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Before They’re Patients: How To Keep the Conversation Going

When it comes to potential patients, quality interactions are key. Going above and beyond in creating a positive patient experience can help move them along in their decision-making journey.

Remember: Your next patients are already getting to know you, and it’s up to you to help them fill in the blanks.

In our latest blog post, Marketing Operations Supervisor Doug Hales discusses fostering relationships with prospective patients using creative calls to action and how to go the extra mile to form a connection with the person on the other end of the phone.


Video Transcription

Hi everybody, this is Doug Hales at Etna Interactive and I’m here with you today to talk about a very important group of people: the ones who are deciding whether or not they want to become your patients and how to keep the conversation going with them.

So, I want to start off with a quote from a business management rock star. His name is Peter Drucker and he said, “The most important thing in communication is hearing what isn’t being said.”

Now, to illustrate that point, I’m going to ask for a little help from Lindsay, our Corporate Marketing Manager, and we’re going to reenact a call that recently came through on a client’s call tracking.

Doug: Thank you for calling Name Withheld Example Practice, this is Doug. How can I help you?

Lindsay: Yeah. Hi Doug. This is Lindsey. I’m wondering what you guys charge for a consultation?

D: Uh, so the consultation depends on the procedure you’re selecting.

L: Oh, okay. So, you guys don’t offer the consultation complimentary?

D: Uh, no, for some we do hold a deposit down.

L: Wh…what?

D: Uh, so we do have some people who do cancellations last minute, so for that reason, we do take credit cards and we hold a little deposit down.

L: Okay. So, what’s that amount?

D: Uh, it depends. What procedure were you interested in?

L: What if I’m interested in a mini tummy tuck and breast augmentation?

D: Uh…give me a second while I check in with a patient care coordinator. Thank you for holding. So, it would be $150.

L: $150.

D: Mm hmm.

L: Okay. Thank you.

D: Uh huh. Bye.

L: Alright, bye.

Okay, so if we think about that phone call, is Lindsay ever going to call the practice back? Probably not, and it’s because I really wasn’t hearing why she called us in the first place.

If we think about what she was really saying in that exchange, of course there was the question that she explicitly asked which is, “How much do you charge for a consultation?” But there was also a lot that she was implying just by picking up the phone. She was saying, “you know, I think I am ready for a consultation, but maybe I’m still not sure what I need. I want to know more about you as a practice and you know, I haven’t really done this before, so I need you to make me feel safe and put me at ease because this is a big decision and a big moment for me.”

If we think more about our caller, she’s reaching out because she’s ready to form a connection. Now, she’s probably done some research online. Maybe she’s talked to her friends about it. She’s considering her options. She is beginning to reach out to practices. Now, maybe she’s not ready to commit to a consultation in that moment, but she’s certainly ready to have somebody listen to her concerns and that’s where I could have done better on the other end of that phone call.

Now, the thing that I want you to think about is outside the context of a phone call — really, your website works just like that. Potential patients are visiting you because they want to connect and they’re ready to learn more and they want you to connect those same dots before they commit to actually coming in for that consultation.

So, consider this: only 3% of your website traffic at any given time is going to become a lead. That leaves 97% who are visiting your website, but they’re not quite ready to become a patient. They’re not ready to schedule that consultation. So, it’s really crucially important to build in ways to meet them where they are. And we, in marketing speak, we call those transitional calls to action.

Now in the context of your website, think about what they’re doing during that research. Maybe they’re looking for more case examples on your photo gallery, so,make sure you’re building those out. Maybe they’re looking for some insight on what the experience is going to be like when they finally do come through your door. Write a page that explains what that experience is. Maybe they’re just looking for answers to some questions and they’re not quite ready to reach out to you yet, but you could answer those questions on your blog.

Remember that all of this comes back to closing the distance between first looking into a service and then actually deciding it’s time to come visit the practice. So, once you begin to think about your website this way, you can also think about how to keep reaching out to people at all three of those phases.

