Can Costco and Your Medical Practice Have Something in Common?

I always feel guilty when I’m at Costco and I sample a product without any intention of actually buying it. Like those delicious bite size quesadillas or that scrumptious guacamole dip.  More than buying it, I wish those sample size were bigger to tell you the truth. But that is why I have three kids… so each of them can get a bite for dad.

I don’t think I should feel guilty though. Sampling product has been a common practice probably since “retail” was invented. And retailers still do it; so someone is buying the product. Right?

We see sampling all over the place; not just at food retailers. For example, the company Evernote actually uses “sampling” as a business strategy. Evernote offers their product for free. The free version includes about 80% of the complete functionality of the product, which satisfies the majority of the users. Traditionally, around 5% of their user base needs more functionality and storage for example. Evernote then charges a monthly subscription fee for those users that require a little more.

What is brilliant about this model is that instead of trying to covert their main user base into paying customers, they make a bigger effort in trying to attain users that will use the product for free. The strategy? Well, they know that around 5% of the user base will convert to paying accounts. So, if they have 2,000,000 users, 100,000 will eventually become paying customers. If they manage to get 5,000,000 free users, they know they will get 250,000 paying customers; and if they manage to get 10,000,000 they’ll get 500,000 paying customers.

Just like the food vendor does at the grocery store Evernote allows the majority of customers to “sample” their product in an effort to convert just a few customers from free users to paying users.

If allowing customers to “sample” products is so effective, why then don’t we, in the private medical practice field, do it?

I know what you are thinking… we can’t give our services for free. That is ridiculous. Besides, how am I going to accommodate all these non-paying patients into my practice when I can barely keep up with the ones I have now.

Let me give you an example of how to sample your product without actually giving away your services:

Here is doctor Natasha Burgert talking about crib safety.

Dr. Sue Hubbard has a great site where she samples tons of her services. Check out this post about soothing a sick infant:

Here are a few more examples of how we use it to sample our product using Facebook.

All these examples are no different than the Costco sample bite size example. They give your customers and potential customers and opportunity to experience you.  Everything from your bedside manner, communication skills, your knowledge, how well you teach and even your appearance (yes, that matters too). After all, you are the product. And what you are selling is your knowledge, advice, and to some extend, your demeanor.

So get out and start sampling your product.