8 steps to attract and convert patients (while also improving your love life)
Believe it or not, attracting new patients is surprisingly similar to dating. Just like looking for a new partner, it’s crucially important to follow a sequence of steps that help to build trust and earn respect until both parties are happy to make a commitment. Skipping or failing to acknowledge a step in the dating process can land you in a world of trouble.
You wouldn’t storm straight up to a stranger in the street and try and hold their hand, would you? Just like you wouldn’t expect a prospective patient to commit to parting with their hard-earned money for your service before they’re sure you are capable of the job. Slow and steady courtship is always necessary and is actually part of the fun – when you know how to do it properly.
That’s why we’ve adapted a proven 8-step relationship-building strategy that illustrates the process of attracting, converting, and keeping patients until they become your biggest promoters. And, to make things even more interesting and memorable, we’ve continued with the dating metaphor, because why the hell not!?
Let’s take a look…
STEP 1: Aware – Be where the action is
Let’s imagine you’re single and looking for a suitable partner (maybe you actually are). Shutting yourself away from the rest of the world (like we’ve all had to do for the past couple of years) isn’t likely to find you the love of your life.
Once you’ve established your target market, you need them to know you exist. To do this, you need to be where the action is. You need to be active on an online dating site, or better still, hang out somewhere that your dream date would go. Remember you’ve got to be in it to win it.
For a private practice, this means advertising or search engine visibility. At this stage, all you need to do is attract momentary attention. That can consist of writing blog posts to appear in organic search, paying for clicks, posting and sponsoring social media, or advertising on any other channel that puts your service, offers, and solutions in front of your ideal patients.
Content that gets attention is something that your prospective patient has been thinking about, presented in a way that entertains or informs.
You’ll want your marketing material to contain positive messages related to independence, self-reliance and self-improvement. People will be looking to improve their quality of life and fortifying themselves for the next existential threat.
You can also work to optimise your website for search and reconsider the imagery you use as ways to build your audience. If you sell at a high relative price, It might be helpful to start pivoting your content away from millennials to attract more affluent markets, such as generation Xers and baby boomers.
STEP 2: Engage – Get to know each other
NOOOOO, don’t worry, you don’t need to pop the question just yet. You just need to engage in a conversation. Whether that’s online or in-person, a little chit-chat to uncover a little more about each other is the perfect way to get things ticking.
As the owner of a practice, this engagement begins immediately after someone first realises you exist and continues throughout their entire experience with your brand.
It’s ongoing interactivity you have with them via multiple channels so that they realise how much they have in common with you, appreciate the unique bits about how you do business (the sense of humour in your communication or the caring feeling on your website for example), and realise that perhaps there is a fit between you.
Your practice might pop-up on their Instagram one day and on YouTube the next. Engagement is about consistently communicating the essence of your brand while playing around with different content, platforms and mediums to see what material resonate with your target patients by getting the most, likes, comments and shares.
STEP 3: Subscribe – Swap numbers
In the dating world, this typically means it’s time to ‘slide into the DMs’. Swapping phone numbers, Instagram or Facebook accounts is a small commitment that enables you to keep in touch.
In business terms, the exchange typically means creating an entry point offer. An entry point offer – also called a lead magnet – is something simple, yet valuable you can give away in exchange for your prospect’s contact information.
For example, you might provide a free downloadable resource, invite them to take an online suitability self-test or access your private blog. In return, you get a fast track ticket straight to their inbox or mobile phone message box.
STEP 4: Convert – Date night
If the messaging’s going well and you’re enjoying one another’s company, why not deepen your commitment and invite your romantic interest out for a casual coffee, to get to know each other a little better? It’s the perfect low-key date that won’t pile on too much pressure and scare them off.
What’s the business equivalent to a coffee date? A free video appointment, webinar or event invite of course! These are high-value, low-risk commitments that encourage the prospective patient to invest a small amount of time or money. They allow them to sample your service without feeling like they’re in too deep.
TIP: If you haven’t yet enabled online video appointments, do so now. Once people realise how easy and efficient video appointments can be, they will demand them as part of the patient onboarding mix.
Don’t be deceived, the older generation have adapted to online mediums such as Zoom much quicker than we anticipated due to the Covid-19 pandemic.
STEP 5: Excite – Woo and pursue
If the coffee date went well, it’s time to ramp things up with some romance. Cook them a nice meal, buy them a small gift, or arrange a surprise activity. Thoughtful gestures won’t only give them those all-important butterflies; it will help to paint a picture of what your life together could look like.
What you’re seeking to engineer here is the “Ah-ha” moment that combines wonder and understanding. “Ah… you’re amazing, Ha… you’d be perfect for me!”
Wooing applies to vision correction too ya know. Once a prospective patient has invested, you don’t want them getting cold feet while they wait for their face-to-face consultation or treatment.
Use this time in between to tantalise their imagination. Personalised marketing material should congratulate them on their suitability, reiterate and validate the many long-term benefits of their decision and exhibit the many happy patients who have walked the same road before them.
STEP 6: Ascend – Seal the deal
The relationship has been going really well, and it’s time to make things official. You’re no longer just a couple of part-time love birds, you’re an exclusive item and proud.
Your patient has signed all of the paperwork and is undergoing the treatment. There’s no turning back now!
STEP 7: Advocacy – Meet the parents
In a relationship, this is the honeymoon phase. Your date is beaming with pride and can’t wait to show you off to their family and friends.
That’s how you want your patients to feel. You want them to be so delighted with their results that they want to refer their loved ones to you. Make it easy for your patients to spread the word. Point them in the direction of trusted third-party review sites and ask them for testimonials.
STEP 8: Promote – singing your praises
This is where the dating analogy doesn’t quite match up. In marketing, things can go further still. When people like your brand, they’ll want to be associated with it – this is the realm of influencer marketing. Influencers are people and organisations who have a purported expert level of knowledge or social influence in their field.
Influencer marketing is one of the best ways to quickly build your brand online and raise awareness among your target audience. Influencers have built relationships, trust, and credibility with their fans. People respect their content and recommendations, so if you can get an influencer to endorse your service, you’re laughing. This is the most efficient and cost-effective advertising method there is, and you’ll have earned it!
P.S. If you are tired of things fizzling out somewhere between step 1 and step 8, then you need to create your own 8-step relationship-building strategy to help your practice attract, convert, and keep patients until they become your biggest promoters.This essential tool will help you identify the holes in your marketing toolkit and help you produce marketing content that addresses what people truly need to actually make the decision to become a patient.