Retaining Patients and Reclaiming the Lost Ones
By: Catherine Maley, MBA, Author, Your Aesthetic Practice
To grow aesthetic profits, it’s imperative you focus your efforts on your preferred patients and do what it takes to keep them coming back again and again and bringing their friends with them.
Aesthetic marketing today is all about the quality of each patient relationship and their referrals rather than sheer quantity of patients wandering through your office.
Patient with Endless Needs
The beauty (pun intended) of aesthetics is that you have patients with endless needs. If an aesthetic patient wants to look good today, they also want to look good tomorrow and next week and next year and year after year. So it’s your job to keep them happy and connected to you so they return again and again.
If you have an aesthetic patient who likes to look good and that makes them feel good, they will be in relentless pursuit to keep those good feelings going. So if they come to you for one procedure, they will stay for more and move up the ladder to higher-priced procedures as well as the other way around. If they come for a high-ticket surgical procedure, they will move down the ladder to perfect or maintain their look with the lesser procedures, treatments and products.
There is so much money left on the table because the value of one patient is taken for granted. If you simply increase the life-time value of a current aesthetic patient by offering a menu of services that satisfies all or most of their aesthetic concerns, they will return again and again and you will dramatically increase your aesthetic profits with minimal extra cost.
Your Preferred Patients
A good strategy is to focus on those patients who are least likely to be affected by changes in the economy and last affected by changes in the economy.
An excellent strategy would be for you to go through your database and target those patients who:
– Are older and have more skin, body and face concerns
– Live in affluent zip codes
– Have a history of visiting you often
– Refer their friends to you
Now focus your resources on them by keeping in touch with them many times throughout the year. Educate them about what’s new in aesthetic enhancement, invite them to your events and be sure they know you appreciate their business.
The True Leverage is in Your Current Database
You most likely want new patients, don’t you? But the real profits are with the patients who already know, like and trust you. They are more apt to respond to your promotional efforts and more likely to say yes to your offerings.
This important point is missed when you are constantly on the search for new patients rather than spending minimal effort encouraging your current patients to return again and again and refer their friends.
Aesthetic Marketing Rules
Here are some rules about marketing and human nature that are important to keep in mind since they apply to the aesthetic industry:
– A buyer is a buyer is a buyer so if an aesthetic patient bought from you before they will buy again from you or from your competitors
– It’s much easier to make the 2nd sale than it was to make the 1st – you’ve already done the hard work
– The most neglected high probability target market you have is past and present patients
– Patients welcome frequent contact and communication. You may be interested to know the #1 reason patients leave you is not because they are unhappy with their result. It’s because of your indifference. Ignoring your patients and not keeping in touch allows them to drift away.
– Lastly, your “hidden” competitive edge is the quality of your on-going relationships with your aesthetic patients
So, how do you keep your relationship going with your current patients?
Here are strategies that work well:
Send out e-newsletters explaining a new procedure you offer and send simple e-blasts with a purpose. Make them eye-catching, add a holiday theme with compelling offers, and a tight expiration date so they impulsively call you now. Be sure to offer gift certificates and remind your patients to forward this to a friend to help with word-of-mouth referrals.
But you can’t count on email alone to reach your patients. As a matter of fact, only 28-33% of your emails get through software firewalls so email is only one way to communicate with your patients.
Direct mail is another way to stay in touch with your patients so they don’t wander off to your competitors. It’s making a big comeback and becoming the cheaper way to promote your services because it is so targeted.
For the price of a stamp, you get your personalized message directly to your patient and you’ll have their attention way more than you will when they’re hunting around on the internet or channel surfing. Direct mail gives you an increased chance of getting noticed, getting your piece opened, getting it read and getting it responded to.
Now the question becomes what should you mail your patients? Here are some ideas:
Handwritten Note Cards
Handwritten note cards are the most effective way to build a loyal following. Frankly, this alone will help bond your patients to you as well as differentiate you from your competitors since most are never going to do this. Take advantage of their short-sightedness.
