Attract Clients

VMP 255: Seth Godin On How To Market Your Veterinary Practice

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Brandon Breshears
August 22, 2023
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VMP 255: Seth Godin On How To Market Your Veterinary Practice
Attract Clients
August 22, 2023

VMP 255: Seth Godin On How To Market Your Veterinary Practice

In this episode of Veterinary Marketing Podcast, host Brandon Breshears interviews marketing expert Seth Godin. Brandon is thrilled to have Seth on the show but admits to feeling a bit nervous about the interview. They dive into the distinction between marketing and advertising, the power of storytelling, and how veterinary practices can differentiate themselves in a crowded market. Seth emphasizes the importance of being unique, delivering exceptional care, and offering additional services. They also touch on pricing strategies, selecting the right clients, the impact of AI on marketing, and the sales process for small businesses. Seth challenges the notion of perfectionism and encourages veterinarians to embrace content creation.

In this episode, I have some exciting news to share! Recently, I had the incredible opportunity to sit down with none other than Seth Godin, the legendary marketer and author. Seth has written 20 New York Times bestselling books, and his book "Permission Marketing" was actually the first marketing book I ever read. Needless to say, having him on the show was a true honor, and I can't wait to share the insights we discussed.

During our conversation, Seth and I dove into the ever-evolving world of marketing and advertising. We explored how digital platforms have completely changed the game, transforming marketing from just advertising to encompassing the entire experience and story of a business. We also delved into the power of storytelling and the importance of being genuinely unique in order to stand out in a crowded market. Seth shared some fascinating examples, including a chiropractor who built a successful practice by doing his work in public, demystifying the profession and attracting customers.

We also tackled the role of discounting and diversification in attracting customers. Seth suggested offering discounts or benefits to loyal customers, as well as considering additional services associated with pet care, such as grooming or specialized treatments. By providing a range of services and benefits, veterinarians can differentiate themselves and attract customers who value their expertise and trust.

Pricing was another hot topic, with Seth emphasizing that if a veterinarian can charge more and deserve it, they will likely do better. We also discussed the importance of choosing the right clients and getting rid of bad customers who don't appreciate your value.

But it wasn't all serious business. Seth and I also touched on the impact of AI on marketing and the need for local businesses, including veterinary practices, to create a unique and memorable experience for customers. We even delved into selling businesses, perfectionism, and content creation, with Seth challenging the notion of perfection and suggesting that a simple one-page website with essential information is often sufficient.

Overall, my conversation with Seth Godin was eye-opening and filled with valuable insights. As we navigate the ever-changing landscape of marketing, it's crucial to remember the power of storytelling, the importance of uniqueness, and the need to provide exceptional service. So let's embrace the challenge, meet specifications, and serve our clients to the best of our abilities.

Episode Transcript

Brandon (00:00:02) - Welcome to the Veterinary Marketing Podcast, where it's all about how to attract, engage and retain clients to your veterinary practice using digital marketing. My name is Brandon Breshears and I'm incredibly excited for today's episode. Today we have guest doesn't need any introduction at all, but I'm going to try and do him justice. So today we have Seth Godin on the podcast and. Credibly grateful that he came on, shared so many great insights. I was honestly very nervous when I scheduled the appointment. He said that we could do a 20 minute interview. It went longer than 20 minutes and he was gracious with that. But it was difficult to try to figure out what kind of questions, if you could ask any marketing questions to one of the greatest marketers of all time, what would you ask them? So in today's episode, I try to answer that. I try to get as much value from Seth as possible. So if you don't know who Seth Godin is, if you've been under a rock. Seth Godin is a 20 time New York Times bestseller.

Brandon (00:01:00) - He's written books like this is Marketing Purple Cow Tribes, The Practice. He recently wrote a new book called Song of Significance, which is not about marketing, but it's about management and culture building. It is fantastic, and I feel like it was written for the veterinary industry as well. But Seth is just prolific in the amount of writing that he does on Seth's blog. You can go check out. He's written every single day for now almost 20 years. Just an incredible writer and the way that he perceives and also thinks about marketing. Making a significant change in the world is just amazing. Seth's book was actually the first book that I ever read, and so this is very special to me because he's the reason why I started being interested in marketing at the first. In the first place, I read permission marketing. I walked into a Barnes and Noble. It was sitting on a desk. I thought it looked really weird and interesting. I picked it up and I've been hooked on marketing ever since. So Seth is literally the reason why I'm in marketing, and so it has been just truly incredible to be able to interview him.

