By Stewart Gandolf
Chief Executive Officer
A lot, actually.
As you might expect, many doctors and hospitals want to target upscale patients. Sometimes it is a matter of insurance coverage, other times doctors want to attract more fulfilling cases, and still other times clients simply want to improve reimbursements.
Two weeks ago at our Orlando seminar, someone asked the familiar question about HOW to target upscale patients. In this case, the attendee was most interested in attracting patients who appreciate the high quality of care that her practice provides.
I often include unexpected anecdotes when I speak, and in this case, I offhandedly shared my recent experiences with targeting the “right guests” for my family’s investment property. The audience seemed to really like the example, so I am sharing it with you here.
First, the Palm Springs Vacation Rental backstory…
Our family has vacationed in Palm Springs nearly every Spring Break for the past fifteen years. In some ways, my kids grew up there. People either “get” the Desert, or they don’t. In our case, we love the high temperatures, stark, arid landscapes, movie star history and Mid-century Modern style.
Eventually, we decided we wanted to buy a place in the desert, especially since it is only 90-minutes away from our home. However, the analytical (and frugal) side of me insisted the purchase make economic sense.
My wife and I decided our solution would be to find a house that we could convert into a Palm Springs vacation rental property. The rental income would help offset a lot of annual expenses, but the tradeoff, of course, would be that we’d have to share our private house with strangers via Airbnb.
We decided we could live with that, but only if we could attract NICE people. We only wanted to attract guests who would RESPECT and TAKE CARE OF our home, as they would their own. We eventually decided we really wanted to attract people who would even APPRECIATE our creative and artistic flair.
How could we ensure we’d attract the right people? With marketing, of course.
The 4 P’s of marketing can bring your dream customers (aka patients)…
We tell our tale using the 4 P’s of Marketing, PLACE, PRODUCT, PROMOTION and PRICE.
PLACE: Our first step was to find a property that our ideal guests would love as much as we do. We decided to limit our search to authentic Mid-century modern properties, located within the historic Palm Springs neighborhoods. What’s more, because the outdoor area is everything when it comes to Palm Springs, we sought out a property with a huge yard and potential for an amazing pool and entertaining area.
What you might do in your practice: “Place” in this context refers to two issues. First, consider where upscale patients are comfortable shopping, and what psychological and physical barriers exist in the area. Second, make sure your physical facility is appropriate for your audience, both inside and out. If it is impractical or too risky to move your location(s), consider a satellite office.
PRODUCT: As we teach in our seminars, the PRODUCT is both the most important and overlooked “P.” Once we found our hidden gem, we made substantial improvements to the outdoor area with a modern saltwater pool, spa and fire pit. Then, we decorated the property with the upscale furniture from high-end companies like Crate & Barrel. The décor we chose was Mid-century inspired, bright, colorful, playful and fun. We decided it would be critical to create a product that appeals to people who insist upon a unique, fun place to relax.
What you might do: Many people don’t like “going to the doctor,” so a unique and inviting office introduces images and an environment that goes far beyond “business functional.” How can you personalize the healthcare environment? How do you take the sophisticated patient from “clean and clinical” to warm, enjoyable and upscale surroundings?
PRICE: By making a strong presentation of the features, advantages and benefits, the price will represent good value to the audience. In our vacation rental example, Palm Springs can offer both higher and lower price points. Our sophisticated clientele is both willing and able to pay more for a premium experience. Sure, there are cheaper properties out there, but most fall far short of the bar we set with our “product.” What’s more, given the very real wear and tear that rental properties endure, we’d simply rather leave it vacant than rent our property for less than we feel it is worth.
What you might do: The cost of healthcare can vary widely, particularly when it includes elective care. Nevertheless, a sophisticated audience will likely appreciate the overall service package and benefits. If your message is on-target, and the audience appeal is strong, the actual dollar cost is understood in the context of the greater value that is delivered and received. Do not be afraid to charge a premium rate, if you have a truly premium product with advantages that you can communicate.
PROMOTION: Now that we have covered Place, Product and Price, we can consider the fourth and final “P,” or Promotion. We made a conscious effort to appeal to our urbane audience with a writing style that is friendly, informal, intelligent, whimsical and upscale. The Airbnb reader has no doubt that “we furnished our vacation house with love, and we did it in a way that you will love.”
Our family dubbed this Alexander home Plaimor Paradise, appealing to couples and families that appreciate a private, “play-more” escape with an artistic flair. We even included our family dog Cosmo in one of the photos, explaining that the “backyard is big enough for bandana dogs to play fetch.” We even discourage folks looking for a party venue, by reminding them they have more suitable options elsewhere.
What you might do: In addition to the first-class healthcare delivery, what are the benefits and the lifestyle values that appeal to your upscale target audience? Yes—the clinical skills are top-notch. A high-end audience will gravitate to a high-end promotional message. Make sure that your photos, copy, website and other promotions ooze with high-end language and appeals. In some instances, words like “premium” or “first class” can give a feeling of exclusivity, which can be extremely motivating to the upscale crowd.
So…does this work?
Yep. Because we insist on renting to—uh, share our home with—nice people, we get nice people. Our first guests have included an HGTV interior designer, a Hollywood executive, a dentist, an attorney, a TV producer, an entrepreneur and other professionals.
Follow the adage: To capture an upscale audience you have to deliver an upscale experience. Your marketing message to a sophisticated target audience needs present compelling reasons, advantages and benefits that are superior to the competition. A high-end audience will gravitate to a high-end promotional message.