Send eye-catching, colorful greeting cards with your own handwritten message, a colored envelope and a live stamp to specific preferred patients for specific reasons such as Holidays are here, thank you and refer a friend.
This effort speaks loud and clear to your patients that you sincerely care about them and this extra effort will make you stand out from the others – I guarantee it.
Personalized Patient Letters
Throughout the year, send a themed patient letter telling your patient about a new procedure, your office renovation or a new staff person and include a very special offer for a limited time only.
Face-to-Face Time is Golden
Have two big events per year such as a Holiday party or your annual fundraiser so your current patients can connect with you socially as well as introduce you to their friends they brought along.
Reclaim Lost Patients
It’s a fact that it’s always cheaper, easier and more effective to market to patients who already know you than to advertise to total strangers.
It’s never too late for you to start a re-activation campaign for patients who have wandered off. Reconnect with those patients. They are your low-hanging fruit and are much more apt to respond to your promotional efforts because they are familiar with you.
I guarantee you have a group of patients in your database who came in for a consultation but didn’t book, who came in a couple of times and then wandered off and then those you haven’t seen in months or years.
Why is that?
• Perhaps when they visited you, they were having a bad day and couldn’t connect with your staff.
• Perhaps your staff was having a bad day and scared them off.
• Perhaps they got sticker shock.
• Perhaps they went to your competitor but now want to return to you but are too embarrassed to call.
You are never going to know unless you reach out to them. When these ‘lost’ patients left your practice, there’s a good chance they were not saying “No” –
They could have simply been saying “Not Yet” or “Not Now”
Make contact with these lost patients. Tell them what’s new with you, your office and the world of cosmetic enhancement. Then give them a reason to contact you and add a sense of urgency so they call now rather than wait and forget to call at all.
Irresistible Reason to Return
There should be an irresistible reason to return so they respond quickly. Get creative about giving the patient a compelling reason to see you again and visit you now rather than to wait or not see you at all.
Some ideas to include: gift with purchase – women are very used to this from the makeup counters at the department stores and they love it. Work with your vendor to offer, for example, a free eye cream with retail purchase. Or, they get a free Latisse eye lash enhancer with their injectable treatment.
Help them afford your services. Give them easy or free financing so they can have what they want now. An aesthetic patient who wants to look and feel good will go to great lengths to make it happen sooner rather than later. Ensure they don’t wander off to your competitor by offering solutions to their financing concerns.
Follow Up is Crucial
Here’s the secret to true revenue growth: FOLLOW UP
- Thank you for coming in note card
- Great to see you email
- Evening phone call after a treatment or procedure to see how the patient is doing and
- We Miss You note card
The more points of contact you have with your patients, the more likely they are to choose you, and only you, when they’re ready for aesthetic enhancement.
WoW Patient Experience
The strategies above are only as effective as the experience your patients have when in contact with your practice – either on the telephone or in the office.
Be sure your patients ALWAYS have a WoW experience with your receptionist, your other staff members, your processes and with you! Your goal should be to have them leave with a smile and brag about you to their friends.
Your ultimate goal is to attract your preferred patient to you and then keep them loyal by using persistent and consistent communications, events and excellent patient relations with relentless, never-ending improvement that leads to a WoW patient experience and that leads to returning patients and referrals and more aesthetic profits for you.
About the Author:
Catherine Maley, MBA is Author of Your Practice/What Your Patients Are Saying. Her book delves into the inner needs and wants of aesthetic patients and has sold all over the world. You can download a Free copy at www.YourAestheticPracticeBook.com.
Catherine is President of Cosmetic Image Marketing. She and her team of creative designers, Webmasters, copywriters and videographer provide coaching services, ready-made tools and training products to medical practices who are striving for excellence.
A sought-after speaker, Catherine has presented throughout the US and Canada on a variety of practice management topics and writes regularly for the top medical publications in the aesthetic industry.
She is a business/marketing consultant to plastic surgeons. She speaks at medical conferences all over the world on cash practice building and trains staff to be converting rock stars.