By Michael Tetreault, Editor
DECEMBER 22, 2013 – ‘Tis the season to drape your signage and office lobby in greenery, twinkling lights, hang a “LIVE” Christmas wreath onto your door and get prepped for the onset of happy holiday patients.
Busy patients are out and about and rushing to get their last minute shopping done and more importantly, fill those last-minute prescriptions and forgotten office visits before the end of the year. That’s where you come in. The holiday season is an ideal opportunity for you to soften the beaches in their minds that your medical practice is the best spot to stop and refuel and make sure your holiday season is a healthy one. It’s also a time to draw their attention to refilling upcoming prescriptions, book January appointments about nutritional and healthy eating seminars you’re planning to do in your office and tell them about a special holiday themed event or promotion your running.
With an ounce of creativity, your holiday event or promotion can be as simple as dropping a holiday prescription reminder in the mail to each of your patients or tell them that a donation point for a local charity or that you’re accepting canned goods for a holiday charity drive. The key is creating enough top of mind awareness to keep your medical practice on speed dial during a time when patients are so easily distracted.
Here are three great ideas for driving foot traffic to your private-pay medical during the bustling holiday season.
1. Collect Canned Goods or Host a Charity Drive
Nothing shows goodwill during the holidays like giving to others. It’s one of the easiest and most charitable efforts you can do each year and still involve your patients. It’s easy to advertise, easy to collect and easy to drop off donated items once the charity drive is over.
We recommend partnering with a locally based charitable organization for a holiday collection drive. Habitat For Humanity or the Habitat Home Store (if applicable) in your area might be looking for clothing, toiletry items, hammers, etc. Local churches are always looking for partners to assist them in their community with the collection of canned goods, food and other items.
Ask your local area churches close to your practice about how you can help collect items and drop them off this holiday season. Then, send a list of these items to your patients by email, in the office via a flyer, etc. Ask for support relating to your charity drive by promoting your practice and location through social media and email.
Besides doing something good for your community, if your patients, Facebook fans or LinkedIn followers know that they can knock off to-do’s on their list, fill their hubbies prescription, get a quick sore throat check-up and drop off a holiday donation, they’re more likely to make a point in stopping by. Because space is an issue for medical practice owners, consider collecting smaller gifts such as pet toys for a local animal shelter or hygiene items for a homeless center and put the collection boxes, nicely decorated of course, and positioned in a prominent location where most of your patients will see items being donated in your lobby or waiting area.
2. Hit the Mail
Holiday cards to your favorite patients, drug and DME suppliers and physician supporters are a great way to encourage physician referrals towards your practice in the New Year. This not only creates a personal connection but it’s also an opportunity you to slip in a note about your practice, special services you provide and about your charity drive throughout the season.
Handle the mailing yourself with an on-the-go compact mailing system or stamps.com so you can get your cards in the mail pronto. If you miss the post-Christmas mailing deadline, New Year’s cards work just as well to remind your followers to stop in and book their next appointment.
3. Amp up Your Patient Testimonials, Online Reviews, Reputation and Social Media
There’s nothing better than a great patient testimonial, am I right? Well, with the holidays upon us, people, especially your patients, typically feel in a generous and giving mood. That being said, they’d probably enjoy writing a sentence or two about you, their experience with your practice and staff on one of the physician review web sites.
4. You have a Facebook page, don’t you? If not, get one. Now!
Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and Pinterest are thrifty and effective buzz-generating mediums for promoting just about anything, especially good word of mouth referrals. Create Facebook Events for each promotion and invite your friends. Post photos on Instagram of your holiday lights, your staff in elf hats, holiday treats, and happy patients (with their permission of course). Create a Pinterest contest where customers can pin photos of their donation they brought into your office in order to qualify to win a free gift basket. The options are endless but bottom line, social media creates a visual online picture that your medical practice is the place to be during the holiday season.