This post is sponsored by Merial.
Once upon a time, in a long-ago place where you could still find rotary phones and mustard yellow was an acceptable color to wear, people found veterinary clinics using a vast dusty tome known as the yellow pages. They would peruse the various rectangular ads, settle on one based on little more to go on than a name and logo, and actually pick up the phone to call you with any questions.
Oh, how times have changed.
Beginning in the mid-90s, the vast and depthless internet began to integrate itself into our lives, and society was forever altered. It took some people longer than others to catch on, particularly when it came to their businesses, and those who stubbornly continued to pour their advertising dollars into the yellow pages were quickly left in the dust. Let’s assume that since you are here online reading this piece on a site run by an internet veterinary powerhouse, you are not one of them. You are one of those people who sees the value in the limitless control over your branding offered by the world wide web. But does this include a blog?
As recently as 2009, the idea of a veterinary blog was met with incredulous smirks from both colleagues and businesses, who assumed I simply sat at home and photographed my dog wearing silly costumes. (Not that there’s anything wrong with that- now people who photograph their dogs wearing costumes have a million followers on Instagram® and book deals.) I simply smiled and plowed on, sure that history would vindicate me. It did.
Gradually, those same people came to understand that there was both value and necessity in creating an internet presence for businesses. It came with a lot of moaning and groaning, mostly from people who protested that they didn’t know how to write, or didn’t have time to write in a busy clinic, or both. They’d churn out a bland post about heartworm disease prevention statistics and then, when it bombed, point to it as an example of why blogging was a waste of time.
Well sure it is, if that’s how you do it.
The truth is, blogging and blogging well are two entirely different things, and it’s easy to get caught up in the minutiae of a constantly evolving vernacular: SEO, bounce rates, page rank, content marketing. If you’re marketing your clinic, you should be aware of what these are, but to me the golden rule of veterinary blogging has always been this: Create Engaging Content. If you don’t, the rest of those things don’t matter anyway.
Throw away blogging for a second and think instead of cooking. If I’m going to make you a pizza, I can do it lots of ways: in a fancy convection oven, on the grill, over an open flame. Every year there’s a new trendy gadget for your kitchen that may help your cooking technique, but if you’re cooking with bland mealy dough your pizza is going to stink.
Yesterday’s Twitter® is today’s Snapchat®; pressure cookers and toaster ovens that will come and go. Your clinic’s story, however, is the ingredient that never changes. Blogging is how you shape that story.
Regular blogging allows you to be in charge of the image your clinic presents to the world and gives Google® something to deliver when people are searching for you.
If you’re not Hemingway, don’t worry. Writing a good blog is not the same as crafting the Great American Novel; it’s a skill that can be learned, albeit often at a price. You can learn by trial and error, or you can skip that work and have someone train you. Lucky for you, if you’re trying to build that skill set, we know of a free webinar about blogging specifically aimed at the veterinary team.
Merial, the makers of NexGard for dogs® (afoxolaner), has teamed up with internet marketing agency Vertical Measures to present an online marketing webinar series open to all. The next session, Blogging Best Practices, will be presented on three dates: July 7, July 21, and August 11.
The 60-minute webinar is free and open to all. For more information and to register, visit this link: www.verticalmeasures.com/nexgard-merial-webinars/.
If you’ve been dragging your feet on getting a blog off the ground, there’s no time like the present. Despite what the old guy with the yellow pages may tell you, we all need to keep up with the times. The effort is well worth it!