Your medical or dental practice is a business, which will thrive when you meet the wants, desires and needs of your customers/patients.
You already know this is much harder than it sounds. Each person is totally unique. If you look at their individual wants, desires and needs you will never be able to satisfy them all and you will go broke trying.
This is where statistics comes into play. Any time you get a large enough group together they will begin to form a statistically coherent pattern.
You can use this pattern to gain a little glimpse into what is going on in your patients’ heads. That is the purpose of things like census data – to look at big enough groups of people to help governments make appropriate policies.
Back at the turn of the century businesses worked out their best customers were all of a certain age, spent a certain amount of money, lived in certain areas, had certain jobs and visited certain shops. This demographic data was a great start to help us to segment our customers target our marketing. Even today media will provide you with demographic data on their readership (or listenership, or viewership) to help you make a decision about whether or not to advertise with them.
The problem with demographics is they don’t take into account large variances within groups, and they don’t take into account the changes in how people view the world.
30 years ago you could look at a demographic profile and make a decision that if you wanted to reach businessmen of a certain income and age you should advertise in the Financial Review or Wall Street Journal. These days, people gather their information in a more varied way.
The Internet allows people to search for precisely what they want. Readership of newspapers and magazines are dramatically down. TV viewing is down. Radio listeners are down. People go to their clan or their group to find information. And people have always hung out with like-minded people and exchanged ideas and information.
Making your decisions with only demographic data will not be helpful to your practice.
So what has replaced demographics? In recent times we have started to look at psychographic profiles – we work out the common things our best patients think, value and believe in.
Why do people do what they do? To do this you ask questions such as:
· What needs are your best customers/patients looking to fulfill?
· What beliefs about themselves and the world do they hold?
· What inspires them?
· What problems do they have?
· What is similar in how they view the world?
· Where do they “hang out”?
Psychologists have been doing something similar for years when they look at tools to help profile people. They look at ways of categorizing ways people view and interact with the world.
How might this work for your practice?
Recently I studied the demographic data for a pharmacy which had retained BAC Medical Marketing’s services. They were located in a blue collar, lower income suburb.
I found that their best patients/customers were split into two categories – young moms with very small children, and retired people. Our client chose to focus on the young mom market.
I turned to psychographics to look for similarities in the way they viewed the world.
Many of them had grown up in a life of semi-hardship. The majority now live in the same or close suburb to the one they grew up in. They were locals who had been to the local school before marrying and settling down in their community.
“I want my kids to have a better life than I did when I was growing up” was a common saying among these women when talking about their kids. “I want my kids to be healthy so they can do their best in school and make something of themselves” and “When it comes to my kid’s health, money is not an issue – their health is more important than money” were also popular sayings.
So how did this translate into my marketing?
I placed an emphasis on boosting the health of their kids to help their school performance, and to set them up for the future.
I used pictures and colors that reflected the taste and age of their children (and not some over the top flash designer's ideas of what kids and families look like).
Is this manipulation?
No. I just looked at the pharmacy’s customer base and sought to understand their needs better. The business wanted more customers just like the ones they had, so by directing our marketing to the psychographic profile of their best customers, our marketing made it easier for new customers to feel right at home with the company.
Now it’s your turn. Get inside your patients’ heads.
Start with your best patients – the ones you truly love to see.
What makes them so great? How do they view the world? What problems are they trying to solve by coming to you? What do they value? Where do they hang out?
While you are at it, have a look inside yourself.
What makes you so great? How do you view the world? What problems do you love to solve? What are your values? Where do you hang out?
When your profile and your patient’s profile are congruent, then your practice booms. If you are in a state of flux and you are not clear on your own profile, you’re likely to attract patients that aren’t profitable, or simply don’t provide the cases you want to treat.
Getting clear on your own profile and matching it to the profile of your ideal patient makes your practice marketing easier, your case acceptance easier, and your life easier.