Do you have an Instant Pot? Even if you haven’t bought one yet, there’s a good chance that several people on your team, and many of your patients, have embraced this popular kitchen gadget. If you ask about it, you’re likely to end up listening to a spiel on how the machine changed their life. Otherwise sane people suddenly wax poetic about the wonders of an electronic pressure cooker.
The Canadian engineering team behind Instant Pot has cracked the secret to successful marketing in the age of social media. They didn’t just engineer a new product, they engineered an incredible customer experience that makes a real difference in people’s lives.
What they learned doesn’t just apply to kitchen gadgets. If you adopt their strategy, you can transform your practice into the Instant Pot of dental practices – something that everyone loves, everyone is talking about, and everyone is eager to recommend to their family, friends, and coworkers.
Step 1: Get inside your potential patients’ heads and learn what’s holding them back.
Think about your potential patients like Instapot engineers thought about their future customers. What do people in your community need to help get them into the office? It’s not a question you can answer quickly. To dig into what’s keeping people away, you need to develop good contacts in your community and really understand the lifestyles of your potential patients.
Robyn Damaris, the brand strategist for PDA Marketing Group, explains
“Understanding that different demographics have different needs seems like a no brainer but it’s something that holds back a lot of practices. Young families, for instance, are typically very busy and will respond to practices that offer convenience, such as before school appointments or family block scheduling. In some markets, older couples with no children seek out healthcare professionals they believe to be prestigious – those who have extensive credentials and a healthy list of patient testimonials. Learning how to anticipate your patients wants and needs is absolutely crucial. Sometimes a simple change, like opening an hour earlier or framing your achievements on your practice walls, can have major impacts on a practice’s overall success. Take the time to get to know your community’s demographics – it will benefit you in the end.”
One of the best ways to develop a sense of your community is to get out, meet people, and talk to them. Seek out local professional groups. Ask your existing patients about the people they know who avoid the dentist. Consider attending a local health fair or talking to primary care providers to learn who is avoiding the dentist and why they’re avoiding appointments. Use your social media accounts to reach out and ask for feedback from people in your community.
Step 2: Remove Roadblocks before Your Patients Meet Them.
Instant Pot addressed customer concerns by engineering a new kind of pressure cooker and then working with bloggers to develop recipes for it. They developed a product to meet the needs of busy families, but also removed a roadblock for early adopters – the problem of not knowing how to use the gadget.
Once you’ve gotten a sense of the main reasons people in your community are neglecting their dental care, you also have to go beyond their stated reason and remove the next roadblock too. So, for instance, take families who want family block scheduling. If you add block scheduling to your practice but don’t include a way to easily make a block appointment online, you haven’t really solved the problem. You’ve simply moved the roadblock a little further down the street. In this case, to meet the need, you don’t only need to add block scheduling. You also need to make it easy for families to schedule block appointments outside of office hours.
If you discover that people aren’t coming in because they lack dental insurance, it’s not enough to announce that you have payment plans. Let them set up a payment plan online, at the time they book their first appointment. Get them enrolled before they walk in the door the first time, and you’ve overcome a major roadblock for them, the question of ‘How can I afford dental care?”
Step 3: Make a positive change in the lives of your current patients.
Instant Pot started out small, but they created a small group of devoted fans who communicated with the company, offered advice, and left reviews online. The early adopters became enthusiastic fans because the Instant Pot made a real, positive difference in their lives. A viral marketing success story was born.
To succeed at viral marketing and bring in new patients, your practice needs to make real, positive changes in the lives of your patients. Too many practices focus on small customer experience tweaks, like texting appointment reminders or redecorating the waiting area, when what they really need to do is change their whole approach to patient health and wellness.
For instance, a significant subset of your patients may see you more often than they see their primary care provider. If something is changing in their overall health, you may be the first to see the signs. Has a patient who was healthy in the past suddenly presented with periodontal disease? They may be in the early stages of Type II diabetes, or be at risk for Alzheimer’s. Your conversations with them about the risks associated with their oral health conditions could save lives and help them receive needed care.
Changing your approach means changing how you think about the typical appointment. Some practices emphasize their concern about a patient’s total health by:
These changes make patient wellness a central concern to the practice. Suddenly, you’re providing care that goes above and beyond expectations. It’s clear you care about your patients, not just restorations, and the word-of-mouth about your practice will reflect that.
Step 4: Share stories online in social media to create a sense of community.
Because of a corporate focus on social media, Instant Pot users find themselves part of a huge and overwhelmingly helpful community. This, in turn, improves their customer experience, as they can receive help, advice, and encouragement almost instantaneously.
When you create community, you give patients an experience that makes them want to keep coming back and teaches them to be actively involved in their treatment. Create an online space where people can share their success stories. Start conversations like “What tricks do you use to establish new oral care habits” or “How do you get more fruit and vegetables into your diet?”
Host occasional ‘patient appreciation’ events with food, fun and door prizes so that your patients can get to know each other. Most of all, encourage them to connect family and friends who are nervous about dental care with your larger patient community. A few enthusiastic cheerleaders can do a lot to get reluctant patients on the road to better oral health.
It All Comes Down to Customer Experience and a Great ‘Product’
Instant Pot cracked the code of viral social media marketing because they focused on creating a great product and then developed a customer experience that made their product into a lifestyle. They’ve hit the sweet spot of viral social media marketing, and they’ve done it in a way that ensures the future of their business. They’re less a “Temporary fad” and more “Mr. Coffee”, something that has quickly become an essential.
If you want your practice to become popular, well-loved, and ultimately essential, be like Instant Pot. Solve your patient’s problems, make real, positive changes in their lives and health, and create a supportive community. When you give you patients an authentic, helpful customer experience, they become enthusiastic viral marketers in your community.
NPR on the Instant Pot