I'm a millennial. I am 30 years old, unmarried, and have two dogs—Cole and Lula—whom I love and spoil dearly. I also love avocados, yoga, and a good glass of wine. I am one of millions who are quickly reshaping the veterinary landscape.
Thirty-five percent of pets in America are owned by millennials. We spend more on our pets, are more likely to show deference and respect for a veterinarian's advice, and we think of these little creatures as indispensable members of the family. But, there's a problem: The industry doesn't know how to speak to us. Yet, anyway. I would like to help change that.
Recently, I made plans to have dinner with my parents. When I asked them where we were going, I was told the plan was to "drive around and see what the options are."
Well, that wasn't going to fly. I searched the local options, read reviews, browsed menus, and made an informed decision. I grew up with the internet. So did my generation. It's a fundamental part of how we navigate the world and make decisions (on average much more than any past generation).
But, here's the thing that most people don't understand: While the mediums and channels that we use to form relationships change, the underlying biological mechanisms and basic human needs remain the same as they were thousands of years ago. Let me elaborate.
When a millennial is visiting your website during a "customer journey" (the process of finding a new veterinary practice), his mind is asking questions: Who are you? What do you do? Where do you do it?
But, that's just his conscious mind, the "tip of the iceberg" as Freud would say. Really, his subconscious is there to ask an entirely different question. One rooted in his ancestral past: Can I trust you?
He's not going to tell you that. He's going to tell you that he's looking for a veterinarian who practices good medicine, is reasonably priced, and is convenient in terms of location and/or policies. But the reality is that it's a feeling that determines whether or not he is comfortable taking action. His logical mind justifies his decision later, but modern neuroscience tells us that the seat of decision making occurs in the emotional region of the brain.
Build trust with your hospital's digital assets: Tell your story
You have to approach your website with a totally different mindset. It is not an expanded business card or brochure. It is an opportunity to tell your story. Your website's ability to tell your story in a way that connects with the deeper instincts of pet owners is the secret sauce of success. Don't just answer the "what" about your services. Show me that you understand what matters to me, what's precious to me, the values I care about... And then show me proof that you follow through on those values.
Ask yourself: Why do I exist? Why do pet owners need to care? You have a story to tell.
Do not say, "Welcome to ABC Animal Hospital! We are a full-service veterinary facility that provides wellness exams, spay/neuter, dentistry, parasite control, and more."
That tells me almost nothing. I'm hungry to understand what you believe. Trust is only created by communicating a shared set of values. Show me you understand me. This is an incredibly important decision to me, and I want to know why you are the right choice. I want to see that everything you do (including the quality of your website's design, branding, and communication) is done the right way.
Storytelling to create emotional connections is a complicated task, but it is absolutely what you must do to attract a new generation of pet owner. And, if you begin asking the right questions, you may find you are closer to success than you think.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Robert Sanchez is the founder and CEO of Digital Empathy. Digital Empathy has quickly become one of the fastest growing companies in web design and marketing because of its innovative approach, distinctive designs, and focus on the psychology of pet owners and human relationships. Learn more at digitalempathyvet.com.