A veterinary nurse’s guide to animal health marketing

Megan Bullock

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animal health marketing

In the UK, we have a long and proud history of caring about our animals. In agriculture, we set a global example in welfare and it’s rare to meet a farmer who doesn’t view themselves as a protector and guardian for those under their watch. The numerous laws and regulations we have in place to prevent animal cruelty reflect that philosophy.

Marketing for animal health is rewarding in many ways, not least for the feeling that you’re making a difference. Your campaign might play a role in supporting better practices and help prevent disease. That said, animal health marketing comes with its own unique challenges.

I’m Meg, a Registered Veterinary Nurse turned marketer. Here is some of my key advice on avoiding some of the most common pitfalls in animal health marketing and how you can make the most of every campaign.

Know your rules and regulations

Let’s be clear up front: there are a lot of rules when it comes to animal health marketing.

First things first, make sure you know the following inside out:

1. BVA – Pets in Advertising 

2. The NOAH Code of Practice for the Promotion of Animal Medicines

3. The RSPCA’s Five Freedoms 

Animals should be treated with the care and dignity they deserve. Your customers care about it, the wider public care about it – it’s important to show that you do too.

Even if you take a playful route with your marketing, it’s worth bearing these tenets in mind. For example, the 2016 John Lewis Christmas advert was lightly reprimanded by the BVA for depicting a dog enjoying a particularly boisterous trampoline session. Though the BVA were keen to not spoil the fun, they did advise the retailer to add a “don’t try this at home” message.

More than any other rule: NEVER lie about the product. Your marketing cannot be misleading or claim to do anything that it actually can’t. Not only will this rapidly be discovered and erode customer trust in your product (likely irreparably), but you’ll also face severe legal consequences.

Are there more rules? Always. Too many to list here, in fact. We can help you navigate the legalese. Just get in touch.

veterinary nurse marketing
Source: John Lewis

Your audience is fickle. Cut through the noise.

In the animal health sector, here’s who you need to reach: veterinary professionals, pet owners or farmers. Quite a diverse group, all with their own opinions and preferences. So, how do you cut through?

Never assume you have your audience’s attention. Many people – and especially veterinary professionals and farmers – are too busy to give your marketing the benefit of the doubt and sit through a long spiel. Maybe your ground-breaking shampoo that cures all manner of diseases is truly a leap forward for animal medicine, but the “all-singing, all-dancing” approach often feels forced and unbelievable.

Instead, zero in. Focus on the benefits. Create a standout single-minded proposition. This way you provide a clear and powerful direct line of communication, not only between your brand and your audience but also your audience and their customers. Yes, you can include the science, but lure them in first with a powerful and curiosity-inducing message.

 

Get your facts straight

Would you mislead your audience through exaggeration and made-up statistics? Of course not. Where some brands do go wrong is by making a mistake, rather than through deception. 

Vets, farmers, and (sensible) pet owners will want to know the science behind any product before taking it on, whether it’s a basic ear cleaner or something more complex. This is where your facts need to impeccable. 

Data-driven decisions matter more than ever. Your audience wants to know their choices are effective. Use compelling evidence to help them realise there’s no more effective choice than choosing your product or service.

 
veterinary nurse marketing

Speak the language

Putting aside technical terms and jargon – where is your campaign going to be seen?

Many animal health providers don’t just occupy one small territory. Their reach goes across many countries, even continents. A “one-size-fits-all” message might not be appropriate.

Advertising and marketing have changed. Now, we try and talk like real people. To that end, we see idioms and slang deployed regularly in marketing campaigns. This is, generally, an effective way of communicating. But if you’re going international? That might be a problem.

Idioms don’t often translate in the way that you want them to. Puns definitely won’t. If your campaign hinges on clever wordplay or a visual metaphor, be sure to stress test it on people from your other territories. 

Don’t be like the beer brand Coors who took their “Turn It Loose!” campaign to Spanish-speaking markets where, after translation, the advertising then urged their audience to “Suffer From Diarrhoea!”

 

Break it down

Don’t beat around the bush. Anything related to animal health is complex enough already. Your long supercalifragilisticexpialidocious words and technical lingo might look impressive but remember you’re marketing to people. Just like you and me. 

So, in a sense, this becomes like every other marketing campaign. Identify a pain point. Name a problem your audience has and how exactly your product or service can solve it. Engage at a personal level. Use messaging driven by emotion and tell a good story.

How can you go about doing that? Glad you asked. Find a marketing agency that knows your industry, creates exceptional work, and wants to fully understand what your brand offers and wants to achieve. 

Agencies that specialise in the animal health sector exist and are ready to work. We’d know – we’re one of them. 

That said, be sure to choose one that’s right for you. Speak to your prospective agency first. Ensure a good rapport. Make sure they’re clear about your objective and, when push comes to shove, they have the resource and creative spark to add something special to your brand.

 

Let’s dig deeper and let your brand thrive. Get in touch.

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