The veterinarian is, in many ways, your most important and complex partner. They’re the gatekeepers of sorts, the experts who will recommend something to a pet owner — or tell them to stay away. So what makes a vet reach for your product?
That’s an important question. And it needs to be broken down. To answer it, you’ll need to understand what’s important to this audience (that means using data to gain an analytical upper hand over your competitors). What’s selling and what isn’t? What are the market trends? How can you better tailor your story to fit those?
When marketing to veterinarians, learning what matters to them will help you tell them the story they need to know about your product — and make sure your product is meeting an unmet need in the industry. Here’s where to start.
Tell Your Story
Understanding your place in the animal health ecosystem means knowing your competition. Start with market research. Learn what they’re doing and how they’re appealing to vets. Get wonky. Dig into research data and clinical trials to stay up on the latest scientific developments. Be an expert in your lane.
Use customer testimonials to show how popular — and effective — your product is. Pet owners are happy to proselytize when you’ve done right by their best animal friends. And those anecdotes can be some of your most powerful when a vet is considering to advocate for a new product, or change over.
Be a Stalker
A social media stalker, not an actual stalker. Vets need social media to grow their business with pet owners; that means you can learn a lot from them on those platforms. Do you truly know the demands of their jobs? The trends they’re keeping up with? What would make their lives easier?
Learn what they wish they had but don’t. Learn about what they feel are missed opportunities in the market. You can get these insights through any number of mediums: engaging on social media, sending out customer feedback surveys, participating in email campaigns, or simply asking about what they think of the quality, price, and other factors of your product. Many will be happy to chat. In the end, it is all for the good of the pet.
Hear Them Out
While it’s important to look at data and gain insights online, it’s essential to do both quantitative and qualitative research. One thing EPiQ does to make sure they are listening to vets’ needs and communicating them effectively is find ways to talk to vets and hear what they have to say — at trade shows, for example. Qualitative and anecdotal evidence can sometimes give you the most insights into a vet’s particular needs and challenges, either in their practice or with specific brands and products. Advocating for the voice of the consumer will only make your products and your brand story better.
Don’t underestimate the power of training. It is well-known in the animal health industry that vets will almost always choose the product they used during their training in school. Meaning: If Veterinarian Victoria used Ethicon sutures during school, she’ll carry those with her to her practice. Encourage training on your products, and make it a priority to create relationships with vets early.
Respect the Supply Chain
We talk a lot about omnichannel marketing. But that doesn’t mean it’s not important to be cognizant of what we sell direct to pet owners and what should go through a veterinarian.
It’s not just about prescription versus over-the-counter, either. You might be expanding your squeaky toy sales to pet stores and online retailers, but do you want to alienate the vets who have been loyally selling your rubber chickens behind their reception desk for years? Of course not.
They don’t want to lose that revenue stream, and you don’t want to lose their advocacy. Respect that relationship as you consider promotions and direct-to-consumer sales. One option is to sell everywhere but give the vet the best price; that gives the pet owner the convenience of being able to shop online and the vet the continued preferred relationship with your brand and with their customers.
Never Forget Your Shared Goal
We’re all human. Well, not our pets. But it’s important to keep in mind that when you’re talking to vets, you are talking to people: and your products are supposed to improve their careers, their businesses, and their relationships with pets and pet owners. Tell that story.
They all got into the business because they love animals. Their decisions will be driven by that. So whenever you are selling them a product, you should be the answer to the question: What will bring the best outcome to the animal? After all, we’re all here to serve the fluffy ones.