Let’s get straight to the point – “super boring”, “I don’t have time for that”, “we already have that” – these are often the first thoughts that come to mind when creating content such as letters, emails, or aftercare information for pet owners. For you, topics are cut-and-dry, basic knowledge, or obvious. Yet, you may notice how unfamiliar pet owners can be with various areas of (medical or preventative) care for their pets in your practice.
But a well-written, informative aftercare letter, handout, email or even a simple reminder is your first line of defence – the Trojan horse, your storm surge barrier. Below we cover some best practices and tips on creating and sharing effective communication.
The content cycle – Making content work for you
At home with the owner
Ensuring quality content reaches the owner at home can encourage the owner to contact the practice and be more informed. For example, providing clear information or advice about preventative medicine or an upcoming appointment gives the owner the chance to think things over and formulate questions, making the conversation in the practice a lot easier.
In the waiting room and reception
Once at the practice, you have an opportunity to address the owner’s initial questions before entering the consulting room – freeing up valuable time with the veterinarian allowing them more time for the pet and follow-up questions.
Suppose the pet owner has received information at home, and their initial questions are answered in the waiting room; when they arrive at the consulting room, they are well informed. Any questions they have are more targeted and relevant, leaving more time and attention for the pet, making a 10-minute consultation feel like 20 minutes.
Back in the waiting room and reception
Once back at reception, there is an opportunity to follow up on the conversation in the consulting room. In the case of preventative care, this is the perfect time to exercise the power of repetition and ensure that preventative medicines are purchased, and further appointments are booked.
Our tips for great content
Tip 1: Start with the end
Typically, you think of a catchy title and then write the text, but try seeing the title as a work in progress to fine-tune it once your text is written. Often, the writing process focuses on the content – so once completed, (re)identify the core message and apply a suitable title. Of course, an aftercare letter or information about preventative care has a specific scope, but try to make the title ‘catchy’ even for this type of text. It’s worth taking the time to formulate a good title – after all, you want your content to be read.
Ensure to include an introduction in the first paragraph. Like the title, this is often easier to craft when your story is finished. A good introduction should summarise the content and make the pet owner curious to continue reading.
Tip 2: Make the core of your story clear
The pet owner will want to quickly find the core of the information and will probably read the text more than once, especially if it requires a follow-up. So, where appropriate, consider using numbered steps or lists to keep the text clear.
When writing informative text, keep things straightforward with paragraphs and sub-headings. Keep to about five sentences per paragraph – this is a good rule of thumb, maintaining clearer and easier to read text.
Tip 3: Use headings and subtitles
We mentioned it above; intermediate headings or titles above paragraphs keep text well-organised. Remember tip 1 – you can also create the headers after you have finished the section. By doing so, you get to the heart of the text and involve owners who read texts in a scanning manner (quickly looking for information).
Tip 4: Apply structure at the sentence level
You can maintain structure at sentence level with transition words and phrases. You can see these as the glue that binds texts and sentences together, giving the reader direction. Good use of such signal words improves transitions between sentences, making text easier to read and more coherent. For more information, click here.
Tip 5: Don’t forget the conclusion
A good ending is a must! In marketing, this is the ‘call to action’ and should apply to your content also; you want the owner to follow your advice. A good tip is to refer to your introductory text and ask a question or provoke thought.
For example, with preventative care, the conclusion could be the ‘why’, with a recommendation to make an appointment.
Bonus tip: personalisaton
Once your text is complete, if you’re using Animana, you can personalise it using “merge codes”. These codes can be used to automatically place (current) information from Animana, such as client or patient data and products and services in the text. For example, a pet owner is more likely to read content if it starts with “Dear Mrs Jones” rather than “Dear customer”.
Click here for more information about merge codes.
Let’s talk about what IDEXX software can do for your practice
Complete the form below and we’ll get back to you.