Practice marketing ideas can arise from unlikely places. Today’s comes courtesy of the Pirate Adventures on the Chesapeake in Annapolis, MD.
Visiting family on the East Coast earlier this summer, we booked a pirate adventure. As a father of 4 kids under 7, it seemed like the perfect scenario.
And it was! We braved the high seas, conquered the evil Pirate Pete and reclaimed our treasure.
As much fun as we had, the aspect of this that most excited me was actually before the trip even began.
When I was tooling around the Pirate Gift Shop, preparing to board the ship, this wall decoration caught my eye:
A huge X with photos attached to it. The text explained what I was looking at:
“Use the hashtag #MyPirateAdventure and put your pic up on our wall!
Your print will be waiting for you when you return from sea.”
Take a picture. Hashtag it. We’ll print it. You can have it. Sounds pretty simple, right? Nothing mind-blowing at first blush.
But this approach actually solves some of the biggest roadblocks you face in spreading your message on social media.
Here’s what I mean…
Organic social media can be big for any business, including your practice. But most practices go about it the wrong way.
How? By trying to figure out the Big Awesome Thing they can post to get a bunch of shares, likes and retweets.
Yes, you want to post awesome content on your social media pages. That’s a given. But keep in mind that the social media platforms have an algorithm that throttles how much they show your content to other people.
Let’s pretend you have an amazing megaphone and an incredible message to yell into it. That message is only going to go so far on social media if you’re the only one screaming it.
And there’s more:
To continue the megaphone analogy (I was a collegiate cheerleader after all), you can scream your awesome message all you want, but saying “We’re the best! We’re amazing!” isn’t persuasive.
What is more believable? An athlete telling you how great he is, OR a bunch of sports commentators all talking about how great the athlete is?
We believe what people say about others more than what people say about themselves.
It’s the same reason online reviews are so influential. What other people say carries more weight, objectivity and validity than what we say about ourselves.
To reiterate: you should post great content on your social media pages – testimonials, happy patients without their glasses, office staff having fun in the office, fun photos from your events and more.
But these the megaphone metaphor speaks to your biggest opportunity on social media.
Your biggest opportunity on social media isn’t about what you post – it’s getting other people to post about you.
Not to beat a dead megaphone… but instead of you whispering your message as far as you can, why not send 1000s of evangelists out into the world – with their own megaphones – to share your message with all their friends and family?
This is why we try to get people to post about / for us on social. “Tag a friend!” “Share this post!” “Check-in at our location!”
Those are all great things to strive for, but reality is (and you know this), most people don’t take the action. So how do we activate patients to market you on social in a way they’ll actually do it?
Back to my pirate adventure…
5 Reasons the Pirate Printer Method is better than anything you’re doing right now.
- User generated social content – We already talked about the importance of others promoting you vs you promoting yourself. With the PPM, it’s all about the content your patients create.
- Built-in reward for participation – The physical photo is magical. You know I’m a big fan of most things digital. In this case, I like the physical image because it feels more like an actual treat or reward.
- Creates digital marketing materials for your practice – Just like the pirate adventures, people posting their pics from surgery day (more details below) all over the internet creates excitement and buzz about everything you have going on in your practice.
- Puts you physically in the hands (and homes) of your patients – When your patient takes their printed photo, where does it end up? On the fridge? In a cubicle? In a scrap book? Whichever the case may be, it will be in a place that the photo’s owner – and probably many other people – will see it, inquire about it, and reignite the memorable story from your patient’s experience.
- Creates physical marketing materials for your practice – Here’s the funny thing: after all my excitement to try this out on the pirate ship… I totally forgot to go inside and get the picture when we were done. So had many other folks, which is why there was a wall-full of happy passengers’ photos for me to see in the first place. Is that bad? Heck no. It’s influential to anyone who may come in for a consultation at your practice. Your patients are creating physical marketing materials for you! I’ll take it.
So how did they do it?
I asked Pirate Smee to give me the rundown on how they logistically pull this off. It’s actually pretty simple.
- The app – They use an app called HashPrinter, which I’ve linked here. Using this, you can set up alerts for certain hashtags, and even have them print automatically.
- The printer – They had a basic photo printer, like this one, that they used to print the images.
- The process – It was pretty straightforward. They had the display on the wall (that I described above) to get people to take photos and use the hashtag. Then they would print them while the Pirate Ship was out to sea, so the pics are ready on the wall when passengers returned.
How could you apply this in your practice?
You’ve heard me talk about the celebration aspect of the patient journey. The Magic Moments that should be commemorated in the same way you would a birthday or graduation. (so many parallels between those events and what you do for patients every day!)
Surgery day is one of those Magic Moments, making it the perfect time to activate the Pirate Printer Method for your patients.
In the patient prep area, have a table topper that explains the gist of the program (just like the sign on the wall at the pirate place).
Have someone on your team mention it to the patient during their prep time. This could be a patient counselor, or a special greeter / concierge who stands by on surgery day for just such an occasion.
This is where the pirate folks dropped the ball. If I hadn’t been walking around a certain part of the Gift Shop, I might have missed the X. They needed more signage and awareness around the promo to get more of their passengers engaged.
Position the picture itself as a commemoration. For example, you could say “Let’s take the last photo you’ll ever snap in glasses!” Or a simple “Let’s commemorate your big day!” works fine as well.
This is just one way you can activate the Pirate Printer Method in your practice. Get creative and take action!
For just a few hundred dollars, you now have a strong, simple social media activation you can leverage to turn your happy patients into evangelists. They promote your practice to their friends and family, and they walk home with a souvenir of their big day. Big wins all around. AHOY!