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Client American Association of Veterinary State Boards
Disciplines Marketing

A Product Marketing Medley

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A variety of images showing the marketing work done for AAVSB

The federal government doesn’t regulate the practice of veterinary medicine. That happens at the local level, where each jurisdiction’s “veterinary licensing board” determines who can practice and who can’t. Licensing can be a labyrinth of paperwork and fine print and unique cases. Without a single, agreed-upon set of nationwide standards to turn to, regulation as a means for public safety becomes all the more crucial.

Thankfully, there exists an organization dedicated to efficiency: the American Association of Veterinary State Boards (AAVSB). The AAVSB is a nonprofit based out of Kansas City, and they’re our long-time partner.

The AAVSB doesn’t create veterinary licensing requirements; those are still up to each jurisdiction. Instead, the AAVSB makes the entire licensing ecosystem more efficient, more accurate, and more interesting. They do this, primarily, by offering an ever-expanding buffet of tools and programs—each designed to solve specific pain points for state boards, veterinarians new and old, and veterinary technicians.

Over the last couple of years, we have helped the AAVSB design and launch some of its savviest programs. In the process, we flexed nearly every marketing muscle. Before we jump into describing those, we want to make a solemn promise. We won’t, on porpoise, use any animal puns.

Bolstering the Bedrock

The AAVSB messaging platform pages

No matter what we’re building with our clients—a plan, a campaign, a website, a strategy—we prefer to begin at the bedrock. What’s really the status quo? What’s actually working? What does your technology truly do for you? How do you know that X, Y, and Z are true? What internal marketing scaffolding exists, and is solid enough, to see these new tactics through?

We began by crafting an all-new messaging platform and marketing plan for the AAVSB.

We think of the messaging platform as a set of organizational agreements. It’s a document—10-12 sections spread across 20 pages or so—that takes what an organization has to say to the world and says it in a number of formats. It’s not copywriting. It’s not a plan. It’s a consensus that “this is what is true about our organization, and these are the ways we want to talk about it.”


“It’s easy for small not-for-profits to dive into their mission and put off building a strong marketing foundation. That’s what we did. But as our impact in our community grows, it’s vital that all stakeholders understand our brand and tone. The process of crafting the messaging platform was invaluable as is the finished document. We love it.” – Chrissy Bagby, Senior Director of Membership, Marketing, and Technology

The AAVSB marketing communications plan outlines strategies, tactics, timeline, and budget.

Next, we built a marketing communications plan, meant to complement existing AAVSB efforts. As we wrote in the plan’s Executive Summary:

“… the value of this plan is two-fold. First, it ensures coordinated messaging and branding across all of AAVSB’s upcoming campaigns. Second, it provides a platform for future campaigns. Put another way, we’re drawing all of the house’s blueprints before pouring the foundation.”

The document serves as a natural extension of the messaging platform, as it contains more particulars and specifics. It’s more of a “living document,” and it offers a clear roadmap from moving from “what we have to say” to “how we know we’ve said it well.” After detailing the AAVSB’s position in the marketplace across a number of dimensions, the second half of the plan lists goals for each of the organization’s programs.

Launching a New Product

One of the AAVSB’s latest innovations is a program named “RACEtrack™,” which performs two key functions:

  1. Veterinarians and veterinary technicians can easily track their continuing education (CE) hours—i.e., the annual classes they have to take to maintain their license

  2. The AAVSB Member Boards can easily audit people who are applying for a veterinary license—i.e., see if the applicant has the required CE hours

It’s a potentially disruptive technology—in the truest and best sense of the term—and it arrived loaded with advantages. Chief among these is the fact that RACEtrack is an extension of the RACE™program, which has for years been AAVSB’s most well-known offering (in fact, more people know of RACE than the AAVSB itself).

