This post comes to us from the incredible Dr. Jessica Vogelsang.
A few months ago, I saw a post in a veterinary group from a veterinarian panicked that she had been asked to write one blog post a month for her clinic. At first, I thought, “What’s the big deal?” and then I remembered that I am only one of a handful of people who actually look forward to writing.
Marketing a veterinary clinic is tough work. Many people tasked with content creation also juggle other job requirements, get little to no formal training, and find themselves racing against the clock at the end of an already long day trying to figure out what to write. I get it. And I also understand how helpful blogging is for building SEO and, most importantly (to me at least), building trust and a relationship with your clients.
So that got me thinking about ways you can hack content you already have lying around to improve your blog content with minimal work. Did I mention I enjoy free time too? I don’t want you pounding the keys at midnight when you should be asleep. Let’s break this down:
You need to use two types of writing in your blog to create engaging content that still educates. Expository writing is the learning part: the facts, the description of a disease process, the types of treatments offered. You see this writing in client handouts, textbooks, and newspaper articles.
Narrative writing is precisely what it sounds like: as if you can hear a voice talking to you directly. It has a point of view, uses “you, we, our” a lot, and if you haven’t noticed is my preferred way to write. Narrative writing tells a story. It is the type of writing people naturally engage with. As an author (and if you write a blog post, you are an author! Congratulations, it’s fun to get to call yourself that), you have your own unique voice that you bring to your writing. It’s challenging for someone else to replicate.
Most content I read on blogs is expository writing, and on the surface, that makes sense. As medical professionals and educators, our natural inclination is to want to teach. But in a blog, which is meant to enhance the relationship you have with your own clients, you want to be putting out content that helps connect readers to you. So how do you do that?
If you are a WhiskerCloud client, you already know the team works hard to produce content relevant to our audiences. You have a collection of excellent educational posts already at your disposal. That being said, the writers aren’t in your clinic and don’t get to see the transformations you are a part of every day. So I thought and thought about this and had a lightbulb moment, which I call The Story Sandwich.
Think of the educational content as a hamburger patty. It’s the meat of the post. But most people don’t want to pick up a hamburger patty with their fingers and start gnawing away, so you need a nice fluffy vehicle to help you get that burger comfortably in your hands. The story is the bun.
All you need to do is take a look at your content and think of a patient who had the condition being discussed. What did they look like when they came in? That’s the top bun. How did they feel after the treatment? Bottom bun.
Let’s use dental disease as an example. You could start right off with “Dental disease is one of the most common medical diagnoses in veterinary medicine, affecting 50% of dogs by age 3.” It’s a fine thing to say. But what if you lead in with this instead:
“When Gerry first walked into the clinic, his owners said they could smell his breath from a mile away. His teeth were encased in hard brown tartar, and his gums were an angry red. As a pug, he’s a breed predisposed to dental disease to begin with, so we were so happy Gerry’s owners gave us the opportunity to help him with his teeth.” Use the patient’s presentation as an introduction to your content.
Then you introduce your facts and figures.
Lastly, now that everyone knows what’s going on and is emotionally vested in Gerry, you wrap it up in the bottom bun- the happy ending.
“After making sure Gerry was in otherwise good health, we placed him under anesthesia and got to work. Based on his x-rays, we determined which teeth were healthy, and found a few that needed to be removed.
A week later, he returned for a recheck, and his owner said she couldn’t believe the transformation. “He’s like a puppy!” she said. Freed of the burden of a painful mouth, Gerry had rediscovered his energy and joy de vivre.”
End with your call to action- Call us if your dog needs a dental makeover! – and you have yourself the perfect story sandwich.
If you have permission from Gerry’s owners to use his name and photo on the post, fantastic. If not, change his name, his breed, and anything that could be used to identify his owner because that’s the respectful thing to do. If you don’t have the perfect patient example to use, make one up using a combination of patients. That’s called a composite character, like Gerry. It’s my preferred technique and also used by another vet whose name you might recognize- James Herriot. In the reader’s eyes, real or not, it doesn’t matter. What matters is the story.
By doing this, you can take the content you already have and jazz it up, so people engage with it in a stronger way and understand exactly what the stakes are when they bring their pet to you. And it’s fast! Give it a try and let me know how it goes. Happy sandwich making!