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It's all about manipulation!

Posted in Guest Blogger @ Apr 4th 2013 - By Gillian Shippen, Nurse Manager & Director 'Pets Need a Life Too'
Sale price tag

Is it really so wrong for a veterinary practice to make use of the same marketing techniques used by nearly every other retailer?

Firstly I want to explain my employment situation; I am a Nursing Practice Manager of a one vet, two staff veterinary practice and the only qualified veterinary nurse. My hours are full time, so I am at the practice 95% of the opening hours. We used to have two casual staffers – one on a Wednesday afternoon for 5 hours and the other for 5 hours on Saturday morning. The Wednesday casual left (understandably for a job with longer hours) so our Saturday casual has taken up the shortfall of Wednesday afternoon (and if I ever want any time off). The arrangement suits all of us to a T.  Our casual team member would agree that she is not a veterinary nurse but she has been working the same Saturday morning shift with my boss for 25 years so even though it can be hard for her to pick things up during her limited work hours, she does know enough when it counts. I have just recently celebrated my 20thyear working with the boss!

Now you've got the picture of how our practice operates, I should also mention that I pretty much have a free reign in the running of the practice and I have completed appropriate marketing courses and addressed the whole look of the practice. Fastidious person that I am, when it comes to ordering drugs, I generally try to place the order when I know that I am going to be the one sorting through it.  Which is not really that difficult given my explanation of how our clinic works but on rare occasions it can go awry.

Pricing Stock - My Way

I like to unpack and price the stock myself. I enter the stock into the computer, check for price increases and mark the stock accordingly – makes sense right? I do understand that the others are just trying to help, but I hate it when they start marking the stock, because they haven’t checked for price increases – they just go off what is currently in the computer. This means I have to check through everything when I get in and re-do if necessary.

But when it comes to price marking we do have another issue and this is my prime beef! They don’t put the price sticker in the correct spot.

So where is the right spot to put a price sticker?

Any marketing course will tell you these important rules of marketing:

1) A customer is more likely to purchase a product that they have picked up to look at a price.

2) They are more likely to ignore that product if the price is clearly displayed on the front without them having to pick it up.

3) The customer is least likely to purchase something where there is no price displayed and they have to ask.

When I explain these rules of marketing to the staff, they complain I am manipulating the client; both staff members have told me they like to be out in the open, transparent!

Is it really manipulation?

We are manipulated on a daily basis to encourage us to spend our money at any given store. You may have heard Cole’s recent marketing campaign of “Sticker Sales” - sounded impressive on the TV – when you get your stickers you put it on the product and get a discount. When I got my stickers I discovered they were not for just any product I wanted but for goods Coles had decided would be on special that week, you had to do their job for them by putting the markdown price on it……talk about manipulation!

Any parent can tell you about the placement of lollies at the check out and it’s no accident that many such things are at just the right level for little eyes and fingers to enjoy! How about when you go to purchase soft drinks – have you ever noticed how conveniently the chips and snack foods are located in the same aisle? And don’t get me started on the chosen advertising times on TV for certain products. We are being manipulated on a daily basis.

It's really called marketing

Just because we are a veterinary clinic does not mean we are immune to using marketing practices. At the end of the day we are competing for the merchandise dollar with the pet shop down the road, the local supermarket, the chemist and even the internet – yes it is all about manipulation.

The first place I try to place the price tag is on the actual barcode if the product has one, as these are usually ideally placed. If I can’t find a barcode then I place it either on the back of the product or the side depending on the printed merchandise information.

So whatv do you think?  Is it a bad thing to 'manipulate' your clients to encourage them to buy your products?  And how do you do the all important marketing and placement of that price tag?  I'd love to hear your opinions and ideas in the comments section below.  

Gillian Shippen is not only a Nurse Manager, but she has also written a book: 'Pets Need a Life Too - A Guide to Enriching the Life of Your Pet - Series One: Dogs' and runs her online website 'Pets Need a Life Too' where she sells a range of enrichment toys for pets. Her aim is to "..not just to sell you products but to ensure you are purchasing the right item for you and your pet."

For more information, check out 'Pets Need a Life Too' Page in the Vetanswers Business Directory.  




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