Brandon (00:02:11) - So I'm so thankful that he did agree to interview. I really hope that you enjoyed this episode and hopefully you can refer back to it in the future. Before we begin, we have just a couple sponsors for today's episode. This episode is being sponsored by the International Veterinary Dentistry Institute and Veterinary If you're a veterinarian or you have veterans that you work with who struggle with dentistry, or who'd like to be more confident when it comes to dental procedures, then you definitely should go to forward slash vmp that is to sign up for a free upcoming live training that's going to go far beyond your average dentistry seminar. This is the gateway to the Veterinary Dental Practitioner Program, an intensive masterclass program that is a comprehensive initiative designed to enrich veterinary associate skills while empowering practice managers, practice owners to take their practice to new heights. This live training is going to be conducted by board certified veterinary dentist Dr. Brett Beckman. He's been on the podcast twice and is incredibly talented teacher and educator.

Brandon (00:03:25) - He's going to dive deep into actual cases. He's going to dissect all the vital components of effective dentistry case management, and this is going to give you some really direct insight and a clear blueprint to improve your prowess in veterinary dentistry. So if you're ready to elevate your practice and your professional skills, simply go to This is going to be the golden opportunity that helps you to make a significant impact in your practice. It's going to help to give your patients and your clients better care, and it's also going to improve the personal professional development that you have in your career. Go to Ivy League Forward slash VMP. This episode is being sponsored by two websites by Brad Haven. We have used vet equipment and new vet equipment for over nine years now. Used vet equipment has been helping vets to buy and sell used equipment. You can save money when you buy used everything from cages, kennels, pumps, X-ray equipment, lasers, ultrasounds, dental equipment, surgery equipment, lab equipment from a backseat and Hezekiah tables, tubs and sinks, vet trucks and vet boxes.

Brandon (00:04:34) - What do you have to sell at used vet equipment? They bring the buyer and seller together. Also, if you're looking for a new vet equipment with amazing warranties, check out new vet equipment where they show you the price up front. They have digital x ray equipment, dental X-ray equipment, ultrasound equipment, surgery, lighting, surgery, tables, autoclaves. When you go to new vet equipment, you'll clearly see the price on every single item for sale. And you'll also know what the warranty is so that you can buy without regret. Amazing. So thank you so much for for being on the podcast. I just can't tell you how much your books mean to not only me, but also everybody that I have a Facebook group and I posted in there that I would be interviewing you and everybody was just blown away and they're so excited. So you have a lot of fans that are veterinarians, for sure.

Seth (00:05:23) - Have a lot of veterinarians that I'm fans of. So it's equal think that they do important work and their patients don't really get to say thank you.

Seth (00:05:32) - So.

Brandon (00:05:33) - Will That's very true. So veterinarians in general. Um, there are some of the my favorite people and that's why I love working with them. They're super empathetic, they're super caring. They love the work that they do. They feel it's a very important work. And so I feel like a lot of the marketing lessons that you talk about have just a tremendous value to them. So I thought maybe we could talk about at the very beginning here would be just the difference between marketing and advertising, because that's, I think, a big an important distinction to talk about when it comes for veterinarians.

Seth (00:06:08) - Great place to start. Marketing and advertising used to be the same thing in 1960 that the only marketing you needed to do was buy a Yellow Pages ad that's advertising. But. When the Yellow Pages fade away. When television fades away, when the newspaper fades away all the usual methods of interrupting people that are socially acceptable, that pay for themselves also fade away. And what took its place? Was this free for all online where it looks like it's free, not free.

Seth (00:06:38) - And where it looks like your job is to hype and hustle and be a Kardashian, which is impossible. So marketing is the work you do, the life you lead, the stories you tell, the way your receptionist answers the phone, how much you mark up the heart. Guard What happens when somebody stops by for an emergency? These are marketing choices because they are part of your story and that is what people talk about and that is what people remember.

