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Dog owners — they’re a breed of their own. If you are one, then you know exactly what I’m talking about. If not, well then, you probably own a cat. The point being that those of us who are privileged enough to have a four-legged friend most often would do anything for them, including spending thousands of dollars for medical treatment without giving it a second thought. But in his most critical time of need, whom would you trust most to care for your fuzzy son or daughter – the vet you found randomly on an Internet search, or the one that was personally referred to you?
I myself owned a 13-year old Lab-Irish Wolf Hound mix that suffered from epileptic seizures most of his life. As you might imagine, most of the local vets, pet ERs and pharmacists know me by name — “Panther’s mom.” A few years ago, Panther’s condition worsened and I didn’t know where to turn. It seemed my regular vet had done all that she could do and I was at my wits end. Naturally I turned to my computer and conducted online research for Maryland neurologists. Wanting only “the best,” I went to the top of the list and promptly made an appointment. I then drove an hour and within 30 seconds of meeting “Dr. X”, I didn’t like him. After 10 minutes I hated him and left there in tears. Not because he gave me bad news, but because his bedside manner was dreadful. He referred to Panther as, “the animal”, never made eye contact with me, and was quick to suggest that it could be a brain tumor and would need to conduct an MRI to the tune of $1,000. With all of Dr. X’s credentials and search engine rankings, he lacked what was most important to me — compassion.
Recounting this tale to a friend of mine a few days later, she told me of her “fantastic experience” with a neurologist in another part of town. With trepidation, I drove another hour and within 30 seconds of meeting “Dr. Y,” I was madly in love. He knelt down and petted Panther (whom he referred to by name) while he listened to me recount the last 10 years of our lives together. After conducting a thorough intake and consulting his techs, his diagnosis was clear — “There’s no need for an MRI and there’s no brain tumor. Panther is an idiopathic epileptic and with a slight change in his medicine I’m confident we can get his seizures under control.” And he did. I’ve since referred three friends to Dr. Y.
The power of referrals and word of mouth marketing is no big secret. Leads groups were founded on the very concept. However a lot of businesses miss out on opportunities because they keep stories like mine to themselves. Sharing authentic testimonials with your prospects that are presented in a professional manner can be a very compelling marketing tool. Using the candid input from clients can be instrumental in helping you determine what makes you and/or your practice or business truly unique and special. Combine print, online or even video testimonials with an effective search engine marketing (SEO) strategy as well as a targeted social media game plan, and watch your business soar! Not only will prospects find you, they will also find you credible.
Remember that it’s your clients who determine your brand, not you. But it is up to you to pay attention and leverage customer input to properly position yourself amongst your competitors. If you don’t, you might be the world’s best-kept secret, but you’ll also be out of business.
As the saying goes, “If you’re not the lead dog, the scenery never changes.”