How to Increase the Frequency of Patient Upgrades Without Talking About ‘New Technology’ or Using Gimmicks

Written by Oli Luke

I’m going to share how you can build better processes into your business to reduce the time between a patient’s first purchase and their second purchase (i.e., their upgrade) by making some very simple changes.

  • Nothing I’m going to share is complicated.
  • Nothing requires you to fundamentally change your business.
  • And nothing requires you to be a marketing genius to execute.

But first, let’s talk sales.

Because, it’s important to understand why upgrading patients is one of the most important metrics that you should be tracking in your business.

Although we all focus on the numbers to win a new patient, the percentage of patients that are tested then fitted and average purchase value … we’re missing a big trick.

That’s because an upgrade patient is the EASIEST and most PROFITABLE sale that you can make.

Allow me to explain …

Firstly, it’s easier to convince a patient that already trusts you, understands your value, and understands the benefit of making the investment than a new patient.

Of course, they dropped several thousand dollars several years previous – but by following the steps in this article, you’ll be able to remove the resistance and make upgrades feel much more seamless.

Secondly, to drive an existing patient to a decision costs significantly less than to drive a new patient towards a decision.

You don’t have to spend dollars to acquire a customer, as they’re already a customer. Instead, you just have to lean on the communication channels that you’ve already established to give them a strong enough reason to step into new technology.

With that said, let me share the THREE things that you should be doing to drive more upgrades and reduce the time period between a patient’s first purchase and second purchase.

#1 – Setting a Precedent and Creating Another Reason to Choose You

When you lease or buy a new car on finance, the dealership will clearly explain that after 3 to 4 years, you have an option to upgrade and trade in your existing car for something new.

Why do they do this?

Because it sets a precedent of how frequently you should upgrade your car, and it ensures that they can generate repeat purchases more frequently.

The challenge with the hearing care industry is that we have often told patients that they receive our care for the life of a hearing device, and that hearing devices can last over ten years if well looked after.

Can you blame a patient for not considering an upgrade?

Now, although we’re VERY different to the snake oil car salesmen, there is a lesson that can be taken, adjusted, and applied to your business.

The lesson is:

You need to set a precedent of when a patient should upgrade technology.

The problem is, if you tell a patient that they should upgrade every 4 years when they’re about to make a several thousand dollar decision, then you’re going to cause that patient to reconsider their options.

That’s where a “Minimum Guaranteed Future Value” certificate comes in.

Many of our “Inner Circle” members have this built into their “All Inclusive” pricing package, and it works by offering the patient a trade-in value of $500 to $1000 for their hearing devices if they upgrade within 48 months.

This achieves three things.

Firstly, it’s unique and many of your competitors will not offer this – giving you the edge when a patient is making a decision.

Secondly, it sets a precedent that upgrading every 4 years is the “norm.”

Thirdly, it creates a strong reason for a patient to upgrade before this expires. It ensures that as the 48-month mark approaches, the patient is inclined to upgrade technology knowing they can step into new technology with a $500 – $1000 buy-back on their existing devices.

It results in many more patients upgrading earlier, with the “trade-in” value being removed off the full price that can be off-set against the savings made from not having to spend marketing dollars to acquire the sale.

#2 – Your Database is The Most Important Asset in Your Business. Treat it Like That. 

The biggest mistake that I see many hearing care clinics make is their lack of organization when it comes to patients’ data (for marketing purposes).

They run reports and have everybody grouped together based on no other information other than their date of purchase.

Yet what many don’t realize is that the biggest ASSET in their business is the pool of existing customers that trust them, have a need for their service, and that will need to purchase new technology in the future.

Your patient database is worth more future marketing dollars than anything else.

Only a few properly utilize it.

Yet the more selective that you can be with segmentation, the more powerful your marketing messages can be.

You should be able to segment your database based on simple things like:

  • The purchase date
  • The value of the purchase
  • The technology that they’re wearing

Once you have it correctly segmented, you can then pull specific lists to receive highly specific messages.

