Lifecycle marketing places a greater emphasis on the customer and the process consumers go through when deciding who they will do business with
One of the most well-known marketing strategies, as opposed to lifecycle marketing, is the sales funnel. This approach involves walking a potential patient through the sales process, which is typically referred to as the AIDA model:
- Awareness of your practice (extending your reach via social media marketing, paid advertising on television and radio, direct mail, etc.)
- Interest in your services (supplying information consumers are likely to want most, posting it on your website and other digital platforms, such as hours of operation, specialties, and modalities offered)
- Deciding to do business with you (nurturing leads with promotions and other incentives)
- Action, or purchasing your services or products (encouraging them to remain patients via regular email communication, rewards programs, etc.)
Some marketing professionals swear by this approach as a great way to build and grow your chiropractic practice. However, there is another option to consider. It is called lifecycle marketing.
What is lifecycle marketing?
While the focus of the sales funnel is on the sale itself, lifecycle marketing places a greater emphasis on the customer. It is more directed on the process consumers go through when deciding who they will (and will not) do business with.
Digital Marketing Institute explains that there are four basic stages in the lifecycle customer journey:
- Awareness, or effectively reaching potential patients via high-quality content and other lead magnets
- Intent, a combination of two sales funnel stages — “interest in your services” and “deciding to business with you” — this stage involves creating more opportunities for one-on-one interaction, such as with online chats
- Decision, when they’ve chosen your practice over others, which is further enhanced when they promote your office on review sites such as Yelp, Google, and Facebook
- Loyalty, continuing to reinforce the doctor-patient relationship so they choose to do business with you long term
Though many of the stages are somewhat similar to those found in sales funnel marketing, lifecycle marketing doesn’t stop once the initial sale is made. Action is continuously taken to strengthen the bond with the consumer, increasing their desire to continue to choose you as their chiropractic service provider.
Benefits of using lifecycle marketing
One of the top reasons to use lifecycle marketing is because it reinforces the importance of nurturing relationships with customers, even after their initial appointment. It encourages you to look for ways to provide better customer service, which can set you apart from others in your field.
Your patients may also feel more valued with lifecycle marketing. Because your approach is about creating a positive relationship, they feel less like a sale and more like a human being. This encourages them not only to return, but to bring their family and friends with them when they do.
There are financial benefits of lifecycle marketing too. For instance, it costs more to market to potential new patients than to promote your services to those who are already on your active list. You already have their contact information so you can communicate with them via no or low-cost methods such as email or text versus buying paid advertising or spending money printing brochures that educate them about your services.
Plus, current patients already trust you. So, when you recommend a particular product or service, they’re more inclined to consider that suggestion. It becomes less about selling and more about informing or educating them as to their options.
No sales-based approach is perfect, lifecycle marketing included. What are some potential cons?
Because this approach relies on nurturing relationships with patients beyond the initial sale, it requires implementing marketing methods focused on retention. Retention marketing includes advocating for causes important to you, helping patients connect with you more easily. It also involves creating an email campaign designed to strengthen your relationship. If you’re only used to using the sales funnel, these strategies may seem foreign and take some effort to learn.
Another potential disadvantage of lifecycle marketing is the need to develop a greater understanding of current patients and what is important to them. This can vary dramatically from one region to the next, requiring in-depth knowledge of those you serve in order to retain their loyalty week after week and year after year.
Sales funnel or lifecycle: which is best?
So, should you abandon the sales funnel for lifecycle marketing? Your answer to this question depends on your goals.
If you’re more interested in growing your patient list, sales funnel marketing may be the best approach for you. This is also a good approach for new chiropractic professionals who don’t yet have a lot of patients.
Conversely, if you are well established and have a sizeable patient list (and want to retain it), lifecycle marketing might make more sense. Lifecycle marketing is also good for increasing referrals, growing your business in that way.
Neither one is superior to the other. It’s more a matter of choosing the right one for you.