When it comes to attracting and winning new clients for your allied health practice, a key element that’s often overlooked is understanding and focusing on your ‘ideal client’ – and positioning your practice so that you clearly show how you can solve their problems to improve their quality of life.
Just as critical is that health practice owners identify and recognise exactly who is seeking their services; this is known as your “target audience.”
At the very highest levels of business, it’s actually quite simple to identify and define your target audience. A simple example would be a physiotherapy clinic that uses specific and targeted questionnaires to help track the physical health and performance of their patients/clients.
Subsequently, getting to know your target audience provides the perfect launching point to develop personalised messaging, helping drive sales. However, in the vast majority of cases, health practice owners need to take a more basic approach to identify their target audience.
Why? Because, more often than not, a product or specific service typically appeals to more than one group of potential clients or customers.
Simply put, the “cookie-cutter” marketing approach simply isn’t enough.
Why is it important to know your target audience?
Health practice owners must identify their potential clients to get off to the best possible start. One of the easiest ways to achieve this is by identifying and answering the problems that each target client is struggling with. Next, you can answer additional and more consequential questions like what their needs are? And what their goals are? What is their expected outcome from engaging your service, and what does the timeline for results look like?
Generally, you will find slight differences in what each target client wants. This is good news, because now you’re armed with nuanced information that can help you target your clients and create marketing messaging to increase appointment booking numbers. When you capture a customer’s attention, and then speak to their needs and desired outcomes, they are much more likely to become a “client” because you are communicating to them that you can help solve the specific problems they’re facing.
Mum used to say, “If I had patience, I’d be a doctor,” This adage rings true when it comes to identifying your target audience. It will take time, research, and modification, but at the end of
the process, you will gain valuable insight into the demands and needs of your potential clients.
Talk directly to a group of patients
When you speak directly to your target audience, your message will likely resonate with them. In the Healthcare niche, many practices offer a wide range of services, which, while beneficial, also makes it very difficult to “nail down” and create specific marketing campaigns to reach each group.
There’s an adage that goes, “if you serve everyone, you serve no one,” and this rings true with allied health clients. As practice owners, you must get clear on who you are actually targeting and the problems they need help with. Once you understand this, you can create effective messaging for each potential target group.
Identify and convert more leads
Now we start getting into the area you’ve all been waiting for, attracting and converting more leads. Got your attention? Once you have created specific messaging that clearly speaks to each of your potential target audiences – or patient avatars – you are much more likely to convert those clients who were sitting on the fence.
Not only that, but when your marketing campaign hits the spot, your conversion rate is much higher, and your clients are likely to be much more loyal.
In short, it’s all about connecting with the right target audience or patient avatar; you can have the most compelling and well-curated marketing campaign in Australia, but if it’s targeted to the wrong audience, you’ve essentially wasted your hard-earned cash.
Stand out from other practices
A trap that we see many allied health practices fall into is not standing out from the pack, or at least differentiating themselves from other practitioners in the market. What makes your health practice stand out? Why should patients choose your practice over the one around the corner? What’s specific about the service you provide that will help make your clients’ life better?
Once you connect with your patient avatars, you essentially filter out the unwanted noise and chatter, allowing you to hone in on specific market segments. In the marketing world, we call this your Unique Selling Point or USP. These selling points allow potential clients to build a connection with you and your practice because you’re talking directly to them.
And the beauty is that it’s not rocket science, but as with most things in life worth chasing, it takes time and commitment. Trust me, though; clients are far more likely to choose a practice that resonates with them and solves their needs over a generic one-size-fits-all practice.
Develop loyalty among your clients
Just as in your everyday life, when you communicate with friends and family on a deep and more personal level, it’s much easier to build relationships that last a lifetime; the same can be said with your allied health practice.
Think about it in areas of your own life; maybe there’s a particular car brand you like or a specific sporting brand you’re a fan of; chances are you identify with the brand and what it stands for. Essentially their messaging has resonated with you enough to convert you into a loyal customer. This is why knowing your patient avatar is so critical.
When you communicate with your clients on a personal level and can understand and solve their problems, you’re well on your way to developing long-term loyal clients.
Make changes to your services to fit clients’ needs
One of the most significant benefits of truly understanding your target audience is that you can evaluate and identify services within your practice that need improving or, in some cases, even eliminated.
Putting yourself in their shoes allows you to look at problems from your client’s perspective and gives you a deeper understanding of what it is they exactly need. From there, evaluating your current services is a relatively simple process, allowing you to make the necessary changes to align with your client’s requirements.
