Are you “Independent Strong” when marketing your practice?

Marketing has two major functions – to get new patients into the practice and to encourage your current patients to purchase more products and services. To achieve this, marketing should be used both internally (with people who are currently your patients) and externally (with people who are not yet your patients). Answer the following five questions to find out how Independent Strong you’re marketing is, and link for advice in areas you need it.

Do you have a person in charge of marketing?

Dr. Jackson does not have a person in charge of marketing. As a result, Dr. Jackson spends a lot of time trying to do and oversee this job. This is time Dr. Jackson could be using for other things or even getting home earlier every day. The primary issue here is the owner of the practice trying to do it all.

When asked how he would like to change his practice to improve his quality of life, Dr. Jackson says, “I would like to spend less time at the practice and more time at home.” When the owner has not learned the art of delegating and tries to do everything independently, the results are an overwhelmed owner, inefficient operations, and confusion.

Among the basic tenets of managing your business are efficient operations, clear lines of communication, clearly assigned responsibilities, and accountability. All of this should be applied to your marketing efforts as well, and all of it should start with having a marketing manager working for you.

If you do not already have someone on your team with the skills to be the marketing manager, then you have a few options – hire a marketing manager, train someone already on your staff to become the marketing manager, or hire an outside marketing company.

If training is the way to go for you, then talk to your lab reps, let them know your plan, and ask for help. Ask them if they have any resources that you can use to get your marketing manager up to speed as quickly as possible.

Do you measure the effectiveness of your marketing efforts?

Monitoring appointments scheduled is one of the best ways to measure how effective your marketing is. A full schedule of appointments indicates that your marketing efforts are paying off. While some might take the easy way out and rely on “emotional management” to determine the status of a practice, “number management” is more objective and ultimately more successful. Compare the following two different approaches to management to learn more about using “number management” to monitor your appointments booked as a means of measuring the effectiveness of your marketing.

Here’s an example that compares two different office managers’ approaches to managing a practice – number management and emotional management.

Consider the scenario where there are two different people sharing the job of office manager. Let’s call them OM1 and OM2. They alternate every other week in the role of office manager. OM1 uses the “emotional management” approach to evaluate what is happening in the practice, and OM2 uses a “number management” approach.

Using the emotional management approach, OM1 walks through the practice and declares that the office “feels good” and the staff “seems happy” so no changes are needed.

The next week, OM2, using number management, looks at the patient schedule for the next two weeks and sees that it is only half full. OM2 calls for an immediate meeting with two people: the person in charge of recall (getting established patients to return to the practice) and the person in charge of marketing (getting new patients to come to the practice). OM2 reviews the patient schedule with them and asks for a written plan of action to fill the schedule. OM2 declares the practice to be in an emergency situation needing action and a plan by the end of the day to implement immediately.

Which approach works best? Is it reacting to how the office feels or what the numbers tell us? Clearly, number management is the best approach. Number management provides a more accurate picture of what is happening in the office and what needs to change in order to make the practice better in the future.

In order to apply number management to your marketing efforts, create a reporting system that happens automatically.

For measurement purposes, it is important to treat each of your marketing efforts as a separate campaign. For example, if you place an ad in a local newspaper, then you need to track the following numbers:
• total revenue spent on the campaign
• total number of patients responding to the campaign
• total revenue collected as a result of the campaign

Now, with that information, make the following two calculations:
• total revenue collected ÷ total number of patients responding = $ per patient
• total revenue collected – total expenses = campaign net

Having this information will enable you to evaluate the effectiveness of your marketing campaign so you can decide if you want to do it again or, perhaps, choose a different campaign.

Do you ask current patients for new patients and reward them for referrals?

Psychology 101 says that if you want positive behavior, first you have to ask for it, and then you should reward it. Most patients have a great experience with their examination or treatment but then just go about their lives. By not asking them to refer other patients to your practice, you’re missing one of your best marketing opportunities. Fix this by asking for new patients.

The end of the exam is the perfect time for the doctor to follow a script such as this: “Our goal is to improve the quality of life for as many people as possible. [Hand the patient three of your business cards.] It would mean a lot to me if you would share my business card with three of your family members or friends who would benefit from the services and products we offer.” That’s it, short and sweet, but very impactful.

If you want to make even more of an impact, offer a reward. The reward could be points toward gifts in your practice such as new sunwear, new computer glasses, or an upgrade on a frame. For states that do not permit monetary rewards, send handwritten thank-you notes for each referral. The thank-you note can say something like this: “The highest compliment you can give me is the referral of a new patient. Thank YOU for the recent referral.”

Are you using industry partners to help with your marketing?

Industry partners can and do help independent practices with their marketing. Some industry partners have sizable and sophisticated marketing capabilities and are using those capabilities and resources to support independent practices. Learn more about working with industry partners here.

Are you effectively using social media in your marketing?

Social media has become an integral part of our patients’ lives. Just look at the data about social media:

• 97 percent of digital consumers have used social media in the past month (globalwebindex)
• roughly two-thirds of U.S. adults now report they are Facebook users (Oberlo)
• 53 percent of consumers say they’re likely to buy from brands that are transparent on social media (SproutSocial)

Social media is a platform that can be used for many things. It can be used to broadcast messages, to interact and listen to our patients, establishing a stronger bond, as well as track competition. Without strategic goals and tactics for social media, it is easy to waste time and money without gaining meaningful results.

Start by identifying a person to manage social media marketing within your practice. Investigate who within your office is currently using social media as an integral part of their life. Ask them if they would be interested in helping you create a successful social media marketing program within your practice. Another option is to pay a company to do this for you.

Put together a coordinated marketing effort designed specifically for the social media channels you are going to use. You need to make sure the social media marketing plan fits together with the practice’s overall marketing goals.

Here are some of the specific steps you need to take: Engage your industry partners to see if they can help you in the process. Clever ads within social media can be very successful. Review your competitors to see what is working and not working on social media. What kind of material are they posting? What kind of themes are performing well within that material? Identify your target market. What social media platforms do they use? What are they posting, and what themes do they respond to? Set relevant goals based on what you’ve learned in your research. Plan out a monthly social media calendar. Implement your plan, track your goals, and adjust your plan to improve your results.

Consider starting with a small, targeted program with a specific goal. Run this for a couple of months to see how it is going. Then expand your social media marketing as it becomes successful.

For more information on how to stay Independent Strong download the Special Report here.

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