When it comes to marketing your practice there are two components of brain-based marketing that will help you make a lasting impact on potential patients. The sense of reward and the sense of self. While both are effective marketing approaches, one is superior when you are connecting to people about their health and wellbeing.Yet most of us make the mistake of focusing on the wrong one.

Giving our patients a sense of reward does not connect as well as creating and offering a sense of self. In the healthcare world, the sense of reward strategy would sound something like “We are offering a FREE consultation for all new patients for the next month”. This style of marketing is, unfortunately, very short term. Of course, it is appealing and will work to some extent – but it’s not great if you’re looking to make a long-term impact and find lifelong patients. 

The magic of marketing comes to life when you can appeal to someone’s sense of self, because this takes precedence over the sense of reward in our brains. Appealing to the sense of self is long-lasting and will give you a much greater bang for your marketing buck. To put this into perspective some examples of brands that use the “sense of self” marketing and do it well are Apple, Harley Davidson, Rolex, and BMW.


Appealing to the Sense of Self

Let’s take a look at “sense of self” marketing and take it one step further to see how you can implement this concept in your marketing strategy.


Focus on Your Ideal Patient’s Perspective

When you’re creating content for Facebook or Instagram, you have to think about what is going to appeal to your patients’ sense of self – not your sense of self. It is important to shift your mindset from your perspective to what your patients are experiencing, and what would serve them. 

For example, you may have noticed that chiropractors often create video content of patients getting adjustments to showcase what they do – but ultimately this only appeals to the chiropractor and other health professionals. People who have never been adjusted have no idea what is happening. This is marketing to yourself, not your patients.

The same holds true for a Functional Medicine Practitioner showcasing the latest research… if it doesn’t move people to feel a level of success, add value, or resonate with what is going on with the reader or viewer’s health, the time and effort that was put into this content can easily slip unnoticed into the ether.


Connect with the Patient’s Sense of Self

A great example of those who market from a patient’s perspective and use “sense of self” marketing is plastic surgeons. Plastic surgeons aren’t showing you the process of each surgery they carry out to make people look beautiful, they’re showing you the end result of the surgery. The before and after photos. They are literally showing you what they can do for you. Similarly, dentists don’t show you drilling or bone implants, they show you a beautiful smile. This is marketing to someone’s sense of self. 

This is also the reason why testimonials are so successful. People can see themselves in these success stories and want the same transformation for themselves.


Speaking Your Patients’ Language 

In order to properly execute this in your marketing, you will need to use language that your patients understand and respond to. You have to use terms that the patients speak and you need to speak and listen as if you were the patient.

If you were to show a patient an Xray and explain their issues with their spine, or show them the different bacterial imbalances that have come up in a functional stool test in your terms, they might nod along as if they understand but in reality, they most likely don’t. 


Answer the Right Questions

The truth is they only want you to answer three questions for them:

  • Do you know what’s wrong with me?
  • Do you think you can help me?
  • And have you ever helped anyone with a similar problem?

When you answer those questions what happens is they leave your office feeling confident in you and your ability to help them.


What Happens When You Answer the Wrong Questions

Alternatively, if you spend 20 minutes explaining the x-rays or test results using medical terminology, you can’t expect your patients to invest in a language they don’t understand.


The Tangible Benefits of Communicating in Your Patients’ Terms

The reality is that when you hit the right notes and truly develop that sense of self for them, you won’t even need to be on social media because you’ll build an internal practice that will be so huge by word of mouth alone that your capacity will be a problem. You will attract new clients, and build better compliance and retention. You have to forget your practice’s terminology or healthcare professional terminology and get clear about how patients speak about their problems, in their terms.


The Top 9 Questions to Answer To Convert and Retain Patients

The key to building lifelong patients is speaking their language, not yours, and again, appealing to their sense of self. And never forget that your approach must be genuine because people make decisions based on emotion. Let’s look at the top 10 questions you need to answer to convert and retain lifelong patients.


Question #1: What made you decide to start your practice?

