The 3 secrets of marketing for your practice are Commitment, Investment & Consistency. Commitment means if you don’t generate positive results within two weeks, you don’t quit. Without commitment your marketing is impotent. Investment means enough time and/or money’ to achieve the goal. Consistency means sticking with your media and messages. And not dropping from the public’s eye for long. For the public, your consistency means familiarity which means confidence and income for you.
PRIORITIZE YOUR MARKETING: FIRST THINGS FIRST
Every practice (except a brand new one) needs to concentrate internally first. Working with the existing base to generate repeat business and word-of-mouth referrals is cheaper than anything else you could do. Plus the quality of new patient or client is primo. Therefore, the return on investment can’t be beat. That means strategies like:
Asking patients or clients for referrals
Frequent Referrer Program-recognition activities and gifts to reinforce and further shape patient or client referral behavior
A recall system with over a 70% effective rate
Internal Prospecting – quarterly mailings to your patient or client base to create the image of an expert and generate referrals. (This does not mean a newsletter!)
Reactivation of patients or clients not seen recently
One-Minute Messages-short messages about a product or service you want to encourage
Then promote externally. In the return on investment lineup you’ll find:
Outdoor office signage for offices not in professional buildings
Yellow Pages with a 10-to-l return being common
Targeted direct mail to a specific group (as opposed to cold prospecting direct mail to the general public)
If you live and die by other professionals’ referrals, then they take priority. Concentrate on direct mail to pave the way for follow-up phone calls which hopefully lead to a face-to-face get-togethers.
When your marketing is prioritized by productivity, you’ll find you do the basics first. Only then can you consider an advertising campaign on TV and the Goodyear blimp. So first things first to spend less and make more.
HOW MUCH SHOULD YOU SPEND ON MARKETING?
What’s smarter, but perhaps a bit more complex, is deciding what to spend based upon what you want to achieve-given your situation. Want to double this year? No problem. You can achieve any goal if you have enough resources to throw against it.
Figuring the Budget. First, you need a numerical goal. Not “more patients/ clients,” but a specific collections number. (Only collections count because you can’t spend promises.)
Then take your last three years collections and plot them on a graph. Now make a judgment call of where you’ll be in 12 months if you don’t change anything at all. Down? Flat? Up? Figure that number.
Subtract this projected trend line number from your goal. This tells you how much additional collections you must manufacture out of thin air. Call this your Incremental Growth Goal. You’ll have to set a promotional budget just for this, over and above your existing budget.
Here’s where more judgment comes in. If your practice is at least three years old and you’ve not done a lot of internal promotion and your Incremental Growth Goal is small, figure the incremental budget to be 15% to 20% of the Incremental Growth Goal.
If you’ve “reactivated” most of your old patients or clients and you’ve prospected them for referrals numerous times or your practice is young, or your goal large, then you’ll need to externally promote more. That’s more money because media costs more than internal promotion and more repetitions of your message are needed since these people have never heard of you before. In these cases, figure 25% to 30%.