If “friends and family” is your most valuable referral source, we should be asking “How can I get more of those?!” Today we talk about why and how to get more friends and family referrals through a process called “Post-Acquisition Marketing.”
Spend more of your marketing budget and attention on this.
What is up, my friends? It’s your boy, Troy. Welcome to a fresh episode of the Practice Growth Machine podcast, where we teach you the persuasion tips and strategies you can use to command higher prices for your premium procedures and fill your surgery schedule.
Today we’re talking about an aspect of the patient journey where you should be allocating more of your marketing budget and attention. We’re talking about post-acquisition marketing, marketing your practice to people who have already had a procedure with you.
“Oh, come on Troy. Why would we want to promote ourselves to someone who already had surgery? Why would we even need to do that and how would we go about it anyway?” Hey, these are all great questions, so let’s get into it.
Where do you get your most qualified referrals? Friends and family referrals are consistently in the top three referral sources for the practices we work with. Usually, they’re the number one referral source for patients who are highly qualified and ready to buy.
Why are friends and family referrals so awesome? First of all, we trust our friends and family more than we trust companies that market to us. That’s just the way we are wired.
Look, I’m a big fan of marketing. It plays an important role in growing your practice brand and building the know, like, and trust factors when attracting new patients. Friends and family referrals allow you to speed this process up because when someone you already know and trust says, “Look, I tried this product and it’s awesome,” or “I had a procedure with his doctor and it changed my life,” you listen.
Even if you aren’t ready to make that same decision right then, you hang on to that suggestion, put in the back of your head until you’re ready to pull the trigger.
Another reason is when someone’s referred by a patient who had a procedure with you, you can bet that person’s already asked the patient a thousand questions. Did it hurt? How much was it? How was the recovery time? Etc. So they’re already pretty educated coming into the appointment and they’re ready to go.
Now, how does all this come back to the concept of post-acquisition marketing? Well, think about it. If you’re advertising on a radio station, let’s say, that’s sending you a lot of happy patients, what do you do?
Well, if you’re smart, you look for ways to invest more with that station or at least with that demographic, since you know it’s working for you. Same thing goes for your happy patients.
If friends and family are one of your most valuable, if not the most valuable referral source, doesn’t it make sense that you would spend time and money trying to increase that referral source?
“But once someone has a procedure with us, they’re happy. We changed their lives forever. What more can we do?” You’re right, but here’s the deal. People forget things quickly.
A better way to put that might be that changes, even big changes in our lives become a new normal for us. It’s why a new car is awesome for the first few months and then it’s just our nice car. A new pair of shoes is fun and exciting, but then it becomes just another pair of nice shoes that are in our closet. And sure we like those things, but they don’t carry the weight and excitement that they do when we first get them.
Same thing goes for your procedures. We call it the honeymoon phase. So let’s take vision correction as an example. Right after surgery for a few weeks, everything is fun and exciting and new.
But once you’re out of the honeymoon phase, clear vision is your new normal. And sure, patients appreciate it, but they usually aren’t singing it from the rooftops like they are right after their procedure happens.
So one of the main reasons we want to do post-acquisition marketing is to keep that honeymoon phase going, keep stoking the fire of their excitement and leveraging that to bring in more of their family and friends.
Now let’s talk about a few ways you can implement post-acquisition marketing in your practice.
Number one, t-shirts. People like free t-shirts as long as they’re fun and they feel good. So don’t cheap out on this one. For an extra couple of bucks a shirt, you can go from cheapo stiff cotton to a nice soft feel, more fitted shirt that people will wear just because it feels awesome.
And it doesn’t need to have your logo gigantic across it. Use catchy sayings, fun graphics, and of course have your practice name or logo or your URL somewhere on the shirt.
I like sending shirts and other gifts in the mail versus presenting them in person, because hey, who doesn’t like receiving a package in the mail? That way it feels more like a gift being sent from a friend versus something you’d just do for everyone who comes into your office.
Here’s another tip. Include a postcard in the box that prompts the patient to post pics with their shirt and tag you and use your hashtags in the post on social media. Can you say free marketing?
Number two, thank you notes with gift cards. Thank you notes are a lost art, and even if your notes are pre-printed and you just sign them, letting patients know you appreciate them, putting their trust in you makes them feel great.
I like to include a small gift card. Nothing crazy, but a Starbucks card or maybe a pair of movie tickets. Nothing expensive but something they can go and enjoy as a small token of your appreciation.
Number three, referral gifts. All right, so this is the part where I say I’m not a lawyer and different state boards have different rules about this. That said, money talks. If someone refers you a patient, a thank you referral gifts can go a long way to making sure it happens again.
You don’t want to have any kind of official referral program where you say, “Hey look, if you send me a patient, we’ll send you $50 bucks.” That’s generally frowned upon regardless of where you practice.
This is why it’s better to send patients a thank you note after the fact with an Amazon card for example, after they refer someone. At that point, it’s a thank you as opposed to an upfront incentive.
And yeah, that means keeping a bunch of $50 Amazon cards on hand, but what does that new patient they referred worth to you? $5,000, $10,000, $15,000 bucks? A $50 thank you gift on a $5,000 procedure is a 100X return on your investment. I’ll take that all day long.
And number four, e-cards for birthdays and anniversaries. So this one’s easy. Set up automated emails to go to patients for their birthdays and the anniversary of their procedure day. This costs you virtually no money or time, and it provides you simple ways to remind your patients throughout the year that you exist and that you’re awesome.
Now we have an entire year-long outline that we use for our clients to map out the post-acquisition marketing strategy. What to send, when to send it, templates for cards, scripts, t-shirt designs, etc. If that’s something you’re interested in, shoot me an email, firstname.lastname@example.org.
So to wrap this up, for around $50 bucks or so, maybe even more if they’re referring a lot of people to you, you can create experiences for your patients that keep your practice top of mind and keep them referring happy patients into your practice.
All right, let’s talk about what we learned today.
To recap today’s episode, spend money and time where you know you’re getting a return. Happy patients are your most valuable referral source, so invest attention and budget into that referral source.
The longer you can leverage that honeymoon phase, the more patient referrals you can generate. Use gifts in the mail, e-card reminders, and thank you gifts in your post-acquisition marketing strategy to make this happen.
All right, get out there. Get started on your post-acquisition marketing strategy today, and we’ll see you on the next show.
For more persuasion tools and scripts, head on over to troycole.com and click on the three resources tab right there at the top of the page.