Professional Practice Marketing Fundamentals
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Mastering the Fundamentals of Marketing – Podcast
There is less than one second on the clock. Your team is down by one in a pivotal game that will determine whether or not your team moves on in the tournament. You dominate every part of the game of basketball, from shot blocking to being fed the ball under the basket for an easy two. That is, you dominate every aspect of the game, except for one. You can’t shoot a free throw. Unfortunately for you, you’re not the only one that knows this information. The other team strategically fouled you at the end of the game because they know that chances are, you won’t make both of your shots. And more often than not, you don’t. Sweat pools on your brow as you grip the ball and line up your shot. “Just relax, and breath” you say to yourself. “Just pretend like the game ISN’T on the line.” As if time stands still, you take your shot and release the ball from your hands. It’s as if the ball is frozen in time as it inches its way to the goal. It looks good “you mentally say to yourself”. As it reaches the basket, a loud DOINK sound is made as the ball strikes the front of the rim. You weren’t even close. All the things you did right during the course of the game now no longer matter. You lost the game because you didn’t nail the fundamentals.
This is Mike Green with another episode of the Professional Practice Marketing Moment. Today, as you might of guessed, we’re talking about the fundamentals of practice marketing. I used the example of basketball because I witnessed this very thing in a recent NBA game. A dominant center, a goliath of a man, had excelled in every aspect of the game. He was the high scorer and had blocked several shots throughout the game. With time running out, his team was down by 2. With less than once second on the clock the other team simply fouled this player as they knew he made less than 50% of his free throws. True to form, he shot those free throws like an awkward 13 year old who was all elbows and knees. Made one of two, and lost the game.
I want you, as the owner of your practice, to dominate all aspects of your game. You may be the best dentists this side of the mississippi, but if no one can find you or your practice, it’s all for not. Today, I’d like to discuss 4 fundamentals to your marketing that you have to nail in order to be a complete success. Many of you may find that you are very strong in some of these things, but weak in others. Recognizing that this is the case, and committing yourself to course correct, your practice will yield tremendous success as a result.
Establishing your USP
The first fundamental I’d like to speak about is establishing your Unique Selling Position. This is commonly referred to as your USP. Most doctors that we work with, when asked what makes them or their office unique, will reply with: “We are very friendly, and LOVE our patients”. While this is important, it certainly is not a USP. In other words, EVERY doctor in your area says that they are friendly and that they love their patients. On the other hand, if you are the only doctor in the area that can provide same day crowns or the only one that opens early on Saturday morning, you have the start of what can be a Unique Identifier. Admittedly, this is much easier to do in smaller markets, and for specialists. However, we’ve helped general practice doctors all over the country create USP’s in very competitive areas, and they have thrived as a result. One example would be a doctor who provided a “Teeth Whitening for Life” program. This is a treatment that matched his demographic perfectly, and was not something that was offered by any other practice.
An easy way you can see if you’re on the right track with a USP, is to do what I call the Scratch Test. Pull up your website, and put your finger over your logo, and have a look at the content. Do the words on the page say anything that could not be performed by nearly any other doctor in your area? Or, do you have something on your page that only you can or are willing to do? If so, this is the start of a USP that you can hang your hat on.
Developing a successful USP takes time and input. I’d suggest that you make it a priority in your practice and start talking about it with your consultants and staff.
One quick warning about developing your USP before we move on: I’d recommend against using Price as a USP. If you advertise that you are the cheapest in town, you leave yourself vulnerable to another practice who can simply undercut your prices. Now you’re not the cheapest doctor in town, and if that’s all you had, you’re toast. In other words when it comes to price, you live by the sword and you die by the sword.
