives clients plenty of time to notice, remember, and act on your message. Thakore recommends starting with Facebook advertisements in December to build an audience, then kick up the heat in January.

The goal is to book February solid by the end of January.

“If the practice chooses to drive additional business in February, then conversations about the month’s activities should start softly in December and then increase in frequency all through January so that appointments are booked prior to February 1,” Schroeder says. Once started, keep it flowing.

“Posting every day is not too much,” Thakore advises, but if that’s not possible, “at least post a few times a week, every week.” Don’t worry that clients will be annoyed. Frequent, repetitive messages break throughm media overload and have sticking power despite short attention spans and ad fatigue. If you haven’t started yet, don’t despair. It’s never too late to promote yourself.

Keep It Simple

There’s no need to talk down to clients, but if you want your message to lodge in their memories, be clear, and don’t be afraid to repeat yourself.

Stick to a consistent message as you talk to clients on your website, Facebook page, Instagram, YouTube channel, and blog, advises Schroeder. Update your telephone on-hold message, and be sure that staff convey the same message your online posts do. When you repeat the same message every day in every way, “clients experience a consistent and impactful message,” Schroeder observes.

Clever photos, simple messages, and humor can keep posts fresh and engaging even if you repeat them several times throughout January and February. Just don’t be too clever, or your message may be lost, Thakore advises.

Monitor as You Go

At some point during the promotion, you’re going to wonder, “How are we doing?” Thankfully, you can set up your social media plan to make monitoring easy.

Posts to Promote National Pet Dental Health Month

If you direct your social media messages to different groups of clients, you can tailor your posts to their interests. AJ Thakore, CEO and founder of Doctor Multimedia, suggests these ideas to target:

All clients: Promote, promote, promote. Get the word out, as most people don’t understand the importance, or even existence, of pet dental care.

Clients who are on preventive care or wellness plans: They already value prevention, so lean on the fact that dental health affects overall health and that untreated dental issues can spread quickly.

Clients who have taken advantage of previous promotions: Continue to market. They already bought once; they will do it again. If you have time to reach out to only one group, this is the one.

People with young pets who might be considering dentals for the first time: Stress the value of dental care, and give them tips for how to assess their pets’ teeth. Also stress that any kind of bad breath is a form of dental disease.

People who have never brought their pet(s) in for dentals before: Illustrate what happens to untreated dental conditions and emphasize that pets don’t express their pain.

Sample Posts for National Pet Dental Health Month

Don’t make your pet live like this. Book your pet’s dental appointment today. #HealthyMouthHealthyPet

 

Yay, goodies! Get a free goodie bag when you book your dental appointment today. #HealthyMouthHealthyPet

 

What starts in the mouth doesn’t stay in the mouth. Gum disease can lead to heart problems. Book your pet’s dental today. #HealthyMouthHealthyPet

 

Yay, goodies! Get a free goodie bag when you book your dental appointment today. #HealthyMouthHealthyPet

 

Fresh breath and a goodie bag? Sign me up! February is National Pet Dental Health Month. Book your pet’s dental appointment today. #HealthyMouthHealthyPet

 

February is National Pet Dental Health Month. Book your dental appointment now. #HealthyMouthHealthyPet

 

I’m good with that. Anesthesia makes dental work easier and more effective. February is National Pet Dental Health Month. Book your appointment today. #HealthyMouthHealthyPet

 

We cleaned up! February is National Pet Dental Health Month. Book your appointment today and get a free goodie bag. #HealthyMouthHealthyPet

 

“Marketing should be created in such a way it can be tracked,” says Kelly Baltzell, MA, CEO of Beyond Indigo Marketing. She suggests that practices allow clients to book their appointments using an online form. “Ideally, each dental that is booked through that form could be tracked for how much that client spent,” she notes.

Another option is to link the online form to your scheduling software so it captures the appointment in your practice management software. Now is the time to check in with your software vendor on how to do that.

Whether you create your own form or link through your existing software, be sure to include a link to the online booking form in all of your social media posts.

A social media campaign invites users to take a series of actions leading up to booking an appointment. So, while sales may be your goal, it’s important to see how social media contributed to those sales. Schroeder recommends that practices look at the number of times a web visitor requests more information about dentistry as well as how many forms are downloaded, dental videos are viewed, social media posts are shared, and appointment requests are made. One action should lead to another, like a funnel. Observing the flow of activity shows which social media efforts have the biggest effect, and it shows where clients “fall out of the funnel.” For those clients, Schroeder says, the practice can post new messages designed to bring them back into the flow.

In February, our experts weigh in on how to execute and follow up on your National Pet Dental Health Month plan.

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