Use testimonials to market my practice, really?
Yes… just think about it.
Who do you believe more?
- The sales person?
- Or the individual telling you firsthand about their experience?
Typically it’s not the salesperson, but it’s the person with firsthand experience.
This phenomenon also applies to your practice.
- In general, people believe more what others say about you than what you tell them about yourself.
- What your patients say about you carries far more weight than what you say about yourself.
So why not utilize this principle in marketing your practice?
Do you remember when…?
Thirty years ago, shoppers opened the Yellow Pages. They’d scan through the ads to find the right business for what they needed.
But if it was a big buying decision, like a new car, they’d also talk to friends and family. They wanted to know if someone had firsthand experience with that business and would recommend it.
Fast forward to today…
As much as our world has changed, some things stay the same!
People still want to know more about a business than what they can learn from the ad. They want to have the reassurance that they’re making a good, if not the right decision.
And that’s why most consumers today look for reviews and testimonials before they make a buying decision or selecting a professional service.
Today, we read the reviews, even if it’s just a $0.99 Kindle book. Nobody wants to waste their precious time, even if the price is low!
We read through comments on social media and review sites; we look for client testimonials on websites.
And while social media and public reviews are important, they are not all that matters. Research repeatedly shows, what’s important to people is what’s recommended by their friends and families.
As I said, some things don’t change…
According to a global survey from 2015, published by Nielson.com “Recommendations from friends remain the most credible form of advertising among consumers and branded websites are the second-highest rated form.”
But how do you get recommendations you can share with new, potential patients? You get a testimonial!
Some of your patients will write you a glowing testimonial all by themselves. But most won’t; you’ll have to ask them for it.
So here are three things to consider when getting testimonials from patients.
#1 When should you ask for the testimonial?
The best time to get a testimonial from patients is when they’re telling you how much they enjoy working with you. Don’t wait until later; get the testimonial while you can.
Perhaps they’ve achieved a specific result… They’ve lost weight or now live with less pain since coming to your clinic and are willing to share their experience.
Seize the opportunity… When a patient tells you how wonderful you are, ask if you can use the information as a testimonial in your marketing.
You could simply say something like:
“Thanks so much. I’m glad to hear you appreciate our clinic and the service we provide. Would it be ok if I use what you just shared with me in a testimonial?’
#2 Make it easy for patients.
The easier you make it for your patients to give you a testimonial, the greater your chances of getting it. Unless you make it easy for them, given a testimonial might be viewed as:
- too time-consuming
- too complicated
- or just too difficult
And even once someone has told you it’s ok to use their information, it’s not always easy to get the actual testimonial from them.
Even though people have the best intentions to write down what they just told you, often they don’t get around to it.
Some just forget about it. Others can’t decide what to write down, or some feel uncomfortable with putting words to paper.
So, why not help them out?
Here are a few things you can do:
- Either you or a staff person can interview them right there.
- You could have them answer a few basic questions and based on their answers you write the testimonial and give it to them for review and approval.
- What results did you get?
- What is that you liked particularly well about working with our office?
- What makes us different and unique from other offices?
- You could offer to write the testimonial for them using their words. Describe what they liked about the service and your clinic.Do this as quickly as you can. Give the patient the opportunity to review the testimonial for accuracy and let them make corrections and changes.
- Instead of writing the testimonial for a patient, you could provide a “testimonial checklist” to them. Create a checklist that allows patients to check off what they like about your office and what they would like to highlight in their testimonial. Next, create the testimonial from the checklist and have it approved by the patient.
Remember, often it’s easy for patients to say how much they appreciate what you do. Often it’s much harder for them to put it down on paper; that’s why you may have to help them out.
# 3 Get Permission.
In general, testimonials are most powerful if you include a picture of the person, their full name, and even their contact information.
But since this is a clinical setting, some patients may feel rather uncomfortable with having their picture included. Some also may object to having their full name listed. And that’s ok.
Due to the nature of the setting, you may simply post the testimonial without a picture and only include the initials of the person who gave it.
But if you want to include a picture and name make sure you get explicit permission from the person; and get it in writing. Have them sign a form that permits you to use their testimonial in your marketing materials.
Never use a testimonial without getting the appropriate permission… And always get it in writing!
At times it might be a struggle to get the testimonial, but it’ll be well worth your effort.
Testimonials from patients are powerful. Include them in your marketing to show your credibility and to let the world know how much your patients love working with you.
What do you think? Are you considering collecting testimonials from your patients? Or maybe it’s something you’re already doing.
Either way, let us know; we’d love to hear from you.
By Johanna Hofmann, MBA; regular contributor to the NPBusiness blog.