Typical marketing involves a business sending out information into the world and then hoping people will find it. Instead of pushing out information yourself, it’s more effective to allow current customers to disseminate it for you. When your customers become your fans or brand ambassadors, they’ll be glad to do it.
As an orthodontic practice owner, you are already making a significant difference in your patients’ lives. You have a ready-made potential fan base. When happy patients become fans, they will drum up new business for you and become a valuable component in your marketing strategy.
What do I mean by “fans”? Well, think about celebrities. Celebrities are their own brands, and they all have fans. Savvy pop stars today know to focus their energies on a core of passionate devotees. Take Lady Gaga, for example. At her concerts, she reserves an area up in front of the stage called the Monster Pit for her most devoted fans. People who arrive very early or who dress up are chosen to be admitted to the Monster Pit, and from this area, some fans are even chosen for more special treatment, such as backstage access. She offers plenty of other bonuses and privileges to make her fans feel special and appreciated.
Lady Gaga isn’t the only pop star who does this. You’ll find similar examples across the music landscape. These rock stars’ public outreach is focused on a small minority of the most hardcore fans, and not as much on bringing in “new customers” (so to speak). From a marketing strategy perspective, the idea is to focus on the most passionate people. With their enthusiasm, these individuals will bring their friends and family into the fold. This strategy can work for orthodontic practices as well.
Focus on What You Can Control
I know many orthodontists who are fixated on online reviews of their practice. It can be frustrating when review sites sometimes boost poor reviews and filter out good ones. Keep in mind that rock stars with passionate fans often receive poor reviews from critics or are the targets of online snark. In the end, a lot of this public discourse is out of any one person’s control. It’s better to focus on what you can control.
You can provide excellent customer service and treatment, and you can use various strategies to encourage others to talk about your brand and become fans. Remember, engaging with patients and the community in general can yield better outcomes for less money than more traditional marketing tactics often do.
How to Create Raving Fans
1. Use existing patients as brand ambassadors
The social circles of your existing patients include many prospective patients. These prospective patients might otherwise have little interest in hearing your message, but they’ll listen to someone they know. People trust their friends’ recommendations, after all. A new patient consult that comes from a trusted friend is more likely to convert than a consult that comes in from traditional marketing alone. Patient word-of-mouth is golden, so convert your patients into brand ambassadors. You may want to spend money on promotions to encourage engagement with your brand, just as pop stars do. In the end, it can be much less expensive than traditional marketing.
2. Make it easy for happy customers to share the story
Word-of-mouth marketing is all about great customer experiences. Make it easy for your patients to share their happy stories. Subaru is a company doing a great job with this idea. Its “Dear Subaru” campaign allows Subaru “enthusiasts” to use Facebook to tell personal stories about their vehicles and share photos. For example, one enthusiast took advantage of a snow day to have fun with his 4-wheel drive. In another, a band poses in front of a Subaru they use as their touring vehicle. Set up a similar campaign by dedicating a place on your website or your Facebook page to collect and share stories about how your practice has improved patients’ lives.
3. Show a personality
To return to Lady Gaga, her fans feel as if they know her, or at least they feel they connect with her on a personal level. Do your patients know you? Marketing today is much more social and conversational than in the past. Messages no longer flow from company to consumer; it’s now a dialogue. So get to know your patients, and don’t be afraid to give them a backstage pass. Believe it or not, patients are interested in you. They are interested in your hobbies, your family, and your sense of humor. The best advertising campaigns are the ones that ring true to the customer and are authentic, and it’s easy to be authentic when you allow yourself to be yourself.
4. Focus on the bigger idea
Facebook conducted a study on which business posts received the most engagement. The study found that posts related to a brand, but not specifically about it, drove likes and comments. These results point to the fact that people are interested in a bigger idea. What are you really selling? Patients ultimately are not buying braces. They have goals beyond straight teeth and a correct bite. There are emotions tied to their decision to go with you as a provider. Find out what your services and your practice represents to your patients, and capture these ideas in your marketing messages. Your patient feedback, testimonials and reactions can provide you with inspiration. Remember that no one is interested in blatant self-promotion. People are interested in the values of your practice and how treatment will change their lives.
These tips will help you cultivate a group of raving fans in your practice today. If you would like to learn more about how OrthoSynetics’ marketing services can help you in this effort, please contact us today!