A multi-part marketing plan can make all the difference in your outreach efforts.
By Marc H. Sencer, MD
Doctors in a small group or solo practice rarely can afford to delegate their marketing efforts to the pros. For most, that means doing it themselves. This presents a dilemma because most doctors have little or no training in marketing, and no time to teach them- selves all the basics. The following marketing tips can give you a head start.
The first step in creating a comprehensive marketing plan is knowing what your goals are. Be as specific as possible. For example: “My goal is to have 50 new patients per month for my new XYZ procedure.”
You’ll need to know your target audience and the relevant demographic data. Who gets the XYZ procedure? Men or women? What ages are appropriate? What is their education and income level? This list could include information as detailed as the movies and books they like.
Next, determine if you are in the right location to successfully offer the XYZ procedure. If not, find out what the demographics are for your location and shift gears. It may be better to save the XYZ procedure for a second office in the right location.
Know the difference between name recognition and direct-response marketing. Of course you can do both in the same piece (this could be a print ad, radio spot, video, or Web offer). Adding a free or discounted service turns a name recognition piece into a combination direct-response and name recognition piece.
In most cases, you will want to use that type of combination piece or go with a pure direct-response ad.
Check with your state board and know the rules in your state that govern professional advertising. For example: Some states require you to identify your practice as chiropractic. Some states require a disclaimer for free offers and discounts that allows patients to change their mind or opt out of payment if unsatisfied. Include such disclaimers where required, and indicate that your offer doesn’t apply to Medicare or certain other insurances, as applicable.
Your marketing plan should include both internal (marketing to your own patients and people in your network) and external (marketing to the general public) components. Letters to both your active and
inactive patients are important.
An e-newsletter can be an effective internal marketing device. A blog can be useful, too. Get an email address from every patient and their consent to send them email.
Every advertising piece (and your website) gives you a chance to promote your practice, as opposed to simply announcing it. Patients are not interested in long explanations. Studies have shown that what patients care about the most are a few simple things:
- Do you have a solution to my problem?
- Why should I choose you to be my doctor?
- Is it easy and convenient for me to see you?
- Are you affordable?
Your advertisement should answer these questions in the first part of a print ad, and on the landing page and through a website. The same applies to video spots. You will have their attention if you can answer these questions right away. Otherwise, you may lose viewer interest.
The latest search-engine algorithms favor websites that have constantly changing information (including links to videos), so there is definitely a place for information and education. Just be sure to update at least monthly.
To be truly effective, your ad should provoke an emotional response. You achieve this in print ads with photos of people ostensibly enjoying life as a result of your treatment. On video, you can do this even easier. In fact, the TV spot can tell a story about how treatment XYZ changed this patient’s life. The key with video is to show, don’t tell.
Use video images to tell an emotional story, while the voiceover gives information.
Tracking your marketing efforts is essential, and to create and refine your advertising budget, you should know the return on investment for every promotion you do. You also need to know the dollar value of each patient. Armed with these statistics, you can make rational decisions about how to allocate your advertising budget.
If you follow these tips, you should find your marketing efforts to be more successful (and maybe even a little more fun).
Marc H. Sencer, MD, is the president of MDs for DCs, which provides intensive one-on-one training, medical staffing, and ongoing practice management support to chiropractic integrated practices. He can be reached at 800-916-1462 or through mdsfordcs.com.
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