3 types of new patient

The 3 Types Of New Patient.

There are three types of patient who are looking for you, today, tomorrow or someday. They are called the Buy It Now, The Window Shopper and the Tyre Kicker. We feel an analogy is a good way to describe them.

Let us take the example of someone that is buying a new kitchen for their home. The Buy It Now type of patient could be compared to the couple that have just bought a house and there is NO kitchen, or there was flood damage and you have been cooking on a camping stove for six weeks and the insurance money has just come though. You are looking to buy now, and the money is burning a hole in your pocket.

The Window Shopper is someone who has a naff 1970’s kitchen, It works, and you can  just about keep it clean, but it is so ugly and impractical! You are embarrassed to invite friends around for dinner, but you need to get the money together before you start looking seriously. That doesn’t stop you flicking through magazines, looking online or even visiting showrooms. You may even get the guy to come and measure up, and create you a 3D design of your dream kitchen. You research the best high level ovens and most eco dishwasher, but for now it’s a ‘someday’ project, just hopefully not too soon. The window shopper will at some point become a Buy It Now person, so we need to invest in our relationship with them early, and in a very different way to the other two types.

The tyre kicker is just bored with the colour of their kitchen, they mentioned it to their wife but she shut them down saying they only renovated the kitchen four years ago and the colour was even your choice. She said you are welcome to paint the walls, but you wanted to change the cupboards and worktops too. You wonder if you can just get away with changing the doors and not the cupboard carcasses; but then again you don’t like that weird corner, maybe you would change the whole layout, a conservatory would be nice – or should we just move house… But we do need a holiday, and the car is due for its annual MOT check, we had better see how much that costs first.

The tyre kicker is in no rush, they may also go to a showroom and look around, but only just for fun, and the salesman will likely get an idea that they are not ready to buy; A tyre kicker is less likely to play the sales game as the window shopper and will often lay their cards on the table and say they are not in a position to buy just yet.

The “Buy It Now” type of patient

This is your prospective patient that is actively looking for you. They may have a crisis like an acute injury, or they may have a chronic problem for which they have made the decision to get sorted; or ordered by a partner to get fixed as they are fed up with their moaning. 

The Buy It Now type of patient is asking friends if they know of anyone they would recommend to help them with their complaint. They are likely reading Google reviews and scanning the top results for practitioners in their area. The Buy It Now patient will respond well to a call to action. Meaning that if they are reading your website and a banner popped up offering them a half price consultation during the month of May, they may well go for it. 

Our agency has great results with call to action campaigns, and this is where most of your DIRECT marketing dollars should go, on the Buy It Now patients. Unless you have the marketing budget of a big multinational, do not waste your money on vague branding campaigns: they do not make the phone ring. Examples would be the same advert in the newspaper week after week, radio show sponsorship or worse, printing your office details on the back of a bus ticket: we call this ‘Throw away marketing’.

There are many other examples of marketing opportunities that are just a big waste of time and money in healthcare professions. They may work for other businesses, but the healthcare sector is unique, purely because of the psychological and emotional reasons why people decide to consult a healthcare practitioner, which is very different to when people buy a new TV or pair of shoes. Once again, we address the ways of marketing your practice to avoid in a separate article.

Referral & Recommendation is still King

The Buy It Now type of patient likes to be told that you are the best by someone they trust and then they will find you somehow, you just need to make the process easy for them. We deal with promoting referrals in your practice in a separate article, available at the end of this one. Nonetheless, everyone in practice understands that referrals are the best source of new patient. They are pre-qualified, meaning they already trust you by extension because they trust the person that recommended you. Furthermore, their friend will often have briefly outlined your procedures, how you work, costs etc, so nothing will be too alarming for the patient. The sad part is that every practitioner knows this, but many spend very little time making referral the focus of their practice marketing efforts.

Reviews are Vital

The second most important thing that you can do after encouraging referrals in your office is to get your raving fans to give you glowing online reviews. Even people that have got a recommendation from a friend may to do their due diligence before calling you. Google reviews and other review sites such as Yelp and Yahoo local are vital to any service business such as yours. The trend in today’s society is that we value reviews, even from strangers. People check reviews on amazon of even cheap item before buying. We can read hours of TripAdvisor reviews before booking a hotel room and reserve a table in a restaurant based purely on online reviews.

