Many doctors have a problem with marketing. Not because they don’t understand it, because many of them do. It’s not because they are afraid of trying new things or stepping outside of their comfort zone. It’s also not because they are unwilling to invest time or spend money, we know you do. It’s also not because they don’t seek the advice of experts, we know you hire marketing firms. The real problem is that it is simply too simple. Or at least the perception of it is.
Marketing is too simple and that’s the problem!
Sound like a problem to you? It is.
Simple isn’t the same as easy. Some things look easy – like setting up a Facebook page or creating a Twitter account. But unless you have a strategy to guide you in using these tools and platforms – one that’s a part of your larger business plan – then no quantity of likes or tweets will get you closer to your marketing goals than you are today.
That being said, at its core, marketing should be very simple. As a doctor you generally offer a great product or service that is much in demand. If you clearly communicate that message to the people who really need you, then marketing is simple….. right?
Simple does not mean easy.
Qualified and un-qualified gurus, experts and self-proclaimed experts are a dime a dozen in the medical industry. In many cases, they’re people who have been lucky with one technique, and are now claiming they can change YOUR world if you just pay for their training, their product, or their consulting services.
As a doctor this becomes a very real problem because every expert you’re exposed to is talking about just one tiny piece of the marketing puzzle. Just as you have your specialized area of medicine within which you treat patients, these experts generally offer one isolated solution to your overall marketing needs. (In itself it doesn’t sound too damaging, however, if you sink all of your efforts into one area, rather than treating the practice as a whole, then tactics defeat strategy and you end up losing… losing money that is.) You can end up with a minimally effective result that may be more damaging and expensive than the original problem.
Marketing is an umbrella of different solutions to further enhance and grow your medical business. However, understanding your perfect patient is the true solution to BIG Medicine Marketing. Marketing that uses all of the services under the umbrella of solutions with a knowledge and understanding of WHO IS YOUR MOST IDEAL PATIENT.
Small marketing is an add-on to your practice. You are already an expert at what you do, what you offer, how you distribute it, and how much you charge. Now all that’s left is marketing to get the word out and to get patients in the door.
The core of small marketing is:
- Website copy and email marketing campaigns
- Brochures, flyers, and other collateral print materials
- SEO and pay-per-click advertising
- Traditional advertising campaigns
- Publicity campaigns
- Internal and External Newsletters
- Social Media Marketing
The problem is that all of these are VERY important to your practice, however, these things are not what REAL marketing is about.
The opposite of “small marketing” is “big marketing”.
Big marketing is not Big strategy. Big Marketing is understanding WHO IS YOUR MOST IDEAL PATIENT and what you can offer them that will have them knocking down your door. It’s getting their attention, and locking them into a cycle of participation, commitment and reward that will turn them into avid, loyal patients. Patients that return to your practice, over and over again, and….. patients that REFER other patients just like them to YOU.
The first step to effective marketing is to create a perfect fit between the patient you want to reach and the offer that you’re trying to make. This is another one of those “easier said than done” pieces of advice, but it all starts with one step.
Start by identifying the absolutely perfect customer for your product or service. Who is it that has the more painful problem you can solve? And who is going to be receptive to your message, enthusiastic about your offer, and eager to tell their friends about the experience you create?
It’s important to be as specific as possible when determining your perfect “patient profile” because once you have an idea of who they are, you can begin to tailor a plan that speaks directly to them. Aligning what you offer with who you’re offering it to takes 90% of the guesswork out of your marketing.
This fits into your overall business strategy because when you know who you’re trying to reach, their values, wants and needs will all help to shape the foundations of your practice.
Once you’ve made that perfect match, you need to capture customer attention. This is as much an art as a science, and it’s where many of the “small marketing” tactics come into play. You now know who your ideal patient is, and have determined that what you’re offering them is right for them. Now you just have to identify where you are most likely going to encounter them so that you can deliver your message to them – both on and offline.
Prospective patients are influenced via many different contemporary and traditional platforms. Remember: the general rule of thumb with marketing attraction is that it can take up to six impressions to make a first impression. In other words, a prospective patient might have to see your message in a variety of platforms before it resonates with them that you are offering them something they have been looking for. Some people spend more time on Twitter, others on Facebook, others on a host of other social media sites. Some people read newspapers, some listen to the radio, others prefer to watch TV or videos, while some like receiving an old-fashioned letter or newsletter in the mail. There is no One Size Fits All solution. How you go about attracting the attention of your audience is going to influence your internal and external marketing, your customer service, your web presence, your PR and marketing outreach. It may even influence how you choose to accept payment.
This is your secret weapon for future practice growth.
The most time consuming and expensive part of marketing is getting the attention of a new prospective patient. Now that you have the attention of your target audience, you need to encourage them to take a step towards becoming a lifelong patient and customer. You can’t just come right out and ask for it though – it’s too soon.
What you do instead is ask for a small commitment, like joining your mailing list, or becoming a fan on Facebook. Once they make that step, you reward them with something beyond their expectations. It could be your monthly newsletter, an invitation to a special viewing of a new treatment you now offer at the practice, a chance to consult with you outside of normal practice hours – anything that makes the time and effort they put in seem worthwhile.
Some forms of marketing will trigger a direct response and a call to your practice. You will most likely see this kind of response from a TV or magazine interview or an advertisement with a great call to action. However, with other aspects of marketing you may need to ask for a small commitment – or offer a free sample or trial, to get them to engage in dialogue with your practice.
Finally (and you do this as many times as necessary to establish trust) you ask them to make the ultimate commitment, which is to actually buy something from you – and when they do, you give it your all to make sure they have the absolute best experience you can deliver.
Of course it doesn’t end after the first purchase – the cycle of commitment and reward can be used again and again for the entirety of the patient lifespan at your practice.
This is where your business plan and marketing plan really mesh and become one. Everything you do should be designed to make this cycle better and more efficient for you and your patients – which means that pretty much every part of your business will be informed by this pattern.
You see? It’s all very simple – but none of it is easy.
Start at the beginning, learn from people you trust (who have excellent relationships with their patients and customers!) and remember that this is your business practice – you get to make these decisions. In the non-medical world a successful business owner relies on themselves and their customers to be successful. The best way for you to do that is to understand your patients, understand yourself, and understand the Aesthetic MD Insider process as it relates to your practice as a whole. The key is keeping communication interesting, frequent and sharable.