Gifting? Really? As if you haven’t got enough to think about in your private practice…
But before you dismiss it, here are some powerful reasons to consider including a gift strategy within your business, as it could be one of the best marketing moves you make.
What is Giftology?
Coined by successful entrepreneur, keynote speaker, and author of Giftology, John Ruhlin, giftology in its purest form is the process of giving gifts as a symbol of how much you value your working relationship with customers and providers.
It’s about showing up to a relationship because you want to, not because you should do.
The beauty of giftology is that, although it’s a very simple concept, there are a few smart ways you can really make it work for a totally non-manipulative win-win situation for you and the receiver.
Why Giftology Could Be the Answer for Private Practice
Right now, hearing care practices are working like crazy to get people through the door, oftentimes spending up to $1000 on marketing for the privilege. Then, after a “wow” period for around 30 days wherein the consultation, diagnosis, and hearing care treatment plans are finalized, the next point of contact would be roughly two years later when it’s time to start dangling the upgrade carrot.
Although this model isn’t redundant, it’s not particularly forward thinking, let alone patient-focused, as what tends to happen is that during this long period of silence from the practice, something happens to the good relationship built up: It goes cold.
Furthermore, in this period, the patient is likely to be bombarded with marketing messages from bog-box retailers like Costco or Lively selling cheap OTC devices, which, when the patient concludes an upgrade is needed, will likely suss out the cheaper options first because they literally have no reason not to.
And therein lies the problem and, of course, the question… How do you keep the relationship going even when there’s nothing to sell there and then?
The answer: Give a gift and leave an impression.
In addition to this, in an age where most private practices answer to what is their USP is usually “our great service,” adopting a giftology strategy is the perfect chance to prove this!
It’s the Thoughtful Thought That Counts
Business gifting tends to be both boring and predictable, with many companies sending their customers something at Christmas or on birthdays. The gift itself is unmemorable, such as an inexpensive bottle of wine or a bunch of flowers, and the whole rigmarole just gets a bit diluted.
There’s also a tendency to “promotionalize” the gifts, such as adding logos or contact details to them, which turns the gesture into a promotion instead of a gift.
Giftology on the other hand takes the concept of giving gifts and whizzes it up with a thoughtful strategy so that the thought behind the gift is the bigger star than the gift itself.
It’s important to note here that giftology is about a lot more than just giving any old gift and expecting reams of business in return. It’s about how you make people feel.
In fact, people don’t actually care about gifts. What they care about is the thought behind it – or is it actually deeper than that? Do they actually care about the thoughtful thought behind it? John Ruhlin both believes and proves it is.
The recipe for a thoughtful thought-through gift:
- It’s exclusive and specifically for the receiver, e.g., a cookies and cream Hershey’s candy bar because you know that’s their favorite.
- It could be personalized, e.g., a desk sign with their name on it.
- It could include the receiver’s family or even family pet, e.g., family tickets to a show and a dog sitter for the dog!
- It could be an expensive version of an essential, something they wouldn’t usually splash out on, e.g., a smart thermos flask, water bottle, or truffle oil!
- It’s beautifully packaged with a hand-written note.
- It’s sent at a totally random time and unconnected to any promotion or campaign, i.e., NOT at Christmas, their birthday, or when you’re trying to sell something.
- It DOESN’T feature your company’s logo or contact details.
- It stands alone as an actual gift, i.e., it’s not in any way connected to hearing care.
- It’s sent to their home address, though their place of work is also acceptable.
“Giftology is about treating people like a peer, not a pawn. If there’s a whiff of manipulation, the sensation is lost.” – John Ruhlin
Taking this into account, now try and put yourself in the shoes of your patient. If you received an unexpected gift completely personal to you, at an unexpected time without any connection to a promotion or campaign, how would you feel? Probably pretty damn good.
Now, fast-forward a few months or even a few years to the future when you’re considering an upgrade of your hearing device, who are you likely to think of first?
Giftology Strategy for Providers and Physician Referrals
Taking inspiration from the above, can you see where the potential is to delight and wow your patients in your own practice? If so, brilliant – simply go and try it out!
Or, perhaps you’re already delighting your patients and gifting just isn’t needed for them?
In that case, giftology can be applied to the other relationships in your business, such as suppliers, providers, or even other physicians, who are likely to recommend you.
Think of it this way – say you buy up to 2000 units of hearing care devices each year. Do you think there’s mutual benefit for you and your supplier if you strengthened the relationship using the thoughtful thought-through gift recipe from before?
In his book, John shares many examples where supplier relationships have grown significantly through giftology, in many cases saving the gift giver thousands if not millions of dollars in bulk purchase orders and preferential treatment.
Giftology is about zero manipulation, win-win vibes. Where of course the end goal is to bolster sales, that should always be a happy by-product of the dedicated focus of reinforcing relationships and making people feel really good.