Small-town clinic owners don’t have a choice. When you have a limited audience, you need to do more than grow your database constantly – you have to build meaningful relationships with your local community.
To create relationships with depth, you need to know more about the client, and they need to know more about you. After this, language becomes more authentic and relaxed and client interactions become more personal.
Think of your best client. The one who loves you. The one you would (and already might) spend an evening with.
A database of that person is the goal of effectively engaging your community.
Happily, growing your database is easy; it’s all about consistent and authentic actions.
Not a Database of People – Individuals
We hate being treated as one of the crowd. This is why personalised emails (Hi Susan) have a higher response rate than generic ones (Hello Valued Client). In a clinic, we have the opportunity to get to know people as more than just ‘client who gets carbon facials,’ we can understand their motivations for coming into the clinic in the first place, their social circles, what they love to do…
Crucially, this is not about manipulation but about building genuine relationships. Anyone can use information that people freely give them to try and sell stuff, but clinics that act this way (we’ve all seen one) don’t last long.
Obviously, it’s unrealistic to go through your database and think of an individual offer for each client, so start with your best one and think, ‘what would they love me to do for them?’
- An event?
- A special treatment?
- A free gift?
- A free treatment, tailor-made for them on their birthday?
You’ll know the answer to this, because you know this person and they may have even literally told you.
“I hate parking around here. I wish you had free parking.”
“My favourite thing is going out on Friday and drinking Veuve champagne.”
“I’ve never tried LED light therapy. Is it good?”
A parking voucher, a bottle of champagne and a free LED session are simple, super personal offers to build your relationship.
Now, who else on your database would like that? Create a list and give them the offer too.
Next, your second favourite client (the one you were weighing up when you chose your favourite) same question – ‘what would they love me to do for them?’
Importantly, a relationship-building offer or gesture doesn’t have to be expensive (although it may appear to be) as long as it’s thoughtful.
Now you have two things you’re going to do to build relationships with two lists of people. You might be running an event for list one, and creating a personalised facial for list two. Most likely, this represents the top 10% of you database – the people you want more of.
So, because birds of a feather flock together, create a referral program. Not a tacky ‘bring a friend and get X’ referral program – it’s been proven that people don’t like to refer close friends if there’s a transaction involved. Instead, invite them into the thing you’re going to do because you know they’ll like it also.
How? Like a friend would do it.
“I’d love you to come along. Oh, and if you’d like to bring a friend, they’d be more than welcome.”
“I’m pleased you loved the facial. Tell you what, if you’ve got a friend who you think would love it, tell them to call me and I’ll do it for free for them.”
If they bring or introduce a friend, don’t try to sell them anything. Welcome them, get to know them and help them enjoy themselves. The right people will want to be involved in the community. This is how certain businesses – cafes, clinics, pubs and hairdressers become hubs for the community: by being welcoming and giving people an elegant pathway to becoming a part of that hub.
Then what? Rinse and repeat! What else could I do to make my best clients delighted? Who else would like that? Bring some friends! Before you know it, you’ve got an engaged, happy and committed community who trust you because you earned that trust by treating them as a friend rather than a transaction.