Brandon (00:07:09) - Absolutely. So I think that storytelling and story as part of a brand, for example, is constantly talked about in marketing in general, right? Especially at conferences, you get to tell the story. In your opinion, what does that mean from a practical standpoint? Because think like it's easy to talk about this grand idea of storytelling when it comes to content and your website and your marketing and everything that you're doing. But what practically does that mean to you? Well.

Seth (00:07:36) - Since we're talking to veterinarians, I will get specific. How does that sound?

Brandon (00:07:40) - That'd be perfect.

Brandon (00:07:41) - Yeah.

Seth (00:07:41) - Now, I understand there are two kinds of veterinarians. Large animal and small and large animal veterinarians are outside my area of expertise. But in my experience, they probably are much more of a B2B commodity focused thing that the person who's using vet for their cow or their stable of horses is probably way more focused on the bottom line. And the PNL than somebody who has a parrot or a Chihuahua. So let's just talk about the public perception of what a veterinarian does. Yeah, so I've spent a lot of time in veterinarians offices. In fact, wrote half of a pilot for a comedy show because the veterinarian that we used to go to really was a skit every time I went. And the fact is, the person who is bringing the pet in is your actual customer. They're the patient, but they're your customer. So what's the story? Because they can't tell what whether you did a medical intervention that felt right to their pet. They have no idea. What they know is perhaps you're always late five, five minutes to every appointment.

Seth (00:08:54) - Perhaps you talk to their you talk to their dog in a in a singsong kid's toddler voice. Perhaps the bills are always more than I expect or less than I expect. Perhaps the office smells like camphor. Who knows? These are all cues and clues. We're desperate to have a story about you because this animal that we care about is now in your care. We are projecting our lives into you, and we need a story to tell ourselves. So stories don't start with Once upon a time. Stories are What does this remind me of? What do I expect from this? What emotional resonance do I take? Does the office look like a chiropractor's office or a surgeon's office? Because those are stories, right? You don't have to have wood paneling to be a veterinarian. That's a choice. So all of these choices add up to explain to somebody what kind of veterinarian you are. And the last thing I'll say about this in my rant is. People who have a lot of money. Want to spend more money for the things they buy.

Seth (00:10:05) - And so if you want a summer camp and you want wealthy parents, you should charge more because they will come if you charge more. And if you're a veterinarian, yes, this dog is not going to die because you helped. But did the person who brought you the pup feel like they were in the kind of place they like to go and everything else in their life? It's part of the story.

Brandon (00:10:29) - That's really good points and that's super interesting that you bring that up in the veterinary industry in general. They're very much against discounting and also they've been very resistant to marketing in general. So that's like a passing of a guard right now where they're going from the people that are coming.

Seth (00:10:46) - I'm going to interrupt you. They might not discount, but they're marketing whether they know it or not or not, Right. The worst vets I've been to are marketing. They're just terrible at absolutely 100%.

Brandon (00:10:58) - But they really dislike discounting. And the thing that they try to do is communicate that they care more. But the thing about that is everybody cares in the industry, right? Because that's why they're in there.

Brandon (00:11:09) - And so most people that are their outward marketing, whether it's their website or whatever it is that they're doing, could just be replaced by the vet practice down the street. So how do you think people should stand out so that, number one, they can charge the prices that they want to you? And number two, that they actually are unique and not just interchangeable.

Seth (00:11:33) - Okay, We'll do the second one first. The best way to be unique is to be unique. And all these people who are saying they want to stand out are also desperate to fit in because that's what they got indoctrinated to do at vet school and everything else. So you really it's really hard to have it both ways. The average professional in every field is average. That's another word for mediocre. That's what they do. They want to be interchangeable. They do that on purpose. And so, you know, there's a story told of a chiropractor who built a multi-million dollar practice. And the way he did it was he did the chiropractic work in public in a shopping mall.