Patients love stories especially because they appeal to the emotional sense of self. They want to make sure that you understand their pain, so tell them why you became a doctor, chiropractor, or functional medicine doctor. They want to know that you can identify with their challenges. You don’t want to say you want to “help people” or “serve the higher power”, or that you “always wanted to be a doctor” because while that all might be true, your patients really need to hear the issues you overcame that pushed you to become a doctor, and how that story relates to what you can do for them.


Question #2: Why should someone choose you over any other option?

It’s important to remember that your education and techniques aren’t going to be your selling point here. You must appeal to your patients’ pain points and the results they’re looking for. Express to them why they should choose you over someone else in a language they speak, Ie. you spend a lot of time with your patients, you’re a good listener, you’ve worked with a lot of people with their issues. 

Your techniques and education and all the tools in your toolbox are simply your means of getting the results they want and in all honesty… the “how” doesn’t mean anything to them, they just want the end result and to feel confident that you are the person who will get them there.


Question #3: What is your target demographic?

Know who you want to work with. When picking your niche, base it off who you are and where you’re most comfortable, and most importantly base it on the language you like to speak, because that’s how you can be sure the patient will understand that language. If you want to be a general practitioner, realize you can’t appeal to, and market to, every demographic in the world. One pro tip here is to ask yourself: “can I speak to this niche over and over again for years?” …if you answered no, you have the wrong niche in mind.


Question #4: What emotionally appeals most to your target patient?

This is important because people base their decision on emotions. People who know how to appeal to people emotionally are going to have a better conversion from their marketing efforts. This goes back to thinking from your patients’ perspective and making them feel heard and understood.


Question #5: What burning desire does your solution fulfill?

You don’t want to give your patients a speech about why drugs don’t work or why a specific surgery fails, none of that matters to them, they want to get what they need, it has to be all about them. Dig deep to tap into the burning desire or need that your solution is designed to fulfill. They want what they need, period. 


Question #6: How can you make your patient feel they are special or exclusive?

This is a skill each of us can develop in our own unique way. Start by thinking about those people in your life that always make you feel special, what is it that they do that makes you feel so good? These are characteristics you need to find out and then adopt yourself. One of my favourite ways to make people feel special is by adding in a bit of what we call relationship marketing. It can come in the form of a thank you card, a small gift, some corporate swag, a follow up call… something personalized that helps solidify the relationship by making your patient feel special.


Question #7: What are the top 3 fears your patients have?

Don’t make assumptions, ask them! They might be afraid they won’t get better, that they are going to have a child that has an issue, that they won’t be able to live a long, healthy life. Find out what’s going on in their mind, communicate with them and find out what keeps them up at night. A good example of people that do this well is hairdressers. They know how to make people feel comfortable, and as a result people tell them their deepest thoughts while getting a new look!


Question #8: What does your service really solve?

One, it solves a problem for the patient – a pain or health problem – whatever it is, the goal is to be healthier. Two, what does it solve for you? For most of us it’s the satisfaction of knowing we are helping people, but also the reward of getting paid to do that. Your services solve both your patients and your problems. When you know how to position your services correctly it’s a win-win.


Question #9: Are there any common objections that come up during your report of findings?

An extremely common objection and if not the most common is the price of your services. You might hear, “I didn’t know it was going to be that expensive, I have to ask my spouse about it”. If you’re getting the money objection, the number one reason is that you’re trying to sell them instead of using emotion and speaking their language. You’re coming across as a salesperson and it’s too obvious, making them feel your relationship isn’t real or genuine.

Learning how to “close” is a sales technique and if you’re getting objections around time, or money, you may have failed to appeal to their sense of self. By this point in the relationship they need to know without a doubt that you are the expert they need to help them get the results they want. This valuable feedback can help you finesse your communication earlier in your patient relationship.


Stop Closing the Old School Way

If you find the people in your community whose values align with yours, whose language you can learn to speak, you’ll have more patients than you’ll know what to do with. Allow who you are to determine whom you can best serve. Create a practice that makes it easy for clients to spot you in the crowd. 

People refer their friends to people that they know, like and trust, and that clarity in who you are as a practitioner comes from answering the right questions to inform your marketing and communication strategy. Show your ideal patients how happy they will be when they accept your care, and paint it as a lifestyle. 

Good marketing makes the company look smart, great marketing makes the customer feel smart.


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