A great new technology? Linked to a well-known existing technology? Seems like a marketing cake-walk! Except here’s the thing: RACEtrack does something new, something all its own. It may be linked to a popular program but it is fundamentally different. If RACEtrack weren’t launched wisely, it could easily get dismissed as “some random feature announcement.”

Our RACEtrack campaign aimed to establish an identity that perched neatly between (a) the trust the industry already has for the RACE program, and (b) something different enough to be noticeable and usable for a long time.

It was the classic design balancing act. Here’s what we came up with:

AAVSB’s racetrack program materials including print ads and direct mail


We then built a product marketing campaign for RACEtrack. It comprised a multi-channel approach, including social media advertising, print advertising, email marketing, and partner-based promotion. Within the campaign, we tested the use of QR codes, bit.ly short links, and organic content.

Success Metrics - RACEtrack

Within six weeks of the campaign launch, the AAVSB collected 910 new RACEtrack accounts (91% of the original goal) and overwhelmingly exceeded the original goal of a 5% conversion rate. There were 727 sessions to the campaign landing page in total, which showed multiple sign-ups per visit to the page—and resulted in a 125% conversion rate. In addition, there were 364,000 estimated impressions total from the campaign:

LinkedIn
- 26,453 Impressions
JAVMA
- 86,000 Impressions
Email
- 117,435 Impressions
Today’s Vet Practice
- 65,000 Impressions
Today’s Vet Business
- 55,000 Impressions
Pet Vet Magazine
- 12,000 impressions

The RACEtrack program was met with enthusiasm as high volumes of veterinary professionals wanted a centralized database to record all of their continuing veterinary education. In addition, the results proved that channels such as email and JAVMA were worth the partnership and became established as key components to any future campaigns run by the AAVSB.

Developing a New Product

Next up, Veterinary Care Elite™—described as a program “for veterinary professionals who want to demonstrate their commitment to performing at the highest level.” It’s a collection of the most rigorous regulatory standards—a way to help solve the license mobility issue and advance the regulatory process for veterinary medicine.

At the outset of the project, however, the program was known as “VAULT™ Verified,” borrowing part of its name from the existing VAULT program. Unlike RACEtrack, which borrowed its name from an existing, popular program, “VAULT Verified” seemed to require further exploration. Was the name right? Was the program itself fully realized?

So we conducted research. We asked external stakeholders about the program, which (as usual) produced some surprising insights. First, no, the name wasn’t quite right. “VAULT” didn’t enjoy the same nationwide brand awareness as “RACE” does, so re-using “VAULT” for the new program wouldn’t deliver the same injection of automatic brand equity. Further, the name wasn’t descriptive. The program was so new—and so rigorous and so full of authentic gravitas—it needed a name that conveyed its importance in an instant.

So, after plenty of brainstorming and (virtual) white-boarding and revisions, we renamed the program:

The Veterinary Care Elite branding and templates

(We did that logo too.) We think the AAVSB landed on the perfect option. “Veterinary Care Elite” is what it says it is: caring and elite. There’s very little room for confusion when encountering the name. It’s general enough to be useful while obviously being an actual thing, a program. As a bonus, it aligns with other industry acronyms and can stand in for both the program (“Log in to Veterinary Care Elite”) and the person (“I am Veterinary Care Elite”).

With the name and logo in place, we went wide with the branding—delivering the AAVSB logo guidelines that show how Veterinary Care Elite can tier for specific audiences and extend across print and digital collateral.

Like Two Ends of the Same Strand of Spaghetti

Our partnership with the AAVSB is still going strong. We’re honored to be their trusted marketing and design partner, and we enjoy collaborating with them on a range of projects big and small (several of which we didn’t have room for in this case study).

Along the way, we’ve had countless opportunities to demonstrate how powerful communication can become when it strikes a harmonious balance between research, design, and detailed planning. Everything we’ve done with the AAVSB has been in service of expanding and strengthening the veterinary profession, and as you can see here, that’s an honor worth howling about.

Need help with a similar challenge? We’re all ears.

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