Are you familiar with the term ‘Concert Rider?’
Any time a performer is on tour, they have a Rider they provide to the venues where they are playing. The Rider includes a (sometimes long and highly detailed) list of all the items they want in their dressing rooms.
Specific foods, certain types of drinks, entertainment options. Certain websites list copies of concert riders from big touring acts, and they can range from entertaining to downright ludicrous.
One of the most infamous rider contracts came from Van Halen.
During their 1982 tour, lead singer David Lee Roth included a line item in their Rider, buried several pages deep in their performance contract, that required “A bowl of M&Ms with all the brown ones removed.”
Knowing how extravagant Van Halen was, you could easily chalk this up to rockstar status gone wrong. The band wanted to be a pain in the ass for the concert promoters, just because they could, so they cooked up the most ridiculous demand they could think of.
Actually, there’s a very different reason for the removal of the brown M&Ms.
Lead Singer David Lee Roth shared this in his autobiography.
See, at the time, Van Halen had the largest touring stage show of any band ever. Loads of 18-wheelers, pyrotechnics, all kinds of wild aspects to the production.
And with that many moving parts comes a significant amount of potential danger. One wrong move, one misplaced item, one unchecked cable, and things could go seriously wrong.
Roth knew that attention to detail was paramount to the success of the show and the safety of him, his band and his crew.
Why didn’t he just say that in the contract? They did, they spelled every single safety item out clearly. But anyone can nod along and say “Yeah, we get it. We’ll check everything.”
This is where the M&Ms come in. Why did he bury this somewhat obscure request deep in the middle of their performance contract?
Roth knew that if a venue took the time and effort to read the entire contract, and to comply with the M&M request, they were meticulous enough to ensure every aspect of the show set-up was double-checked and working properly.
But if he got to the dressing room and found a single brown M&M in his candy jar, he immediately ordered a line check of every item on the contract – the wires, the pyro, the speakers, the weight restrictions of the stage, everything.
The M&Ms had nothing to do with the actual show. But they were a signal tied to the most important aspects of a successful performance.
Signals, sometimes consciously sought (like the Van Halen story) and sometimes unconsciously absorbed (like many aspects of marketing) are vital to building value and trust with your patients.
Let’s look at a few types of signals you can use to show your patients that you are the trusted authority in your field.
1. The International Destination Signal
Ever have someone fly in from another state (or any other country) to have a procedure with you?
Then you need to use the “International Destination Signal” in your marketing, which increases your authority by showing prospects that you’re so trusted and revered, people travel from around the world for you to do their procedure.
A few ways to do this:
- “Why do patients fly from around the world to have a procedure with Dr. Cole?”
- :While some have traveled thousands of miles to have vision correction with Dr. Cole, you barely have to drive across town for this level of expertise.”
Rather than claiming authority by saying “We are amazing and have done tons of procedures,” the International Destination Signal uses observable facts to help the prospect attribute authority to you.
GOLD NUGGET: When you give a prospect the dots for them to connect, it’s much more powerful than connecting the dots for them.
The Lobby vs. Waiting Room Signal
When you ask people to come see you and spend thousands of dollars of their hard-earned money on a procedure with you, it’s important that you break a few preconceptions they have about doctors’ offices.
Your evaluation isn’t a normal doctor’s appointment. You’re different. You provide a premium, luxury experience. And the “Lobby vs Waiting Room Signal” is a great way to convey that.
Waiting rooms are lame and unattractive. Most doctors’ offices have waiting rooms. DMVs have waiting rooms. Urgent Cares have waiting rooms.
You’re probably picturing a waiting room right now as you read this. Bland. Germy. Uncomfortable.
And what are waiting rooms for? It’s right there in the name. Waiting rooms are for waiting. In today’s on-demand culture, the last thing anyone wants to do is wait.
Thankfully, you don’t have a waiting room. You have a lobby.
Just like a 5-Star Hotel has a lobby. The nicest business building in your city has a lobby. Trump Tower has a lobby.
The lobby is not a waiting room. The lobby is designed as a welcoming, first-impression area that gives your prospect a feel for the treatment they will receive at your practice.
- Show pictures of your lobby on your website.
- Use the word “lobby” on the phone (“You’ll check in to your appointment at the front desk in our lobby, then relax on one of our comfortable sofas and your patient counselor will be right with you.”)
- Talk about the fresh cookies, gourmet coffee and complimentary wifi that are all available in your beautiful lobby.
And if your lobby needs to be freshened up with new furniture, an updated paint job and eye-catching decor, make it happen. The last thing you want is a lobby that feels like a waiting room.
The Testimonial Signal
You can make all the claims in the world about how great you are, and every single one of them will be met with some bit of skepticism.
”Of Course you say you’re awesome, Dr. Cole. What else would you say?”
So how do you get the message of your awesomeness out there and bypass the skepticism? Let someone else deliver the message for you.
This is where the “Testimonial Signal” comes in.
If you want to say something grand, find a mention of it in your testimonial interviews, patient surveys or Google reviews, and let someone else say the grand thing for you.
A few examples:
We have short wait times. – “I couldn’t believe my appointment started literally 30 seconds after I checked in. I loved not having to wait!”
Our treatments are fast. – “The most surprising was how fast it was. I didn’t even know he had started, and the procedure was already done in a matter of seconds. Wow!”
Recovery time is very short. – “I was back to work the next day, and back out playing catch with my kids that next evening. I couldn’t believe it.”
Our procedures are a great investment – “To think that I now have amazing vision and I don’t have to spend money on glasses and contacts anymore, I’m saving thousands. It’s like I’m getting paid to improve my life!”
If you aren’t gathering testimonials and reviews, this is one of a dozen reasons it’s important to do so. Go ahead and start today – you haven’t a moment to lose.
In Conclusion: Signals are Persuasive
One of the takeaways of this essay is that signals are stealthy ways to convey your marketing message.
The thing I want you to remember is that your signals need to align with what your patients are about.
Patients don’t care so much about your accreditations or your lasers. Sure, those are important, but those aren’t keeping your patients up at night.
Patients care about outcomes, their lives, the benefits you can provide to them. They care that they are choosing the right surgeon (even though they might not know exactly what that means).
Use signals to speak to the fact that you have the experience and the empathy to help patients solve their problems. This is how you set yourself above and beyond the competitors in your market who are stuck on basic “We’re so great” messaging.