Attracting Your Ideal Patient

By James Dempster / 10 Oct 2022

Marketing professional James Dempster offers insight into how tailoring your marketing strategy can attract your perfect clientele

In today’s world, everything is personal. From product recommendations at your supermarket to targeted adverts in your inbox, the more you know about your clientele, the more likely you are to succeed. With more than a decade’s experience in healthcare marketing, I’m going to be sharing some of my top marketing strategies that you can put into practice, enabling you to take a more personalised, human approach to attracting new patients.

Building your strategy

Let’s start at the beginning: who is your ideal patient? It’s a big question and there’s no one-size-fits-all answer. With multiple treatment options, procedures and services, it’s likely that you’ll have a whole host of ideal patients, and you’re not going to be able to promote to all of them in one go. If this is the first time you’re looking to create defined marketing strategies or you think it’s time to refresh your plans, here’s how you should go about it.

Build the big picture

Finding out what makes your audience tick can be challenging, but don’t underestimate what you already know. You have likely spent years working in your sector, and after all, you know your patients best. Get your team together and spend time building the big picture. Where do your customers shop? What other brands do they like? What do they normally wear when you see them? Do they care about the environment? Do they have families?

You could do this by picturing the three types of patients who most often come into your clinic, giving each of the three people a name and then really delving into their interests. All these questions will help you develop key messages to use in your marketing activities, as well as areas to avoid. For example, if your target audience doesn’t have children, there’s no need to focus on messaging about being a family-friendly clinic.

Pick the treatments you want to promote

I’m a big believer in quality over quantity! Rather than trying to create multiple marketing strategies across different treatments, start by focusing on one or two and take the time to ensure you’ve nailed the basics before launching multiple strategies. These could be the services with the fewest enquiries that need a boost, or you could focus on those that are your biggest revenue drivers. Either way, it’s best to start small and scale up, otherwise you’ll risk wasting time and budget on activities which don’t help your bottom line.

Consider data, data, data

Data tells stories, and stories are the foundation of strong marketing strategies. You will already have a pool of valuable data that can be used to craft meaningful marketing strategies. Existing patient data is the key to success. Take a look through your patient data filtered by service, and start to drill down into the data. To create meaningful strategies, we need to find out what makes your patients tick: where they spend their time, what motivates them and why they became your patients to begin with. This might sound like an onerous task, but it doesn’t have to be. If you do have the time, analysing your own data is always best (Google, Twitter and Facebook/Meta all have free access analytics), but if you don’t, each platform produces demographic numbers. This will help you unlock personalised strategies to target new patients.

For too many years now, we’ve been building strategies around profiles like ‘Sarah, 25-30, lives in London’. In today’s personalised world, this isn’t enough to cut through the competition. Taking the time to gather extensive data to build real patient profiles will put you in the strongest position to build a strategy that generates new patient enquiries. An easy way to do this is via patient feedback forms. These can be included in email receipts, or on a good old-fashioned clipboard in a waiting area. Keep it short and easy to engage with.

Implementing your strategy

Once you’ve delved deep into your target audiences, the next challenge is marketing to and engaging with them. Let’s look back on the basic principles of marketing, where strong strategies begin: awareness, consideration and acquisition. These three stages are key if you want to take a considered approach to your marketing strategy. Each stage offers the opportunity to directly engage with your audience through nuanced messaging that enhances their experience, positions you as the trusted choice and ultimately pushes them through to make an enquiry.

For example, if we’re looking at targeting an audience of high-spending young professionals, it’s best to look at how you want to communicate with that audience through these three stages. From our work with aesthetic clinics, we know that this particular audience engages visually. Polished, professional, creative assets will catch their eye, signal that your business is taking its brand seriously and show that your services are suited to them.

Instagram could be the perfect tool for this, with the largest share of users aged between 25 and 34 years old.1 This channel can be used throughout the marketing funnel. In the awareness phase, think about how you want to present your clinic and what key messages you want to promote. If you’re focusing on one service, visual before and after adverts are a great way to showcase your skill and expertise. This channel also offers a cost-effective way of advertising with sophisticated targeting options so you can ensure you’re reaching young professionals who match your persona. You will need to ensure that all your adverts meet the requirements of the Advertising Standards Authority (ASA) and the Committee of Advertising Practice (CAP).2

As the marketing world becomes more personal, we recommend using the consideration phase to introduce your potential customers to the staff they will be meeting face-to-face! Building trust and authenticity through videos, quick biographies and warm imagery is another way to position yourself as the best choice. You need to focus on how the patient will feel, taking the time to show you understand them by delivering content that addresses their needs.

Through the acquisition phase, this is where you really need to position yourself as best-in-class. Showcase your unique selling points (USPs), testimonials and further information about the customer experience to increase confidence in your service and clinic. Website landing pages are great for this, with your advert pushing people through to a dedicated page that answers their questions, gives a clear overview of what to expect and ultimately takes people to fill out a form, make an enquiry or pick up the phone.

Choosing your platforms

Taking a look at some other channels to utilise, Facebook is still an excellent option, particularly with a more mature demographic. The 60+ audience isn’t afraid of technology, but you do need to think carefully about the services you’re promoting, the language you use and the type of questions they would answer through the consideration phase.

Facebook also has excellent tools in its Ads Manager that can help you expand your audience. For example, a Lookalike Audience is a way your adverts can reach new people who are likely to be interested in your business because they share similar characteristics with your existing customers. You can use your existing customer data and directly import this into Facebook. The platform will then map key identifiers from this data and build a lookalike audience. From here, you can ensure the correct parameters are chosen, such as location, age and gender.3

Whilst the number of marketing channels can seem overwhelming, it’s important to choose wisely. If you don’t have a TikTok or Snapchat account already, it probably means your target audience doesn’t use them, so don’t create strategies on channels you don’t feel confident with. You’ll risk wasting budget for minimal reward. It’s better to spend your time really getting under the skin of your potential customers on a few channels which you know they engage with.

Taking a gendered approach

For aesthetics in particular, male customers are a growing audience, but they can be harder to engage with. Take time to think carefully about how this group differs from a female audience. Is there still stigma around cosmetic procedures for men? Are they more worried about confidentiality? Do they need reassurance that services are suitable for them too?

Think carefully about the imagery, language and USPs you’re promoting, and don’t assume that just because an advert is performing well for a female audience, you can duplicate it for a male demographic. It sounds so obvious, but we want to see images that we can identify with. Also, I’m a massive fan of testing. Create an advert, set key benchmarks for success such as click through rate, number of interactions and visits to your site, and then test two variants. This can be as simple as one with a blue call-to-action button, and one with an orange button. Personalisation is key, and detail matters more than you might think!

Tailor marketing to your clientele

With a whole host of channels, audiences and strategies available to you, it’s best to start small and ensure you’ve nailed the basics. Don’t run before you can walk, and invest time upfront to really grasp who your audience is. Knowing exactly who you’re marketing to will save you time and money in the future, and the more you can dive into that person’s values and motivations, the more you’ll be able to influence their decision-making, from awareness through to acquisition. It’s time to start attracting your ideal patients.

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