As we look to the New Year, it’s a great time to set goals and aspirations for the 2013. The same applies to your marketing initiatives for 2013. Begin with your vision for your marketing program and then work down to the specifics of how to make that vision into a reality. I hear people saying to me, “I want to make more money.” Okay, I get that, but HOW? A bigger concept is how do I want the money to flow in the door? What works? What do I need to change?
Beyond Indigo Pets is calling 2013 as the year to Market To Your Relationships. People spend money with businesses that treat them well. We want to have connections with people. We want to have people respect us and treat us kindly. We want our experiences with a business to be fast, easy and fulfilling. If you have ever shopped at an Apple store, you know what I’m talking about. We want to be heard and have our needs met. We no longer want to be:
- Talk to a machine
- Be treated as an idiot (we do have a brain and want to use it!)
If you nurture the relationship then the dollars will flow into your business. How you cultivate those relationships is the next task for 2013. Call us today if you want us to review where you can improve the relationship.
Have you noticed during the holidays that people tend toward the negative more than the positive? The last few trips I have made plus jaunts around town, I’ve overheard people talking. Comments about how exhausting it is to buy presents for other people come up. Or events they have to attend for the holidays that they dread going to that night. Is it so very hard to be THANKFUL comes the reply in my mind to these conversations. Why not be THANKFUL you have people to buy presents for this month? Many people have lost loved ones recently, and they would be overjoyed to have the opportunity to give a present to the dear departed one. What about being THANKFUL for multiple things, such as:
- The opportunity to work in the profession that you love
- Your clients who support the profession that you love
- The people who work side by side with you on a day-to-day basis
- The family that supports you and loves you
- The friends that are there for you during good times and bad
- The fantastic holiday treats that only come once a year. Savory them! Enjoy them!
- The presents that you receive because people GIVE THEM to you because they are THANKFUL for you being in their lives
How much difference it makes when you venture off to holiday shopping with glee and a twinkle in your eye to find the gift that will make people beam with smiles. Take an extra moment this month and watch your thinking. Is it wandering down the negative trail or bouncing high in the clouds with joy, love, and thankfulness. What about 2013 that is peeping just around the corner? How do you want to tackle next year? How do you want to build and maintain the multiple relationships in your life? Time to start thinking about your intent for the future — both at home and in your professional life. Be THANKFUL for what you have.
This may sound weird, but I like it when employees make mistakes. Making mistakes means two things. One, someone actually tried to do something that was perhaps a stretch for them. And two, the employee felt brave and comfortable enough with an employer to take action when he or she could have stood by and done nothing. I use these opportunities to help the employee learn and grow in the job by encouraging him or her to use wisdom, education, and creativity to improve customer service.
Another good thing about mistakes is that they disclose situations where employees are simply lazy or exercising reckless and imprudent behavior or bad judgment. I use those kinds of mistakes for opportunities to spot those who are really not engaged in the business of serving our clients with integrity and a quest for excellence. These cases present an opportunity and necessity for further training and perhaps disciplinary action. To add to the misery, usually the task is taken away from the dissident and given to an overworked competent person who may feel resentment. All to often, the reward for good work is more work, and the reward for bad work is less work.
I try to get my clients to encourage employees to bring their creativity to work with them and to try new things to expand their value to the business and its clients. Too often, business managers criticize the energy and creativity right out of the organization and fail to encourage employees to use their wisdom and good judgment to better serve the customer and help other employees. I’ve learned that, most often, the people doing the work know best how to do it. If they are able to collaborate on how tasks can be accomplished, they are far more likely to deliver favorable results. Wise leaders explain what and when something must be done, and then allow the workers to tell them how it can be accomplished.
One of the greatest pleasures a business owner can have is to come to work and find beneficial changes have taken place without him or her having anything to do with it. So, give your employees a break, and tap into the rich human resource that is ready and willing to contribute.
