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Segmentation: Targeting Your Patients' Unique Preferences

Wednesday, April 25, 2018 9:00 AM

Aesthetic Medicine, Expert Advice

Written by: Glenn Morley

Glenn Morley
Senior consultant

In today’s dynamic consumer market, many businesses talk about moving toward a “customer-centric” approach by targeting customers based on various criteria such as spending patterns, loyalties, levels of receptivity, and likes and dislikes. Consumers see this strategy every day in the way companies advertise and design their products and programs to fit specific customer types.

Cosmetic practices can benefit by applying this approach — called segmenting — to achieve a greater level of interaction and satisfaction with patients. Patients differ in their needs and motivations, so they should be addressed accordingly. Segmenting patients into groups based on their spending levels, purchasing frequency, and loyalty is a well-founded principle. Effective examples of this type of segmenting include VIP programs, frequent flyer programs, and customer rebate programs.

Go to the Source

Yet, how do you know whether programs like these might work in your practice? The best way to find out is to go to the source — your patients. Conduct surveys and hold focus groups to obtain honest, accurate patient feedback. Ask them: Would programs that reward you for your spending and loyalty be attractive to you?

Sample Targeted Patient Programs

  • VIP events
  • Birthday or holiday discounts
  • Valentine's Day/Mother's Day specials
  • Newsletter coupons
  • "Bring a friend" campaign

For most people, the answer to this question will be a resounding “yes,” but it helps to know exactly what they are looking for and why. The goal of gathering this “what-and-why” information is to identify the needs of different patients and groups (or “segments”) and develop meaningful and targeted programs that will serve them most effectively. Does this information-gathering process mean you might have several different programs for several different patient groups? You bet. Most cosmetic practices try multiple different programs or campaigns (see box) to attract and retain their patients.

To effectively reach your patients, it is critical to understand how they like to receive information. Are most of your patients tech savvy, or do they like to receive information through traditional mail? If they are tech savvy, what does that really mean? For instance, a tech-savvy baby boomer may prefer email communications while a millennial may consider email obsolete and rely on texts or Facebook Messenger. Do they want to hear from you often regarding new products, procedures, and events, or do they prefer to be left alone? Those answers will impact your outreach efforts to communicate new specials and campaigns.

While gaining an understanding of patient preferences and tailoring your efforts to them is effective, success sometimes comes down to trial and error and a bit of luck. To determine program success, look at the financial impact. Also, ask patients through annual satisfaction surveys about how they feel about a specific service or program you provide. From there, you can determine if it’s worth continuing the service or program and formulate next steps.

Patient’s Perspective

Take a good, hard objective look at your programs over a 12-month period and evaluate them from the patient’s perspective, as well as a financial perspective. Being “patient-centric” means understanding the unique needs and desires of your patients and aligning what you do and offer with those needs. If you are doing all the right things and are “patient-centric,” you should be seeing success. If not, be willing to change and try new approaches to your segmentation plan. Segmenting patients based on different criteria will allow you to tailor programs and information to the “right” patients, and it will ultimately lead to greater relevance and practice success.

YOUR TURN: What targeted programs or specials does your practice offer to attract and retain patients? Please leave your response in the comment section below. Thank you.

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