Time to do a quick CHECK to be sure that you are staying on point with your marketing strategies, but also ensure that you are taking into consideration the emerging trends that are affecting the way your patients interact with and relate to you.
At the end of 2014, a list of emerging marketing trends was released by Forbes*. The article reinforced that the fundamentals of marketing will always be the same, but the landscape changes every time a new technology emerges. Here the top five, that may be applicable to your practice, and solutions that can be adapted to stay current and relevant in an ever-changing industry.
Patients hold the power. Consumers are more savvy and demanding than ever before. Social media and mobile technology have changed the decision making process, especially when it comes to making a significant investment like plastic surgery. Even regulatory changes like the Sunshine Act have had an effect on the ease of access to information about your practice. Patients are looking less at the “Best of” lists, and more at your CV. They know what it means to be board-certified and are looking for these credentials from you. Being transparent means that you provide real-time, accurate and “behind the scenes” information that can help guide a patient through their discovery and selection process of choosing the right procedure and the right surgeon.
Solution: Patient Reviews. Engage with your patients at every step through their process, from inquiry, to post-consult, to post-treatment or surgery. Ask for their feedback. Use this feedback within your marketing and engagement materials.
Thinking in terms of marketing in a digital world, not just digital marketing. How do your patients want to hear from you? Do they prefer to be called on the phone, or interact with you via email or text message? So many times I have heard from practices that their patients are within an older demographic, and do not want to interact digitally. How do you know that for sure? In an article recently posted by Adweek**, the 65+ age bracket will increase the most in 2015 and 2016. In BusinessInsider, they report that twitter is predominantly used more by males than by females.*** Be sure that you are adaptable to the needs of your patients.
Solution: Market in a digital world. Use different mediums for communication and marketing for your patients. Ask your patients how they want to hear from you. Be sure to have a proper execution in place to track personal preferences, and a system tied to aiding in that facilitation.
3. Agility Marketing
Being adaptable and staying ahead of the game. Immediacy, instance gratification and shorter turnaround time. These are just some of the terms that are ubiquitous to today’s consumer. Instead of tracking your “likes”, “shares”, “tweets”, and click-through rates, have a plan in place to use this data to create more real-time actionable items, shorten your response times, and adapt quickly in times of change.
Solution: Data, data, data… and execution. Know how to pull reports on all of your data. Conversion or Patient Acceptance reports, Social media reports, Scheduling reports, Campaign reports…can you filter this data and target specific segments when needed? What if a company like Allergan is running a Brilliant Distinctions promotion for a specific time period, and you want to reach out to all of your patients immediately to inform them? Be sure you can filter reports by specific data points, and then be able to immediately execute communications in real-time.
4. From Globalization to Personalization
It’s all about “me”. Marketing is becoming more regionalized, localized, and individualized. Homogenization is being met with strong opposition. The question for segmentation should not be “How do I target a demographic?” it should be “How do I target an individual?” Know what kind of patients you want, who your “ideal patient” is, and start reaching out to those individuals. Build relationships with them. Personalize the experience. They will become patients that love you, and patients that refer you.
Solution: CRM. Customer Relationship Management. Do you have a way to keep track of all of your patients so that you can individually cater to them? When they walk into the office, are you greeting them by their first name? What if you have a new employee, how do you get them quickly up to speed with all of your patients? Using a CRM will help to log and keep track of all of this information so that it makes it easy for you to facilitate and grow these relationships.
5. Internal Communication
Get your staff on board. One of your biggest marketing assets is your staff. They should be living and breathing your brand, and be able to carry out the vision of your practice when you aren’t there. Continually assess the performance of your staff, what is working and what is not, and make sure that there is an easy way to standardize the good across the board. For communicating with patients, be sure that you are not duplicating efforts of your staff. Have seamless workflow processes in place.
Solution: Digital Workflow. With the idea of working in real-time, be sure that you are logging all patient communications in a manner that can be pulled up by any staff member at any given time. Have a way a process to easily assign tasks or communications to staff members. Scripting has become a thing of the past, encourage natural communication that highlights the right messaging, with a personalized approach.
There is never one perfect solution for marketing, and what works today may not work tomorrow. Stay on top of the trends, be flexible, and be prepared to change. Use your technologies to their fullest capabilities to help streamline efficiencies and adapt to current trends.
By: Lauren Dudek – Practice Marketing Consultant, patientNOW