Give back with a purpose
"We try to get out in the community as much as we can, because that means something to our clients and has done more for us than any ad," says Sharon DeNayer, a Firstline Editorial Advisory Board member and manager at Windsor Veterinary Clinic in Windsor, Colo. "We know people have started coming to our practice because they saw us or our name at charitable community events." While the practice's efforts have varied throughout the years, it generally participates in local organizations' events, such as the Windsor Parks and Recreation Department Summer Concert Series and the Fourth of July Four-Legged 4K Fun Run and Walk.
Since dogs are allowed in the park where the concerts are held, DeNayer and the practice owner, Dr. Robin Downing, attended the first concert with their dogs—the only four-leggers in attendance. Gradually, more people brought their dogs, and now many canine tails wag to the musical beat. To cater to these pets and their owners, the park system puts out dog water dishes underneath the Windsor Veterinary Clinic's shade canopy.DeNayer and team also reach out to clients and the community with an annual remembrance ceremony to honor pets that have passed away. DeNayer advertises the event in the newspaper. She sends personal invitations to clients whose pets have died in the last year and to those who attended the ceremony the year before. Some people continue attending the event even though their pet died years ago.
Attendants are encouraged to tell stories about their pets. The newspaper sends a photographer every year to capture the ceremony (one photographer even became a client at the clinic and its sister facility, The Downing Center for Animal Pain Management). The night is topped off by food and drinks, provided by the clinic.
DeNayer says events like these benefit the clinic, pet owners, and the city of Windsor. "We've always approached marketing thinking we're in a small town," DeNayer says. "Even though the town has almost quadrupled in size in 17 years, it still has a small-town feel. We think it's very important to give back to the community. And it doesn't take long to develop the reputation you're a business that cares."
Kelly Stazyk is a freelance writer in Washington, D.C. Please send questions or comments to [email protected]