Seth (00:12:13) - Everyone walking by could see him doing his work. And the chiropractic community is up in arms. This is unprofessional and everything else. Okay, fine. Don't do it that way. But he did it that way. His patients knew he was doing it that way, and he demystified the thing for a lot of people. I don't think that's a gimmick. I think that's part of his story. Right? That I have nothing to hide. And you're going to watch me fix somebody in two minutes and see the expression on their face. Maybe you'll want to do it, too, right? So. What that gets to is. Why on earth would someone tell somebody else about. Their veterinarian. Most of the time it's because the veterinarian made a horrible error or it was really obnoxious. Those are easy stories to tell. Those aren't going to help you. But if the veterinarian cares, does what they said they were going to do, why would I tell another dog owner that I'm not going to do that? So that leads to this idea of discounting.

Seth (00:13:11) - Now, the absolute price of what people pay for veterinary care and dog food have gone through the roof. But we still buy dog food and we still take our pups to the vet. So we're not talking about the absolute price. We're talking about the relative price compared to what some people an enormous number of people respond extremely well to discounts that they don't necessarily go to a thrift bakery, but they happily go to the outlet mall to buy Ralph Lauren stuff. Ralph Lauren sells more clothes in the outlet than they sell Ralph Lauren stores, for example. So if your goal is to have a practice that grows and you want to reach people who love discounts, then just build discounts into what you do. And there are lots of ways to do that. One way you could do that is. If you have a patient who's come a bunch of times, a customer has come a bunch of times with their pup and they like you, hand them a certificate, says you can give this to any friend you want for a free head to tail diagnostic.

Seth (00:14:15) - It's a $500 coupon. Here you go. Just take it. Give it to someone you like. You can't use it yourself, so you might as well give it to somebody, right? Or if you say to people, dogs get better, if they come three times a year instead of twice a year, the third time you come, it's half price. So people now want to, you know, got my teeth clean the other day. I happily pay my dentist for an annual subscription, which means that every other one of my cleanings is free. Well, I get why my dentist wants to do that. It's good for them to do that. Not just because they care about my teeth, but because if he discovers something in my teeth, I'm sitting right in the chair and now he can fix it. So we don't do these things to people. We do them for people. So that's the first way to think about it. The second thing is instead of saying, how am I going to charge extra for nail clipping or, you know, giving a dog a Lyme disease test.

Seth (00:15:15) - Perhaps it's worth thinking about the fact that you are the person in the world who the pet owner most trusts. So what other services can you offer them that people who are affiliated with you can perform? Because if that poodle I just found out poodle have poodles have hair. Not fur fur. Not hair. I'm fascinated by this. If that if that poodle needs to be groomed three times a year, I don't want someone with a DVM doing it, but I want someone who trusts to do it. And I'm talking to the vet right now. So open that thing right next door. And so when we think about all the services that people want that are associated with their dog, you'll get paid well for that. And in fact, you could lower the price you charge for actual sick animals by offering more benefits to people who have, well, animals.

Brandon (00:16:14) - Absolutely makes makes sense. And one one thing kind of related to that that I've not really heard you talk about that I can remember anyways would be about pricing.

Brandon (00:16:26) - I know when you talk about pricing, you talk to the race to the bottom, you know, there's no point in being the second lowest priced person. But in your opinion, is it dramatically more advantageous to be the most expensive in the market or is it just more about what that pricing tells a story about the brand, in your opinion?

Seth (00:16:46) - So if you go to Seth's blog, you can search for the word pricing and you'll find dozens and dozens of posts. But in my opinion, in most communities, I think if you can charge more and deserve it, you will probably do better. Particularly if you are selling something like time because you can't make more time. Now it's hard to charge more and deserve it. So there are restaurants in New York City that charge more, and it's not any better than what you could, like, reheat at home. But there are other restaurants in New York that charge more where the experience is breathtaking. That means you have to invest a lot in the experience.

Seth (00:17:30) - So the veterinarian that I take our pup to charges more. I go there at first because I'm the kind of person whose relationship to the dog and my relationship with money is I don't want to go to a discount veterinarian. I want to go to one that charges more because I will demand more. But since they got acquired by some giant chain, their their phoning it in and it's hassle to deal with them and I don't have the same experiences that I used to. They're about to lose a really valuable customer because, you know, I've been going for more than 15 years and they're not seeing it because they think of price as a weapon, not as an honest way to tell people who you are.

