Inviting Customers to be Brand Ambassadors
“Everyone is a marketer”
By Sarah Salvatori, MBA, and Alexandria Zitnik
Not everyone has the ability to hire a large marketing team.
Why not utilize the resources you have including your employees, patients, and community? The greatest compliment is a referral from a patient or a repeat customer. Leveraging your data and relationships can provide a huge return on investment year after year.
THE VALUE OF WORD-OF-MOUTH MARKETING
Organic word-of-mouth marketing usually occurs when patients or customers are satisfied with their therapy experience. This could range from seeing great outcomes during their episode of care, enjoying your staff and treatment providers, finding your facility clean and inviting, or all of the above. When your customer enjoys the experience with your organization, word-of-mouth marketing happens naturally as humans’ have a natural desire to share positive experiences to support friends, family, coworkers, and community groups. A study by Ogilvy Cannes found that 74% of customers look at word of mouth as a key influencer in their purchasing decisions.1 When customers are sharing their enthusiasm with their peers, they are becoming a business and brand ambassador for our organizations. These business ambassadors are likely to engage and help grow your social media presence as well as brand recognition in your local communities.
Organically grow your social media following by connecting with patients and community members. We know that social media advertising is not always in the budget. Effective marketing can be expensive, which is why it is important to connect socially with the many low-budget resources your organization might already utilize. Use the following tips to grow your social media following:
- Encourage your employees to like and follow your organization on all active social media channels.
- Invite your community partners, local vendors, and customers to connect with you online. This can be done in person or over email. Simply letting them know you are on the social channels can often be the nudge needed to connect and grow your network.
- Make sure you are doing what you can to share with your contacts your social media presence. Include small call-to-actions on marketing materials stating, “connect with us online by following us @irgpt on Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter.” Make sure your website has a section for social linking out to each account. This can be done by simply including media icon links to your company’s social networks making it easy to click and connect with instantly. Another example we use at IRG is that all of our employees have the option to utilize our company branded email signatures, which includes icons linking to each active social platform:
- Last, create engaging content with which your customers want to share and interact. This is so important when working to organically grow your social media following. After you do all that work to connect and grow your audience on social media, you’ll want to make sure you are keeping them around and engaged. We always want to make sure we’re creating content that is ideal for our targeted audience or client. In our case, that targeted client or audiences are often new, current, and past patients. If they are already following you on social media, they are probably there because they’re interested in your services or they really enjoyed their time with you in the clinic.
Think about the services you offer and the purpose people might be coming to your social media platforms. Are they seeking more tips on exercises and stretching after they have been cleared and discharged from therapy? Are they looking for events or ways for them to stay or get connected with the clinic or business? Identify why your audience is coming to your pages, and what they are looking for and create content around those needs. We like to use our social media as an educational platform, sharing new services, helpful exercises, health blogs or articles, nutritional information, and community health events. Our audience responds very well and seems to enjoy videos and imagery. We discovered this by going back and looking at previous posts and taking note of the level of engagement that took place on different styles of posts. When creating content, ask yourself, “would I share this post with my friends and family if I didn’t work for my organization?” If your answer is no, then maybe it’s time to revamp the content you are sharing and creating. If you wouldn’t share it yourself, then how can you expect one of your followers to do so either?
Marketing Metrics – ROI/Measurement
It is important that your organization has an understanding of what exact information you want to gather, what information allows you to create change, and what information the people in your organization can control. When holding a business-level social media account, the platform provides measurement tools to help you better understand your audience and what they respond well to. The insight or analytic sections of your platforms will allow you to identify your audience demographics and when your followers are most active on the platform. Of course, you can dive deeper in more analytical aspects, but start small by getting to know your audience demographics. This will help guide you in content creation for the future.
The NPS Score
The NPS Score is the most common customer experience measurement. Customer experience is the driver determining who is going to tell their friends about their experience and will be your biggest advocate. Loyalty turns into engagement not just in the clinic but across media platforms and into other services.
