Why this Postcard Went to the Dogs

Postcard from My Vet

My veterinarian is marketing. Isn’t that great?

I was confused by the postcard at first. The message, “John, don’t forget to come visit us,” didn’t register. My name’s not John. Then I noticed the beagle photo and it started to make sense. My dog’s name is John – it’s the one he came with when we adopted him. John isn’t a beagle, so the connection took a minute. I finally figured it out – a message from my vet.

My vet is marketing, I thought. That’s good. He’s spending some money on postcards to remind his patients to bring their pets in for an annual checkup. That’s ok, even if I already had it on my schedule. There’s a QR Code on the card. Cool, he’s sending a personalized message and enabling response online.

As I explored further, though, I discovered a lot of room for improvement. The vet’s multi-channel, personalized postcard was half done. It was obviously part of a packaged program that he had purchased. The marketing company name is actually referenced on the reverse of the card.

A quick visit to their website showed boilerplate communications programs for several industries – dentists, spas and salons, and veterinarians. This kind of generic program isn’t an absolutely bad idea. It can simplify the process for small businesses who don’t have time to create custom content or manage direct mail, but in this case the whiz bang marketing features flopped before they had a chance to turn around three times.

Personalization Gone Astray

To push the pun, my vet’s marketing effort went “a-stray.” There just wasn’t enough attention to the detail. In particular, the personalization missed the mark. Sure, the mailing company included my name on the reverse side, but the effect was contrived. The message wasn’t personally appealing. It came off as a gimmick. As for the online integration, it just didn’t work. Here’s what could have been better:

Mobile Landing page image

Did I really have to scan a QR for this message?

  • Creativity – It would been more effective to include a photo of my dog, a slightly overweight admixture of diverse and dubious heritage who is as similar to a beagle as an army tank is to a Toyota. People love their pets. Why not take a photo when they visit?
  • Overdone personalization – Just because you have the dog’s name doesn’t mean that you must use it in every sentence of the message. “John is due for veterinary services. Schedule an appointment for John today. We look forward to seeing you and John soon.”
  • What do you want me to do? The landing page and the postcard were missing both a call to action and an offer. The intent was to encourage an appointment, but this message was buried in the text. On the back of the card where the call to action should have been was an instruction that read “We’re going green! Share your Email!” That’s a strange message for a postcard and the clippable instruction to “bring in this card” didn’t promise anything to encourage me to respond.
  • More information or easy access – The URL provided led to the home page of the vet’s website, but there wasn’t much there. Again, no offer or call to action and also no provision to schedule an appointment or otherwise communicate with the office.
  • Careful with QRs – The QR code on the card did lead to a mobile landing page, but it wasn’t personalized and the message was confusing, “We’re sorry, we’re no longer accepting online appointments.” Really? Why am I here? Did you ever accept online appointments? There’s no need to scan a QR just to dial a phone number.

What’s Your Point, Richard?

Whiz bang integrated marketing requires some attention to detail. If you don’t have all of the details, just keep it simple.

I’m sure that some recipients would think that the personalization was “cute,” but to me it seemed more confusing than clever. Personalization that isn’t gimmicky requires more data and a creativity. As to the “multi-channel approach,” why include a QR Code or a URL when there’s no offer or anything to do or learn when I get to the website? My vet could have saved some money and sent a black and white card to remind me to schedule an appointment. It would have worked.

Marketing With Some Meat

Don’t get me wrong. I love my vets. They take great care of my menagerie of pets, but this marketing attempt literally went to the dogs. I’ll be scheduling an appointment for John the dog to get his shots and I’ll also try to talk to them about their marketing. I think they could use a little help to add some meat to the Kibbles and Bits.

What about you? If you could use some help with your marketing program, I hope you’ll get in touch!


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