Brandon (00:18:19) - Definitely. That's super interesting that the that you were working with got acquired. And that's when I think one of the biggest problems that the industry is facing right now is consolidation and acquisition. And I see it as a massive race to the bottom. And I used to work with some rather large corporate groups doing advertising for them, and I just despised it.

Brandon (00:18:44) - And so because it was just terrible. But with that, I think there's just a, number one, a lot of opportunities because it is a race to the bottom, but it's also really difficult and scary when you think about the consolidation. It seems like everything is being consolidated. What do you think are the biggest opportunities or I guess, ways to survive through this race to the bottom when it seems scary? And I'm sure that it seems more scary than it is just because of what you talked about, right, where that service isn't being given. So it's just well, it's it's scary. It's also an opportunity. What would would you say to veterinary practices in the world where everything is going to consolidation? I mean, it's a big problem.

Seth (00:19:33) - Okay. So. I don't think we're going to run out of jobs for veterinarians.

Brandon (00:19:38) - No shortage. It's a massive shortage, actually.

Seth (00:19:41) - So I think there are two things going on here. One, do you want to be a small business owner? And two, do you want to do veterinary work? Right now, most of the people listening to this are both.

Seth (00:19:49) - Which means you may have a lousy boss because you, the small business owner, hired you, the veterinarian, and you're not doing a very good job of being a small business owner. You don't have to sell if you don't want to. But the best way to not sell is to have as your motto. You'll pay a lot, but you get more than you pay for. And you can't shrink your way to greatness. If you want to be independent and plot your own course. As you pointed out, you can't run the race to the bottom because the big company will beat you every time you have to run the Race to the Top. And there are lots and lots of ways to do that, but don't look to other veterinarians for how to do it. Look for other places where folks have raced to the top. Why is it that you pay $80 for a bottle of wine instead of 20, even though you can't tell them apart in a blind taste test? Why is it then, when you bought your spouse a piece of jewelry, you paid extra for it coming in a blue box, even though the blue box isn't something that they wear, right? There's all of these elements that are available to you.

Seth (00:20:50) - This book not named after anybody in the veterinary profession. Purple cow is filled with 400 examples of how you do that. And so it's right there in front of you. You're just fighting it because what you really want is to get paid a lot, to be left alone, to just be a veterinarian. And I applaud you for wanting to do that. But you're not gonna unless you become the kind of small business that people want to pay extra for.

Brandon (00:21:17) - That, definitely. And I think it would lend itself to creating a better workplace to, in your book, some significance. I just read it, by the way, Amazing book. And it's since I'm working in the veterinary industry all the time, I feel like that's the problems that I focus on. And I didn't realize that problems that the veterinary industry faces from a workplace burnout. They have a very high suicide rate, unfortunately. Oh, it's like four times the national average.

Seth (00:21:48) - Sorry.

Brandon (00:21:49) - It's a big problem in in the industry, which is pretty surprising.

Brandon (00:21:54) - There's I think it's a mix of being really compassionate, having a really demanding, difficult job. Um, massive amounts of debt and all kinds of other problems. But I think.

Seth (00:22:07) - That access to life and death plus access to various chemicals.

Brandon (00:22:12) - Absolutely. Yeah, exactly. Access to chemicals is a big problem. But I feel like a lot of the problems that they're facing would be alleviated by choosing better clients. And one of your posts, the Choose your Clients, Choose Your change Your life was one of them. And I, I just can't resonate then resonates so well with creating a better workplace too. So. Right.

Seth (00:22:38) - If you're not if you're not saying to the bottom 5% of your customers by bottom I mean annoying. Hassle you arguing, not paying. If you don't say to them. We think a different service could serve you better. Here's a phone number. If somebody else, then you're not actually. Serious about choosing your customers. That's number one. Get rid of the bad customers. And number two, figure out where you could show up to get the good customers.

Seth (00:23:13) - And there are so many ways you can do that because. It's not a private thing like a massage. Anyone who has a pet shows their pet off in public. They're not hard to find these people and they tend to talk to each other. So where are they located? Geographically or culturally or whatever it is. And when you find great clients, they hold you to a higher standard. They eagerly pay what you ask and they tell other people and you have a limited number of people you can serve. There's a shortage of veterinarians, so get picky. Work your way up. Don't just sit there saying you have to take whatever comes because you don't.