Our industry is even more personal, potentially most expensive and very heavily dependant on reputation. Combined with an increasingly insular, segregated society model, it makes sense that online reviews are becoming the new source of personal referral. Your practice needs as many quality reviews as possible, with unique comments from your clients to make each review sound personal. Ideally some reviews will mention your specialities such as pregnancy care or sports injuries. Even better is when a percentage of the reviews mention the practitioners name so a ‘Buy It Now’ type patient knows that they are very relevant to the person that they are looking to consult, and that the information is up to date.

If you already have a busy practice, there are many ways of encouraging positive reviews in-house. Most patients are more than happy to provide you with a positive review, so just ask. Or even better, get your front desk staff to ask. The best response rates we get in the practices we support follow the process we have developed below.

At a re-assessment the front desk team see from the progress form that Mrs Jones has written how happy she is with her treatment to date. You also have a section at the bottom of the form for the patient to tick saying they are happy to write a testimonial, with a consent form for the practice to use her testimonial in-house & online. Try to also sneak in a request for a photo to be used alongside the text.

The front desk approach Mrs Jones and say that [practitioner X] will be with them in a few minutes and we wondered if you wouldn’t mind writing us an online review, expanding what they had written on the review form. Do this with every patient that writes a positive review, even if they do not tick the consent box. Explain how important online reviews are to people considering consulting a new practitioner and that their honest review would help people choose the right person for them.

If they then say yes, particularly as they now know it will only take a minute or two and they will be waiting anyway, then make sure they now sign the consent form before you proceed. If she looks hesitant, address her concerns. It is usually privacy related, so you can suggest that you do not use her name or cross out the section related to the photo, whatever is needed. Always respect their privacy and never post anything without signed consent.

If Mrs Jones says yes, then take an iPad and ask them to complete the review there and then, explaining that it doesn’t have to be an essay, just share what they feel. Of course it makes sense to pre-load the review site where you want to focus your reviews and make it easy for Mrs Jones by checking if she has an account with X review site first for easy submission, as you may need to change sites depending on her answers.

Lastly, copy and paste her review and save for in house & online use later and ask Mrs Jones if she wouldn’t mind having her photo taken. Snap the photo with the iPad and you are done. Mrs Jones goes through to see the practitioner and the online review is done and verified, all in a matter of minutes. The front desk then schedule a Facebook post, or sends the review to your social media manager. The post is scheduled to go out the following day at 3pm, a popular time for people to cruise Facebook. Ideally you have a top testimonial posted daily, and the one with the most feedback from other clients can be ‘boosted’ and put in front of “window shopper’ type patients in your community. I would also suggest that you have a testimonials board somewhere in reception where you print the photo & text for other practice members to see. This is a great way for other patients to see the success stories, important for those new to your office. It also shows the wide range of problems that you can help with and gives the reception a good talking point for referrals. A typical conversation could be that a patient reads todays testimonial and says “I didn’t know you do feet’ – to which the reception team explain your expertise with biomechanics and show them the gait analysis room. This ends up with the patient taking a complementary consultation voucher for their daughter who is a marathon runner and suffers terribly with shin-splints.

Google Adwords

If a personal recommendation is not available and online reviews do not show a clear-cut winner, the Buy It Now patient may click a Google Adwords paid listing, and most importantly, they are also far more likely to call you, thus making the advert cost viable. We have other articles on writing a specific Adwords ad to make your clicks count. 

The Buy It Now type of patient will take notice of a newspaper advert, especially if it is a front page wrap or a bottom right hand corner advert or advertorial in the first few pages (don’t waste your money on any other ad positions). If you offer community screening events, they will likely book an appointment with you there and then; as they have already made the decision to consult ‘someone’ – you just need enough things happening at any given time so that your name is the one that they find.

The “window shopper” type of patient

The window shopper needs to be educated, not sold to. If you pressure the window shopper they will unplug and unlike what you are doing, as they are not ready to buy just yet. A book by Gary Vaynerchuck called “Jab, jab, jab… Right hook” describes the approach beautifully. Each jab is educating the window shopper, and moving them closer and closer to the right hook, so that when they are ready to call you, the rig hook or “Call To Action” is too irresistible to turn down.

Money does need to be spent on the window shopper, which is why we clearly stated that the Buy It Now patient needs most of your DIRECT marketing budget, if not all of it. The window shopper by contrast needs some INDIRECT dollars spent on them. This only needs to be a small percentage of your budget, and most of the work here will be free.

