About Social Shopping (Groupons)

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The Connect the Doc Team

Social Shopping is a relatively new form of marketing to generate a guaranteed quick influx of new customers without an upfront investment. Sites include: Groupon, Living Social, Go Low Deals, SwarmJam, Daily Deal and the list goes on… Here is how these sites operate. A business (like your clinic) provides the deal site (like Groupon) with a discounted product or service (50% or more) for the deal site to sell. With “collective buying,” your business is able to set the number of vouchers that must be purchased before the deal is activated.

Once that number is reached, the deal is on and you receive 50% of the sales made. For example if you offer a $100 service for $50 on Groupon, your businesses takes $25 and the website who markets the deal to their subscription list also takes $25. You can set your buying minimum at lets say 100 people, which guarantees your business $2500 and an introduction to 100 new clients. It sounds expensive, but how many dollars do you spend on marketing to bring 100 new patients through the door?

The first thing you should consider when deciding if this type of marketing is a good fit for your practice is if it is permitted by your medical field’s provincial association. For example, third party marketing like this is not sanctioned by the BC College of Dental Physicians. Before utilizing this form of marketing, please contact the various medical associations that you and your clinic are a part of to ensure you are not violating any of their policies.

If you do decide to run a daily deal with one of the social shopping sites listed above, there is a list of scenarios you should be prepared for. Don’t forget, coupon buyers are often social media fanatics, and love sharing both their positive and negative experiences with EVERYONE they come in contact with. You must acknowledge that the purpose of a daily deal is NOT to make money immediately, but to convert one time patients into repeat customers. For example if you are getting $25/ customer and it only costs you $20 to provide the service (staff/product cost etc.[ignore opportunity cost]) then you should be spending an additional $5 to make sure that patient is WOWED. Give them a small gift bag filled with branded products (check out branders.com), a coupon or complimentary upgrade for a service, a gift certificate towards a product etc…The small gestures you make to this clientele will go a long way because their word of mouth advertising is priceless.

Here are a few things to think about before running a daily deal…

1. Your website is going to experience mass amounts of traffic

a. Make sure you talk to your site host and increase your server volume so that you can handle high amounts of web traffic

b. Provide as much information about your business and your deal on your website to reduce phone calls. Everything from what the service entails to whether or not parking is available

c. Some deal sites have discussion boards. Make sure you are checking them regularly as customers often ask questions on the forum.

2. Expect Phone Calls

a. Consumers want to talk to your staff about the deal. Have extra staff available to deal with the mass amounts of phone calls. Give all the staff an index card with information relating to the deal and/or services at the clinic. Think about adding new appointments on Connect the Doc that can be booked by these new patients.

b. Change your clinic’s voicemail to say your clinic is experiencing high volumes of calls and that you are sorry you missed their call. Direct deal callers to your website for more information.

3. Expect Bookings

a.  As soon as people buy the deal they are going to want to redeem their coupon. Ensure that you are prepared to handle high volumes of customers in a short period of time. You don’t want to anger your regular patients so time block the promotion and mention the times and dates in the fine print of the deal.

b. Set a maximum number of vouchers to be sold, or be prepared to hire new staff members and/or rent additional equipment.

4. WOW Your New Patients

a. This is your opportunity to create a fantastic experience for a new patient. If you are successful   you will have educated them about the importance of regular appointments. If they like you and your clinic, they will come back frequently. If 50 of the 500 coupon buyers come back for another appointment, you will have greatly increased the overall value of your clinic.

Social shopping can be a fantastic way to attract new patients if your medical association allows it. If they do not, you should still be able to create a daily deal for products or workshops.