The absolute easiest way to fine-tune practice processes is by compartmentalizing the patient journey into ‘buckets.’ or stages, and then define key elements within each stage that can be used to propel the patient toward the path of making a buying decision. In marketing terms, this is known as your funnel.
As its name implies, your funnel is wider at the beginning and narrower at the end. You will have more patients starting a journey with your practice than completing the journey, as there will be buyers lost at each stage. This is a normal consumer occurrence as not everyone will be a fit for your practice, or even a candidate for their desired outcome. The key is to focus on those patients that are a match, build a strong relationship, and turn them into patient advocates.
A great metaphor, and very common in marketing, is to think of your funnel as a dating game. For example, in the beginning stages, you may be viewing dozens of profiles on a dating website, or you may have friends offering to introduce you to what they claim to be the perfect match.
If you’re interested in initiating something further you might reach out and say ‘Hello.’ Based on the success of this initial conversation, you may decide to meet for coffee or dinner. If you felt a connection you may decide to date exclusively, which could ultimately lead to marriage, then kids. You get the picture!
The point is, there is a potential point of exit during any of the stages in the dating game, and understanding key drivers at each stage will help you to successfully navigate the funnel to achieve the desired outcome.
Similar to the dating metaphor, patients will go through a progression funnel when interacting with your practice. You will need a consistent and strategic plan of communication at each stage that is in-line with where your patients are in terms of their relationship with you.
Your goal is to attract, engage and support patients at each stage in the process. Your messaging at each stage will be different. What is appropriate at the Marriage stage is probably not appropriate at the Hello stage.
There are seven primary stages in the Patient Progression Lifecycle: Discovery, Initiation, Action, Strategy, Commitment, Implementation, & Community. This article focuses on the 1st stage ~ Discovery.
#1: Discovery – This is essentially the point where a patient is made aware of your existence. You may be found through any number of platforms to include Google searches, word of mouth, social media, review sites, or paid advertising. In this stage, the goal is to simply attract attention, promote your business and services, and separate yourself from all the other providers we know the patient is researching. You want to ensure your practice is meeting patients where they congregate.
How to do that? Here are a few ideas:
- Add or claim your business on Google My Business to make the most of your business listing
- Consider building your email list by offering access to a weekly blog
- Begin posting relevant news and helpful information on LinkedIn
- Share an interesting tweet that potential patients will appreciate on Twitter
- Post a ‘flash sale’ on your preferred social media platforms offering a discount on a procedure or product for patients that call in and book or buy within the next 2 hours
- Send a text message to patients alerting them of a flash sale. Texts have shown to have a faster & higher response rate than phone calls or email. Of course, texts should be approved by the patient as a contact method.
- Find a trusted review management company to help boost ratings and reviews to gain online social proof.
- Use your email lists and social media platforms to invite patients to live webinars hosted by a physician or staff member.
- Facebook Live is very popular and is a great way to engage patients, both new and old. According to a Popular Science article, Facebook tweaked its algorithms in 2016 to show live video broadcasts higher up in peoples news feeds. Nicola Mendelsohn, vice president for Facebook in Europe, Middle East, and Africa, said at the 2016 Fortunes Most Powerful Women International Summit that social network would probably be all video in the next half decade (Fortune Magazine, June, 2016). So be a pioneer and start FB Live streams now! Facebook Live topics are endless and could include behind the scenes segments, information on an exciting new injectable you are offering, a walk through the office’s product area, a tour of the procedure or OR rooms (no patients of course – must comply with HIPAA regulations!). Create a quick Facebook Live post showing a new shipment of skin care product that just arrived and offer one lucky viewer to receive a jar of the new ‘Magic Skin Cream’ just by liking & replying to the post. Or even better – by sharing the post! Social sharing gets your practice in front of many new patient prospects very quickly. It is essentially the new word of mouth.
These are just a few excellent ways to further establish your practice as an industry leader, drive organic traffic to your practice, and engage your practice community.
Be on the lookout for next weeks post next week when we take a dive into Stage 2: Initiation…
To Your Success!