Cash-Paying Patient Attraction: What’s Working Today
By Catherine Maley, MBA
From here on out, it will be challenging for any doctor attempting to attract new cash-paying patients to their practice thanks to a lingering recession, Groupons, heavy competition, less Internet traffic due to the sheer number of competitors and fickle aesthetic patients who show little to no loyalty.
Today things are different when it comes to patient attraction. What used to be so easy is now difficult. You know why? Because it was easier! There was less competition, no Groupons and free-flowing credit. Now there are price-shoppers, negotiators, no-shows, and competition like never before.
The demand for aesthetics is still strong and growing. However, the supply of providers has skyrocketed and prospective patients are bombarded with advertising, deals, choices, decisions to make and it all got so complicated.
Another huge development was the birth of social media. It took would-be patients away from mass media advertising like newspapers and TV and sent them online to much smaller, fragmented Internet sites so the patients were everywhere and nowhere. That meant aesthetic practices had to spend more money, time and effort attracting patients to them through new complicated media channels.
But here’s the good news. When massive change happens, that is an opportunity for those who step up and change with the times. Here are strategies to consider:
Blueprint for Success
You have to actually work at and be strategic about attracting the higher-end, cash-paying patient to your dental practice. You can no longer afford or take a patient for granted since they’ll wander off to your competitor (med spa, dermatologist, etc.) who treats them better.
You need to have ZERO ROOM for waste, mistakes, sloppiness, indifference, stupidity, squandered leads and lost patients because you didn?t have the time nor the interest to set up strategic processes.
You can’t leave anything to chance and you certainly can’t “ride out” the slow times because you’ll never get going again. The best of the best set up automatic systems to ensure a healthy and consistent flow of aesthetic patients by focusing on:
- Attracting patients
- Converting patients to say yes
- Returning patients so they don’t wander off
- Referring their friends and family
Brainstorm with your staff to creatively come up with ideas for each area. For example, how could you attract more Botox patients? Well, you can align yourself with the high-end hair salon down the block, you can test Facebook ads, you can send out a reverse-Groupon letter to your current patients, you can have a friendly staff referral contest and so on. There?s no limit to the creative ideas to grow your aesthetic practice when you think creatively. Here are some to consider:
Identify Your Preferred Patients
There is a saying in marketing, “The Riches are in the Niches” which means rather than be everything to everybody, concentrate your efforts on certain groups of patients who are more valuable to you.
For example, older, more mature patients are typically more valuable to you then the younger patient. The older patient has more concerns such as wrinkles and aging teeth. They also have friends who also have the same concerns. And, they are more likely to have the financial wherewithal to afford your services than the younger patient fresh out of college. And, frankly, they are more likely to stay loyal to you when you build a relationship with them and not as eager to jump at the first discount they see from your competitors.
So, spend more of your resources attracting the more mature patient to your practice and developing a relationship with them. Advertise where they are most likely to see it, participate in events they are most likely to attend and communicate with them in a way they are most likely to respond.
Different Marketing Messages to Different Groups of Patients
Your current patient database is a goldmine if you learn to mine it effectively. Sending out one impersonal email to your entire list is not going to give you the results you’re hoping for. It takes the right message, the right market and the right media to get a result. For example, slice and dice your database and come up with marketing messages that talk directly to that demographic group using the media channel they prefer. For example:
Direct Mail – More Mature Patients
Heartfelt communications such as Botox birthday and holiday greeting cards in the mail box will be appreciated by your older patients who grew up with more personalized messages. Personal letters signed by you, the dentist, talking about one procedure mature patients would get a lot of benefit from will also be well received. Include patient testimonials and a special offer with an expiration date so patients respond now rather than wait and forget to respond at all.
Facebook Ads – Younger Patients
Generally speaking, the younger patients have grown up with the Internet and are used to communicating quickly and impulsively. Email blasts with special offers work and Facebook Ads could work as well. Use eye-catching graphics and compelling copy to get Facebook people to click on your ads and visit your Website. Including a Botox gift card they can download should also help increase their response.
Get-To-Know-the-Fun Side of Our Practice Cards
Since it’s getting more difficult to grow your aesthetic practice using mass advertising efforts, use grass-roots organic strategies to build a solid database. So rather than broadly spreading your word to the masses, focus on the lowest-hanging fruit which are those prospective patients most likely to visit you.
Have your staff hand special Botox cards out to your patients and their friends in your community: to gym buddies, retail shops, networking events, business functions and anywhere else prospective patients could be. Make it a Botox gift card for $50 with a tight expiration date so they respond rather than procrastinate. Growing your practice organically within your community will build it faster and stronger than reaching out to strangers in an impersonal mass advertising effort.
Retention is the New Acquisition
Are You a One-Hit Wonder? If you spend all of your time, money and effort getting a new patient to say yes to you and then never see them again after their procedure, you are doing them, you and your pocketbook a disservice.
The patient liked and trusted you enough to say yes. The hard part is done. The least you could do is reciprocate by staying in touch, following up and seeing how they are. You can do some of that with post-op follow up appointments. It shows you care and gives you more opportunity to bond with the patient. Keep in touch to keep them coming back again and again.
You can no longer afford to “churn and burn” through patients who visit once and move on. You?ll run out of time, money and patience and your staff will get burnt out constantly catering to the new, total stranger who leaves without booking. That?s not good for morale or for your bottom line.
Conclusion: Razor’s Edge = Profits
Having the Razor’s Edge means being just a little bit better, as little as a razor’s edge that makes all the difference in the world. Being just a little bit better is oftentimes enough for your dental patient to say yes to your Botox offering because they trust you and it?s convenient.
Brainstorm with your staff to determine how you could have the razor’s edge when it comes to:
- Answering the phone better than your competitors
- Being friendlier to your visiting patients than your competitors are
- Offering better post-op care so your patients are comfortable and on and on
It’s often the little things you do to look after each detail of your patient’s experience so they say yes to you, return to you and refer their friends to you.
By Catherine Maley, MBA the author of Your Aesthetic Practice/What Your Patients Are Saying. She speaks at medical meetings and writes regularly for aesthetic medicine publications. Her firm specializes in attracting more patients and more profits to aesthetic physicians. Visit her online at www.CosmeticImageMarketing.com or call her at (877) 339-8833.
Need more ideas for marketing your practice online? Talk to one of our PracticeDock online marketing specialists today!
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