We are going through a hiatus in the world of ART. Many governing bodies have recommended the suspension of treatment during the current phase of the COVID19 epidemic.
This is a gloomy state of affairs. But there is no need to be pessimistic about the future or even falsely hopeful. This is because there are good grounds for optimism.
Firstly wars, famines and pestilences are nothing new in human history. The other side of this sad coin is that humanity likes nothing better than to counter the shadows and procreate!
Secondly, the world usually offers new opportunities to those who weather the storm. One such opportunity is that nearly half of LGBTQ+ millennials (ages 18 to 35) are actively planning to create families. This data comes from LGBTQ Family Building Survey1 carried out in the US in 2019. Of these, 63% say they expect to use assisted reproductive technology, foster care, or adoption to become parents.
This equates to around 1.6 million potential new patients in the US in the next two to three years.
How should IVF clinics cater for these customers?
Is it enough to just stick a LGBTQ+ friendly banner on your website?
The answer to that last question is probably no. For obvious reasons, LGBTQ+ couples can spend more than straight couples on fertility treatments. With this mind they tend to research their choices intensely, shopping around and consulting with several clinics before making their decision.
Therefore, it’s important to make sure that your clinic stands out as an attractive proposition for these patients.
Here are some suggestions
The potential patient gleans their first impression from your website. As mentioned, just sticking an LGBTQ+ friendly splash banner on the website isn’t going to cut it. It has no more credibility than a packet of breakfast cereal bearing the legend, “Now with added goodness!”
Your LGBTQ+ friendly brand promise has to come with some equity in order to be credible. The way to create this important first impression is to dedicate website content to your potential LGBTQ+ customers.
It’s fine to have the LGBTQ+ friendly banner, but only if you link it through to your dedicated LGBTQ+ content. Make sure to have LGBTQ+ featured as an option in the main menu. This immediately gives the impression that LGBTQ+ customers are a mainstay of your business. You need to demonstrate that you understand their unique requirements and concerns.
LGBTQ+ landing page
When they click on the LGBTQ+ banner or menu option why not take the potential patient to a page explaining your ethos? But beware! There is nothing more tedious than a long-winded self-congratulatory sustainability/mission type statement. Keep it simple and direct as you briefly explain your clinic’s commitment to diversity. Detail your success in meeting the needs of LGBTQ+ couples. A few short, clear paragraphs will suffice.
It is important to make it clear that you understand that the LGBTQ+ world is diverse in terms of ART needs. Demonstrate that your clinic routinely caters for these needs. This does not need to be overtly stated. A simple invitation to click on the following choices (or similar) makes it obvious:
- Lesbian women
- Gay men
- Transgender options
- Donor eggs
- Donor sperm
Each of these sub-menu pages can then cater for the specific needs of each groups. Within these pages I would also recommend including a Frequently Asked Questions section related to each group. For instance, for gay men this would be related to aspects of surrogacy, while for lesbian women it might be related to donor sperm.
Introduce an LGBTQ+ champion from the first visit
If you have the resources, I’d recommend creating an LGBTQ+ champion as one of the patient-facing staff members. Essentially this person is the first point of contact for potential LGBTQ+ patients. This champion has the experience and knowledge to answer all the unique kinds of questions that these patients have.
Introduce this person is by way of a chat function on the LGBTQ+ landing page of the website. This provides immediate assurance to any potential LGBTQ+ patient. In just a few clicks, they feel they are ALREADY in the hands of an expert at your clinic.
Establish contacts with local LGBTQ+ organisations in your area
Spend some time reaching out to local LGBTQ+ organisations in your area to let them know what you do. Where applicable, provide links to them in a helpful links and further information page. Where possible, offer them your LGBTQ+ champion as a ready source of advice on future parenting issues for their members.
This builds strong external advocates for your services either officially by endorsement or unofficially by word of mouth.
Create an LGBTQ+ parent’s advocacy bureau
It is a good idea to seek advocates in the LGBTQ+ community who have used your services to become parents. These advocates, rather like a PR officers can be very useful for:
- Real life stories that can be used on the website and also for advertorials in appropriate media.
- Recommendations in the LGBTQ+ community to family, friends and peers.
- As spokespeople at fertility conferences and events.
- As referees to provide references and details of their own experiences to potential patients who are referred to them.
COVID19 may be upon us now, but there is no reason that we can’t already be planning ahead. Perhaps by focusing on some of the aspects above you can prepare for patients who we KNOW are on their way!
Neil Madden, Editor
The Fertility Hub