Using Holidays To Connect With Patients, Referral Sources

It’s the holiday season and all the stores are buzzing with activity. The sales currently in stores have taken weeks, sometimes months to plan.

Speaking of planning, it’s important to think several weeks (or months) ahead if you want a steady and predictable stream of patients coming to your practice.

Holidays are an excellent time to connect with patients and doctors because a holiday is a timely reason to share your message.

If you only communicate with patients to remind them about appointments and with referral sources to provide follow-ups (and requests for referrals), you are leaving a lot of opportunities on the table to build trust and credibility. I’ll explain how in just a second.

Holiday promotions can be unifying and entertaining, since they get a lot of people involved and help raise awareness about your practice in the community.

There are several reasons why this works:

a) It’s always easier to engage someone when you enter a conversation that is already going on in their minds. For example, people are currently thinking about the holidays and the upcoming Christmas and New Year.

b) People respond better to special occasions since the mind is in ‘hyperdrive’ mode and there are more positive feelings and mental associations with certain times of the year. You have a timely opportunity to position yourself as the ‘leading provider’ for them in 2011 and beyond.

c) You can set yourself apart from the clutter by not only showing your contacts that you are thinking about them, but that you care about them.

The year is FULL of events that you can use to communicate with patients, more so than you realize. I compiled a BRIEF list. You probably know most of them, but some will be a surprise. Did you know, for example, that March 26th is ‘make up your own holiday’ day? Some of them are a little unconventional, but each provides an opportunity for a strategic, unconventional marketing campaign to a section of your contact list.

January

  • 1st – New Years Day
  • 8th – Elvis Presley’s birthday
  • 17th – Martin Luther King day (3rd Monday of January, traditionally January 15th)

February

  • 6th – Super Bowl Sunday (currently the first Sunday of February)
  • 14th – Valentine’s day
  • 18th – President’s day (third Monday of February, traditionally Feb 22nd)

March

  • 9th – Employee Appreciation Day
  • 17th – St. Patricks Day
  • 21st – Good Friday
  • 26th – ‘Make up your own holiday’ day

April

  1. 1st – April Fools Day
  2. 18th – Patriot’s day (traditionally 3rd Monday in April)
  3. 20th – Passover (variable based on Jewish calendar)
  4. 22nd – Earth day


May

  • 5th – Cinco De Mayo (Mexican
  • May 8th – Mother’s day (second Sunday in May)
  • May 14th – Star wars day (George Lucas’ birthday) (yes I know it sounds strange but how many star wars fans do you know? More likely, more than you can count…)
  • May 30th – Memorial day (last Monday in May)

June

  • 12th – Father’s day (third Sunday in June)
  • 14th – Flag day

July

  • 4th – Independence day
  • 20th – Neil Armstrong becomes the first man to walk on the moon in 1969
  • 31st – J.K Rowlings birthday (author of the “Harry Potter” books)

August

  • 1st – Francis Scott Key’s birthday (author of the National Anthem)
  • 24th – Cal Ripken Jr’s birthday (played in 2,643 consecutive baseball games)

September

  • 2nd – First day of Ramadan (Islamic, based on lunar calendar)
  • 11th – Patriot’s day
  • 30th – Rosh Hashanah (variable based on Jewish calendar)

October

  • 9th – Yum Kippur (Jewish, variable start day, nine days)
  • 13th – Colombus day
  • 28th – Bill Gates birthday (founder of Microsoft)

November

  • 1st – All Saints day
  • 4th – Election day (Tuesday after first Monday in November)
  • 11th – Veteran’s day
  • 27th – Thanksgiving (4th Thursday in November)
  • 28th – Black Friday (Friday after Thanksgiving day)

December

  • 7th – Pearl Harbor Remembrance day
  • 22nd – First day of Hanukkah (variable, based on the Jewish Calendar)
  • 24th – Christmas eve
  • 25th – Christmas day
  • 31st – New Years eve

In addition, the anniversary of your practice is a timely reason for you to conduct a special promotion / hold an event, since this is yet another legitimate, believable reason for you to reach out to patients and offer them an incentive to take a certain action (coming into your clinic). Some anniversaries, which mark a significant milestone (10 years or more in your practice) have a tremendous significance and will allow you to instantly connect with your audience.

The post Thanksgiving period is a good time, since people are in a ‘good mood’. Christmas and New Years’ bring tons and tons of cards from friends, family and other businesses. You want to STAND OUT by doing something DIFFERENT (I give you a unique strategy below) OR by ‘beating them to the punch’ in the pre-Christmas and post-Thanksgiving period.

Here’s a marketing for this upcoming holiday season that you will really like – we all know that Christmas is the time to get and give presents. Go to amazon.com, find books that you believe will be beneficial to patients and have them shipped directly by amazon to your patients (with a note from you – amazon.com gives you this option when you purchase) as a gesture of goodwill. The personal note is the key.

A lot of businesses do the same old stuff and send  patients customized gifts (calendars, notepads etc) with a company logo on it. This is old school and people have become immune to the subconscious marketing messages embedded in these freebies.

Here’s the best part – it does not matter to the patient whether you wrote this book or not. What matters is that it is a gift from you and was sent by you as a thoughtful gesture. I’d include a note that says something like “I read this book on pain relief and I though you’d really benefit from it etc…. . This has a tremendous perceived value with the patient.

The book will probably cost you $10-12 plus shipping but the goodwill generated will be significant.

This gift giving strategy during the holidays can be applied to physicians as well. Can you imagine sending a book to a physician that you feel might be beneficial for them and following up with a phone call? Even if you spend $1000 or more sending these books out, a single referral will pay for the cost of your entire campaign (always think in terms of return on investment, not actual expenses).

In case you are wondering – what happens if they never read the book, I have some news for you.

It doesn’t matter if they read it. What matters is that you sent it.

Even if the patient or the doctor NEVER reads the book, they will remember this as a thoughtful and unconventional gesture (no one else does things like this).

Thanks for reading and enjoy the holidays!

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