Placing patients on hold is a necessary ‘evil’ for any busy practice. However, we’d challenge the idea that it has to be a negative thing. The truth is, not only does on hold messaging present an ideal time for promoting your practice, but if done well, it can also be engaging for your patients.
1. Record 5+ Ads
If you want to improve your on hold messages, we recommend you start by recording 5+ ads. Then, play them at random intervals so people on hold for shorter periods of time are exposed to a variety of ads, rather than the same one on loop.
2. Know How Long Your Patients Spend on Hold
Do a little research to determine how long a patient typically remains on hold after calling your practice and use this information to formulate your ads. For example, a caller on hold for just 30 seconds won’t have time to listen to a minute-long ad.
Once you’ve determined average hold times, create ads with messaging appropriate to the length of the ad. By that, we mean shorter, 10-second ads should quickly mention a call-to-action that instructs them of the next step to take. For instance, “visit www.ourpractice.com today to download our free e-book”. Longer ads, on the other hand, should be more entertaining.
3. Don’t Contradict Yourself
Review your messages often to make sure they’re current. For instance, you don’t want to be playing ads about your special Christmas pricing during the month of March. Likewise, you’ll want to avoid drawing attention to the passing of time in your ads. For instance, “Have you been wasting time in front of the television rather than hitting the gym?” While this may be an interesting attention-grabber to use in an ad, as you might imagine, time wasted is a touchy subject for someone on hold.
4. Use SFX and Multiple Voices
Think of the radio ads you find most compelling. By and large, they probably employ multiple voices and special effects (SFX). We recommend you do the same in your own ads. Typically, these features don’t involve any additional cost, and the resulting ads are more engaging and professional.
5. Change Your Ads Quarterly
To experience the best results with your ads, change them quarterly. Jot a reminder in your calendar to contact your on hold provider every 3 months with material for the new ads. Don’t worry, you don’t need to provide the company with a detailed advertising brief. Simply offer bullet points about the promotion and a link to the relevant web page, if one exists; this amount of information is enough for a skilled copywriter to create an informative and engaging ad.
6. Include a Call-to-Action
Consider a call-to-action (CTA) an essential component of any effective ad. CTAs include directives like, ‘Ask our receptionist about…’ or ‘Schedule XYZ service today…’
Once you’ve created multiple ads with CTAs, ask your receptionists what types of questions they’re receiving after patients have been taken off hold. This feedback is invaluable, because you’ll easily be able to see which ads are the most impactful. Use that information to create additional ads in a similar style so you can maximise your success.
7. Keep Ads Simple
It’s tempting to become overwhelmed by the complexity of ad creation. However, don’t hold yourself to the standards of Don Draper on Mad Men! Rather than thinking every ad you create has to be genius, focus on offering helpful information and answering FAQs. In doing so, you’ll increase patient goodwill while promoting your practice – a win-win scenario for everyone.