You’re not going to like the answer!
When I meet with a doctor to do my in-depth practice analysis, I always ask: “Who’s the head of your marketing division?” Here are some of the responses (is one of them yours?):
- What marketing division?
- I rely on word of mouth.
- We don’t have anyone in charge.
- We don’t do any marketing.
- Yellow Pages (yep, someone actually said that).
- Marketing … what do you mean by that?
- Tried it and nothing works.
- I’m in a small town and everyone knows me.
- I am fully booked and don’t need to do marketing.
The Correct Answer:
Some of you DO answer correctly with “I’m the head of it”, and it is even correct to say, “One of the team is in charge of it but I oversee it as the CEO of the practice.” However, that is usually less than 10% of those questioned.
Planned or chaos?
The next question I ask is: “Do you have a written, organized marketing plan?” The answer to this is almost always “no”. However, that doesn’t mean that nothing gets done marketing-wise. It’s just usually done willy, nilly as it’s not written down and organized systematically with good measurement tools to assess what is working and what isn’t on a weekly and monthly basis. Plus, it is usually an inadequate amount of marketing for the needs of an ideal practice.
When is “Enough is Enough?”
Where does all this leave us? The answer is that marketing never, ever stops as long as you have a practice. In fact, very few professionals that I meet are completely fully booked out weeks into the future on a consistent basis. And many want to eventually have an associate which means doubling up on the marketing (or getting some going) in order to rapidly fill up an associate so you don’t lose them for lack of patients to see and treat.
Bucket with a Hole in the Bottom
Patients do pass on, move on, etc. A practice base is like a bucket with a hole in the bottom slowly leaking out. I have seen doctors stop taking new patients because they feel they are fully booked and that, long term, has always resulted in disaster.
For instance, one in a small city a doctor did just that and it got all over town that he wasn’t taking new patients. Over a few years though, without his really noticing it until it was too late, his practice gradually diminished. He was close to retirement and his patient base had aged with him and therefore the value of the practice had also diminished substantially. You must ALWAYS have more new patients pouring in the top.
Word of Mouth
The most common answer to “what are you doing marketing-wise?” is word of mouth and, while that is definitely a wonderful way to get new patients, you need to really focus on delivering truly awesome care to every patient and also asking them for referrals. However, you should add a few more workable marketing avenues until you have a very steady flow adequate to keep you growing.
The More, The Better
There are hundreds and hundreds of unique and productive marketing methods and many of them of extremely inexpensive. In our company, we closely watch our clients’ stats as we implement each new idea to see what works best for that individual practice demographic to see whether it generated enough to justify the cost. The main point though is that too much marketing is always better than not enough!
So go to town on it!
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