Jan 16, 2017 by Edward L. Blach, DVM, MS, MBA
Branding and marketing, when done well, can be very powerful. It has the power to transform commodities into premium products and services. Veterinary medicine in many situations is a commodity, and that is not good for veterinary medicine. One veterinary practice is indistinguishable from another. A vet is a vet. The most important characteristic for selecting a veterinarian is being nearby and convenient. That is a commodity.
Examples of commodities are such things as grain, milk, gold, cattle, oil, and lumber. The only criteria that matter to you, the buyer, are price and convenience. One company's product is indistinguishable from another.
A successful branding and marketing campaign can transform a commodity into a premium product. Let's look at some examples.
A company in Louisville, KY, Stewart and Associates, helped a company in Idaho develop branded hay products. Yes, I said hay. Hay is the ultimate commodity. They explored the history of their client's company, Standlee Hay, and found a great story that needed to be told. They found a company that raised a premium product, yet received only a commodity price, because they weren't sufficiently telling the full story of the product, its quality, and the care that went into delivering its value to their customers. Stewart and Associates turned what they learned into a well-defined group of products, specifically packaged for a target market that was willing to pay for the value that was being delivered.
Hay products went from being packaged in loose, 80-pound bales, to plastic wrapped, well-branded 30-pound packages that wouldn't leave hay in the trunk of a Mercedes or BMW that the female horse owner who wanted premium hay was driving. The product inside was of exemplary quality, and they told their customers to expect that.
There are many examples of successful branding and marketing campaigns that have helped companies realize the true value of the services they provide. Strive to properly brand your services to differentiate yours from the commodities you compete with. Branding and marketing, when properly done, can be very powerful, and will help improve your company's profitability.