Monday, July 19, 2010

Testimonial Marketing in Healthcare: What is it and how to do it

As healthcare marketers, you know that consumer trust is paramount. After all, if a person does not trust that you'll make them well, they will choose another health provider. That's where testimonial marketing comes in.

Testimonial marketing is incorporating patient, visitor and family feedback in your marketing campaign. But there is a trick to doing it effectively. It is no longer enough to place a testimonial on your website or in a commercial. Consumers are smart and they recognizes these media as paid and biased sources.

Instead you leverage the word of third party testimonial platforms like social media (Facebook, Twitter, etc.) and specially-designed review websites.

Why? 1.) Because, as I mentioned before, consumers are smart and they'll see through your self-promoting ways. 2.) More importantly, consumers are turning to the Internet to find unbiased information to help them make choices (you're here now, aren't you?).

Risks:
Yes, there are risks. You have to relinquish a little bit of control and let people talk about you. I'm not sure why that should be a big deal for you though, since people are already talking about you every day. Except now, you can insert yourself into the conversation and actually GAIN some control back. You can respond to comments and in doing so you make loyal patients.

How to start testimonial marketing:
If you haven't already, set up a Facebook fan page right now. You can post news and events, but try to keep that to a minimum. Your goal is to engage people. Ask questions, respond and talk to people!

Get signed up on a reputable healthcare ratings website. But be careful here, because they're not all equal. Make sure you choose one that has your interests in mind, allows you to respond to reviews and gives you the option to share some marketing information and/or quality stats. Also make sure the company behind it is Internet-marketing-savvy so you can take advantage of their high level of exposure. To find a good one, go to Google, Yahoo!, Bing or any of the other search engines and search on your facility/service name. Check out the first few resulting consumer review sites. Anything on the first page of results will get you excellent visibility on the Internet once you start participating.

Participate on the consumer ratings website. Once you're comfortable with the website and its functionality, start asking your patients and their visitors to submit testimonials. The more ratings you have, the more accurate the information will be (you'll have an occasional complaint, but the preponderance will reflect reality). Again, respond to comments! Good or bad. (More on how you should respond in a later post.) Ideally, you should be able to complete a profile on the website (which may cost a nominal fee, but it will be worth it). This profile should give you the ability to add some basic information on services as well as some marketing information (photos, videos, news, etc.). Your profile is important in order to balance the unbiased testimonials with your biased marketing-laden information that you want people to know about you. This is your opportunity to take back a little control of the conversation, so take advantage of it.

Have you used testimonial marketing? Tell us what you did and how it worked in the comments below.

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