Ensuring you hit the right person with the right messaging is the quickest way to ensure your marketing is relevant, minimizes dollar wastage, and performs to its highest standard.

#3 – Use Intelligent Marketing Campaigns to Drive Upgrades (Not Just “New Technology”)

“New Technology” is the marketing message that most hearing care clinics use to drive upgrades, yet it’s fundamentally flawed.

Because, whether a patient makes a decision today or procrastinates for another 24 months, there is always going to be new technology.

Technology development doesn’t stop until the patient makes a decision.

It doesn’t give a reason for the patient to act immediately.

Plus, it’s a message that a patient has seen many times before.

It doesn’t feel new or interesting.

Of course, a small few will be interested because the timing was just right – but for many, there is much stronger messaging that you can be using.

Instead, consider using unique and interesting ways to capture attention and drive patients to make a decision, leaning on what’s happening in the world, the industry, or your business at the specific moment.

There are two recent examples that have out-performed anything we have seen in the industry.

The first is “The Charity Buy-Back Campaign.”

This is a campaign we run with “Inner Circle” members, and it’s a great way to drive upgrades AND build trust that you’re the community’s number one provider.

It works by partnering with a local charity that is in need of hearing devices.

A great example is a clinic in Texas that partnered with a local charity that supported the working poor in their area. The charity supported many with a hearing loss that were not in the financial position to invest in their hearing care. 

They mailed their patients that were due an upgrade to introduce the charity and explain that they’re looking to help the many people in their community that need hearing care (but cannot access it).

They then introduced that in order to help them, they were looking for hearing aids to refurbish and fit on these deserving local people.

A “buy back” was then introduced, where they offered to buy back their patients’ existing devices to be refurbished and fitted through the charity, while allowing patients to step into new technology for a savings.

The outcome was that many patients stepped forward, they were able to buy back their existing devices from between $200 and $1000, and this allowed them to step into new premium technology.

Their existing devices were then refurbished, and they were able to document the charity work they did through the media and gain local credibility and attention for helping the community.

The reason this campaign worked so well was because the decision to upgrade did not solely benefit the patient, but it also benefited somebody else in their local community.

It was a “feel good” decision, and it gave them a strong reason to upgrade.

Secondly, is the “Remote Beta-Trial Campaign.” 

This was a recent campaign that was sent during the peaks of COVID-19 where many “Inner Circle” members had closed their doors.

This campaign allowed patients to step into new technology for a savings (and has generated over $500,000 of revenue for “Inner Circle” members to date).

It works by introducing the challenges that you’re facing as an independent business in this crazy world and shares that you’re looking to introduce “Tele Audiology” to better support patients in the future.

However, you need help to beta-trial Tele Audiology and are looking for some trusted patients to join a beta-group where they will be fitted with new technology and supported remotely in exchange for a savings.

Patients want to help, you can fit and support them remotely, and many make the decision to be part of this beta-group and step into new technology.

This works because it’s sharing real truths, asking for their help, and giving them a reason to benefit themselves while feeling good about supporting you.

Once again, it doesn’t mention “new technology” but instead leans on ways patients can help and contribute by deciding to upgrade.

There are many other campaigns that you can use.

The key theme behind the successful campaigns that we see is that the patient needs a timely reason to make a decision now, feel like they’re making a smart financial decision by acting now, and that their decision is going to benefit others (not just themselves).

What You Should Do Now

First things first, consider the precedent that you’re setting with new patients and consider introducing a “Minimum Future Guaranteed Value” on their devices.

This is a super simple thing to add to your higher pricing packages that will effortlessly set the expectation of when a patient should upgrade.

Secondly, focus on cleaning up your database.

Whether you need to assign this task to a member of your team or ensure that all data going forward is accurately inputted with no corners cut.

Finally, run a campaign to the correct segment of your patients that is NOT “new technology” but is something that gives them an additional reason to make a positive decision.

Need More Help? Then the “Inner Circle” may be a good fit for you – click here to learn more.

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