Before you read this article, watch these two videos to the end: they're going to drive the point home.
✅ Video 1: Hunter Price
✅ Video 2: Bonavega
Before we discuss these two videos, let’s talk about a few of the reasons why you should just be yourself while working in the veterinary field.
1. You will attract the right target market.
Your target market is the clients that you actually want and who will like you for you.
If you are putting on a false display – what you think the world expects in a vet – you are attracting clients that are drawn to that façade, not you. If you instead start being yourself, you will eliminate the clients that don’t appreciate what you have to offer and will begin to amass more clients who match the true you.
Moreover, you will take the pressure off of yourself when a client chooses a different doctor because you understand that you have a target market, and this client is not it!
2. You will be happier.
Being a professional can be a bit of an identity crisis. When I first started, I was very professional – what I learned in vet school and my internship. Then I realized that turned off a lot of the clients in my area.
Version 2.0 swung a bit too far in the opposite direction, as I tried to fit in with the locals – a Northerner sticking out like a sore thumb in the South.
Almost a decade later, when I decided to sell my practice, I finally started acting like myself, and it was a relief. The unexpected side effect was that suddenly the clients liked me better, I started getting more business, and I was far happier because I had suddenly taken a lot of pressure off of myself to be what (I thought) the clients had expected me to be. I wish I had discovered this concept years earlier!
3. You will start to expand the idea of “your authentic self” into your business as well.
We all have professional interests – and personal ones, too. But how much are those evident throughout your business? Is your business just a generic box of a veterinary practice?
To continue to better attract your target market, you should start to infuse your professional interests into every aspect of your business. For instance, I was really into equine dentistry, and I made sure my clients knew it through social media and in-person interactions. But I didn’t stop there – our wellness plans insisted that dental care must be a part of the plan, as I do not believe that proper wellness care leaves out this aspect.
Do your beliefs seep into all parts of your practice as well?
What about your personal interests? Honestly, I’m a bit hesitant about this topic, but there’s a really interesting example that I’ve been following on the human medical side that has taken both his medical and personal interests and pulled off an interesting niche market. Dr. William Powers in Michigan offers preventive care, but he’s developed a special interest in LGBTQ and HIV care. Moreover, his office is decked out in video games and has hypoallergenic cats wandering around as support animals. Dr. Powers does not hold back on his very well-informed, but blunt opinions on social media, and therefore there’s no confusing what kind of patients he does and does not want. It’s honestly quite inspiring! Did I mention that he is not hurting for patients…Not. At. All.
Why have I been hesitant about the ”personal interests” idea? Maybe because I thought it was unprofessional? But I’ve got to admit Dr. Powers is killing it, and he is absolutely speaking to a specific clientele who need what he's offering.
With that said, I still believe that some topics should not be present in your business, especially if you offer emergency services, and the client has no other choice in such a situation – in other words, a client would more or less be forced into an ideological environment that might make them very uncomfortable. It’s the old etiquette that you shouldn’t discuss politics, money, or religion.
Welp, the money topic is unavoidable unless you are independently wealthy and don’t mind not collecting on invoices. However, you are doing your business a disservice and making a portion of your clients feel uncomfortable (whether you realize it or not) if you bring politics or religion into your business, and I would strongly advise against these two being a part of your business.
Otherwise, creativity is your limit, and there are likely endless interesting ways that you could utilize this your advantage if you do it right. (I would be interested to hear if anyone has done something like this successfully in their vet practice, or tries this in the future.)
Now, let’s discuss those videos!
I bet most of you were about ready to hit stop on Hunter Price’s video. I know I would have if it wasn’t the perfect 'boring' singer as the antithesis to Bonavega’s performance. However, it had an amazing twist that I wasn’t expecting, which ended up being even more wonderful!
Bonavega is the reason why I even had the idea for this article. I saw him on America’s Got Talent last night, and first, I had no clue what I just watched. At the same time, I knew it was fantastic! Then I went into business mode and knew he was the perfect example of someone who’s going to draw in his target audience. Let’s consider what he did:
Was he a skilled singer? If you can look past all the shiny objects, he was a very good singer.
Was he a good performer? I mean, did you take your eyes off of him once? Did you look at your phone? I’d say he was great, even if you couldn’t quite define any of it!
Is he unique? While his music sounds familiar, his style was….his own?
All in all, he’s talented, and although I believe all of our brains were confused(?), it’s clear something special happened there.
As for Hunter Price, there were two versions of him in this video. The first half was not untalented but was commonplace, and let’s be honest – boring. But as soon as he began with his own music, something changed, and it wasn’t just the song. He was more vibrant. Suddenly I cared about him and was more invested in his outcome on the show. But why? Because that song allowed him to be himself, and the first one was him trying to imitate someone else (poorly).
When we do not act authentic, when we try to be what we think a vet should be, when we try to copy someone else’s veterinary style – we end up being Hunter Price, Version 1. That vet is secretly talented, but the client has no clue: Hunter Price, Version 1 is boring and completely forgettable. But when Hunter Price, the Authentic emerges, suddenly the client is drawn to him and his aura – “that’s a vet I want to see!”
Isn’t that the type of vet you’d prefer to be?
And if you’re really brave, you might get up the guts to go all the way to Dr. Bonavega, the vet who is so authentically himself that there is no one else even remotely like him. Yeah, there’s some medicine being practiced in there somewhere (super well, BTW), but mainly what the customers know is that there’s nothing else like the experience they’re going to get with him – whether that’s in the clinic or online. There’s no replacing him.
How can you take these examples and extrapolate them into practice? How are you dampening your personality right now? Where are you feeling suffocated? What would you like to express that you haven’t been able to thus far? Start somewhere.
While the medical field has always been considered a “conservative” field, I would encourage you to start outwardly widening your horizons if you do feel suffocated right now. Your clients can handle it. And if they can’t, they’re not the right clients for you. It is possible to increase your level of satisfaction with your career and have clients. Once again, if in doubt, refer back to Dr. Powers!
Hi, I'm Karen Bolten! I'm a former large animal veterinarian and practice owner. I'm a current #dogmom, horse brusher, and fish tank cleaner. I have a Bachelor's in Business Administration (Operations and Supply Chain Management), and I'm now an MBA candidate.
My goal is to help other veterinary business owners to better understand their businesses, whether you are just starting out or you've been at it for a few years! While it may seem insurmountable, I truly believe it can be done, and you deserve to understand what may be holding you back.
Please, if you have any questions about anything I wrote in this article, and how you can make this work for you, please reach out below in the comments, or your can contact me via:
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