A common concern that arises both in speaking to fellow veterinarians and during lectures at conferences such as NAVC 2011 is the necessity of practices transitioning their advertising budget from the yellow pages to online outlets. From a medical perspective, continuing to do what has always been done is not necessarily the best approach, especially in light of trusted research. The question of continued expenditure on avenues such as the yellow pages is a prime example.
The thought process is typically as follows: “I am spending x ,xxx to xx,xxx dollars per year on the yellow pages and I am not sure if I should continue because I believe people are using the internet instead of the yellow pages.” In response, veterinary business advisers all concur that those who haven’t done so already should immediately start scaling back their yellow pages advertising budget. In fact, it’s been shown that practices who have removed the yellow pages entirely from their advertising budget realized virtually no negative affect on practice growth. Research has demonstrated that the yellow pages are not where new clients are finding your practice.
The graph below demonstrates the level of interest in the yellow pages over time, as documented by Google searches. The results show that each and every year while society has decreased its utilization of the yellow pages, many practices have continued to maintain their yellow pages expenditure. This graph alone should beg the question, “Shouldn’t my yellow pages advertising expense be only a quarter of what it used to be?”
How do you win over new clients in this modern era? Show up in the Google searches for one. If your online presence is not being found by prospective clients your physical practice will literally never be found. How do you ensure that your practice appears in the Google searches for your area?
The process is called search engine optimization and has become the new medium of investment for local small businesses including veterinarians. If your practice scales down its yellow pages expenditure and transfers those advertising dollars to online methods, you will see a positive impact on your practice growth percentage.
During a recent lecture, the speaker’s veterinary practice decreased their yellow pages expenditure from $xx,xxx per year to $2,xxx per year. They then took only a portion of that expense and invested it instead in online marketing. The result was an astounding 29% increase in new client acquisitions in each of the preceding months. The only reason to invest in advertising is to see a tangible benefit, and experts agree that online is the venue producing the highest return on investment.
In summary, carefully consider the advertising dollars that your practice is currently investing in a demonstrated failing system (i.e. the yellow pages), and instead invest that money in online marketing. You will undoubtedly accomplish greater results while gaining transparent and measurable control of your advertising expenditure.