When it comes to marketing your practice, word of mouth can be one of the best ways to create brand awareness. In fact, a recent poll in the Power Diary Facebook Group showed that word-of-mouth marketing is a top source of new business for our health practice owners.
Being referred by someone you trust greatly improves your perception of the recommended practice. It makes sense because, as humans, we’re notoriously risk-averse and tend to avoid potentially negative situations. So, if a friend or family member had a good experience with a health practice, there’s a good chance you will too, and that’s usually a good enough reason to choose one practice over another.
But that doesn’t mean your only option as a practice owner is to sit back and hope that your clients have good things to say about you. Word-of-mouth marketing in healthcare is no longer only about in-person recommendations, and there are a number of ways to leverage these opportunities.
What is Word-of-Mouth Marketing?
Word-of-mouth marketing is when a customer takes an interest in their experience with a business and discusses it with their friends, family, colleagues, or strangers. In a nutshell, it’s free advertising that’s triggered by a customer’s experience.
It can be good or bad, as the customer’s review will be based on personal experience, so an excellent customer experience will always underpin a successful word of mouth strategy.
The more influence you have as a practice, the more you can expect people to talk about your offerings. Put effort into your practice now, and if you’re consistent, you’ll likely reap the benefits.
Why is Word-of-Mouth Marketing Essential?
When it comes to running a business, your reputation is one of the most important aspects to consider for client retention. Essentially, everyone wants a reliable service provider. If you have one bad customer experience, that person could potentially have a serious negative impact on your practice’s reputation because, while the internet is a great resource for business, it can also work against you. It just takes one bad review for the internet to explode.
Many turn to sites like Trustpilot or read Google reviews when looking for a service provider. These resources are designed as word of mouth tools that allow customers to provide honest feedback on their experience with any business.
Advantages of Word-of-Mouth Marketing
According to Nielsen, 92% of people surveyed claimed that they would trust their friends’ and family’s opinions on a service provider. So, if you work towards building relationships with your clients, you’ll experience the advantages of word-of-mouth marketing in healthcare, including:
- Client base growth
- Practice expansion opportunities
- Excellent client retention
- Potential to franchise
Ways to Maintain a Good Reputation
If you want all the talk to be positive, you’ll want to maintain an excellent reputation. Here are some tips for doing so:
- Ensure your staff members are happy, regularly trained and well-prepared. They’re an extension of your business.
- Treat every customer the same, whether they’re a VIP or your average Joe.
- Focus on client communication. Maintain an excellent balance between friendly and professional, and develop a sense of trust.
- Maintain your premises and brand identity, as you’ll want your clients to have a wonderful experience from start to finish.
There are Other Ways to Get Your Audience Talking
Word-of-mouth marketing in healthcare tends to happen organically when friends and family ask for referrals, which you can’t directly influence. But, where you can encourage referrals is to find places where people meet up, either online or in-person.
Here are 8 crucial strategies to get your customers talking about you:
Strategy #1: Social media
Viral: it’s the buzzword that everyone’s talking about. In essence, we’re talking about people sharing your content organically on social media channels.
Whether it’s Twitter, Instagram, Tiktok, Facebook, or Linkedin, the goal is to spread the news of your practice far and wide. You just need one post to gain traction, and you’ll get unbelievable exposure. However, to create a successful social media post, you must consider a few key pointers. Here’s 5:
- The hashtag – Hashtags are one of the best ways to reach new audiences. Hashtags target your social media efforts, sending your content to the appropriate channels. If a social media user searches for a specific hashtag or follows a precise keyword, they’ll access all posts using those hashtags. Finally, remember only to use hashtags that are relevant to your post.
- What’s trending – Be on the pulse about what’s trending that day, and if something’s relevant, post about it. Don’t be scared to post anything cute (puppies), funny, or aspirational; these types of posts tend to do well.
- Interact with your audience – In today’s fast-paced world, people are looking for instant gratification. Therefore, do your best to engage with your audience regularly. Like, share, comment, and reply as much as possible, and you’ll quickly build brand awareness and trust.
- Paid advertisements – Social media limits who’ll see your content, but you can spend some money to reach a broader audience. Paid advertising is particularly effective when starting a new page, running a competition, or promotion.
- Be consistent – If you don’t keep your audience engaged, they’ll move on to the next best thing. Therefore, it’s essential to post on your page regularly. You can schedule posts on most social media business suites, so if you can, dedicate time to work on this each week.
Social media is hard work and requires you to have your finger on the pulse. Between running your practice and everyday life, you might find it difficult to juggle everything. So, it might make sense to hire a trained social media manager to run your pages. It may sound like a crazy expense, but the results could be priceless.
If you can get your client base interacting with your social media accounts, their friends and family will see your brand more frequently, and your clients will even influence strangers who come across your account.
Strategy #2: Co-Host an Event
You might want to consider joining a business, or a few businesses with the same target market, in co-hosting an event where you each invite your clients, such as a ladies’ tea.