Social Media & content marketing is the best way to speak to the window shopper. Content marketing is basically writing stuff. You are reading this ‘content’ right now. It isn’t selling you anything, in fact its telling you how to do our job for yourself. Yet in the process we hope that you will see our expertise. In the future your practice may get so busy that you decide to outsource your marketing and ask for help to make your office work more efficiently, like a well oiled machine. If you have been following our blog, then we are possibly the people you may call first.

Social & content marketing takes time and it is a real art, this is why so many practices out-source this to our company. We know your profession and we know how to talk to your prospective clients and patients. However there is nothing stopping you doing it yourself. You need to create fresh original content on a regular basis. The key is to think like the window shopper and think of the questions that they are wanting answered… Then answer them!

This should be in the form of a regular blog post, three times per week is ideal. A minimum of 500 is suggested, but the longer the better. Window shoppers like to be drawn in to a ‘proper’ answer and if they are short on time they will skin read your article. You can also take snippets of that article and break them down into mini articles, tweets, videos and info-graphics. This article alone is well over 4000 words!!

Your blog is the house for your long form content rich articles. Regular post links from your social media accounts to your blog articles, and reformat them as suggested above for people who prefer audio and visual alternatives.

Take note of the blog posts and social links that get interaction, those are the ones that you will be interested in. Your current patient community has validated those articles as interesting. Of course if it is an announcement that one of your reception team is getting married, current patients may comment, but its not relevant to the window shopper. You have to think “will this post/article/video/image add value to the window shoppers experience”. If the answer is yes and your community has shown engagement, then the next thing to do is boost this post. You can simply boost this post in Facebook although we would suggest crafting a new post directly for the window shopper, it depends how well you know your way around the Facebook advertising platform. Create your advert/post and be very specific to your target audience. Set your spend low such as $5 and see how many people it will reach, if it’s a few thousand people it is worth a try. You are unlikely to get a response or much interaction, you are sending this information out there cold. This is why your budget here is small, but you are starting to engage with the window shoppers in their environment. Your aim is to get them to engage with you somehow, maybe like your Facebook page or attend a free talk that you are doing. However the aim of these posts is not to sell. Of course there is nothing wrong with stating your expertise: at the end of an article on why you have been doing your tennis stretches wrong for years you can write a little bio on your sports expertise. This way they can build you as the authority in the area, so that when they transition to a Buy It Now patient – your phone rings!

The “tyre kicker” type of patient

The tyre kicker will still benefit from the educational programmes that you have set out for the window shopper. You will not be able to differentiate the two until they are in your practice. The only difference will likely be the language that they use, the tyre kicker will play down their complaint. They will use words like niggle, and tell you it’s not that bad. They may recall the last time they got the same issue checked out and it was ‘cured’ in one or two visits; even if they have a 20 year history of back pain.

We feel that it could take a considerable amount of time for the Tyre kicker type of patient to decide to consult you, and take your advice seriously. If they do consult you, especially before they are ready then they may not follow through with your complete course of treatment. This is because it is not a priority right now to sort the problem out, and may decide to only attend for one or two treatments on a relief care basis. There is nothing wrong with this kind of patient. It is their prerogative to decide to follow your recommendations or not. I always give the tyre kicker the same level of care as any other patient, and most importantly I do not reduce my recommendations based on what they want. I give them a plan to correct their problems if this is achievable and set milestones along the way. It is then their decision whether to continue through each distinct phase of treatment. The tyre kicker could stop after two sessions and yet still refer many more people to your practice: Although experience tells me that they will be similar types of patient (on average) as this is their only frame of reference.

The tyre kicker type of patient is still to be welcomed into your practice in our eyes. The key difference is that you are not actively talking to them when you create call to action campaigns for the ‘Buy It Now patient’ or the educational programme for the ‘window shopper’. It would be too costly to try to reach everyone in your community.

We suggest to focus your DIRECT marketing dollars on the people who are looking to ‘BUY NOW’. Direct marketing is something that you actively spend money on to bring patients into your practice.

Spend a much smaller but consistent amount on an INDIRECT targeted community educational programme; One that is exciting, engaging and informative. You may only need to spend a few dollars here and there to get the message in front of your targeted audience, whilst letting the other free methods filter out at the same time.

If you are paying someone else to write the targeted articles you will have to add this cost in, but in our experience it is well worth the cost. Not only in terms of getting the exact message across to the exact people that want to it and encouraging them towards the Buy It Now status, but also for the freedom that it gives you and your team to focus on what happens inside your practice.

If you have any questions please feel free to email our team and we will be happy to help:  info@mediaMarketing.clinic

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