ABSTRACT: In struggling times, nurses may be called upon by their employers to think of ways to promote business for their practice. The aim of this article is to provide ideas and methods for nurses to implement. These include SMART and SWOT analyses and marketing strategies, such as open days, social networks and local advertisement. Through this it is hoped nurses can promote business and become practice managers and owners.

The aim of this article is to provide examples through which nurses can aid in promoting business and to encourage them to do so.1

SMART and SWOT analyses

As a starting point, it may be beneficial to perform both SMART and SWOT analyses. A SMART (Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Realistic and Timed) analysis can be used to plan business objectives and aims. It allows regulation of the business and provides guidance for achieving the objectives that have been set.2

Table 1 gives an example of a SMART analysis.

A SWOT (Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities and Threats) analysis can be used to help examine problems and analyse factors within the practice.3

Table 2 gives an example of a SWOT analysis and a useful layout.

Both of these analyses could result in new ideas and new business strategies being implemented. Identifying hard-working employees as a strength and opportunity in a SWOT analysis will often result in the implementation of a business strategy that will help to gain a good reputation.4

A SMART analysis could then be used to provide guidance on achieving the business strategy.


Once SMART and SWOT analyses have been completed, and business objectives have been set, marketing can then be started to promote business strategies to achieve those objectives.

Communication is essential for effective marketing, so a strategy that puts a message out to clients and the community will be beneficial. Several marketing methods can be utilised.5

Open days

An open day is a great way to market the practice. Not only is it an opportunity to invite local media to publicise the practice, it also allows the business to show off its premises and equipment to potential new clients and to existing ones.6 

It will also show that the practice is open and approachable. This is beneficial, as the most opportune time to promote the practices services and products is when the client is in the vicinity.3

With National VN Awareness Month being held between the 1st and 31st July, hosting an open day at this time not only provides the opportunity to promote the practice but also to make the community and clients more aware of the role of the veterinary nurse as well as the importance of nurses within the practice.7

Newspapers and leaflets

Advertisements to promote the practice can be placed in local or national newspapers. This often proves effective, as it reminds the community of the practices name and may be easily viewed by large numbers of people.8 Leaflets can be produced and handed out in reception or sent with booster reminders to assist further in promoting the practice.

Information in newspapers and leaflets should include details of the services, address and telephone information, opening hours and location of the practice.

Electronic newsletter

An electronic newsletter should be used to promote the identity of the practice and make clients aware of the services and products it provides. It is an inexpensive form of advertising.8

Consideration is needed when thinking about the information that can be included – for example, remarkable case studies and the details of what was involved could be publicised (with the permission of the pet owner), showing clients the full capabilities of the practice.9

Once a newsletter has been created, it can be offered to clients as a service and they should be encouraged to sign up when they visit the practice, or at events such as open days.

Social networks

A logical progression beyond electronic newsletters is the use of social networking sites. The purpose of these networks is to interact with people and to communicate directly with them.10 The same information that was given in a newsletter – case studies, for instance – can be utilised; but such a site can go further and encourage more client involvement.

For example, the practice could use it to run competitions or ask the clients to post photos of their pets. By doing this, it allows the practice to involve the community and build relationships which can ultimately result in more profitable visits from clients.10


Producing a display for the waiting room is also very effective. Colourful and bright displays attract attention, and a large display means clients are more likely to look at it! Use plenty of pictures to illustrate the message as they will make an impact – and people have a great ability to remember images.11


If the practice has an interesting story to tell or event to promote, try using the local media. Research will be required to find out whom to contact so the story/event is more likely to be publicised and time is not wasted. However, it is advisable not to hassle the media representatives because they may then be reluctant to deal with the practice at a later date.9

Remember too that radio advertisements can be made quickly and moderately cheaply.1

Nurse clinics

Taking the time to discuss an animal’s needs with the client will build a positive relationship, which can then lead to their returning to the practice and recommending it to others.4 The clinics can also be used as opportunities to discuss and promote the services the practice provides – clients won’t buy products or services if they are not offered.12

From experience, this approach has proven to be very effective in bonding a client to a practice. For example, at the end of a consultation the nurse can ask the client if there is anything else they need or anything with which she/he can help. So, for instance, what is the flea or worming status, or does the animal need its nails clipping or anal glands emptying? 


Sarah Huckfield BSc (Hons) RVN MBVNA

Sarah graduated from Middlesex University/Royal Veterinary College/College of Animal Welfare in 2011, gaining a BSc(Hons) Degree in Veterinary Nursing. She has an interest in exotics and wildlife, nurse consults and practice promotion.

To cite this article use either

DOI: 10.1111/j.2045-0648,20
12.00194.x or Veterinary Nursing Journal Vol 27 pp 267-268


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Further reading

MULLINS. A. [2005] Organisational goals, strategy and responsibility. In: L. Mullins led.] Management and Organisation Behaviour. [7th edn]. England: Financial Times. Prentice Hall, pp. 144-185

• VOL 27 • July 2012 • Veterinary Nursing Journal