Valley Vet Supply is a name recognizable to many in the livestock and equine business as a go-to for their animal health and nutrition supplies. And rightfully so. A pair of veterinarians recognized the need of its customers and created the mail-order retailer for veterinary supplies in the small north central Kansas town of Marysville in 1985. In 1999, their online store, www.valleyvet.com went live, making them one of the early adapters of e-commerce, and today, they sell livestock, equine and pet products from coast-to-coast, including BioZyme® small pack products.
Keeping at the forefront of their customers has always been a priority for Valley Vet and is one reason they have adapted so well to technology. Although this nationally recognized company has a massive web and social media presence, personal service has always been a priority, explains Kori Simmons, Director of Marketing. She said that the veterinarians, Drs. Ray Shultz and Arnold Nagely, still come to work daily, and are available to answer customer phone calls, something they both enjoy.
However, with the number of clients that Valley Vet serves and the diversity of their products, it has adapted its marketing program to include more information through video on its social media platforms. Simmons said this has proven to be a successful way to partner with its vendors and reach its customers.
“Do not underestimate the power of video. In today’s day and age, people are less apt to read and more apt to watch a 30-second video – short, quick and to the point. It’s better to have five 30-second videos that are broken up than to have a five-minute video,” Simmons said.
Simmons said their marketing team realized the power of video compared to a typical post when they were analyzing engagement. So, they started using more video with simple giveaways and sweepstakes by partnering with some of their vendors. However, with COVID-19, the realization that their customers were looking for information, helped them transition their video content, and they saw an even greater boost in their customer engagement.
Prior to COVID, Simmons said their vendors and partners would come in to train the Valley Vet call center and marketing teams to ensure everyone was saying the right things to end-users. Once that came to a halt, they realized the need to continue to get their messages out to their customers, so they started producing Facebook Live sessions with their vendors.
“We started partnering with our vendors, and what we started doing was less of an infomercial and more of an educational focus. With a product focus versus topic focus that fills in with some product information, the engagement was night and day different. Since COVID, our engagement is up about 50%, and really and truly the only thing that has changed is our video engagement,” Simmons said.
Valley Vet typically has between 50 to 100 people watch each Live video, with a growing number of those being a regular following. She said it is not unusual for them to have 30,000 views after the Live is over. They have had great success keeping a regular time and day for their Facebook Lives, Tuesday and Thursday at 3:30 p.m. This helps them measure and compare engagement by keeping a consistent time and cadence.
Simmons recommends getting all speakers online about 30 minutes before your Facebook Live to test sound, lighting and background. Make sure that the background isn’t distracting; you might need to clean your office or go to a room with fewer windows if it is too bright. Make sure you have a speaker with a good personality, and one that can answer the questions that are asked. And make sure you have a person to monitor questions, even after the Live program.
“Make sure to actively monitor customer questions. Put yourself out there to answer questions. Make sure it happens,” Simmons reminds.
Although Valley Vet sometimes does prerecord and edit videos to post, the engagement on their live videos is just too good. Simmons said their engagement is usually quadruple on a live video what it is on a prerecorded video that they put on social media. She advises keeping prerecorded videos for product focus on your website, but to keep them short and to make sure they are updated as any changes are made.
Regardless the size of your business, you can make a big impression with Facebook Live and prerecorded videos. Follow the advice that Simmons offers to grow your customer engagement. Video is a tool that is here to stay!