This is a Guest Post by Sam Razor, I hope You Enjoy it!
Sam Razor is CEO/President of Hippo Manager Software, Inc., veterinary practice management software. He likes big data, he cannot lie. You other brothers can’t deny. You can contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org or his direct line at 859.334.0847.
By now, you’ve probably heard this hilarious quote about big data.
Big data is like teenage sex: everyone talks about it, nobody really knows how to do it, everyone thinks everyone else is doing it, so everyone claims they are doing it.”
Dan Ariely, Professor of Behavioral Economics at Duke University
Well, maybe that quote is mostly just popular among IT nerds like me, but big data is something that is frequently discussed but rarely used in veterinary practice marketing.
“Big data” is a shorthand way to describe large data sets that can be analyzed to find patterns and trends. Veterinarians and practice managers often regard data is as a necessary evil. It takes precious time and effort to enter it into your practice management software, and I bet you’d rather be spending time with patients or working on your practice. Yet, it’s just absolutely necessary. On a practical front, you are using that data for medical charting and operations purposes. The sometimes hidden gem in your data set is insights that can be used for marketing. Data mining for marketing is not just for corporate giants. If you are using practice management software (shameless plug:especially ours), you are sitting on a proverbial gold mine of your own data related to hidden profitability and reducing client churn. The information in your practice management software can give your marketing strategy a basis – or to look at it scientifically, a testable hypothesis.
Below are four examples that you can replicate:
- 1. GEO-LOCATION MARKETING
- Have you really analyzed your client data to determine where most of your clients live? If not, it’s a simple and practical way to identify what geographic areas you could draw from to expand your clientele. This information can help you better focus your marketing budget. Start by evaluating what geographic markets your current clients are based in, and analyze what your nearby zip code gap areas include. You can run a simple report and create a pie chart or bar graph to represent the most popular to least popular patient home address zip codes. Then, use Google maps to find out what areas you might want to focus your target print ads or send post cards by zip codes. For example, in Lexington, we several specialty magazines that target neighborhoods and different geographic areas of our city. This breakdown of zip codes could give a veterinary practice the confidence to increase their ads in one publication over the other. Additionally, if you know you have a strong representation in a particular zip code, perhaps that’s the neighborhood you consider sponsoring a Little League team or underwriting other local activities.
- 2. INVENTORY ANALYSIS
- Do you take advantage of your veterinary inventory data and reports to drive your promotions or incentives? For example, you can run an inventory report to indicate that you have several cases of heart worm medicine, for instance, that need to be dispensed within six months. You can then run a report to provide you with a list of all patients that are prescribed that heart worm medicine and send a targeted coupon, incentive, promotion or simple reminder to patient owners.
- 3. MARKETING REALITY CHECK
- The beauty of data is that it provides an ability to measure the progress of your marketing strategy. You can use the data to verify if what you are doing is getting your veterinary practice what you want. Going back to the geographic targeting example, if you decide to invest in a series of print ads in a neighborhood publication, can you find measurable results in six months? Are there new clients coming from the zip code you targeted? Are clients referencing the ad or promotion when asked how they found you? The reason behind a surge (or lack of surge) of clients may or may not be directly correlated to your print ads, but if you can’t show measurable progress after a few cycles, it is likely that your approach needs to change. Maybe the ad was bad. Maybe nobody reads that publication. Maybe there aren’t many potential clients in that zip code. But you know based on the data you are collecting that what you are doing is or isn’t getting you what you want.
- 4. CONTENT FOR YOUR MARKETING MATERIALS: BLOGS, SOCIAL MEDIA POSTS AND CLIENT DISCUSSIONS
- (human practice, that is) in Lexington posts monthly Facebook status reports on patients deliveries. These are always uplifting posts and you will find a chorus of mommas “liking” the status and sharing congratulatory messages, pictures of their newborns if they are part of those stats and other online-high fives. Are there practice stats you can share with your social media followers using your practice management data? For example, you could share how many dogs you treated for chocolate ingestion during the Christmas holidays with a reminder to be careful with your chocolate Easter bunnies and candy. These real–life, veterinary practice specific examples help tell the story of your clinic and remind your patients that you are thinking of them, even when they aren’t in the office.
The real key to marketing using your data begins at the collection point. In these examples, it’s your practice management software. If it’s not easy to enter and capture the data, you are either not capturing the information accurately or you aren’t capturing it at all. The second component, albeit obvious, is that your reporting (the analysis of your data) must be easy to run. In addition to the basic reports we mentioned above, your software vendor should provide you with the ability to build custom reports. Now is the time to be imaginative. Ask your staff to think of opportunities, or brainstorm, “it would be nice if we knew _____, then we could _____.” If you are collecting it, there is a way to access it.
The more you collect, the more you can target your customers in a meaningful way and provide value to them. The more value you provide, the more revenue you can generate. So, let’s stop just talking about big data, and let’s do it!
About The Author:
Sam Razor is CEO/President and co-founder of Hippo Manager Software, Inc., a cloud-based veterinary practice management software company. He previously served in executive management for a national justice agency, where he managed the national headquarters and served as a project manager for creating a cloud-based case management system for 30,000 users serving nearly 500,000 clients. Prior to his public sector experience, Sam worked for the veterinary practice management software company DVM Manager (later acquired by Henry Schein). In addition, Sam holds a Master of Public Administration with a focus on public health. You can contact him at email@example.com or his direct line at 859.334.0847