Rich Briddock: “I think if anybody listening to this podcast is going to go down the road of an offer or a promotion, it’s important to understand if that offer or promotion is actually something that your end consumers care about.”
Alex Membrillo: What’s going on everybody? Hope you’re enjoying your drive, your workout, or your walk with your dog. Whatever it is, thanks for joining us on Ignite. I am Alex Membrillo, CEO of Cardinal Digital Marketing. We’ve got Rich Briddock, our SVP of performance marketing. I think that means he’s important, but what I do know is it means he’s smart. What’s up, Rich? Welcome to Ignite.
Rich Briddock: What’s up, Alex? How are you doing?
Alex: I’m good. Thanks for joining me today. This will be a fun one, it’s something we haven’t really touched on in a blog or webinar or podcast yet. We’re going to talk about offers, making offers. Making offers. Oh my gosh, how do you make offers and healthcare? That sounds so sleazy. We’re not retail o, but you might need to be a little bit. The best high-performance, high-growth healthcare groups have great offers, ways to get patients in the door. We’re going to talk about that with Rich. Why do you think it is that a lot of healthcare groups don’t have offers?
Rich: I think you’ve touched on it. Which is a lot of healthcare, you feel like you can’t debase someone’s healthcare, someone’s treatment by putting an offer around it. When people use the word offer, they are thinking about things like BOGOs. They’re thinking about things like 50% off. They’re thinking about Black Friday sales. That doesn’t mesh with cancer treatment. You’re not going to go out there into the marketplace and be like 50% off your cancer treatment. That is a completely nonsensical thing to do.
I think for most healthcare providers that are not low acuity, so they are not competing with people heavily inside a low acuity marketplace. They should think about the term offer more as an offering. What are you offering? How do you position your service, your product in a way that offers something new, something different to your end consumer? I think that’s the distinction that you have to make when you have some of these more high consideration things. Some of these more complex procedures is, what are you actually offering that helps you stand out from everybody else that says that they do the things that you do. It doesn’t have to be 20% off, or buy one get one free.
Alex: Give us some examples of what you see out there. Is it only low acuity that this works with, or an orthopedic surgeon could do something too?
Rich: I think orthopedic surgeons can do something when you move from offer to offering. I don’t think that you’re going to get a lot of what we would call retail promotion offers when you get into that higher acuity level of healthcare. With high acuity healthcare, obviously, when it comes down to affordability and cost, it’s all about insurance coverage. If you have insurance coverage, make sure that you talk about it. One of the things that we see on a lot of medical websites even for clients where we manage their marketing, they do not talk about insurance coverage. They deem it to be a gimme that everybody assumes that they accept health insurance, but that’s not always the case.
The consumer needs to know these things, and if in doubt, make sure that you add as much clarity as you can around your offering. The first thing that a lot of patients care about is cost. Can I afford this treatment, the cost of health care being what they are? It’s very easy to convey that you accept insurance. You can make a very small banner on your website, on your homepage, on your landing page, most major insurance accepted. You don’t have to list out every single one, but list out the major players that make up 80% of your patient population. It’s a simple thing to do.
I think in terms of when we’re thinking about price and affordability, insurance is key. I think in terms of just offerings, think about terms of differentiation. Ultimately what most offers and promos are trying to push is differentiation. I do exactly the same thing as this guy, but I’ll do it for half the price. That’s my differentiation because I have an offer right now. I just went laptop shopping the other day, and I knew exactly what components I needed in the laptop. Really I’m looking at the price like how cheap can I get that thing because there are multiple laptops out there that do what I need.
You’ve got to think about what your differentiation is and it’s not going to necessarily be price, but you probably do have a differentiation. Like you’ve got the best brand reputation, you’ve been in business the longest, you have some technology that allows you to perform a procedure that nobody else has, or you’ve patented something. There are all of these things that could be potential differentiation. I’ll give you an example, I went to the dentist one time and he shows me the machine that he’s got that makes the molds the crown right there as you sit in the chair and then you get it to put on straight away. You won’t have to come back for a follow-up appointment for a crown.
That’s an offering that is unique to him. If you think about convenience in people’s lives, that is a unique offering. A lot of dentists do not have that, and that is something that is appealing to me as a patient. I would think more about what can you say that differentiates yourself, that appeals to your patient. It doesn’t have to be price-driven.
Alex: Something cool I saw high acuity doing, is a spine surgery free second MRI review. It can be these like common things you do anyway, but you’re like holy smokes that actually would appeal to a lot of our patients based on feedback we got. Is this just for advertising to work better? Is it also have operational implications, it’ll make the group run smoother. What is this for?
Rich: Especially on the low acuity side, it really can assist with getting traction on advertising, and getting engagement. Oftentimes, a promotion if it’s positioned in the correct way, can remove a barrier for the end-user to then convert. I’ll give you a good example, we have a DSO client and–
Alex: What’s a DSO?
Rich: A DSO is essentially an organization that corporately owns a lot of dental practices. Think about a multi-location, dental provider, hundreds of locations, and they specialize in ortho. One of the things that they do that works really well, it’s a monthly payment offer. You pay the full price, so it’s not technically cheaper but it is you pay $149 a month, it’s 0% interest. Essentially, that removes the barrier of, I don’t have $6,500 right now that I can just throw at braces of Invisalign, but I can afford $149 a month.
