The Number One – Often Overlooked – Way to Grow Your Weight Loss Practice
— By Karol Clark, MSN, RN
As a compassionate health care provider, this proven method of growing your weight loss practice may not be top of mind. Or, it may be overshadowed by various other paid marketing tactics that can result in an unpredictable return on your investment.
Having a new patient find you through someone they know or as a result of seeing the positive outcomes your weight loss patients have experienced is one of the greatest complements you can receive. Thus, it is no surprise that patient testimonials and online reviews are one of the best ways to grow your weight loss practice. Another phrase for such efforts is “social proof marketing.” Though it sounds easy enough, there is an art to consistently obtaining meaningful testimonials and showcasing them for others to easily find.
Social proof is a form of behavior influence that was coined by Robert Cialdini in his 1984 book called Influence: Science and Practice.1 Social proof marketing refers to evidence that other people have purchased and found value in a product or service offered by a business.2 Especially in today’s competitive market, social proof matters when it comes to effectively growing your weight loss practice. In fact, here are a few convincing statistics:3, 4
- Nine out of 10 people say they trust more of what a customer says about a business than what the business says about itself
- 79 percent of people have watched a video testimonial to learn more about a company or its products and services
- Two out of three people would be more likely to buy something after seeing a video testimonial from a previous customer
- 88 percent of consumers trust user reviews as much as personal recommendations
- The average consumer reads 10 online reviews before making a purchase decision
- 57 percent of consumers will only buy or use a business service if it has at least a 4-star rating
The health care industry is not immune to these consumer statistics. Your weight loss patients are researching their options. You need to stand out with many positive testimonials and reviews.
Benefits of Social Proof Marketing Efforts, such as Testimonials and Reviews
The benefits of having testimonials and positive reviews from your weight loss patients are many. Below are a few:
- Builds a patient’s trust in you and what you offer
- Validates your authority
- Adds credibility for you and your practice
- Confirms your patient’s decision that you are the right choice for them
- Showcases and celebrates the success of your patients and your ability to help them attain the results they desire
Bottom line, social proof marketing efforts such as testimonials and online reviews increase your ability to grow your practice, while regularly having some fun celebrating your patients’ accomplishments.
How to Systematically Obtain Patient Testimonials and Online Reviews
While nearly everyone loves a great success story, it is easy to make the process of obtaining it and then effectively sharing it with others more difficult than it has to be. In addition, some common reasons practitioners and their teams may avoid obtaining testimonials or online reviews in the first place is because you are too busy, you are unsure about asking, and/or you lack a simple process for capturing it or leveraging its use once obtained.
If this sounds familiar, here are proven steps for obtaining great testimonials and 5-star reviews for your weight loss practice as well as maximizing their positive influence to grow your practice.
1. Find Your Happy and Successful Patients and Ask Them to Share Their Inspiring Story: Your patients will consider this an honor and 90 percent of the time they are happy to oblige (even if they are hopelessly shy). Then find one or two people in your office that love social media, taking photos and/or videos — you usually don’t have to look too far. Have them take the lead for setting up a simple system that includes patient permission documentation and a way to efficiently accomplish obtaining testimonials and online reviews (written, photo and/or video).
2. Capture Your Testimonial Photos and/or Quick Promo Videos Easily: There is no need to get too fancy — your phone or an iPad will do — and video editing has never been easier than it is today. Hopefully you always take a before photo at an initial visit as well as after photos that demonstrate the patient’s transformation. Be sure to document their permission to use their photos/comments. Try to capture their personality and take advantage of those special moments such as when you catch someone on the scale when they squeal with delight as they hit their 100-pound weight loss goal. In order to get great content, focus on some of these questions:
- Before losing weight, tell us 2-3 of the greatest challenges you were experiencing in your life at that time related to your weight.
- How were these problems impacting your life?
- What finally caused you to say “enough is enough” and inspired you to decide to (join our program or have weight loss surgery)?
- What made you select Dr. _____ as your physician/surgeon?
- Since having weight loss surgery (or participating in our program), how much weight have you lost? How has this affected your health?
- How has this changed your LIFE?
- If you were talking to someone considering weight loss surgery (or joining our program), what advice would you give them?
- Is there anything else you would like to share with someone considering weight loss surgery (joining our program)?
3. Leverage Use of Your Social Proof Assets: You can take one video and turn it into shorter segments, create graphics that include their before and after photo with a quote and how much weight they have lost, or create a simple graphic with just their quote and initials. Doing all of these things can take one asset and turn it into many. Use the stories of your patients openly on places such as your website, social media sites, posters in the office, promotional e-mails, and any other ways you can think of. You can easily set up an eye-catching social media branded template with your logo, before and after photos and an inspirational patient quote. This helps to consistently gain attention for your practice so you remain top of mind when people are ready to get serious about their weight loss efforts. And don’t forget to ask your team to share them as well.
4. Grease the Wheels for Easily Obtaining Patient Testimonials and Reviews:
- For Your Patients: Honor them with your request and if you can, have them complete their testimonial or online review before they leave your office or right at the end of their appointment. For online reviews, make it very easy for them by having a device ready with software to catch their review while they are in your office. Alternatively, you can do the same without such software by e-mailing or texting your online review link to them or having business cards/postcards with QR codes for them to go right to your Google Review webpage or Facebook review link. Links for positive reviews can also be included in your block signature for every e-mail from your team as well as on your website.
- For Your Team: Talk enthusiastically with your staff about the importance of asking happy, successful patients about sharing their inspiring story with others. They may think marketing is only for the “professionals,” when in fact, they are the ones that have a relationship with the patient. They are the ones the patient is most likely to say “yes” to when it comes to writing an online review or completing a written or video testimonial. Make sure they understand the system that you have chosen to utilize for obtaining testimonials and online reviews. It is important to ask for their input and recommendations for further streamlining this entire process.
Obtaining social proof for your marketing doesn’t have to be a struggle. You can even have a campaign and “batch” collection of them so you have assets to use over many months. The most important thing to do is ask for the patient’s testimonial or 5-star online review, and then make it easy for them to share their experience and story.