Now, one simple thing I can tell you is you need to start getting people to sign up for a newsletter. You’re probably already doing this, but if you’re not, definitely start. But remember that when you’re thinking about your newsletter, the most important audience of those emails is arguably the people who haven’t come in to see you yet. Now, yes you do want to use your newsletter to boost things like your monthly specials, but ultimately you want to make sure you’re helping your email subscribers get to know you better. That’s what’s going to help them advance through those phases faster because they’re going to begin to feel safe and like they can come in and know what they’re going to expect.
If you want to take it a step further with email, you could create what we call a nurturing drip email campaign.

What’s a drip, you say? Well, at its best, it’s a way to give your subscribers more specific targeted information based on the interests that they have already expressed.

I’ll give you an example. We had a practice who already knew that patients were responding to a lot of things that they had on their website and elsewhere about Brazilian butt lift. They wanted to learn more about that specifically, so we created a campaign specific to those people and put them into a list and sent them a series of emails that were basically designed to answer any and all questions those subscribers would have about Brazilian butt lift.

This touches on an important point, which is that your email subscribers have given you permission to reach out to them, meaning they’re asking you to continue the conversation. So, when you take the time to honor that opening they’ve given you to continue the conversation with the right content, they respond in a really big way.

Now, this particular campaign that I’m already talking about here, it had over a 75% open rate. Now just to give you some context for our industry, anything over 25% is really solid, so we’ve got three times that just by creating the right targeted content.

Okay, well now if we take all of that in mind, let’s bring Lindsay back and let’s re-imagine that phone call from earlier and see how much better we could do.

D: Thank you for calling Name Withheld Example Practice, this is Doug. How can I help you?

L: Hi Doug, this is Lindsay. I’m wondering how much you guys charge for a consultation.

D: Oh, okay, great. So, you’re looking into consultations! How’s that going so far?

L: You’re actually my first one.

D: Oh, wow! Okay. Well thank you for reaching out. I know that can be a big moment and we’ll do our best to help you be as well informed as you possibly can be.  So now if I may ask, which procedure were you considering?

L: I’m thinking about a mini tummy tuck and breast augmentation.

D: Okay, great. Well, I’ll tell you first off that we do hold a deposit on your card and that’s $150. We do that just to honor the doctor’s time in the event that the patient doesn’t follow through. Now that that fee is complimentary if you do decide to go through with the procedure.

L: Oh, okay. Great.

D: Yeah! So since this is your first consultation, let me just kind of paint the picture of what to expect when you get here. Our surgeon will meet with you for about an hour and during that time we’ll do a little imagining about what your results might look like and that’s going to actually include some time with breast sizers, which you can try on during your visit to see what your new curves might look like.
L: Oh, wow. Really?

D: Yeah! We try very hard to make sure we get all your questions answered during that hour with us.

L: That sounds great, thank you.

D: You’re very welcome. Now, could I get your information to schedule that consultation? And while we’re at it, would you be open to receiving our newsletter if I take down your email address?

L: Yeah, I guess I’d be okay.

D: Okay, great! Well thank you so much.

So, what’s the difference between these two calls? Really, it’s all about moving from focusing on the question that she asked to reading between the lines and answering the questions that she hasn’t even asked yet.

That’s what’s going to create that real quality experience and it’s what’s going to help people begin to trust you as a practice and as a brand.

So just a quick recap of our conversation and how you can keep the conversation going.

It’s all about honoring the 97%.

  • Think about moving from awareness to consideration to decision.
  • Create opportunities for people to reach out and join your email list.
  • Anticipate questions your visitors will have and establish your practice as authority on the answers.
  • Think of every phone call as a patient care experience.

So, I’ll leave you with this: remember that your next patients are already getting to know you. And however you decide to jump into that conversation online, just remember to meet them where they are in their decision journey.

Speaking of decision journeys, if you’d like to learn more about us, please subscribe to our newsletter. I did touch on permission marketing as a concept. If you’d like to go deeper on that, Seth Goden is the man who coined the phrase and his book on it is great.

And of course, you can always email me or Ryan directly. Thank you so much for joining us, and we’ll see you next time.


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