Did you know that friends are one of the top influencers for patients who opt for cosmetic or new skin care treatments or products, second only to a dermatologist’s recommendations? According to the American Society for Dermatologic Surgery’s 2018 Consumer Survey, friends account for an average 44% of referrals. With another survey reporting 92% of consumers place more value in a friend’s recommendations than a company’s advertisements, word of mouth is clearly a lucrative marketing strategy, particularly for businesses on a budget. Harness the power of word of mouth for better business success for your medical aesthetic clinic with these tips for generating a bigger and better buzz.
Perhaps the simplest strategy, don’t be shy in asking current patients to leave an online review or refer your services to friends and family. According to a 2017 study, 74% of consumers wrote an online review for a business simply because they were asked to leave their feedback. This is a good tactic to encourage more positive reviews and referrals as well. It’s an unfortunate fact, but on a general basis, consumers are more likely to talk about bad experiences or leave negative reviews without prompting. While happy patients are willing to support the businesses they like and trust, they’re less likely to think of leaving an online review or spreading word of mouth without a prompt. For an easy process for both your staff and your patients, utilize email to request reviews and referrals and even establish a link to online review sites to further encourage patients to go that extra step in supporting your clinic.
Ethically, it’s not usually a good idea to offer a reward for patients leaving reviews online. However, you may offer a free treatment add-on or discount for loyal patients whose referrals end up booking a consultation or complete treatment plan. While you may offer a referral rewards program year-round, there is a risk that current patients won’t be as driven to spread the word because there is no rush. Sweetening the deal for a limited time may be an effective way to spur current patients into actively referring your business to spread word of mouth while filling up your medical aesthetic clinic’s appointment book during slow periods.
Showing appreciation and support past a patient’s last appointment of a treatment plan can set you apart from the competition and leave a positive last impression on a patient, making them much more likely to share their experiences. For example, sending out an email or giving the patient a call may be good practice, but sending a handwritten thank-you note and even a little care package of sweets, skin care goodies, or a small flower arrangement for higher-paying patients will make a bigger impression because this kind of appreciation is rare. Set up reminders in your office calendar or content management system to ensure sending these tokens of appreciation don’t get lost in your usual patient acquisition and day-to-day operations juggle.
In a recent study by the New York Times, 84% of social media users said they share content online as a way to support the brands and businesses they love. Creating highly shareable content and encouraging social media engagement is an easy way to get patients to spread word of mouth to more than just the friends and family they see day to day, but all of their online followers as well. Create a branded hashtag that current patients can use to tag relevant posts in which they share their aesthetic treatment results online and incorporate user-generated content into your social media marketing strategy. Sharing the results of patients and their impressions of your services in their own words helps to amplify word of mouth with impressions being shared on more than one platform or profile.
Be open and polite to customer feedback and encourage patients to share the pros and cons of their experience during each appointment. By proactively addressing their concerns and areas in which they may be unhappy, you can better develop and improve your services while making patients feel valued and heard. Being able to see how their criticism is received and used to improve their experiences throughout their treatment plan will create a positive impression that lasts. Even if the end results weren’t what the patient had envisioned, establishing a sense of partnership and prioritizing customer service and communication may be enough for patients who may have otherwise spread negative word of mouth to offer an honest and fair review of your services all around. In other words, being receptive to criticism at all stages of a patient’s treatment plan can help to shift 100% negative reviews to tempered and fair assessments for improved word of mouth.
As with any marketing strategy, there are always plenty more tips and strategies you can use and what offers the best results will vary by business. As experts in the aesthetics industry, we know marketing can be a little overwhelming for small business owners. That’s why we offer advanced marketing and practice enhancement support to our customers for a higher return on investment and bigger business success. Interested in a Venus Concept partnership? Contact an expert today for more details.