(This article is a 6.5-minute read)
THREE THINGS YOU’LL LEARN FROM THIS ARTICLE
1. Who cares about what makes you unique
2. Why branding doesn’t matter as much as it used to
3. The one thing that sets your vet practice aside from all the others.
Quick quiz. What’s unique about your veterinary practice? Is it: (a) the caring, gentle way in which you approach your job; (b) the snazzy blue uniforms with your unique logo on them; or (c) the level of service you offer? The answer, of course, is none of the above.
Those are all things you are right to care about (especially the snazzy blue uniforms). But they don’t make you unique. Unless you have a specialist practice that only deals with one type of animal or procedure, you will be very hard-pressed to communicate what’s unique about your practice to a potential client.
Most of your competitors were trained at the same, or a similar, university to you. All of you care for animals. You probably all buy your snazzy blue uniforms from the same supplier. And when you look at it that way, you may shrug and think, well, as long as I do a great job, who cares if I’m unique?
There are three groups who care if you are unique. They are your clients, your potential employees, and Google.
I’ll explain in reverse order.
Google cares about finding unique, high quality content to display on search results. There’s a number of ways they work out if your website is unique enough, and high enough quality, to give a preference to in search results.
One of the ways is by indexing all of the pages on your site, then comparing them against other similar pages to work out what’s great about yours. They also look at how many people visit the site, and link to it. If your list of services, for example, is the same as everyone else’s, it’s not going to help you get a better Google ranking.
Potential employees also care about what’s unique about your practice. Everyone has trouble getting good staff. Before someone applies for a job with you, they are going to check out your website. They’d be crazy not to. If your website can give them a reason to care about working with you, you can attract more, and better quality, staff.
Finally, your potential clients care if you’re unique. No-one wants to take their pet to a no-frills vet. All of us consumers have choices. We will go with the vet who we know, like and trust. And we figure out whether we know, like and trust you by checking you out online first.
For many years, advertising agencies lectured us about the importance of building a brand. You need a unique brand to stand out, they’d say. A brand gives your business a personality. And once you’ve developed a brand, you need to do lots of brand advertising to get your brand values stuck in the heads of your customers.
A brand was very useful back in the days when we had limited sources of information. If all the information you consumed came from the newspaper, the TV (for about two hours in the evening), the radio during commuting hours and your favourite magazine, it was hard to get information. Well, not hard, but the amount of information you could get was limited. You had to compete for space on one of those media, and you needed potential customers to remember you when the time came to book an appointment.
But now, we have constant access to limitless amounts of information. We can Google something instantly from our phones. We don’t need to remember brands. We just need to remember which app to open.
When your customers have limitless, instant access to information, having a memorable brand loses a bit of its advantage. Not entirely—people still Google brand names. But grabbing attention in a world swamped by information is harder. And more expensive.
But the one thing you have going for you that none of your competitors have is … you. You as a person. You as a vet.
If you focus your website, and your blog, and your advertising, on who you are and what you know, you will stand out from the crowd. Even if all your services are the same as the vet practice in the next suburb, the fact that you are explaining them will make that information unique. If you are getting the content for your website from an outside source, you need to ensure that they have a way of guaranteeing its uniqueness.
The one thing your vet practice has that no other practice has is you. Your personality, your knowledge and your skills should therefore be showcased on your website, your blog and through your advertising.
To not do that is to treat your service like a commodity. And if you’re a commodity, then your customers have no reason to go to you other than price.
The upside is that if you can create unique content about yourself, it won’t just help attract customers. It will help attract quality staff and give you good search engine results as well.