What’s a doctor look for in a patient? Someone who is educated on the procedure or service in question even before the consultation. They’re quick to make a decision based on that education. They’re compliant and communicative regarding any potential issues before they become real issues. They’ll happily share their positive experience with their friends. This patient exists. And they exist within a particular demographic. In a tongue-in-cheek reference to Tom Brokaw’s Greatest Generation — the name he coined for the heroic cohort of Americans that grew up during the Depression and WWII — I believe millennials are the Greatest Demographic. While the heroics of the Greatest Generation don’t necessarily apply to the Millennial Generation, they are great from a marketing and a doctor-patient perspective.
Why the Greatest Demographic?
Millennials are generally considered the generation born in the 1980s to the early 2000s. The effect of the computer and internet revolution makes this generation a pleasure to work with.
As a plastic surgeon, one of the frustrating, albeit understandable, aspects of providing cosmetic services is the prolonged “sales cycle” for a consumer to decide on getting a treatment. That prolonged sales cycle doesn’t exist with the millennial generation. They run through the sales funnel faster than a speeding bullet. And not because they’re prone to rash, uneducated decision-making. It’s the exact opposite.
Like everyone else, they want to know everything they can about a subject before moving forward. But instead of spending months in the research phase, their education takes place in a matter of minutes online. Not only is all of the information they need available on the internet, but they’re technically savvy enough to find it quickly and efficiently. They literally have all of the information they need at their fingertips (on their smartphone) and they’re not afraid to use it!
There are many blogs or articles available for the Greatest Demographic to educate themselves. But the amount of video on social media makes their research easier and more thorough. Rather than reading about a procedure, they can watch it in real-time on Instagram Live or in the form of a story on Snapchat and Instagram Stories. By the time they come in for a consultation, they’ve already seen the procedure and they tend to ask some of the most educated questions. Actually, in some instances they’ll ask their questions through Snapchat, Instagram or Facebook while watching the surgery live!
The ease with which consumers can educate themselves in this day and age is unprecedented. And while everyone technically has access to this online information, no one is better in its utilization than millennials.
Spreading the Word
An interesting consequence of having so much online video content is that it makes cosmetic procedures seem more commonplace. While cosmetic surgery may be considered taboo to an older generation, the Greatest Demographic willingly shares their experiences online. They share it in the form of reviews which can be good or bad. More importantly, they’re comfortable sharing photos of treatment on their social media profile. And when they share their experience on their news feed or story, they’ll often tag their physician which of course is free marketing for the doctor.
The easiest way to communicate these days is via text. No one is better than a millennial when it comes to texting. This is true for the doctor-patient relationship as well. For doctors that provide their patients with a mobile number, millennials will keep their doctor apprised of any problems. Postoperatively, all of our patients receive my number so they’re more likely to contact me versus researching their problems online or making a trip to the ER.
Getting the Greatest Demographic into Your Sales Funnel
What’s the catch to capturing the Greatest Demographic for your practice or business?The first step is recognizing that millennials are also the Amazon generation. That means they want to have an experience where they can peruse their options and determine the cost ahead of time. And that means incorporating a Price Estimator into your website so they can do just that.
The beauty of a Price Estimator is that the consumer (a millennial in this case) has to enter their contact info to check pricing. This is not an unreasonable hurdle for the Greatest Demographic. As far as they’re concerned, providing contact info is the currency in which business is done.
Additionally, doctors have to embrace social media even though they don’t want to. I’m not talking about Facebook or Twitter. You have to go where the millennial consumer is, and that’s Snapchat and Instagram.
The Millennial in One Paragraph
In summary, millennials do their research, but quickly. They make decisions even quicker, come in knowledgeable, and ask good questions. Before and after surgery, they communicate. And they tell all of their friends about their presumably good experience. Smart, compliant, communicative, connectors — that’s the type of patient that all doctors want and that’s what makes this group of patients the Greatest Demographic.
Dr. Jonathan Kaplan is a board-certified plastic surgeon based in San Francisco, CA and founder/CEO of BuildMyBod Health, an online marketplace for healthcare services that allows consumers to determine out-of-pocket costs on medically necessary or cosmetic services.