The most important thing about this strategy is that you’re generating new conversations about your practice. New people will be exposed to your practice, and what you offer, your clients will be reminded about your services, and you have the opportunity to create a good impression of your brand.
Strategy #3: Brochure Drop-Off
You can spread your message by arranging a brochure drop-off in targeted locations. Drop flyers in mailboxes, at businesses, or on local notice boards. There are companies available who’ll do your flyer drop-offs, or you can make it a weekend family activity.
Are you wondering if flyers are a waste of time, money, and resources?
According to research conducted, 9 out of 10 people are happy to receive retail-based unaddressed mail. In addition, the best way to get conversions is by offering some type of special or incentive on the flyers. Offering an incentive also makes the success of your flyer distribution much easier to track.
What’s fantastic about this strategy is that your target area will get to know your practice, and new clients mean new conversations.
Strategy #4: Sponsor an Event
Sponsoring an event is a win-win situation, whichever way you look at it.
Local charities are regularly looking for sponsors for gala dinners, public events, or sports competitions. In addition, community initiatives, markets, or local churches might need event partners from time to time.
There are a few options of how you can sponsor an event, including:
- Paying for the full event’s expenses, sometimes referred to as title sponsorship.
- Paying towards the event’s expenses.
- Sponsoring a prize if there’s a raffle or auction.
- Offering for your team to assist at the event, which is great for networking and could be seen as a team-building activity.
The larger your contribution, the more exposure you are set to receive and you might even find that there are tax incentives that come with charitable contributions.
Sponsoring an event will get your existing clients talking, and they will be reminded of all your services and offerings. In addition, you can create a buzz amongst potential new clientele.
Strategy #5: Offer Discounts
Whether you’re marketing on social media, with flyers, or at an event, discounts are a great way to attract attention.
In today’s economic climate, many are looking for a bargain. Therefore, if you’re offering a good deal, it’s likely that you’ll stimulate conversation between existing clients and their networks and it might be the push a potential client needs to book an appointment.
Strategy #6: Cross-Promotion Partnerships
Are you looking to save money, while reaching a whole new clientele?
Cross-promotion partnerships do just that. These involve two businesses that have the same target audience sending out shared promotional material. As a practice owner, a wellness brand could be the perfect match.
In essence, it allows you to have indirect access to their mailing list, and, if the brand is more established, the partnership can lend further credibility to your practice. It’s also a popular strategy used on social media channels to grow followers. New people will see your brand recommended by a business they already trust, making your practice the go-to option when they have need of your services.
Strategy #7: Refer a Friend Specials
Another fantastic marketing tool is ‘refer a friend’ specials. Offer discounts or vouchers to your clients and their friends, if a friend books an appointment.
That’s sure to get your clients talking. With such specials, both parties benefit, which means your existing clients will be inspired to talk about your brand.
Strategy #8: Ask Clients for Reviews
Asking clients for reviews is possibly the single most important word of mouth tool and should be part of every health practice’s marketing. Why? Because it’s a strategy that works: according to a study by BrightLocal, 7 out of 10 clients will leave a review if asked to do so, and 8 out of 10 people trust online reviews as much as personal recommendations. There are two main approaches to keep in mind: in-person and online.
Many health professionals feel uncomfortable asking for reviews in person, but it doesn’t have to be awkward. Here are 2 great ways to work the question into interactions with clients:
- When they offer compliments, you can ask them if they’d be willing to share it online
- When you ask for feedback on their experience, clients are happy to post about it (in fact, they’re 2.3x more likely to share their experience).
There are a number of touchpoints between your practice and your clients that don’t involve you directly such as appointment reminders, invoicing, newsletters and your social media accounts. Those are all opportunities to ask your clients to leave a review, and it should be something that you include regularly in your interactions. You can also send out targeted emails or SMS campaigns to get your review numbers up.
Whether you’re asking clients in person, or through other interactions, the key is to make it easy for them to leave a review. Include links in your email signature that take them to the review platforms (whether it’s TrustPilot, Google or Facebook), include easy-to-follow instructions if you’re sending out a targeted campaign, print out take-home instructions to make it easier and create a call-to-action banner on your website to remind clients to leave a review.
While some are lucky to have established clientele and a long waiting list, many practices could benefit from a boost. And, in today’s business climate, you want to stand out from the crowd to stay on top of the game.
Word-of-mouth marketing is a powerful tool and one that continues to be a leading source of new business for healthcare practices. Remember that every client interaction is a chance to build your reputation and spread the word about your practice.
Important note from our Legal Eagles: We know you know this, but we need to say it anyway. The information in this article is general in nature and is not legal advice. The laws, regulations and professional guidelines relating to the use of reviews and testimonials can vary across jurisdictions, and health professions. If you’re unsure of the rules that apply to you, your professional association is often a good place to start.