Many times we are our own biggest hurdle to starting or maintaining a positive based marketing program. We might be inspired by a great speaker or an empowering article but then somewhere, somehow, it falls flat. When progress slows down it is time to have a conversation with yourself. To start, take out a piece of paper or a keyboard and type out the barriers that are preventing a successful marketing program.
Many times I hear the following themes:
- I do not like marketing. I do not want to focus on marketing and I really hope someone just takes it off my hands.
- I am worried about the expense of marketing. However, when asked, these same small business owners are asked WHERE they are spending money on marketing it is generally helter – skelter. People write checks to various vendors “hoping” something will “stick” and people will find and utilize their business but not tracking the ROI.
- Time- who has the time to focus on marketing?
- I lack knowledge about marketing and I am concerned that I will do something wrong.
Here is the deal: If you are the owner of a business and you are not crazy about marketing then your employees will not be either. To have a successful marketing program, everyone on your team must be on board. Towards that end, you have to embrace marketing and have a plan/solution that you value. Now this could be fun or difficult; it’s your choice. Ditch the barriers and your fears and embrace reaching out to people. How? By looking over the barriers you just wrote down.
You may have to:
- Change your attitude
- Educate yourself about digital marketing
- Commit to marketing whole heartedly
- Find the time or the right marketing provider to conduct your marketing
- Monitor the results
Remember that you do a wonderful service for your clients. It is okay to tell people how you can help them. If you do not tell them you can, people will not know to ask. It’s time to get moving and embrace the new way of business!
By: Robin Brogdon, MA – President, BluePrints Veterinary Marketing Group, Inc.
As a consultant who works almost exclusively with specialty, emergency and referral practices, I’m always baffled by the client who asks, “There are a few veterinarians that periodically call and ask for my advice yet never send a case. What should I do, should I start charging for the consultation?”
My answer is always, ‘Why don’t you have a conversation with them.” They come up with all kinds of excuses for why they have not done so, or why they can’t or what will happen if they do – “I’ll sound desperate”, or “They might think I’m being pushy”. The list goes on. When in actuality, in order to build a real referral relationship based on mutual benefit, dialog must take place. And the more honest, the better. According to the program and book, Fierce Conversations – by Susan Scott, “The conversation IS the relationship.” It is what creates, builds and even destroys relationships.
I am not sure what is so frightening about this type of conversation, but it seems that for many, it must be, otherwise they would be happening. My take on this all too common question is this – the next time a veterinarian calls for advice, open a different type of dialog, one that aims to engage in a sincere exchange. What would be the harm in saying, “Hi Joe, thank you for calling. You seem to find my expertise helpful as I hear from you every couple of months, and I appreciate that. Based on our discussions, it is evident that some of these patients would clearly benefit by our expertise, technology, 24 hour critical care (etc), so I’m curious as to why none or so few of them get referred.” Then be quiet and listen. Ask clarifying questions if they don’t address your query directly. Do so in a way that fosters an intention of collaboration and inclusion, not accusation and judgment. The worst that can happen is they don’t send you any cases and stop calling – saving you time and money. But what if they hear your desire to help in a whole new way and think about what you are saying. I can guarantee, no one has ever asked. The outcome may just surprise you – and you may just like the results.
By: Jon Cunnington, MBA, CVPM, Hospital Administrator, VCA Loomis Basin Veterinary Clinic
For those who need an occasional word of thanks or praise, to help fill the emotional tank as described by Dr. Gary Chapman in his book, The Five Love Languages, this blog might be for you. Shortly after joining the veterinary field in 1994, I received a handwritten note from a client of our hospital thanking me for kindness in replacing a plastic feeding bowl that had become cracked. I kept that note. A few months later I helped develop a newsletter which received several compliments. Then, I was asked to speak to the student newspaper group at a local university. The same month I was asked to teach a business communications course at the university, even though the odds were against it. That same month I was told by our managing partner that he couldn’t see his partner running the hospital without me. A few months later, the partners increased my salary. In 1996 a loss control manager from our workers’ compensation carrier praised a letter I prepared for OSHA in 1996. By 1999, the partners included me in their ownership transition plans (even though that did not pan out). In early 2000, I was recruited to join Loomis Basin Veterinary Clinic, where I am employed to this day, which joined the VCA network of hospitals last month.
