How to implement a cat marketing plan – Part 1
Once a marketing plan has been devised by management it has to be handed on to others in the team to be implemented. And the successful implementation of any plan involves a number of phases, irrespective of the subject and the target audience. All of these phases must be thought through and implemented as effectively and efficiently as possible to attain maximum success.
1/ Specificity of the cat owner
A) How it should influence our marketing strategy?
Research suggests that cat owners are more likely to:
• Be female
• Be professionals or/and executives
• Prefer passive activities
• Demonstrate concern over environmental and economic situations
Their anxiety over the environment and the economy may well influence their choice of product and these concerns need to be addressed in the way we detail our offers.
Dog and cat owners demonstrate more Self-directed and Hedonistic characteristics than the general populace. Self-directed individuals are not afraid of being themselves; they are financially savvy and 65% plan their finances on a monthly basis. Hedonistic people like to indulge themselves and see shopping more as a pleasure than a chore. On the negative side almost 50% of Hedonists admit to often feeling stressed. However, owning a cat can reduce your risk of heart attack by up to a third, so maybe cat owners recognise their cats as living stress relievers!
A significant percentage of dog and cat owners are also Achievers, interpreted as being avid shoppers who like to buy products with prestigious brands. This should help when it comes to marketing premium brands.
Just under half of dog and cat owner’s visit or participate in community/networking sites, and this is an ever increasing percentage. Not surprisingly, they are interested in other peoples’ opinions and go out of their way to inform others of products and services they really like. So how should we promote our services and products in such a way as to be appealing to individuals described above?
We need to be sincere in what we are promoting whether it be a service or a product. The whole team must have confidence in what they are ‘selling’. This should be manifest in their keenness to engage the client and the enthusiasm with which they discuss the health and wellbeing of those clients’ cats. For example on seeing an owner studying the pet food stand in the reception area, rather than opening with, “Can I help you?”, they should say something along the lines of, “What age is your cat?”.... an open rather than a closed question. To impart a high level of confidence in each and every team member who interacts with clients we first of all need to recruit well and this is covered in the previous chapter. We then need to ensure our internal marketing has been effective in achieving the following:
• All aspects of the promotional campaign need to have been thought through and planned by the management team
• The whole team needs to be involved in the internal training which should include:
- The Features and Functions of the service or Product
- More importantly, the Benefits need to be stressed
- The pricing structure
- Answers to the team members questions and those anticipated from clients
• Ideally team members will be using the service or product with their own cats, enabling them to speak with first-hand knowledge to clients
• An understanding of any incentive, individual or team, associated with the campaign.
The objective of the Internal Marketing is to ensure that, not only are each and every team member who consult with the clients, fully conversant with the campaign, but that they actively seek opportunities to promote the product or service. They will only do this if they are fully au fait with the promotion, understand and more importantly, believe in the benefits for the patients and are comfortable with any questions they may be asked by clients.
B) External marketing
Once you have confidence in your internal marketing you can tell the rest of the world about it. It is said that 50% of the marketing/promotion effort is wasted; the problem is that nobody is certain which 50%! The answer is that we have to make best use of all the media available to us in the most cost effective and efficient manner.
In the last issue of the Focus Special Edition (New Business Opportunities for your practice - same authors) there was a chapter devoted to this subject entitled, ‘Bringing your clients on board’. The chapter went into some detail on the various types of media that can be used to get the practice message across to clients. These included both materials used within the practice itself and externally.
Elsewhere in this publication there is mention of the key ‘buying questions’ we all ask ourselves before purchasing anything:
• What is it?
• Do I need it? And do I need it now?
• How much is it?
• Is it value for money?
When it comes to answering the first question, “What is it?”, it is paramount to remember one important thing. Whatever medium is being employed to get the important messages across, remember you are not trying to communicate with other veterinarians or scientists and that your messages need to be in ‘client speak’.
When it comes to answering the second question “Do I need it? And do I need it now?” read your promotional material critically; does the story you are telling answer those specific questions? Better still, ask some of your clients to read the material before it goes to a wider audience. What do they understand by the message you are trying to relay? Would they avail themselves of the service or product? Have you enthused them to the point where they would be keen to tell others about you and your offers?
Use of clients as advocates. To stand up and tell everybody how good you are is Promotion. To have other people stand up and tell everybody how good you are is PR or Public Relations. The latter is a much more powerful tool.
Clients’ word of mouth is the best and by far the most cost effective way of spreading your message. These days things have moved on and if your clients like what you have to offer enough, you may well find it being tweeted about or appearing on somebody’s Facebook page. That way your offerings may well go viral!
Come back soon for the second part of this article.