Is your practice sending out surveys to your patients? Following up after initial evaluation and at discharge with a short survey gives you the opportunity to not only correct negative action if needed but to connect and identify your promoters. This is your opportunity to connect with those individuals who have indicated through positive reviews and surveys that they are part of your family and want to share their experience with others. Encourage them to share those experiences, create rewards by incorporating systems like Refer-A-Friend, and don’t hesitate to connect with them regularly.
Return Patient Metrics
Loyalty to your brand, especially in a time of convenience and accessibility, means something. Your “repeat” or brand loyal customers are your champions and they should be treated as such. How are you measuring your repeat or returning patients? Are you connecting with them to check-in? Maybe you are offering them new services or things like a virtual check-in with a provider or a Fit Factor Screen? It does not matter how you do this; what is important is that you are making an effort to connect and thank those whose loyalty is helping your grow your business.
We know the goal of online and community engagement is to do what we can to educate our communities, connect and grow social media followings, and receive positive reviews online or through surveys. In theory, this all seems simple, but getting that level of engagement can be difficult, and sometimes you have to ask. Identifying your ask allows you and your organization to formulate a game plan. It is traditionally hard to ask a patient to refer a friend or rate your organization on Google or Yelp. Identifying your brand-loyal patients and simply asking will not only drive new customers to your business but create an environment where it is OK to openly and respectfully engage in dialogue surrounding patient satisfaction. We are all marketers and need to be proud of the work we do and the organizations we work for.
DEVELOPING A STRATEGIC MARKETING PLAN: THE EDITORIAL CALENDAR
Why should your company incorporate the use of an editorial calendar in your marketing plan?
An editorial calendar allows you and your business to gather ideas, plan content, and stay organized from month to month or throughout the entire year. In health care, things are constantly changing and although we can’t plan for every change, we can at least utilize tools like an editorial calendar to help us prepare for the things that we can control. Once an editorial calendar is created and shared with the appropriate people, it can aid in keeping everyone on track with social media and other marketing related tasks.
Start by mapping out all the communication channels your practice uses, including social media platforms, print media, websites, radio, television, sponsorships, etc. Next, create a list that includes constant deliverables or projects that you know your organization completes or is involved with every year. These can range from annual events to campaigns and holidays. Start by mapping out three months of content and messaging. This can be done utilizing project management tools such as Trello, Asana, or Google Project, or whatever tracking tool works best for you. The importance of the editorial calendar is planning for the future, and it does not matter what tools you use as long as they work for you and your team. Ideally you want to use a tool that allows you to differentiate between started and completed projects so that you and your team can easily keep track of progress as well as future and completed projects. Utilizing a tracking tool can help add a sense of accomplishment to your team’s efforts.
What kind of content should be on an editorial calendar? When planning out an editorial calendar, try to envision your marketing from a 30,000-foot view. Establish what tasks are associated with larger and annual projects and what is needed to ensure the project is completed. Does your team need to create social graphics for an event or highlight a holiday or health awareness month? Make an effort to account for those tasks when planning your calendar. Tasks that are often found on a basic editorial calendar are:
- Health awareness month and days
- Seasonal campaigns
- Quarterly newsletters
- Blogs for your website
1Coffee P. Ogilvy Cannes Study: Behold the Power of Word of Mouth. AdWeek website. http://www.adweek.com/digital/ogilvy-cannes-study-behold-the-power-of-word-of-mouth/?red=pr. Published June 19, 2014. Accessed August 7, 2020.
Sarah Salvatori, MBA is the Social Media & Marketing Project Manager for IRG Physical & Hand Therapy located the Greater Seattle Area. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or @sarahsalvatori on Instagram. Alexandria Zitnik is the Director of Business Development for IRG Physical & Hand Therapy in Mill Creek, Washington. She can be reached at email@example.com.