Second Chance Animal Services (SCAS) goes beyond you're typical animal service provider. They provide a range of services from adoption to veterinarian. Due to their broad offerings, their competition includes both the animal sheltering industry and veterinarian industry. The history of low cost spay and neuter clinics only date back to the 70s, but a lot has changed in the way these industries offer and promote their services. This includes the rising use of social media to promote services. The following research emphasizes the importance of promoting competitive advantages through an enhanced use of social media pages.
The research covers the different means in which competitors promote their services and similar benefit values. Through our meeting with the client we came to the understanding that to gain a greater reach of participation they needed a new, enhanced approach. So, the specific problem our consulting group will be addressing is the written completion of a high quality marketing plan. Background and competition are two important sections of a marketing plan and research with an emphasis on those two topics will enhance it. The goal of this marketing plan is to acquire new clients, donors, and volunteers while improving awareness of SCAS's services and competitive advantages. The marketing plan will address specific solutions.
The problem SCAS presented our consulting group with was the need for donor activity and a strong social media presence promoting their veterinary services. As one of the only services in Massachusetts who provides subsidized/need based veterinary pricing to those who qualify, SCAS often absorbs many of the costs associated with the care of an animal during the extent of their stay in its facility. This could include anything from initial shots to any wounds or health complications an animal may have. Additionally, because they were a shelter first, SCAS wants to overcome the impression many have of SCAS being ‘just a shelter'. To do this they need to promote their additional services. Their additional services give them the competitive advantage over their competition so promoting this is important in gaining greater awareness. This is especially relevant on social media.
Second Chance Animal Services and Industry Background
SCAS is nationally recognized for providing innovative programs, and a range of services to assist the well-being and lives of as many animals as they can through physical and financial support. They started their organization in 1999, originally, only as an adoption service. SCAS is a no-kill, non-profit charitable 501c3 organization. Over 34,000 pets have been helped through adoption, low cost spay/neuter, high quality veterinary care for all, subsidized rates for those that qualify, community outreach, educational programs, training, a pet food pantry, and many other programs and services. (https://www.secondchanceanimals.org/mission-statement.html) The mission of SCAS is multifaceted, reflecting how much they offer the community
o Temporary shelter to stray, abandoned, and surrendered animals
o Assistance and financial aid
o Low/no cost general veterinary services to those who qualify
o Rescues assistance and information
• To support
o A healthy pet community
o Responsible animal husbandry
• To establish
o Cross-referral networks
The work of organizations similar to SCAS have been around fighting for the rights and well-being of animals since the 70s. In 1971, the first low cost spay and neuter clinic opened for many to get the specific healthcare needed for pets and homeless animals entering shelters (Rowan, A, N). Many were able to follow the example. Following, the number of pets seen in shelters had dropped dramatically. In the 90s, many private practice veterinarians had begun offering young animal health programs, including spay/neuter practices playing an important role in wellness exams. Spay and neutering became a new norm. The humane society believes this resulted in the number of shelter dogs declining (Rowan, A. N). Today, data shows an increase in adoption and a decline in euthanasia (Rowan, A. N, Kartal, T), researchers believe this reflects the trend of ‘pets as family members' Figure 1.
Low Cost Care Reduces Animals in Shelters
Elements of SCAS and the animal service provider industry that are relevant or useful in answering SCAS's business question include the ongoing positive results of low cost/need based pricing in limiting the number of animals ending up in a shelter (Rowan, A. N). It emphasizes the need for donors in order to increase their participation to facilitate SCAS in assisting need based clients. Donors need to be made aware of the impact their dollars make. Once aware, they will feel empowered and driven to help in other ways.
Competition, Promotion Techniques, & Benefit Values Aligned with SCAS
During our meeting with SCAS we identified their main competitor: Dakin Humane (Dakin) Society in Springfield. Dakin, established in 1968, with its inception in 1969, offers many services to animals such as their low cost spay and neuter clinics for pets that opened in 2009 (restricted to dogs under 99 pounds), a weekly vaccination clinic, and other programs such as, providing transportation to and from the spay and neuter clinic and pet training services. However, Dakin is not considered a full-service veterinary provider. Promotion techniques used by Dakin includes ways to get involved accessible on the home page of their website. They also feature a pet, display upcoming events and access to registration, as well as a link to their Facebook page. Through additional research I was able to find their instagram, which was fairly up to date with over 3,000 followers (DAKIN HUMANE SOCIETY, 2013). Other competitors that offer low cost spay and neuter clinics include Worcester Animal Rescue League (WARL) and the Sterling Animal Rescue League. Both promote themselves using different social media channels and provide calls for action on their websites. Though they have helpful programs offered to their communities, neither can provide full veterinary services. (https://www.sterlingshelter.org) (https://worcesterarl.org)
The main competitive advantage SCAS has over their adoption/animal service providing competitors is the full-range veterinary services they offer to all. Few other organizations can compare in this area. However, solo veterinarians must be considered as competition too, including, Westside Animal Clinic and VCA Abbott Vet Hospital. These are full service veterinary providers around Worcester that strictly offer veterinary care. Though they offer vet care they don't provide adoption services, or any of the additional services that SCAS offers. Another competitive advantage, in another industry.
The importance of geographic proximity is considered here as another competitive advantage. Location, distance, and demographic data are determents to one's ability to access different options (Meyners, J., Barrot, C., Becker, J. U., & Goldenberg, J.). Many in Worcester are limited to what they can get to and what they can afford. SCAS works with the geographic proximity of it's clients by offering four locations in addition to it's need based pricing. Some veterinarian services offer multiple locations but can't offer programs like training, need based-pricing or adoption services. Promotion techniques used by the veterinarian competitors include the use of different social media channels and a website.
The research proves the benefit value of SCAS far outweighs it's competition. Specifically, by offering a full range of veterinary and adoption services, among running other programs and events. The organizations listed above offer only the average services in their specific industries.
Conclusion and Recommendations
Using the research gathered, our team will be create a strong marketing plan, offering different strategies to assist in accomplishing SCAS's goals. Some brief recommendations that can be made include enhancing the usage of their social media platforms, and promoting their competitive advantages with new and interactive campaigns and techniques. For example, a social media campaign ran by SCAS could include:
1. Create a post
2. Use picture of SCAS exemplifying a competitive advantage, ex. Vet holding cute puppy
3. Make caption “Repost OR post a picture of your pet after his or her experience with SCAS, tag 3 friends, and #SCAS to be featured on SCAS's story”
This will result in followers reposting and expanding SCAS brand awareness to a new social media following. Through primary research via a meeting with a professional in the marketing industry, it's said that “the key to a good social media strategy is to promote how you are different and why people should choose you and not the competition” (Professor Thomas Murphy). Overall, the focus should be on enhancing the current usage of SCAS's social media platforms. This will help reach their goals of better promotion and increased donor participation.
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