Keeping Traffic Up During the Holiday Season


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It's not surprise that the holiday season isn't the best time of year for healthcare professionals to acquire new patients. With insurance programs expiring and household spend focused on holiday gifts, routine appointments are often an uncommon concern. This guide will help you increase new patient referrals, even during that tough holiday season.

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Keeping Traffic Up During the Holiday Season

  1. 1. Introduction Whether you’re the owner of a high-profile dental practice or managing small specialty practice, everyone experiences a slow season. The holiday season in particular marks an increasingly slow period for health industry professions; while your patients are out shopping for seasonal gifts or traveling to visit family, their pocketbooks typically turn away from many health-related expenses. So the question remains, how do you increase revenue during the holiday season?
  2. 2. 1 Your Website is the Foundation Many practice owners think having a website is enough to make them thrive, which isn’t always true. Your website should be the cornerstone of your web presence, but during a slower holiday season, a website alone may not provide you the exposure you need to keep your appointment books full. Time and time again marketing professionals stress the importance of managing your social networks – so here it is one more time. Social media is critical; each platform gives your practice added exposure, and managing the social profiles is an inexpensive and easy way to spread news about your practice. To benefit from your social media accounts, provide regular posts and updates about your practice. Patients want to know what’s going on with your practice, and when you post valuable information, they become more likely to share this information with their individual networks.
  3. 3. If you are especially slow during the holiday season, use any extra time to stockpile social media posts. You don’t have to come up with clever updates on-the-spot. Creating a supply of social media posts will help you maintain a steady posting schedule during a busy season by simply copying, pasting, and publishing a stockpiled post onto your social media profiles. Blogs are also a proven source of beneficial web traffic. A blog allows you to write regular articles or shorter blurbs about events your practice sponsors, or new cutting-edge technology your practice acquires. By providing an inside look, current and prospective patients gain further insight about your education, experience, and specialties. Again, blog posts can be written ahead of time and saved to be posted at a later time.
  4. 4. 2 Online-only Specials The digital revolution has allowed information to travel at an alarming rate; cash in on the opportunity. During a slow season, the most cost-effective and broad-reaching method of advertising is online, and nothing speaks to an empty pocketbook quite like a “good deal.” While many other practices are cutting back on marketing initiatives during the holiday season, you can take advantage of this opportunity to win over new patients by offering more competitive pricing. Creating a Facebook-Only or Twitter-Only special will reach current and prospective patients, capturing their attention and enticing them to employ your services.
  5. 5. Consider running specials on services that patients and prospects need compared to elective services. During the holiday season, patients are more frugal, but extending a discount on a necessary service, such as an exam and cleaning, will make patients more inclined to schedule an appointment.
  6. 6. 3 Hit the Refresh Key If you haven’t refreshed the design or content on your website in a while, a slower season is the perfect time to revamp. Since Google announced their “freshness” update, we know that periodically updating your site can have a positive impact on search engine optimization (SEO) efforts. Amplifying your SEO endeavors will help you stand out on search engine results, making you the go-to practice for an online prospect.
  7. 7. 4 Create the Cure You can increase patient loyalty and gain new patient interest any time of the year by “curing” your patients. For example, Halloween may cause children to garner new cavities. If your services can cure a problem caused during your slow season, let your market know. For Example: You could create social media posts that say: “Did you over-indulge on holiday sweets? Prevent new cavities from forming with a post-holiday check-up! Contact us to schedule your appointment today.”
  8. 8. 5 Reach Out to Exisiting Customers When marketing your practice, don’t forget to reach out to your current patients. Many professionals unintentionally drop marketing efforts to prospects as soon as they become patients. Remember that marketing to current patients has increased earning potential – especially during a slow season. If you want to get the attention of current patients, direct mail is one of your best bets. You may be thinking “no one looks at junk mail”, and you’d be completely wrong. • Studies indicate that 89% of people with families open all the mail they receive. • 76% of people make a purchase based on the mail they see. • These numbers increase when the mail is directly addressed to the recipient.
  9. 9. To use these statistics to your advantage, capitalize on direct mail by targeting your current patients and mailing them coupons or promotional information that will be valid during your slow season. Also, not everyone is living in a technical world; some people aren’t plugged in to Twitter and don’t want to search the Internet to find your practice. Completely ignoring these consumer preferences allows your competitors to capitalize on your missed opportunity. To cater to this audience, consider sending informational mailers marketing your practice.
  10. 10. 6 Speak Their Language As means of communication improve and increase, some people become less inclined to actually communicate. Text-messaging and emailing have become the “way of the world”, and if you don’t adapt to it, you may be faced with frustrated patients. In fact, studies show 80% of practitioner office patients prefer a means of alternate communication, such as email or text-messaging. Electronic appointment requests and email communications allow your patients to receive alerts and reminders on-the-go and enable them to respond on their time, not yours. It’s an added convenience that many practices are not taking advantage of. During a slow season, little details, such as these, could win over new patients. Also, electronic communication reduces the amount of phone-tag your receptionists have to play with patients, freeing them up to focus on other details.
  11. 11. 7 Accommodate Your Patrons Working the standard 8 to 5 used to be par for the course, but as schedules change, the economy shifts, and holiday seasons slow business traffic, you have to adapt to your market’s demand. If you find patients increasingly scheduling early morning appointments, shift your schedule to accommodate these early risers. Similarly, if you’re losing patients because they work the same hours you do, any practice staying open later to gratify them is likely stealing your business. Compete by shifting to later open and close times. Putting your patients’ needs first will satisfy your existing patients, making them less likely to leave, and will allow you to accommodate new patients who may prefer your schedule over their previous provider’s.
  12. 12. 8 Create a Holiday Promotion Whether shopping on Black Friday, Cyber Monday, or the day after Christmas, holiday shoppers are savvy consumers and are always looking to score a great deal. If you notice slowing during this season, make the most of the careful consumer: • Create a holiday promotion, such as “12 Days of Discounted Services”, and market them in mailers and/or online. Create holiday-themed promotions to show future and current patients you’re offering great deals. • Offer a seasonal referral program that extends a free service, such as teeth whitening for a dentist, to any existing patient who refers a new patient to the practice. Not only will this referral program generate new business, but it will benefit your practice by increasing your number of patients and improving current patient appreciation. Because each profession has different rules about referral programs and “referral gifts”, be sure to abide by state regulations.
  13. 13. 9 Ask for Testimonials In addition to referring their friends and family, happy patients are also more inclined to give you happy feedback. This creates the perfect opportunity to ask patients to post details about their positive experiences online, so future prospects can see how pleased others are with your services.