Word-of-mouth Marketing Muscle
Date: July 7th, 2011
Details: EXCERPTS WRITTEN BY WENDY LEWIS
Effective use of word of mouth is still the most effective way to grow a medical practice. As a result, patients and colleagues will speak highly of you. In order for word-of-mouth marketing to be effective, you have to continually give consumers a reason to talk about your products and services. The challenge is to build ongoing active, mutually beneficial direct-to-consumer and consumer-to-consumer communication networks.
Word-of-mouth marketing is not a substitute for a marketing program; rather, it is one vital component. You can facilitate word of mouth in terms of recommendations, referrals, and testimonials among your patients by delivering 5-star service and superior patient care, but it is a continuous process.
Word-of-mouth marketing is also intended to reward patients for their referrals and loyalty via several proven methods. These might include treatment vouchers, courtesy discounts, new product sampling, flexible appointment scheduling, and awarding patients VIP status within your practice. Use these approaches to get patients to spread the word for you within their own sphere of influence.
A common approach that has worked in many practices is to have a satisfied patient on hand at open house events and practice seminars to speak firsthand about his or her experience. Customers tend to relate best to other customers.
With the rise of social media, the speed and reach of word of mouth is increasing significantly. The value of your brand advocates working for you on Facebook, Twitter, and other social media platforms cannot be underestimated.
Think of word-of-mouth marketing as a compendium of methods to empower customers and patients to share their positive experiences about your practice. There are many possible venues in which this sharing of information may take place.
"Clinics need to be extremely conscious of the return they are going to receive from the investment of their marketing dollars" says Gerald Wartak, Marketing Director YOLO Medical Inc. "A common misconception I hear from clinics is that they need to spend the largest portion of their marketing budget on 'getting NEW customers in the door'. For new clinics that need to establish a client-base this may be the case, however this often is NOT the case for established clinics.
For established clinics, the greatest return will almost always come from investing in your existing client-base. As these individuals are already familiar with your brand, your services and your pricing, and in fact have already invested their hard-earned dollars into these services in the past, they will definitely be more responsive to your marketing offering.
[...] When thinking about their next marketing strategies, clinics should definitely consider the option of initiatives that not only focus on existing clients, but in fact invites and rewards them for word-of-mouth marketing. An 'Invite a friend Special' or 'Gift Certificate Incentive Plan' can go a long way in any clinic..."