I can’t tell you how many practices we see trying the shotgun approach to marketing with little to no success. The doctor attends a study club and hears that social media is hot amongst his peers, so the practice tries that for a while. An online marketing sales rep pops into the office and delivers a terrific pitch on SEO, so they try that for a bit. The office manager heard that the competing practice down the road got some patient traffic from direct mail, so they do a run or two.
And none of it works.
1) What’s hot is not necessarily right for your practice. Online marketing does not always work for practices in saturated markets where the competition is stiff and already competing fiercely for eyeballs on their search engine listings. Nor does it work in some rural communities where the population is so small that few people search online for healthcare practitioners. Similarly, direct mail does not always work for practices seeking Medicaid or Medicare patients, since low-income households are historically transient in nature. To be sure what will work for your practice, consider how your current patients found you, and replicate those efforts.
2) There are too many cooks in the kitchen and no chef. A marketing plan cobbled together by collective ideas from doctor and staff is just that – a patchwork quilt of ideas without proper execution. Doctors are best at medicine, and marketers are best at marketing. Just as you wouldn’t go to your marketer for a simple surgery, it might not be best to go to your doctor for a stellar marketing plan. When practices appoint a marketing manager – whether in-house or as a third party agency, things get done. And well!
3) The “bad marketer” mindset is a self-fulfilling prophecy. I hear over and over again how practices got “burned” by their last marketing consultant. So they switched and tried someone new for three months. And that didn’t go so well, so they got burned again. They hired someone else for a month, and that didn’t work out either. The more the practice shifts gears with different providers, the more likely they are to feel a loss of traction, so the situation literally keeps coming back and burning them. The key is to interview and find the right advisor and commit to truly partnering with that person or group for the long-term success of the practice.
4) The best way to get fit is to exercise regularly. And just the same, the best way to ensure a steady flow of patient traffic at all times is to market regularly. Not when the competition moves in. Not after a sudden drop-off of patient traffic comes. Not when you are ready to bring on an associate. Regularly. Constantly. Always. Marketing is the oxygen of your practice. Starting and stopping marketing projects is suffocating you.
The key to a successful marketing program is to get off the merry go round and get strategic. Get clear about exactly how your best patients make their healthcare decisions and who best can help you communicate with that audience, and you’re on your way to a lasting marketing plan that will show great results over the long haul.