Brandon (00:23:55) - And they I think that they have a feeling like they. Um, kind of have to serve everybody. And you have the don't see Rabbit's example in. I think it's this is marketing. Um, but they feel like they do have to see like what's going to happen to the rabbit if they don't see it, you know, somebody.

Seth (00:24:18) - Else will see the rabbit.

Brandon (00:24:20) - That's a good point.

Seth (00:24:21) - Right? Like we don't hear any cases of. Pet owners who have been ostracized by the entire industry. And I think it's different if it's an emergency, if some some creature's been hit by a car. That's not what I'm talking about. What I'm talking about is almost all the care you do for almost all your patients is, well, animal care. Well, animal care is a privilege. It's not a right. And if the customer doesn't earn it. Eagerly, generously and kindly send them somewhere else.

Brandon (00:24:58) - Absolutely. And I think that would have a big impact on everybody in the practice, too. And so it takes courage to make that decision. And it feels scary, but it is necessary and. How would you suggest that that people go about really like practically defining those kinds of customers and that experience? Is there something you feel like is you've seen works really well for for small businesses?

Seth (00:25:28) - Here is the biggest thing you got to do is decide whether you're in charge of your practice or not.

Seth (00:25:33) - If you just say I pay my rent. Patients walk in, the staff comes, I get the best staff I can. That's. And then the rest of the day, I'm a veterinarian. You've completely abdicated responsibility for the change you seek to make for the people you seek to serve. For the story you want to tell. What are things like around here? My friend Will wrote a book called Unreasonable Hospitality, and I strongly suggest it. And you know, people are still telling the story of when one of the five best restaurants in the world. He overheard a couple saying that they missed on this trip to New York, the hot dog that they usually buy in the street. And he, you know, got the whole team together. And before dinner was over, they had put on China a hot dog that they had found someone selling on the street, like in less than 15 minutes. The effort involved in that is hospitality. People already have enough food. People already have a place to get their dog or cat taken care of.

Seth (00:26:36) - What are you doing? That's special. Does it light you up to do that? Does it let you up to figure out how to put in the extra cycles so that you can charge more but be worth it? Because yeah, you're kind and you're skilled? I get it. Everybody in this industry tries to be those things, but you can't charge extra for that anymore. You have to figure out what are you going to do is going to change the mental state of the person who's paying you and make them glad they came to see you. How many other vets did they pass on their way to your office? Because if it's zero, well, then you're just the local one. It's fine. But you shouldn't be listening to this podcast. It's not going to help you.

Brandon (00:27:17) - Absolutely. So what I want to ask you about AI with respect to marketing. And in a world where it is just becoming more affordable to create massive amounts of content and marketing touchpoints are going to be increasing through the roof.

Brandon (00:27:35) - How do you think a local business should stand out? And also, what kind of impact do you think this should have on the marketing that they do?

Seth (00:27:47) - I think that I, for the next bunch of cycles, is going to replace every mediocre thing people do. So if you're a mediocre copywriter or a mediocre illustrator or mediocre musician or mediocre, name it. I can get a computer to do it for free. So if you want to stay mediocre, you should get as much as you can producing as much crap as you can. Or you should say we are signing up to do things in I cannot do. And either you're going to work for AI or AI is going to work for you. So if you want to do things that an AI cannot do, you need to get smart about how AI works and put it to work. Doing all the average mediocre stuff you used to waste your time on.

Brandon (00:28:35) - That's a really brilliant answer I think, to that. Hey, guys, going to replace mediocre veterinarians to mean the.

Seth (00:28:47) - The I mean, it's already working on radiologists that we are very close to the point where an AI can read an x ray of a fractured wrist, at least as well as an average radiologist. And if that's true, after only a couple of years, it's going to be better than almost all radiologists at reading fractured wrists pretty soon.

