Creating deep roots ensures a more stable business, and it’s stability that business owners are craving right now postpandemic and lockdo, alongside the ability to bounce back. Re-evaluating your culture, your communications and your customer journey are all vital exercises that will ensure a business is able to flex and thrive. When practitioners or clinic owners come to me for help in these areas, I take them through my five-step plan to developing DEPTH in their business, from rapport and reciprocity to communicating and up-levelling customer relationships as well as staying front of mind.
RAPPORT AND RECIPROCITY
Having been trained in Dr Robert Cialdini’s Art of Persuasion, I’m proud to help clinic owners understand the nuanced differences in language and positioning so that they can reap better results. One such example of this is reciprocity – when a person responds to a positive action with another positive action. Offering patients a gift as a thanks for being loyal to your clinic can go a long way, as you are effectively building a level of understanding and respect that will make them feel more inclined in the future to do something for you in return. It’s a gift without any ties of course, but it’s a gesture that can be followed up with a request. Some of the positive returned actions from clients could include repeat business, eagerness to try alternative (or higher level) services you offer, referrals to your clinic, and sharing positive feedback such as testimonials and social media star ratings.
Dr Cialdini’s contrast theory is another highly effective technique and works by asking someone for something which requires more effort, for example their participation in a two-page case study on their treatment with you (which would be great news if they say yes). If they say no, rather than retreating and accepting the “no”, he recommends responding with another, smaller request, one which you were really interested in all along, such as a one-paragraph testimonial quote for an online review. This tactic works because if you make a genuine concession, the person feels like you’ve done them a favour (reciprocity) in asking them to agree to do less.
To communicate with a purpose – and using a variety of methods (social media, marketing collateral and mail-outs, emails, and website updates) – you need to be tracking your strategy. Without one, you’ll never really know what’s working and what’s not. Think about when your contacts were communicated with, track feedback such as email open rates and website clicks, when and how they were followed up, and by whom. Timing is crucial. For example, if you’re an aesthetic practitioner offering more accessible and repeatable treatments, it’s going to be appropriate for you to communicate more frequently than someone in a specialist area. All you need to do to work out the right level is test and measure. If you’re finding that you are getting a lot of unsubscribes for weekly emails, make sure that the content is appropriate to the audience and that you’re sharing advice and guidance too. Don’t bombard them with sales messages and promotions too often — no one likes to be pitched to constantly, but most like buying. So, try out different approaches and compare your numbers until you get very few people unsubscribing, and lots of positive enquiries coming through.
When it comes to cash flow, many businesses start from zero each month and work hard to get that figure up across the following weeks. Starting from zero is a risk, and in business, reducing risks is vital to ensuring longevity and future success, not to mention peace of mind. One strategy that many of my clients have achieved enormous success with is the introduction of “VIP clubs” as a way of easing that financial pressure each and every month. If your clinic could allow you to transfer your customers onto a retainer, then it’s well worth considering, as it could ease and enable you to have even more control over your cash flow. But to make that option a success, it needs to be a win-win for both you and your customers.
“Reducing risks is vital to ensuring longevity and future success, not to mention peace of mind”
The idea behind this is that you create an exclusive offer for your very best clients. This can be in the form of the aforementioned VIP club or a “Platinum membership”, whereby they essentially pay to be part of something really special. You’ll need think about what you could include as part of this exclusive club or membership, but whatever you decide, it needs to be easy for your customers to recognise the value of becoming a member. For example, if it’s costing them £300 a month, ensure that you go above and beyond to impress them by offering £400-worth of treatments, early exclusive access to new products or services, and other added bonuses however you see fit. And the impact this can have shouldn’t be underestimated. Based on 20 members each paying £300 per month, your VIP club could generate an instant £6,000 a month for your clinic before you even open your doors on the first of the month.
You also have the option of introducing packages to up-level your existing clients. The argument for a three-tier pricing structure is perhaps most succinctly described by distinguished author and therapist Virginia Satir: “To have one choice is no choice; to have two choices is a dilemma; and to have three choices offers new possibilities.” Price anchoring sees individuals rely heavily on the first piece of information they are given. If the first treatment on your list is £4,000, the second is £2,000 and the third is £1,000, the second doesn’t seem as expensive. But if the first price they read is £1,000, the second is £2,000 and the third £4,000, this changes the perception of the affordability of the second.
Despite this, within aesthetics it’s not as easy as placing a moderately-priced car next to a top-of-the-range model, but you can absolutely influence how motivated patients are to spend their hard-earned money by thinking carefully about the order in which you present pricing information to them.
STAYING FRONT OF MIND
Everyone has learned the importance of flexibility over the last year and a half — from brands changing their product lines in order to survive and meet changing market demands, to companies enabling employees to work in a completely new, flexible way. Adapting your sales and marketing strategy in line with your business’s goals and objectives is key to ensure you stay front of mind to the people who matter most to your clinic. Building (and maintaining) respect with your existing clients, communicating often and with real purpose, giving back to them whether through reciprocity or gift giving, and positioning your value in the right way can go a long way.
The most important asset is your patient or client, and if you want to build a stable business that’s able to not only survive but can thrive now the world has opened back up, you need to consider your entire customer journey — from initial awareness, through to onboarding and earning their trust and respect to the point they become part of your “tribe”.
There are many things in life and in business that we can’t predict. Having an agile sales and marketing strategy isn’t automatically going to guarantee that your clinic can sail through any challenge thrown your way, but it does put you in a much better position to ride the waves.
Alan Adams is an awardwinning business coach and bestselling author. He has published a series of books on helping business owners achieve the ultimate sustainable growth. His most recent book, The Beautiful Business, is specifically for medical, cosmetic and aesthetic clinic owners. Contact him: thetopcliniccoach.com