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Seth Godin on veterinary marketing

What the G.O.A.T. has to say about our industry


I’ve thought about marketing in the veterinary industry every day for over 10 years. 

So imagine my excitement when I found out that Seth Godin – the G.O.A.T.🐐 of marketing – had recorded a podcast talking about my industry. I’ve listened to his advice and teachings for countless hours, and now he was specifically applying his knowledge to the problems I’ve committed my career to solving. 

And after listening, needless to say, I wasn’t disappointed.

I know that we’re all time poor, however, I highly recommend you give it a watch on YouTube. Plus an enormous shout out to Brandon Breshears of The Veterinary Marketing Podcast for doing the interview, great work! I urge you to go and subscribe to this excellent podcast.

For those who can’t work the whole interview into your schedule, I’ve picked out what I believe to be the five hardest-hitting quotes that every practice owner or manager should internalise. 



“Marketing is the work you do, the life you lead, the stories you tell. All of your choices add up to explain to somebody what kind of veterinarian you are.” - Seth Godin

I come across people in the industry who say that they don’t have time for marketing, or that they’re happy to get along without it. 


But the fact is, they are marketing their practice, whether they know it or not. 


As Godin points out, so many decisions we subconsciously make influence how people perceive us, from the clothes we wear and the words we use, to the way we decorate our practice and talk to our patients and clients. 


The secret is to understand this and to use it to our advantage. 


If you start seeing the minutiae of practice life as marketing opportunities, you’re much more likely to take advantage of them.


“The best way to be unique is to be unique – and often when people say they want to stand out, they’re desperate to fit in.” - Seth Godin

If it’s true that the decisions we make are marketing for our practice, then it follows that our practice really is unique, because it’s impossible that two individuals will come to the same conclusions and act on them in the same way in every aspect of practice life. 


So when we describe ourselves as unique, we’re not lying. But how do we show our uniqueness to our clients, and how do we ensure that the things that make us unique are attractive to the people we’re speaking to? 


It’s easy to talk about being unique without thinking about what it means. And the way that we describe practices is invariably the same from one to the next. 


That’s what Godin means by us being desperate to fit in – so often we’ll play it safe and promote the things that we have in common with our competitors, rather than the areas where we diverge. 

But being unique is an advantage. We just need to make use of that.

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 “If you can charge more, and deserve it, you will do better. You can’t win the race to the bottom, but you can win the race to the top.”

At this point in the podcast, Godin is answering a question about corporates. His point is that in a race to the bottom – or more specifically, a race to the lowest prices and the most clients – the corporates will win. 


What we can do is provide a better service than the corporates. We can offer a better experience. We can take more time. We can care more.


And if we do all these things, we can charge more too. 


That’s the race to the top, and it leads to a happier practice, larger margins, more satisfied clients… and who doesn’t want that?

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“Decide whether you’re in charge of your practice or not.”


As the leader of your practice, you chart the course for how you communicate with existing clients and attract new ones. 


The industry standard when marketing a practice is to talk about the fact that the people in your practice are kind and skilled. But in reality, there are very few people in the veterinary world who aren’t both of these things. The RCVS stipulates which qualifications we need. And nobody is working in practice despite disliking animals!


How we can persuade pet owners to trust us with their pets and feel happy with the service we provide is the crux of running a veterinary business. 


It’s on you how you chart that path, but the answer is never going to be to just do what everybody else does.


“Choose your clients, change your life.”

This is perhaps my favourite point that Godin makes – it’s both controversial and stunningly simple. 


He says that we should be constantly driving the bottom 5% of our clients to other practices. The annoying clients, the ones that argue with our advice or moan about our prices. Give them a number to a competitor and invite them to try them instead.


It sounds mad! But the point is that if you’re confident in the service you provide, you should be confident that you can replace that 5% with better clients. Clients who will join your health plan, pay when they’re asked to, appreciate your time and expertise.


When you find great clients they hold you to a higher standard. In this way, you’ll continue to improve your practice, you’ll attract even more clients, and you can continue to cull clients who don’t fit your values and ethos.


Or in Seth Godin’s words: “If the client doesn’t earn your time and care, eagerly and generously send them somewhere else.”


I sincerely hope you’ve enjoyed reading my thoughts. I thoroughly encourage you to listen to the full interview and give both Brandon and The Veterinary Marketing Podcast a follow. 


If you’re eager to improve your practice’s marketing but you’re unsure where to start, I’m taking on new clients for the next quarter! Book an initial discovery below!

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