Brandon (00:29:10) - Do you feel like it's a tool, like an analogy between a shovel and an excavator where it just makes the mundane work done more quickly? Or do you think that it shouldn't be done if it's mundane? So, for example, like, let's say you're writing a reminder email sequence for people coming to visit and stuff, right? Most veterans don't even have it because they just are so busy running their their business. And so on one hand, they could set up an AI to go and write an email sequence to remind them to come in. But on the other hand, it's more shoveling of dirt. You know, it's excavator instead of a shovel. What do you what do you think?

Seth (00:29:50) - So I had two parts.

Seth (00:29:51) - My you said they're too busy running their practice. Excuse me if you're too busy. To write. An email reminder sequence. You're not actually running your practice because that is what running your practice is. Either hire somebody to run your practice or do it yourself. But figuring out how to make someone glad they got the emails is the work. Yeah, and I is not going to do that. And you're probably too busy to learn anyway. If you're too busy to just write an email. Here's what I want. What I want is. To be known and understood. So the place where I used to go to the dentist had a big TV in the waiting room, and they also had a big TV in the examination room. And I don't watch TV and the stuff that they were putting on it, it was really annoying. So I mentioned it just quietly to the receptionist one day. And from then on, every time I went, the televisions were off. Because for me it was a TV off place and for the next person it was a on place.

Seth (00:30:59) - Didn't cost them anything to do that except caring, except paying attention. So if you really want me to come back, not because you got to make another payment on your kid's college education, but because it's the right thing for me to do for my pup. Make it so that I want to read that email. And if all it is, is a generic AI generated email, I don't want to read it. And either that or figure out how to automate so much of it that it's just magically pops up in my calendar and it's not an email at all. Right. But you're going to have to start doing the hard work of dancing in a useful way with your customers. If you don't, a conglomerate will.

Brandon (00:31:40) - A lot of the people in the veterinary industry that are building practices and creating something valuable when they get to the end of their career, the options to sell are typically just the people that they were fighting against the whole time. What do you think is the solution to that major problem from a marketing perspective? Do you think there's any solution? That would be helpful that you can think of to to that massive problem.

Seth (00:32:13) - Well. I'm not sure why it's a problem to sell to your enemy if the goal is to sell for the highest price. If your goal is not to sell for the highest price, but to maintain in some level of perpetuity the thing you built, then you would do what most small businesses do, which is bring on a new generation of vets and have them earn their ownership of the place over the course of a few years and sell that way. But the point is, if you're a small business person and a veterinarian, the veterinarian gets paid by the hour and is busy being a vet. Small business person gets paid by the year and is building an asset. And when you're done being a small business person, you're entitled to sell that asset. You can sell it to the highest bidder or you can sell it to the next generation. But. A life of 40 years of building an asset. If it's a grind for you, go work for somebody and go back to being a vet. If you love it, if you get joy out of running a small business, the selling will take care of itself.

Seth (00:33:19) - Don't sweat it, but don't have miserable decades so that you can sell an asset at the end and have a good year. I don't think that's a good idea.

Brandon (00:33:29) - Make that make sense. One one thing that I would like your input on would be the level of perfectionism that that veterans have. I think it just has a nature of their business and then also their schooling. They typically don't ship any work because it's not perfect. And if they can't do it perfectly and, you know, all of the things that come with that, what what is your. Best advice for them so that they can create more meaningful.

Seth (00:34:02) - There is so much nonsense in this narrative that I have to just dismantle it. Okay, let's start with this. Perfectionism has nothing to do with perfect perfectionism is a form of hiding. Perfectionism is a way to say morally, I am off the hook because I can prove that this isn't perfect. Yet the reason has nothing to do with perfect is it's well agreed that the Lexus is the highest quality car ever made.

Seth (00:34:32) - And if we look at every single any part of a Lexus with an electron microscope, it's defective. So there's no such thing as perfect. There's not a perfect sphere anywhere. Even at the Bureau of Weights and Measures, there's not a perfect bottle of wine or a perfect anything. Miles Davis made Kind of Blue, one of the greatest jazz albums of all time in four days. And if he had spent 40 days, he could have evened out some notes. And it would have been worse. So you need to get off the high horse and never use the word perfect again because it's absurd. The second thing is either the work you're doing is for you or it's for somebody else. If you're doing work for somebody else, whether it's a puppy or an owner. Well, that's generous. If you didn't do it, their lives wouldn't get better. So when you hold back, you are stealing. You are stealing from the person you are here to help. How dare you? You signed up for this because you want to help.

