In the past weeks, we’ve all been challenged to change our approach to work at a pace we never imagined. These quick changes have been tough in many areas, from the technical and tactical to the strategic. However, as we’ve adapted, we’ve discovered great tools for virtual business. So we’re sharing our 12 best strategies for virtual business right now, and the tactical tools you need to make them work.
We’ll take a look at 4 ideas that are great for your customers, 4 virtual communication channels that are perfect for you and your customers, and 4 categories of virtual tools that can help your business stay productive.
4 Ideas for Your Customers
Both pet owners and veterinary clinics are likely to keep using (and get more comfortable with) virtual business tools in the months to come. Below are several technology-supported ideas that will help your customers build now for the future.
1. Create or Update Websites
Veterinary clinics that didn’t have a website before the pandemic know they need one now. There are many simple “what you see is what you get” website builders to get them up and running quickly such as WordPress, WIX, and GoDaddy.
Practices that already have websites should be looking at the following 3 areas for improvement:
- Create (or update) pages displaying the clinic’s product and service offerings.
Take a look at your customers’ websites. If they don’t have your products displayed on service pages, reach out to provide some basic copy and high-quality images and video they can use. This is a great opportunity for your sales team to get in touch and provide value for your customers (and long-term revenue for you).
- Clearly list the practice’s virtual consult abilities, if available.
On April 10, Google announced that websites that offer virtual consult capability will be listed higher in search results.1 Veterinarians offering telemedicine and teleconsults should integrate the offering into their websites immediately.
- Look into long-term solutions for e-commerce.
As face-to-face sales opportunities took a downturn, selling products online has helped businesses with cash flow. Veterinary clinics should look at long-term solutions for e-commerce, whether through their websites or payments through platforms they integrate (eg, paid telemedicine consults).
2. Establish Technology-Enabled Recurring Revenue Plans
Recurring revenue programs such as membership or affiliate programs can provide veterinary practices with a source of relatively low-effort cash flow. You can find detailed ideas for getting started with these programs here.
3. Launch Virtual Marketing Campaigns
A digital marketing strategy is a must for veterinary practices. This presents a unique opportunity for your brand. Consider providing your customers with turnkey marketing campaigns designed to help them sell your products to pet owners. This is especially important for products that can be sold online.
Consider the following dimensions of support:
- Messaging Support: Provide your customers with starter copy to help them build messaging that converts.
- Timing Guidelines: Provide a sample timeline for strategic campaign launch that can help build a pipeline of business in preparation for pet owners resuming activity.
- Loyalty Apps: Consider other technology that can be leveraged for increased awareness of pull-through promotions.
- Co-Branded Assets: Create graphics for social media, websites, and email that are easily co-brandable for the clinic.
4. Implement Virtual Communication Tools
For practices not currently using technology for client communication and loyalty, now is a great time to get started.
Here are several high-value tools veterinary practices can invest in now:
- Loyalty programs
- Appointment reminder apps
- Self-serve appointment scheduling tools
- In-clinic communication platforms
4 Virtual Communication Channels
Keeping in touch has never been more important. The following strategies can help you use technology to solve current communication challenges.
This is an appropriate strategy for your business and your customer’s business. For established relationships, texting as a form of quick communication is appropriate and—by many business professionals and pet owners alike—preferred. One-to-one messaging is the preferred strategy at this time. However, you may consider marketing texting services, like Textedly, EZ Texting, Text Marks, or Trumpia.
2. Email Marketing
Although email is a noisy space right now, both you and your customers should employ high-value, specific, narrowly targeted messages. If your business has a database of emails but is not doing email marketing yet, platforms like MailChimp, Klaviyo, or Vertical Response can help you get started quickly.
3. Social Media
Social media is an easy way to keep in touch and drive sales. For access to veterinarians and pet owners, focus on a Facebook strategy. If you are seeking out B2B relationships in the veterinary industry, develop a LinkedIn strategy.
4. Video & Phone Calls
Yes, the phone, old school as it seems. The value of one-to-one communication can’t be overlooked in these times. Veterinarians will remember the rep who called just to see if they were okay. The pet owner will remain loyal to the veterinarian who—in their own time of need—took time to say hello and see how Rover was doing. Everyone should be doing this. It won’t result in sales now, but you can’t put a number on the value that long-term relationships bring to business.
4 Tools for Your Virtual Business
The work-from-home environment has increased the demand for tools that can support teams with productivity, collaboration, market intelligence, and forward-looking technology for future business growth. Below are virtual business tools designed to keep your team on track.
1. Productivity Tools
Project management tools such as Basecamp, Asana, and Wrike keep virtual teams on the same page about priorities and the status of projects. These tools are also great for version control of documents when large teams are collaborating.
Platforms such as Zoom, GoToMeeting, and JoinMe enable your team to meet “face-to-face” in virtual meeting rooms. Don’t underestimate the value of being able to see each other, especially for long meetings or on large calls where it’s difficult to tell who is speaking or who wants to speak next.
2. Collaboration Tools
Document Control & Collaboration
The Google Suite (Google Docs, Sheets, Slides, etc) are especially good for team collaboration on documents. Instead of sharing a single Word document and having to manually merge changes from several people, send the team a collaboration link to a Google Doc and allow them to make changes in real-time. These tools are free and easy to implement.
Content Saving & Sharing
Tools such as Pocket make it easy to save noteworthy content and eventually share it with teams or on your social media channels.
Sharing Large Files
Efficiently sharing large files can be a pain for virtual marketing teams. Use Dropbox’s Send a Link feature to improve user experience. Alternatively, WeTransfer is also a great file sharing option for when your free Dropbox account runs out of space and you urgently need to get a file out.
3. Market Intel Tools
Many companies are using surveys to gain intelligence about the current needs of their customers and prospects. Surveys can be easily deployed via SurveyMonkey or even Google Forms.
If you don’t have Google Alerts set up, now is the perfect time to do so. You can set up alerts for topics or brand-specific mentions to receive a daily email report of recent internet mentions.
Social listening allows you to watch the conversation from the sidelines and collect intel before you engage. Here are a few tips for rolling out social listening for your brand.
4. Forward-Looking Tools
If your brand isn’t using marketing automation, now might be a good time to schedule web demos with vendors to figure out which platform might be a good fit for you.
Brands without a CRM should use this time to get one. There are free platforms to get started with, including Hubspot. However, most turn into paid accounts, so do your homework. Just because it’s free now doesn’t mean it will be the most affordable solution long-term.
- Peters J. Google will show virtual care options more prominently in search results. The Verge. Published April 10, 2020.