Part 5 of 5 in our Animal Health Challenger series.
You’ve probably sensed this in your own thinking about our industry. Sticking to the proverbial same-old-same-old is going to do more harm than good for animal health marketers in the coming years. The simple fact is that the veterinarian of yesteryear doesn’t exist anymore. The value proposition that most clinics relied on is evolving, and it’s time for our marketing to evolve with them. But the question is how?
Let me suggest that we start with two areas that are in most need of our attention: Getting to know our customers better and using what we refer to as modern marketing methods, to reach them more effectively.
Get to know your customers
We recognize that we need to sell products. But we also need to recognize that we are selling them to people. And these people are trying to solve diverse problems. We won’t be able to sell effectively to them unless we understand who they are, what they need and their unique perspective on buying.
Effective segmentation gives both marketing and sales teams a shared view of our customers. And a shared view of the customer gives us a better understanding of how we can help them. Today, our brand solutions are typically focused on solving a specific technical issue. We need to understand the context of the issue, the experience from the customer’s view and the full extent of the problem that needs to be solved. That insight should provide the foundation of our segmentation efforts.
Better data management is critical to our ongoing efforts to better understand our customers. Marketers have relied on CRM systems as little more than mailing lists rather than as a source of insight. We need to come to terms with the information we house within our databases (not just in our CRM), improve the quality of that data and see what insight they can offer us. The differences that make a difference™ may be right in front of us, if we only took the time to look.
Engage with them in a meaningful way
In modern marketing, there are more ways than ever to engage with our customers. But it’s important that we remember that they’re the ones who choose when, if and how they will engage with us. Some may prefer social media. Others may prefer a slightly more old-school email approach. Moving forward, we’ll need to know which channel is best for each audience—and make it worth their while.
Social media and marketing automation are two underused tools in animal health marketing. Yet we can’t deny the importance of these social channels already play in our industry. Our customers (clinics and other animal health providers) are already using these tools to engage their own customers. Let’s meet with and engage them where they already work and play.
Content strategy is a new realm in B2B marketing—and it’s critical. If social media and marketing automation provide the how of communications, content strategy explains the what. What information are we going to share with our segments? How do we engage these people both emotionally and intellectually to help them build trust in our brands? (Hint: our products are just a small part of that solution.)
Learn from our successes and mistakes
This may seem like a bonus suggestion, but it needs to be emphasized. The beauty of modern marketing is our ability to learn from the behavior of our customers, both in the real world and in the online realm. We can get a very fine-grained understanding of our customers’ behavior and transform that understanding into a more nuanced segmentation of our customers and more effective tactical efforts.
Analytics or performance measurement is how we achieve that degree of insight. In the digital world, we can measure very specific customer behavior in near-real time to see which initiative or approach is creating the best customer response. By comparing our tactical successes with our failures, we gain the ability to improve in the future and create more meaningful engagement with our customers.
These are great times to be an animal health marketer. Change is in the air and there’s plenty of opportunity for marketers willing to capitalize on it. If you’re interested in chatting about the tools that can help you realize these opportunities—or any other aspect of the new realities in animal health marketing—contact me at email@example.com or via LinkedIn. I’d love to hear from you. — Bob