Tag Archives: cell phones

More answers and links for vet practice managers

Let’s say you’re a practice manager for a veterinary clinic or animal hospital, and you realize you need to change your current marketing budget. Like last year and the year before, your marketing spend heaps way too much money on print and other tactics that are missing many of today’s consumers.

So what do want to learn most desperately when a skinny, still-slightly-contageous (cough, cough) marketing geek climbs behind the podium at your conference (organized by the AAHA)? Well, I’ll tell you.

What follows are links to resources that should come in handy if you live in the world of a practice manager, and will come in particularly handy if you attended my presentations. These are a Greatest Hits of sorts, based on the questions posed at the end of each of four presentations, and in emails I’ve received as recently as last night, requesting specific answers to question.

First, here are the topics we covered, linked to their mind maps — which served as outline during the presentations:

Most Popular Questions Posed

I took a while to post this because I wanted it to be comprehensive, and until even last night, I was getting requests for specific information. The profession of veterinary medicine is clearly waking up to the ways a strong online presence can help grow a practce and keep it vital!

Q: If you say a site that is “content managed” is ideal, what is the best person in my organization to manage that web content?

A: The simple answer is it’s the person closest to the authoritative content. Content management systems have opened businesses up to a greater intimacy with their customers by making web sites more useful. If you know that a business’s site will provide you with realiable, time-sensitive information, you’ll return to the site more often. And ostensibly, you’ll be more ready to refer the site — and the business — to others. What sort of information can an animal hospital site provide? You do not have to talk about animal diseases or treatments. Other general sites do that. Talk about how your services may be accessed (hours? phone numbers?), the way your services are provided and what I can expect if I go to you. Know your audience, and provide every scrap of information that could be useful.

This will require someone close enough to the answers, but obviously not a veterinarian whose hours would better serve the business by being devoted to billable work. Is there an assistant or clerical person who feels good about writing short snippets of information? Expose this person to all the facts needed and then let that person go!

Q: Regarding search engine marketing: What if I have a new site that is competing against large, established practices for the same keyworks. These older sites are “owning” the keywords. My site barely shows up in search engine results pages for them. Help!

A: You’ve done the first step. You realize there is a problem. One should consider a site’s real home page to be a search engine results page! The first step is to do a compehensive inventory of all keyword phrases you want to go after. The odds are, your competitor won’t be present for all phrases for all major search engines. You can start by creating content that is optimized for those unclaimed phrases. As for the others, realize that search engines favor age over “youth” when they look at web sites, so your new site will be viewed skeptically by Google, et al. So the second step is to find more backlinks than your competing sites have. Truly high-quaity backlinks can confer credibility fastHere’s a post to help you establish backlinks.

Q: Can you help me read up on social network marketing?

A: It’s the hottest top around in online marketing, and that was clear from the volume of questions I received immediately after my presentations, and subsequently, via email. Luckily there is a ton of material out there. Start with my post on why Facebook is a good set of “training wheels” for those unsure about how to begin. This post specifically addresses why Facebook is superior in its ability to instruct a user than Twitter. For an overall map of the social network space, I posted one nine months ago that gives you a taste of its size and complexity. The most valuable aspect of the map is the categories. You don’t have to follow many. Just think of the types of social sites that might have users talk about you.

Yelp was discussed a great deal in my AAHA talk. Here is a link to that outstanding On The Media podcast, where Bob Garfield (of AdAge fame) explores what you can do when someone dishes dirt about your business on Yelp and elsewhere (the short answer: Precious little! But it helps to know when dirt has been dished). This link to OnTheMedia.org includes an embedded sound player, a way to download the MP3, and even a link to the transcript, if you’d prefer to read instead of listen. It’s a great show overall — I cannot recommend it more highly for understanding how media of all types are influencing us … and are themselves influenced, by politics, business and society.

Q: I like the idea of a new media refrigerator magnet to promote my practice. Tell me more about Digital Pet Parade.

A: That’s the Facebook widget that can also be viewed in higher-end smart phones, and can even be embedded in the blogs of your biggest fans (by one fairly recent count there are over 70 million blogs out there — certainly some of those are written by people your practice delighted). Read my post and then contact me if you’d like to be part of the beta test for this exciting marketing tool.

Did I miss any?

Let me know in the comments section below what other questions you’d like answered!

99% of Amherst College’s first-year students pass on a land line

Recently Peter Schilling, Amherst College’s director of IT, posted interesting findings about his students technology preferences. Amherst is hardly a typical U.S. institution of higher learning. Located in western Massachusetts, Amherst is regarded one of the nation’s very best liberal arts colleges. However, Schilling’s findings do show the direction in which our college students are using technology and consuming media.

