This holiday season, I find myself reflecting on what is really important to me. Since running this practice is 80% of what I do during my waking hours, I believe it is important to practice with the same professional and personal values.
During my day job, I so the same work that most veterinarians do. I perform the same blood tests, take the same xrays, do the same routine surgeries. I also see basically the same presenting clients, with the same presenting pet complaints, as everyone else – lots of ear infections, allergies, intestinal upset, and behavior questions.
Unless we were a specialty veterinary hospital, serving a particular niche, most vets do the same stuff, the same way, as the vets down the road. Most clients generally assume that all vets practice veterinary medicine at least up to the regional standard of care, so the fact that you do too, doesn’t need to be advertised.
Whereas instead, it’s very easy for clients to connect with the people who work here.
Put another way, because we do the same work here as every other veterinary clinic in the country, the way we do it is how we can set ourselves apart.
Given the choice, most people would prefer to do business with a person rather than with a company. It’s quite common now, for clients to Google potential service providers before they call to do business, and look up not just the company, but also the doctor and staff.
Therefore, you will not find Leo’s Pet Care on Twitter, you will find only @IndianapolisVet the doctor, who is Greg Magnusson. And though you can find Leo’s Pet Care on Facebook, you will see very little case discussion of sick pets, and much more funny photographs, contests, and discussion, that celebrate the human-animal bond.
Both of those accounts serve a single function – to show clients how I feel about life. About pets, about family, about kids, about how a person might choose to spend their days.
All this comes down to my central point: that I am hoping clients will choose to do business at my practice because they like, or admire, or trust us.
Trust is a precious thing these days. How does one encourage trust? By showing vulnerability. By exposing humanity. By reminding readers that we’re humans with strengths and flaws just like those we serve.
If you follow any of these social media profiles, will know exactly who you’re going to meet in the exam room: a devoted father with a fondness for antique razor blades and cooking over open flame. A guy who loves his kid, loves his job, and surrounds himself with fellow pet lovers all day.
Now, you know what I do during my day job, and during my off time. You know pretty much everything there is to know about me. By the time you come to my clinic, it’s like we’re old friends.
Let’s use another example. Given the choice between the trainer with an OK company website, and the trainer with a website, who also likes to sew awesome costumes and shoot handguns, I will always be more interested in learning what motivates the latter. Even when our opinions differ, at least I know where the other person stands, and can actively choose whether or not that difference in opinion should have any impact on our professional relationship. As the client, the power is always in my hands, and knowledge is power, so the more knowledge you give me, the more powerful the decision.
Importantly, combining all your various internet personalities into one allows you the freedom to be who you really are without the emotional work of presenting multiple faces. Plus, combining three profiles into one allows you to do one third of the writing! If you’re a single practitioner like me, that freedom, and compounding of effort, is priceless.
Most importantly, sharing both your professional and a bit of your personal life on social media assures clients that you’re not hiding any secrets. What you see is what you get. Clients appreciate honesty.
When I first got on Twitter, I thought for sure showing a picture of the awesome craft beer I just bought would get me flamed by those who chose to connect with me, as being not very veterinarian-like. Instead, those followers who also love craft beer spoke up in support, and we forged a stronger bond.
Is it possible someone might choose me to do surgery on their pet because I’ve got the nerve and steady hand to shave my own face with the above three inch long razor sharp stainless steel straight razor? I’d like to think so.
Presenting yourself online for clients to judge you as a person instead of just a faceless company does mean exposing yourself to potential ridicule and disdain, that’s true. Far more often, though, I’ve found showing my own weaknesses and motivations, along with my strengths and professional skills, allows my potential customers to see not just what I can do, but what is in my heart. That makes it much easier for those clients to connect with our practice, because they know we’re not in it for money, we’re in it for love, for family.
When it comes time to trust our advice, then, they know the people they’re trusting. And trust is a precious thing these days.