Add clarity to your overall vision and goals
Taking your health practice to the “next level” requires you to get very specific when it comes to your messaging and marketing strategies. Keep in mind that the future direction you want to move as a health practice also dramatically influences and impacts your messaging.
More likely than not, you have a team of dedicated, expert staff who are an integral part of the growth of the business. Having clearly defined goals and initiatives will help to strengthen the bond between staff members and get everyone on the same page.
Like professional sports, the chance of success is greatly improved when the team works towards clearly defined goals and objectives. It’s no different in your practice. Simply put, when you’ve honed in on your audience, you can optimise your time and, more importantly, your budget.
What is a patient avatar and why is it important?
Okay, so you’ve got a decent idea of just how important it is to know your target audience; now it’s time to delve deeper and develop your patient avatar. In the marketing and business world, the prevalent term is “customer avatar,” however, in the allied health world, the word “patient avatar” seems a little more fitting.
In short, a customer avatar simply refers to your absolute ideal client. When creating your perfect avatar, it’s critical that you go into the process with an open mind and make no assumptions or try fitting people into specific groups.
Instead, an avatar focuses on an individual person/client and goes into great depth and detail about:
- Socio-economic bracket
- Hobbies and behaviour
- Treatment needs and more
When compared to your “run-of-the-mill marketing” plan, your patient avatar reveals in-depth information and insights into their psyche. As we’ve seen, the information obtained can then be used to curate communications and even help you evaluate the services you provide.
In the health industry, for example, your perfect patient avatar is a patient you enjoy dealing with and forming a bond with to help them on their journey to healthy living. More than likely, your ideal avatar is:
- A loyal customer
- Has a good deal of disposable income and is
- Someone who regularly refers friends, family, and business acquaintances.
If you’re lucky, you might already have a few of these clients; if not, it’s probably a sign that your marketing and messaging are missing the mark. Creating your patient avatar is a practical, cost-effective way to reach more potential clients.
Creating your patient avatar is easier than you think
So you’ve arrived at the next step in the process: sitting down and creating your ideal patient avatar. The process will start with an extensive list of questions you and your team have made to “get inside” the psyche of your perfect patient avatar.
Not sure what type of questions to ask? Pretty much any pertinent question that comes to mind; there are really no “wrong” questions when building a patient avatar; As you answer the questions, it will become clear who you are targeting.
Using what you’ve learnt to improve your strategy
Ok, so now that you’re clearer on what targeted messaging is, let’s look at the different ways you can put it into practice. Below are seven practical and effective ways to help you reach and convert potential clients.
Marketing tone and communication
Understanding your target audience allows you to curate messaging using the appropriate tone. Knowing what tone to use is probably one of the areas in which most healthcare practice owners fall short. When you understand your patient avatar, you can create content such as blogs, social media posts, and emails designed to resonate and meet their needs.
Creating content to market your practice
Instead of pumping out large amounts of generic content that will go unnoticed, you can create content like e-books and blogs targeting specific areas your clients fall into. Whether you own a physiotherapy or chiropractic clinic, hitting your clients with targeted content is a surefire way to convert them.
Search Engine Optimisation or SEO
Chances are you heard of search engine optimisation (SEO) before and may have even dabbled in it. SEO content basically finds and optimises keywords and phrases that your client avatars are frequently searching for.
For instance, if you run a physiotherapy practice, chances are your clients are searching in Google for keywords such as “knee pain” or “back pain,” and phrases like “how to alleviate back pain” or “top tips to strengthen your muscles.” Targeting these keywords and phrases puts your practice in front of your audience and helps push traffic to your site.
Another popular option is driving traffic to your site or practice using paid search. As with the previous tip, try to focus on keywords and phrases your client avatars are looking for. Again, this will take a little time and commitment, but it’s well worth it, especially when you see more clients walking through the door.
Last but not least is old-school blogging – or often referred to as content marketing. Using the information you have on your client avatars, you can create specific content to target their needs.
For example, a clinical dietician might write a guest post titled “Top Ten Ways To Lose Body Fat.”
On the other hand, a physiotherapist might author a post providing information on “How To Alleviate Back Pain” or “The Best Stretches To Perform At Home.”
Top Tip: Make sure your content is informative and FLUFF-free; remember, people are searching for those keywords and will leave the page as soon as they detect BS.
Identifying and understanding your ideal client is a crucial step in creating a thriving practice that consistently produces happy, loyal clients on autopilot. When you can get inside your ideal clients head to really understand what makes them tick, gaining new clients becomes a whole lot easier. If you can implement the steps outlined in this guide, I’m confident your client acquisition will become a whole lot easier.