How do I remember all these events and dates? I don’t! My Encouragement File keeps track of it for me. What is this? It is a manila file that I started years ago to keep track of nice things and memories that have happened. Why would I do this? Because often times people don’t hear the good, they only hear about the bad things or the things on the to-do list not yet crossed out. Most people get discouraged, stressed out and feel under appreciated at times. It is during those times that I go into my den, pull out this file and remind myself that I do add value to the world around me. As I peruse this file, which I am proud to state that I haven’t felt a need to add to it in recent years, I find copies of pay increases or bonus notifications, notes from my wife and daughter, boss’s day cards from staff, a congratulatory card from a vendor for being elected to the VHMA Board of Directors, a birthday note from my mom when I turned 34, a cowboy poetry poem written by my now deceased uncle, and a thank you card from the LBVC partners for coordinating a successful AAHA re-accreditation evaluation. Some of these memoirs were accompanied by a tangible expression of others’ appreciation, many were not. But, these notes, logs and other memorabilia have a positive staying power in my life. I hope they will in yours also.
Kelly: Jim Baltzell, MD is my father and has been a doctor his entire adult life starting as a General Practitioner, switching to radiology, publishing a book about stress reduction through meditation and now teaches at the University of Minnesota medical school.
We are told it is good to be positive. Is there any science to back this up? Science teaches us that it is healthier to be positive than negative. We know that we feel better around a positive person rather than a grouch. Children are fun to be with as they usually are full of positive curiosity. We like music that gives a good “positive” feeling.
It is important to differentiate positive from exciting. When we are positive it can lead to an uplifted feeling, however, we can be also be excited by something that produces fear and tension. When we are tense from the news, wild rock music, violent movies, arguments, or negative advertising the body sees this as a stressful event. The “fight or flight reflex” is stimulated and adrenaline is released. The adrenaline is stimulating, somewhat like coffee, giving a high. Most people like a high feeling. That is why caffeinated drinks are the most popular in the world.
When the stress response is activated by fear and negativity the body is “under stress.” Stress in small amounts can stimulate one to get work done, but continued stress is hard on the body, the heart and blood vessels. Healing stops and bowel discomfort can develop. If one learns to be positive and reduce the amount of negative exposure the body relaxes and one can then take the challenges of life in a relaxed way. Positive thinking and environment tells the body it can relax and heal.
What environments and thoughts do you choose for yourself?
One of the great things about living in the United States is the freedom we have to celebrate each of our differences. We look around and appreciate the uniqueness that each other brings to the table and the lessons we can learn. Below, our friend Karen Winding offers her own reflection on learning to appreciate her own uniqueness and how this has empowered her.
By: Karen Winding
For most of my life, I thought there was something wrong with me. I wanted to be liked, but found large social groups overwhelming and interacting with people daunting. I was terrified of novel experiences, so turned down invitations and shunned opportunities to broaden my horizons. I graduated from college and had to learn to manage fear to be successful. I felt I needed to be out in the world, outgoing, an extrovert, or I wouldn’t be anyone at all.
Then, I read a book that changed my life, Quiet: The Power of Introverts in a World that Can’t Stop Talking, by Susan Cain (Crown Publishers, 2012). While we live in a world that values the extrovert ideal, it would be not be complete without the sensitivity and creativity of introverts . I am not an extrovert, and in trying to be one I set myself up to fail and to live a life of stress and disappointment.
Acknowledging and accepting that I am an introvert is allowing me to finally live life without fear, as I now recognize I can live it on my terms. It’s okay not to want to go to large parties, to prefer a few close friends to many, to not be the gregarious one at meetings or job interviews. I don’t have to pressure myself to be someone I am not. I may be quieter than others, but just as valuable. I am entitled to be myself. I am entitled to live without fear.
Look in the mirror. Be true to who you are.