Loyalty programs have been around for decades. Every supermarket, gas station, drug store, and quite a few retailers have loyalty programs. You probably have a few (or many) of these cards disintegrating in your wallet. Two or three of them might actually see the light of day from time to time, but how much do they influence your buying process?
Think about it like this: If two competing gas stations have loyalty programs, you might sign up for both of them; but when you need gas, where will you choose to fill up? For most of us, the price point will be the main influence on our buying decision, not our loyalty to one station over the other. But what if you paid one of the gas stations a monthly fee that in turn made gas much cheaper for the rest of the month? That gas station would become your favorite every single time.
Brands like Amazon and Netflix are wildly successful because their subscription-based models are transformative, not stagnant. Dental membership plans work the same way. Here’s why:
1. The psychology of exclusivity:
Membership plans promote a feeling of prestige. Subscription-based “clubs” imply extra perks. And nobody who pays for those perks will want to pass them up! Amazon created value for Prime subscribers by offering two-day shipping, exclusive music and TV services, and other “members only” benefits. Today, they have over 100 million subscribers.
2. The psychology of gratitude:
By offering your patients a savings plan, you’re doing them a favor. Not only are you offering them a discount, but you’re also giving them access to your exclusive club, as mentioned above. Exposing uninsured patients to membership plans shows them you’re as committed to their long-term oral health as you urge them to be. By working with with them on a solution to their financial difficulties, you’re building reassurance and trust in your services.
3. You’re connecting with them on a personal level:
Shared values are by far the largest driver of brand loyalty. Providing dental membership plans shows them you view loyalty as a two-way street. In removing the insurance company middleman, you’re not only making treatment accessible for all your patients but also forming a closer dentist/patient relationship. Connecting with your patients on a personal level is crucial for growing and retaining their loyalty.
4. Subscription fees are a strong incentive to commit:
Think of your membership plan like a gym membership – your patients will be more incentivized to go if they’re paying for it. Patients who pay membership fees are far less likely to cancel appointments. Not only did Prime’s multifaceted service incentivize customers to subscribe, but those customers also spent more money on Amazon’s e-commerce platform as a result. Two-day free shipping might not seem like a big deal on its own, but coupled with Prime’s other perks, it became the golden standard for online shopping.
5. Savings plans differentiate you from your competitors:
Like the gas station analogy, offering a way for uninsured patients to consistently accept treatment differentiates your practice from competitors. Once you’ve offered a long-term solution to their problem, your patients will have no reason to look anywhere else.
Do you believe oral health is a necessity, not a luxury? If so, prove it – give them a way to put the money where their mouth is.