What so essentially what that offer does is not only does it get more engagement, upfront. It catches your eye because there’s an offer, and we tend to respond well to offers when we think we’re getting something that’s the whole dopamine effect. It also removes the friction of affordability because I can afford $149 a month. What they find on the backend is that more leads turn into patients and schedule appointments because you’ve removed that friction of, I would love to get Invisalign and get my teeth fixed but I can’t afford to come out of pocket for 6,500 bucks.
Alex: How did that client find out that that was the best offer? Testing advertising or talking to patients, what did they do?
Rich: I think a little bit of both. Both in terms of testing of advertising, seeing what the conversion rate was of some of these ads, and what the initial engagement was upfront. Then also doing user research, patient research, and sending surveys out to their past patients, understanding what appealed to them in terms of getting them to take action now. You should always be talking to your patients and you should always be understanding what makes them tick and what makes them both choose you but also not use you or not choose to use you at a certain time.
What they found was for the majority of that core demo, which is matriarchs. The thing that stands in the way is it’s a cash flow thing, it’s not a price point thing. It’s, I’m willing to pay $6000-$7,000 for some Invisalign or for some braces, but I can’t chuck that out all at once, so it is much more about cash flow. I think the other thing too, about that example, which is another lesson that can be drawn from that is that’s where the world is going.
Companies like Affirm and Klarna and all of these deferral companies are on the rise like crazy because that’s where consumer behavior is going. Which is I don’t pay for anything upfront. I pay 0% interest over 24 months, that’s how I buy any major purchase. Another lesson for healthcare providers is it’s going to be easy to convert people if you give them an option to engage in the same purchase behavior that they take across other industries. I’m used to deferred payments and use the 12 months interest-free credit, 24 months interest-free credit.
If you can give me a similar deal that I can get on my TV at Best Buy, awesome I’m all in. Because I know that process and I know how it works. Whereas, if you tell me I’ve got to pay someone this closed amount upfront, then they’re going to process stuff through my insurance company, I don’t know how much I’ve got to pay on the backend. That’s scary to a consumer, there’s a lot of unknowns there. Whereas if you just have it in black and white, $149 a month, I know I can afford it.
Alex: Any other examples of offers in healthcare you could give our listeners?
Rich: There’s plenty that gets thrown around. We did some user research for another dental client of ours, because they forever had a free whitening free toothbrush offer. That is a very common offer in the dental space. I think if anybody listening to this podcast is going to go down the road of an offer or a promotion, it’s important to understand if that offer or promotion is actually something that your end consumers care about. We did a survey of 400 patients looking for just general dentistry and we listed a bunch of offers, and free whitening and free toothbrush was on those lists.
What we found is of the seven offers that we listed, they were sixth and seventh in terms of popularity, because it’s a saturated offer. If you think about it, it’s ambiguous, people don’t really understand is it a free 5$ toothbrush that I’m getting, is it a free 40$ toothbrush that I’m getting, how good is that offer. What people really want is they want money off, or they want a percent off their services, because they’re coming in for specific services. They don’t really want add-ons or bolt-ons, they want, “I’ve got to pay the dentist $200, if you take $100 off, now I only have to pay you $100.” That a much better offer.
The other thing that we did in that survey too is we said, “How important is it for you guys in the buying decision that there is an offer?” and what most people came back and said is “It’s not that important to me. Its not the main thing that makes me decide which dental provider that I go to”.
Alex: That’s very interesting, so what does matter? The differentiation point, “We’re cleaner, safer, better, you’ll live longer.” What?
Rich: Generally provider reputation is the number one thing. Then I think following from provider reputation, it is convenience. Are you five minutes from my house, can I come and see you any time I want, can I fit you around my schedule? If you’re behavioral health, do you have telehealth services? Those kind of things are more important. Affordability is also very important, but not in the sense of promo. Affordability more in the sense of like, “Do you accept my insurance?” I mean network, those kind of affordability questions.
Alex: Affordability, safety provider reputation, you mentioned number one. How often do I need to refresh my offer? Are we going to go until 2025 with the same offer? Patients should still care about the same thing?
Rich: No. I think if you are going to use an offer, make sure is compelling, make sure is what your patients care about, do some research there. Then experiment with the ways that you present your offer, so you should be switching out. Even if you’re going to use the same offer, experiment with the way you present it. You may sell $6,000 braces and you may do a $1,000 off. It’s fair enough presenting that as a percentage off instead of a dollar amount off, because your patient base will look at these things differently and react to them differently.
I would say if you going to do some disruptive marketing you probably want to be tinkering with your offer every couple months. You may not find a better offer, but certain different audience demographics that you go after are actually going to respond differently to different offers. Especially in the healthcare space you may have some offers that are aimed more towards insured, you may have different offers that are aimed towards the uninsured. Again, you should be switching out offers but you should also be segmenting your patient base and figuring out which offer is right for which segment.
There’s a lot you can do with promos, you should definitely not be like, “Okay this is our offer, and let’s just run this for the next 10 years.” That’s not going to work well. Think about different offers, think about different offers for different audiences, and think about different ways to present the same offer to keep it fresh.
Alex: Got you, and don’t just copy way your competitors are doing because they looked innovative. You have a different patient base because you’ll be in a different area. Don’t go with what the big conglomerates are doing, it may not apply to your patient base and consumer and patient behavior change over time with the economy. Some things matter at certain times in the economy and political scene that doesn’t matter in a couple of years. Always change it up, always survey your patients. Rich, super insightful, thank you for joining us on Ignite, talking about offers and offerings in healthcare.
Rich: Thanks for having me.
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