Marketing mistakes can be costly, both in terms of missed opportunities (the patients you failed to attract) and the money lost on a promotion.
As you work to shine a spotlight on your practice’s strengths and offerings, you can ensure your promotional efforts aren’t wasted if you evade the following marketing hazards:
Making decisions on a whim
You need to create a road map of your marketing strategy. Being organized will help you analyze your tactics and show you where to add emphasis. Just putting up a website or carelessly investing in some print ads will not produce the results you want.
Not establishing a budget
Many doctors take a pay-as-you-go approach. Doing so can lead to early depletion of your marketing funds and end in poor results. For print and radio, you must have enough capital to stay in front of your community long enough to get a response. For newspaper ads, this usually means at least three months.
Some doctors resolve to put a percentage of their profits back into their business in the form of marketing. There is nothing wrong with this approach for those who cannot or will not create a comprehensive budget.
A budget should reflect the value of each patient to avoid shelling out too much money targeting those who may spend little in your practice. Another approach is to outline the level of growth you want to create and calculate how much it should cost in marketing to reach that goal.
Confusing direct response with name recognition advertising
When you need to jump-start a practice or want to call attention to a new procedure you’re offering, direct response ads can target a specific clientele and make them a special offer. If your budget is limited, spend the larger portion on direct response marketing, or advertising that encourages a specific action from the consumer (like calling your practice).
When you are doing well, you can budget more for name recognition, also known as “branding.” Name recognition can take months or even years to establish, and it complements direct-response efforts. Of course, in your online ads especially, you can roll both marketing strategies into one—and you should. Direct response can ignite or maintain a growth phase and, later, building name recognition will help you retain a following.
Make them laugh or make them cry. Every ad should have a human interest story running parallel to the informational narrative or copy.
As an example, think of the car ads you see on TV. Sometimes the narrator will talk about the technical advantages of the car while the visuals tell a story that triggers an emotional response. For example: A family is seen bonding on a road trip after purchasing a new SUV. Sometimes the name of the car being sold isn’t even mentioned until the last few seconds of the commercial.
Neglecting social networking
Social media sites such as Facebook are only part of the story. You should aim to build up local networks of people who in turn will expand your circle as they build their own.
If you are not a “people person,” then employ someone who is. This strategy has to be part of an organized campaign, and the results need to be constantly analyzed. Keep records of where referred patients are coming from to identify the successful links in your network so it can expand further.
Making a flat first impression
Studies have shown that you only have a few seconds to capture your audience’s attention. Thus the headline of a print ad, the landing page of a website, and the first page of a brochure are all there to serve one function: to engage prospects long enough so you can present your message, whether that means continuing to listen or turning the page. In this regard, appealing to emotions can make all the difference.
Falling for gimmicks
This is especially relevant on the web. Cute pop-ups, landing pages that start with slideshows or animations, logos that say nothing about what you do—avoid them all. You need a home page that gives visitors the information they need to stay on your site.
Provide content that appeals to the audience’s emotions along with the facts they need. Your site should be easy to navigate and the user experience should be free of distractions. Visitors must be able to quickly find the information they need or you will lose them. Your competition is only a click away.
This list is by no means definitive, but these are some of the more common mistakes that doctors make in marketing. Avoiding them will go a long way toward developing an effective program for your practice.
Marc H. Sencer, MD, is the president of MDs for DCs, which provides intensive one-on-one training, medical staffing, and ongoing practice management support to chiropractic integrated practices. He can be reached at 800-916-1462 or through mdsfordcs.com.