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The Patient Journey: From initial search to first contact

When you’re starting up a new practice, an important aspect of helping you get your first patients is understanding their journey from their first search for a provider to their initial inquiry through to the consultation and finally their first appointment.

patient consultation

There are many avenues that prospective patients can take when researching aesthetic practices or medspas near them. It should come as no surprise that a large number of people will probably find you online – whether through their social networks, an online ad or through a search engine.

Here are the 5 steps you should follow to understand your patient’s journey and help ensure you are attracting the right prospective patients for your practice:

Step 1: Know Your Target Patient

Before you dive in with a marketing plan or hiring an agency to help with your online presence, you need to know who your target patient is.

Is there a particular age demographic you want to target?

Do your prospects live within a certain mile radius of your aesthetic medical practice location?

Have they had any cosmetic procedures done before? Or are you targeting prospective patients that are completely new to these procedures?

If you aren’t sure where to start, you can often get key demographic data from your state, county and city government websites. You can also use Google or Yahoo maps to create great looking geographical highlights.

 

Step 2: List the ways your target patient will likely find you

Pretend you are your target patient. How would you go about trying to search for an aesthetic medical provider?

Would you try an internet search? Would you ask a friend or colleague? Would you start with looking up reviews? Or go to Google maps to see if there was a practice nearby?

Or would you be more likely to do some research about the procedure first?

If you are having a hard time imagining yourself as your target patient, you can start by doing some market research by surveying current or prospective patients who fit your target patient profile.

Step 3: Plan to catch their attention quickly

Once you’ve done the work of profiling your target patient, you will only have a few seconds to get their attention.

Whether you’re going to focus on referrals from current patients or through social media, enlist an agency to help you with online advertising (some of our members work with Authentic Marketing Solutions) or setting up your listings and profiles on local online business directories, Google and Yahoo maps, for each medium, you want to have a clear and compelling offer right off the bat.

Be direct. Be succinct. Use professional and clean images where possible. If you don’t have your own images yet, start with stock photos.

Step 4: Set up multiple ways for prospective patients to reach you

The easier you make it for your prospective patients to contact you, and the faster you can reply to their inquiries, the more likely it is you are going to be able to convert that prospective patient into a paying one!

Set up multiple points of contact on your website and through your advertising.

Some options are having a live chat-window available through your website, including your phone number for people to call or text and a visible contact form or email address for online inquiries.

Wherever possible, use hyperlinking for all contact methods including phone numbers.

More and more people are searching from their mobile devices and not from a computer, linking a phone number will let them call you just by clicking the link!

Setting up a phone service like Grasshopper can help you segment calls that come in and provide a texting service for your current and prospective patients to contact you.

Step 5: Have a follow-up system in place to track results

This is where many people fall down. They spend a lot of money on great ads and marketing efforts, but then don’t do anything with it.

If your prospective patient is phoning in, it’s important for the person answering the phone to ask how they heard about you. You can easily record this data in your EMR (electronic medical records – for example Patient Now or Aesthetic Record) or CRM (customer relationship management).

The reason this is critical is that if you don’t know which ad campaigns are working, you don’t know where to spend your money. 

Remember, though, it may take up to 3 months to know if a new campaign or initiative is working or not. Know what you want from your campaign, but be patient and make sure you have taken the time to know if it’s working for you or not. 

Conclusion

By now, you have a great outline to help you build your plan for attracting your ideal patient!

Remember, you need to start with knowing who it is you want as a patient before you dive in to your marketing efforts.

This may seem like extra work up front, but it will save you time and money down the line. You’ll be glad you did it!

First, define your target patient. Then think like they do. How would they search? Are they tech and internet savvy? Are they really busy working professionals likely to be searching at their desk on their lunch break? Or stay at home parents taking some time to surf on their mobile phones after the kids have gone to bed?

By having a clear and compelling message, multiple ways your prospective patients can reach you (day or night) and a solid follow-up plan to respond to them in a timely manner, you will be well on your way to attracting and retaining your new patient base!

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