A Personal Touch Shows Respect

As we know, marketing inspiration can come from anywhere. This month’s column is dedicated to Slinky the cat.

Elizabeth Mansfield

Slinky was 17 years old when we had to put him to sleep. That age is old for a cat and although he was old, he really didn’t “get” old until about 6 months before the end. His youthfulness made it especially hard to let him go.

Several weeks later we received a very nice card with a picture of a dog and cat on the front from the veterinarian and his entire staff. They all wrote personal messages and signed their names. Most of them wrote something to the effect of “I am so sorry for your loss.” The vet took time to write a short note about what a nice cat Slinky was and how he was sure that we would miss him very much.

The tears started up all over again. When they were finished, Tom said to me, “This would be a great idea for your column.” I had to think about it because on the surface it seemed a little too morbid. However, the more I thought about it, the more I realized what a marketing genius the vet is.

Small actions create long-term loyalty

Elizabeth Mansfield realized the dedication of her family veterinarian after the death of her cat, Slinky, pictured here.

Elizabeth Mansfield realized the dedication of her family veterinarian after the death of her cat, Slinky, pictured here.

Source: Mansfield E, O&P Business News.

Slinky never went to the vet. Many years ago he had a bad reaction to a vaccination and almost died. Since he was exclusively an indoor cat and we had a phenomenal “cat lady” who lives nearby and took care of him when we were not home, he did not need to go to the vet. So, the only time the vet and his staff met Slinky were when he got sick and then when he had to be put to sleep — two, maybe three times. Still, the fact that not only waited an appropriate amount of time to send the card but made sure that every single member of the staff wrote a personal note and signed it, was so very touching. I do not think I have to tell you that if we ever get another pet, we will of course be taking them to that veterinarian.

Show care outside of typical ‘marketing’ actions

I have written before about sending patients and customers cards on their birthdays or on the anniversary of their first appointment or first order or the anniversary of their device delivery date. I have never written about sending cards acknowledging a patient or customer’s death.

I know back in the day my father, a retired CPO, used to attend the wakes of prosthetic and long-time orthotic patients or their spouses. He did it, as I am sure many, many practitioners do, out of respect. I know that he would never have considered it “marketing.” I completely agree. Having said that, I firmly believe that acknowledging someone’s pain and loss is an important part of a relationship.

What about you? Have you found marketing inspiration somewhere you least expected it?

Elizabeth Mansfield is the president of Outsource Marketing Solutions. She can be reached at elizabeth@askelizabeth.net.

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