What type of mailings and/or offers work best when we are doing a mass mailing?

The answer to this question depends on the goal for the mailing. Each marketing action should have a specific purpose and associated goal, which provides direction for the concept of the ad and makes it easier to measure results. The target audience should be clearly defined and segmented so that as many recipients as possible are true potential clients. Your message will likely take a different tone if you are mailing to current clients with whom you have an established relationship versus potential clients with whom you have yet to establish that trust and rapport. Likewise, every advertisement needs to have a call to action. People receiving your mailing need to know what to do with it and when, such as "Call now to take advantage of our spay and neuter special, good through August."

It is always advisable to use images or photos that have some relation to the copy so that you reinforce the message. As previously mentioned, however, avoid the temptation to provide too much information, and keep the ad focused on one product or service, or as few as possible if presenting them as a bundle.

All advertising materials should have a similar look, feel, and design reflecting your overall brand identity. Ultimately, you are looking to create instant recognition when someone sees your piece, just as people recognize a Target ad by the red bull's eye.

Besides our phone book listing and website, how do I communicate with people who are not current clients?

The telephone directory and websites are passive outreach efforts, meaning that prospective clients have to go looking for you. This is fine for one avenue, as you want to be reachable if sought.

To actively reach more potential clients, however, you must determine whom in your geographic region you want to reach. This is the concept behind targeting, also known as segmentation. As discussed in Chapter 1 on message and brand development, if you have segmented your audience and identified ideal clients for your practice, you can then select places to appear in person, putting you in direct contact with them. Or you may consider advertising in a publication that potential clients are likely to read, creating awareness of your practice and services.

Targeting a specific audience will always produce better results because it gives you an opportunity to speak directly to a smaller segment of people in terms that are relevant to them, and to address the specific needs or desires of a particular group. For instance, most horse owners also have dogs, and many have cats too. Consider investigating some equine publications or trade groups that may have a clientele similar to the ones you desire, and then determine the best way to get in front of this audience. This takes ingenuity and planning, but when you hit on an effective target, you know there is more to explore.

Your neighborhood could also be a good source of referrals. Consider asking neighboring shops and offices if they will allow you to place brochures or cards in a visible spot at their places of business. If you have a community bulletin board in your practice, offer to return the favor.

What if our demographics are predominantly low to moderate socioeconomically? How should we reach out to them?

Understanding your potential clientele is critically important when attempting to reach out to an economically challenged pet-owning population. There may be cultural norms to consider as well. If your audience is likely to want or need only basic services, focus on those as well as providing a strong foundation of education so you can keep their pets as safe and healthy as possible.

This may be an excellent community for offering low-cost spay and neuter programs. This service can serve as a loss leader; although you certainly should not price this service so low that you are losing money, consider how you can offer these services cost-effectively for lower margins and use the visit as an opportunity to start a relationship with the pet owner or family. Stress the importance of sterilization, parasite control, proper socialization of pets, regular examinations, and so forth. Maybe these services are available on select days for a special price to help you deliver care in a financially responsible way.

Discounts, while discouraged in some other situations, may be more effectively used in a low- to moderate-income community because the alternative may be not seeking care at all, and other clinics may simply be out of reach economically.

Quality care should still be delivered, but you may choose to invest in items that generate more profit and to reduce expenses where possible, for example stocking only certain medications or not offering many retail products because of inventory cost. There is a place for this type of service; you need to know your community and work to satisfy the true needs of the population, while still making a profit.

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