Some of the points Schilling made have to do with how quicky technology is being adopted, and how quickly old technology is being sloughed off. For instance, the number of first-year applicants applying online has jumped from 33% to 89% in just five years.

On the other hand, of the entire enrolled class of 2012, only five of the 438 first-years students (1.1%) registered a telephone land line. The portability of cell phones has clearly won hearts and minds. Similarly, notebook computers abound. Only 14 students of the class (4.3%) registered a desktop computer for use on the school network.

Here are other findings from the 30-point list that Schilling posted (these are direct quotes. I know point #5 is vague):

  1. Students in the class of 2012 who registered computers, IPhones, game consoles, etc. on the campus network by the end of the day on August 24th, the day they moved into their dorm rooms: 370 students registered 443 devices.
  2. The number of individual film titles in the College’s digital video streaming collection: 1,260.
  3. The number of times these films were watched last year: 20,662.
  4. Number that brought iPhones/iTouches: 93.
  5. Likelihood that a student with an iPhone/iTouch is in the class of 2012: approximately 1 in 2.

Using GPS data to predict where your customers are clustering

Nearly two years ago I wrote a long missive about how the mobile marketing of tomorrow is beyond anything that you can imagine. It predicted a time when retailers such as Starbuck’s could have vending trucks in larger cities, which they could deploy instead of leasing expensive every-other-corner real estate.

Vending locations wouldn’t be fixed. Instead, I suggested that the following could happen:

  • The retailer (say, Starbuck’s) could aggregate cell phone data about your movements, as well as everyone else’s who want the same services as you, and …
  • Anticipate through statistical means where to locate itself to fulfill those needs, and …
  • Alert you via your cell phone where they are in real time (e.g., “We’re two blocks away — care for your favorite beverage?”)

I didn’t expect this to happen overnight. In fact, two years was a pretty aggressive time line in my estimation.

Therefore, I’m a little giddy to see the first part of the process being mapped out and monetized. Check out the new Sense Networks product offering, for a peek into the future of retailing that factors in predictive modeling of where customers will be next.

Harvesting the low-hanging fruit, Sense Networks is focusing on helping find city nightlife hot-spots. Its site explains how this product, Citysense, works:

Citysense is an innovative mobile application for local nightlife discovery and social navigation, answering the question, “Where is everybody?”

Citysense shows the overall activity level of the city, top activity hotspots, and places with unexpectedly high activity, all in real-time. Then it links to Yelp and Google to show what venues are operating at those locations. Citysense is a free demonstration of the Macrosense platform that everyone can enjoy.

I see this as the beginning of a location-free bank branch or coffee shop. Exciting stuff!

Three sobering facts about today’s use of social networks and mobile media

It’s easy to get excited about the potential of social networks and mobile devices. We’re forever reminded that from a marketing perspective, there’s gold in them thar hills. Yesterday I was able to glean more of the unvarnished truth about both. I attended a couple of excellent panel discussions organized as part of the annual conference of the American Society for Information Science and Technology.

Although the emphasis of these discussions was on mediated publics (e.g., MySpace, Facebook. etc.), I made a point to ask a few questions about how cell phones come into the picture as a way to keep the network dialogs humming when the computer is back at home. Here are three eye-opening realities of these new media, according to the panel:

  1. People beyond college age are mostly using social networks for the following reasons:
    • Dating
    • Networking for business
    • Keeping an eye on their children (the evocative term that panelist danah boyd used was helicopter parenting)
  2. Ms. boyd was leery about how long the “over-35 crowd” will be on Facebook. She theorizes it will be two years tops before they realize there’s little of value for them on that network.
  3. Mobile marketing in the U.S. is hog-tied compared to the rest of the world, due to the incompatibility between carriers (what danah called the “carrier barriers”). I knew this going in, but it’s worse than I thought. Here are two constraints I hadn’t really considered against adoption within a key market segment:
    • Most high schoolers, and younger college students, are getting their parents’ antiquated hand-me-down phones. They are also often bound within their parents’ cell phone plans.
    • These plans rarely have unlimited texting, so every text is potentially another dime or more on the monthly bill. This can raise parental eyebrows — or worse, tempers. Bummer for us marketers, and for them.

All of this was a valuable splash of cold water about these emerging media. They will continue to “emerge,” but don’t expect mass adoption any time soon.