What’s Your Happy Meal? Marketing to Moms & Kids

In 1979, McDonalds rolled out an innovation that revolutionized marketing in the fast food industry: the Happy Meal. St.Louis regional advertising manager, Dick Brams, dreamed up the gimmick in 1977. Since then, the Happy Meal has become iconic across the globe, and some connoisseurs are serious Happy Meal toy collectors. There is no denying, the Happy Meal was one sensational idea.

Dentists and physicians can learn something from Dick Brams. Please the kids, and the parents will become loyal customers. We know that mothers usually choose the family healthcare providers. Logic tells us to target our marketing efforts towards moms. However, we also know that children are usually the first family members to attend an appointment. Parents aren’t sending their kids in as guinea pigs. On the contrary, while Mom chooses the dentist or doctor, her children’s health comes first. That initial visit is your opportunity to please the kids, and thus please the parents.

What’s Your Happy Meal?

Whether you’re a pediatrician, pediatric dentist, or family healthcare provider, if you offer medical or dental care to children, you need to make the kids adore you. Prove your dedication, concern, and genuine compassion to the children, and the parents will become loyal patients.

After a visit to your office, what do you think Mom asks her child? “Did you like the doctor?” It’s the same type of question you would ask your child after a first day at school. “Did you like your teacher?”

So what do you want the child’s answer to be? Develop a marketing plan to make your goal reality. With good, well thought out marketing, you can determine your future. Here are a few Happy Meal ideas to get you started:

Big Success Club – Everyone appreciates recognition for a job well done.

Rewarding good grades in school is an obvious success to honor, but you might also recognize accomplishments in Boy Scouts, Girl Scouts, Awanas, and other clubs. Dentists should have a cavity-free club, and doctors can recognize children for healthy habits, like exercising and eating right.

Create a promotion for kids and parents to share successes on your Facebook page and blog. In addition, tangible rewards may include: stickers, candy, gift certificates for frozen yogurt, movie tickets, or a Wall of Fame in your lobby.

Kid-Friendly Surroundings – Stage your office so that parents don’t have to tell their children, “No! Stop! Be quiet! Don’t touch!”

Set up an area in your lobby with contemporary toys and games. Modern kids are tech savvy, so equip your office with WiFi, as well. You might also incorporate television and video games into the children’s area. Your bathroom and treatment rooms should be kid-friendly, as well.

Don’t forget, Mom sometimes has to spend thirty minutes in a treatment room entertaining her children. Both kids and mother may feel apprehensive, anxious, or scared. A distraction would be wonderful. Make sure the kids have something fun to do in the treatment room so that Mom can relax during the wait.

A Team Who Loves Children – From your receptionist to your nurses, everyone in the practice must not only tolerate, but like children.

When interviewing perspective employees, ask how they feel about children – even kids who have ADHD and don’t take medication. During team meetings, share tips and tactics for pleasing children and parents or handling difficult situations with children. Set the expectation that your team members will make children feel welcome, secure, and happy in your office.