Knowing your target
The second fundamental I’d like to speak about, is knowing your target patient. Often times, we at Doctor Demographics will provide a demographic report for a doctor that shows a very different population than what they were previously thinking they were serving. This is especially true when the doctor does not live within their service area. In other words, their practice is filled with patients who do not represent the “low hanging fruit” in terms of demographics for the area. Now, it could very well be that that doctor does not want to serve the dominant population for the area. They have a defined niche that they are built for and are happy with the patient totals for that group. If that is you, then it sounds like your have this fundamental down. However, if your main goal is growth in your practice, and you’re not too picky about where that growth comes, you need to know your market and understand where the potential exists. Having an intimate knowledge of the demographics and psychographics of your 5, 10, and 15 minute drive time radius is a fundamental that you need to know. How else will you be able to craft a message that you know will convert? Unfortunately, many of the marketing plans that we inherit from doctors are scattered and lack direction. This is usually due to not knowing what the right message should be for the target population. This is a fundamental that you can easily master by educating yourself of exactly who your primary target market is, and what will motivate them to action.
Next I want to talk about accessibility. It doesn’t matter what part of the country you are in, your accessibility as the doctor is very important to the population. Now, when I say accessability, I don’t mean that you should be taking calls at 2AM on your cell phone. What I’m talking about is your accessibility in terms of information provided about you and your practice to the public. For the purpose of this podcast, I want to talk about three areas of accessibility:Your practice website, basic social media, and review collection.
I have no doubt that most of your have a website currently. Aside from some of the other things we talked about in the USP section, you need to provide as much accessability to you, your practice, and your staff as possible on your site. This can be accomplished with photos, staff profiles, and blog articles. With that being said, the best practices in the country have found that video is one of the best ways in which they can provide that easy access to their practice. A simple video showing the waiting room, the friendly smile of the front desk staff, and a short introduction to the Doctor, is usually all that’s needed to provide this. Shooting video is by far a much smaller investment than it was 10 years ago. I’ll be covering this topic in more depth in a later podcast, but suffice it to say, you need video as part of your website. This will increase the emotional attachment the potential patient has with your practice and provide a higher chance for converting that viewer into a patient.
In terms of social media, yeah yeah I’ve heard it all before. “I don’t have any return on my social media investment” or “It takes too much time away from my staff”. These are both very common and valid arguments when it comes to social media and your practice. With that being said, it most parts of the country, social media is a very important element to your patients lives. Whether or not you use it personally, you can count on the fact that your potential patients have tried to check you out on Facebook. What did they find? Did they find an empty page void of any information except for a few cat videos? Or did they find a professional page that matches your branding with a consistent flow of information.
There really isn’t any secret to developing a successful social media campaign. We could spend a lot of time going through the dos and don’ts, but in terms of accessibility, we want to be sure there is a mix of information posts as well as what I call “moments of magic” posts. These can be defined by those things that happen in your office that cannot be captured by an external social media company. While social media was once an optional thing for your practice, today it is an absolute must, and I consider it a fundamental.
The last element regarding accessibility that I want to talk about is review collection. Like social media, your potential patients have checked out your reviews before they picked up the phone. We have been conditioned to do this in all aspects of our life, from selecting where we want to go to dinner to where we will stay on vacation. Your reviews are something that you must be aware of, and actively pursuit in the right situations. In most areas of the country, Doctors have not caught onto this as an important part of the accessibility of their practice marketing. This means that you likely have a great advantage in your area to gather reviews, and become the highest reviewed doctor in your town. This will mean a great deal to potential patents, especially to areas that have a high residential churn rate.
One quick tip when it comes to reviews: While there are many sites that gather reviews, we want to focus on the sites that will be easily accessible and will result in a conversion for you. Because of this, Reviews to your Google page, followed by Facebook, then Yelp, in that order should be where you spend your time and direct your satisfied patients.
The last fundamental I want to talk about today is follow up. There are few things that can kill your reputation faster than poor follow up. This goes for your patients as well as your professional referral partners. Poor follow up in the professional relationship hurts all parties involved. Regardless of how brilliant your marketing message is, if you have poor follow-up it will all be for not.
We understand that followup can take a tremendous amount of the doctor’s time. This is why it is such a problem in our industry. I have found that with the right systems in place, effective follow-up can be achieved with a minimal time investment by you or your staff. The returns you get from outstanding follow up are unmatched by most other things you might do to gain a connection to your patient.
You might be wondering why follow up is defined as a marketing fundamental. Well, marketing is more than just advertising and fancy websites. Marketing is far deeper and scientific than those things. They are a by-product of a properly executed marketing strategy.