Captive audience marketing involves being held hostage while members of the medical community offer you Starbucks gift cards in exchange for $4,000 Invisalign clear braces.
Invisalign! Invisalign for sale! Get your Invisalign here!
Seriously. Get it here. Right now. Because we’re going to make it nearly impossible for you to leave the building until you’ve given us your credit card. You made the mistake of showing up to this dog and pony show, so in a way you’re responsible for the rash decision-making that’s about to ensue and the financial mess you’re about to be in. Now, hand over your digits.
If you’ve met with orthodontists to talk about Invisalign or met with ophthalmologists to talk about Lasik, then you know a thing or two about captive audience marketing. You’re barely in the door, and you’re met by the team of greeters who swarm you like honey bees clustering the queen. The offers start pouring in immediately:
- “Can I get you a danish and a mocha latte? Whole milk? Skim? Whipped cream?”
- “Would you like a $10 Starbucks gift card? All you need to do is check in on Facebook.”
- “Interested in a $25 Visa gift card? Just follow our Instagram page, post on your own Instagram page about how amazing we are, and tag our orthodontics office!”
5-Star Reviews Earn a Gift Card!
My favorite Invisalign offer: “Write us a 5-star review this very second, and you’ll be entered into a drawing to win a $250 Visa gift card!”
For point of clarification, I was asked to write this review before I had met with the orthodontist or talked to anyone about Invisalign. At that point, all I knew was that fresh-baked apple danish tastes really good. For further point of clarification, two other newbies in the waiting room threw their names in the Visa hat and left stellar reviews on the spot.
One Invisalign office I visited had a life-size photo on the back wall of bikini-clad women high-kicking on a Mexican beach. “I’m the official Invisalign orthodontist of the Denver Broncos Cheerleaders,” the orthodontist said, tapping the breasts of the woman in the center. His grin was so big it had to hurt. “Any chance you can point me to the official Invisalign orthodontist of the actual Denver Broncos?” I asked. His face fell.
Captive audience marketing offers are good for today only. Or good only through the end of the week. The offers have a short lifespan to create false urgency born of false scarcity. (“Though it’s gonna set us back, we’re giving $500 price reductions to the first 10 people who sign up today!”)
Thing is, the captivity is critical. If you bounce out of their office, the chances that you’ll ever return, buy, follow them online, or write that 5-star review drop considerably. (The same principle holds true when you bounce from someone’s business website back into the Google ether.)
But I Would Never Fall Prey to Captive Audience Marketing …
You may be thinking, “I would NEVER fall for any kind of high-pressure sales pitch.” If that’s true, then kudos to you. See, the captive audience business model is so damn common because it’s so damn effective.
Immediacy is the name of the game, and many Invisalign and Lasik providers are master strategists. Throw any question or objection at them, and there’s a 99.42% chance they’ll have an answer, one that’s perfectly phrased, every word aptly chosen. (To be fair, Invisalign and Lasik give their orthodontic providers marketing materials galore to set those providers up for sales success.)
An Invisalign salesman (or woman) isn’t too terribly different from a car salesman. They both sell direct to consumers. The biggest difference is that Invisalign is administered by dental professionals – orthodontists and dentists. Your orthodontist has either a DDS or a DMD from an accredited dental school. (But wait! There’s more!) They also have an MS in orthodontics.
The medical device pitch (Invisalign) or medical procedure pitch (Lasik) you’re receiving must be ethical, sound, and above-board. It has to be, you may reason, because you’re a patient (you’re actually a consumer) and because the device or procedure has the indirect backing of the medical community (and the Denver Broncos Cheerleaders).
And that’s why medical device/medical procedure captive audience marketing is often so misleading and ultimately so very, very dangerous …
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