Seth (00:35:28) - So get out of your own way. Stop using your fear as an excuse to be perfect and instead understand that quality does not mean perfect. Quality means meeting spec. What is the spec? Right? If you can figure out what good enough is, then by definition good enough is good enough.

Brandon (00:35:52) - Absolutely. That definitely makes sense. I think that's. A really, really important distinction. And so many people in the veterinary industry feel frustrated because the content that there is typically being distributed is not being distributed by people who are knowledgeable about what they're talking about because they're willing to ship stuff. It gets out there. So I guess one of the one of the questions that I would have is, do you feel that with just the tremendous amount of of content that's getting put out there, do you think that people should, especially as AI gets more just pervasive in terms of putting out content, do you think people should shoot for consistency or volume or or both when it comes to running their small business? Like, where do you think that's.

Seth (00:36:46) - I think what's behind your question is adding a third job to the veterinarian's role, which is publisher slash pundit slash writer. And I guess the theory of that is if you put enough content online, people will find you. It's some sort of hard one. Yellow Pages ad? Yeah, I don't think that's if I was a vet, my web page would be one page long. And I wouldn't write anything.

Brandon (00:37:11) - What would you put on it?

Seth (00:37:13) - These are my hours. Here's my phone number. I answered the phone myself. Right. It's. I would say. Just like every other industry where there are people of privilege who demand a certain level of care and focus and pay for it. That's who I'm serving. And I have a limited number of patient slots and it gives me the freedom to not work 90 hours a week. It gives me the power to say to my worst clients, think you need to go now? And it gives me the time to treat people in a way that they will talk about.

Seth (00:37:50) - And I've seen this work with people in this industry. Someone I know adopted a dog. Six weeks ago, they brought the dog to her house. Three different dogs let them play around. And she took one, Right? Instead of saying you have to drive 80 miles to go pick it up. Well, you can't do that for every single person. I understand that. But you can do it for them. And so there's all these opportunities to figure out where you want to serve and how you want to serve. If you want to spend one day a week working for free for pet owners who live in neighborhoods where they can't afford an expensive vet, please do. Two days a week, four days a week, I don't care. But you could find enough confidence to lead the Race to the Top. You've seen other people do it. There's no reason you can't do it.

Brandon (00:38:43) - Yeah. The forest is full of sick animals for sure, right? Absolutely. That makes a lot of sense. I guess the last question that I would have is from a practical standpoint, I think advertising is necessary for some practices, right? And I do that and I help.

Brandon (00:39:04) - What kind of a mix between marketing and advertising do you think a local business should do?

Seth (00:39:12) - I think it totally depends. You know, I've sold millions of books and haven't run an ad in 20 years. My wife's chain of bakeries, 100 employees, five locations, 100 Whole Foods. She doesn't run ads. So there are other people I know who run ads and make them work. I don't think there's a rule of thumb that I could share that has the right answer.

Brandon (00:39:36) - Definitely makes definitely makes sense. Well, I really appreciate your insight with respect to creating a workplace that. Is making a difference. And all of the things that you wrote about in song. Of significance. I really think it is something that goes really hand in hand with marketing, right? So if you create a workplace that brings the right customers, it's going to create a workplace where people feel significant, like they're doing important work and things like that. But so I would just suggest everybody goes reads that new book because it's amazing.

Brandon (00:40:12) - I really appreciate your time and I just can't thank you enough for all of the insight that you give your work. I'm glad that you publish every day because you're training ChatGPT to be more Seth Godin, which is good. So really.

Seth (00:40:28) - Appreciate you. You're very kind, Brendan. Thank you for leading. And to everyone who's listening to this, thank you for taking care of our friends. I appreciate it.

Brandon (00:40:37) - And I guess last question. What kind of a dog do you have?

Seth (00:40:40) - Always in mind?

Brandon (00:40:41) - Always in mind. Every time. Perfect. Thank you.

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Brandon Breshears
Digital Marketer & Podcaster
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