When you are busy running the day-to-day operations of your practice, it can be difficult to find the time to fit marketing into the equation. By adopting an efficient marketing plan, you can make your marketing efforts more efficient and effective.
Slide 1: Welcome
Hi and welcome to today’s webinar: “How to Market Your Practice More Efficiently and Effectively.” We’re going to be looking at a five-step process you can use to help you cut down on the time and the confusion that may go into your marketing process and I know sometimes can creep into ours. It’s something that we try to be more disciplined about how we actually go through the process, so we’ve laid out some steps to help us keep ourselves more focused, but hopefully that this can also help you keep that focus as well.
Slide 2: About P3 Inbound
We are P3 Inbound. My name is Michael Roberts. I’m the marketing director here at Mudbug Media down in New Orleans. P3 Inbound—the P3 stands for patients, pathologies, and procedures. We work with a lot of medical practices all over the country. That’s one of the things that we talk a lot about—how to help practices gain control over their workflow, over the patients that they see, over so much of this changing landscape. Part of that is this element of seeing the right patients for the right pathologies and the right procedures. That’s a lot of who we are in general. We’re at p3inbound.com.
Slide 3: People Are Busy – Especially Dr. Smith
Let’s dive into this process of how to actually do this marketing and finding a way to make that work in a way that won’t drive you crazy, because everyone is busy. Everyone—especially in the medical field. Even especially our fictitious doctor here, Dr. Smith. Dr. Smith is just like a lot of other doctors, a lot of other specialists in particular. They’ve got a lot going on. Marketing is not the emergency. Marketing is not the 4 AM call to get to the hospital. It’s not some kind of major incident in the office. It’s the thing that helps you keep the right patients and the right procedures and all of that kind of stuff happening the way that you want it to go. It’s easy to let it fall by the wayside if you don’t have a very disciplined process.
This is what all of this is meant to do, is to help you get ahead of it so that you’re not just feeling like it’s all on you, that it’s too overwhelming, whatever that thing may be. There’s so many things that can pop up in your day to day.
Slide 4: 5-Step Cycle To Marketing Your Practice
Here’s this process, this five-step cycle to marketing. There’s a lot of planning stuff that you’ll hear out there. This is going to go along with some conventional wisdom in planning and in how to actually set up marketing for your practice, but it’s something that definitely bears repeating, and it’s definitely something that bears keeping in front of you on a regular basis.
There’s a lot of information that came up in the last ten years or so about how important it is for surgeons to have that list that they review before they start a procedure, just as a chance to refresh their memory on everything that they need to do and that everybody’s on the same page. Those lists became criticized because people started to feel like, “Oh geez, this is just one more thing we have to do when we’re just trying to get a procedure done.”
The thing that really made those things successful and the things that really can help them to work is when they customize them for their own workflow, customize them for what makes sense for them. I would invite you to do the same with this process that we’re sharing today, this five-step cycle. If it’s six steps for your practice, that’s great. Whatever that is, but here’s a good framework that we can start from. We’re going to go through these one by one, so we’ll recap them and read them all off at the end there. What we’re going to go ahead and do is start with this—Prioritize.
Slide 5: Prioritize Your Efforts
When we talk about “Prioritize Your Efforts,” this is really where we start talking about strategy. Instead of starting to get everything done, what is it that you actually need from your marketing? Are you just looking for more patients in general? Are you looking for specific types of patients? Are you looking for just general awareness for your market area? This is the kind of stuff you need to figure out before you start your campaign. You want, as much as possible, to get everybody on the same page on this.
Overall, your entire marketing effort, you’re going to try to distill down into one unique phrase and say, “This is the thing that I want us to focus on for the next certain number of months, and here’s what I want to see happen. Is this possible? Can we make this work?”
Slide 6: Dr. Smith Needs More Referrals
Again, let’s go back to our example here, so our fictitious Dr. Smith. For Dr. Smith, what he wants to do is to get referrals from friends and family in particular. Let’s just say that Dr. Smith has done enough research, he’s had enough conversations with his patients, and he finds that … He’s got a gut feeling at least that whenever one of his patients are referred to him by a friend or family member, then he’s getting a higher quality of patient. He’s getting somebody that, they’ve already done some due diligence, and this family member or friend vouched for him, vouched for the practice, vouched for their business sense, for all those kinds of things that they can do to help this patient.
They’re going to decide that the practice as a whole—Dr. Smith and his practice—are going to decide that this is the kind of patient that I want to go after more often. Now, notice here that it’s a very particular patient. He’s not just saying, “I want all the patients.” I want everybody that could possibly need to see whatever kind of specialist he is. We work with a lot of orthopedic surgeons. Let’s just say, I want everyone every that needs a sports medicine doctor, or everyone ever that needs a hip replacement. He’s really drilling down and really trying to focus in.
Notice what’s not happening at this particular stage. Just by setting this goal, we aren’t getting into, “here are all the things that we’re going to do to make this happen.” We’re just looking at one step at a time and then we can start building all the things that we need to do after that, but let’s just focus on this one thing for now on this stage.
Slide 7: Plan Out the Tactics
We’ve prioritized our need. We’ve prioritized the kind of goal that we’re actually after. Now, in this second step, we can actually start planning out those tactics. What is it that we actually need to do in order to get those kinds of patients in for Dr. Smith? How do we get those right people in?
Slide 8: Dr. Smith Plans to Add a Referral Page to His Website
Again, this is going to go back over and over to what your core goal was. Really, if you have a core goal and then you start planning, you’re already way ahead of the curve, because a lot of people that we end up talking to—a lot of practices that we talk to—they’ll say things like, “I need to Twitter more.” Okay, that’s cool, and maybe that’s a good thing for your practice. Maybe you’ve already thought through that strategy and you’re ready, but a lot of times when we talk to people, they just say, “I’ve heard that this is important, so I think I need to be doing it. Let’s get going.” We have to step back and say, “Hey, let’s make sure that we’re heading in the right direction.”
Let’s say we’re already there. We’ve got the right direction. We know what we want to do. Dr. Smith is ready to start getting in the right patients for him, the patients that have received a referral from a friend or family. Here’s what he’s going to do to start planning out those tactics. Here’s what he or his practice manager or whomever would handle that for him, this is where we start getting specific.
We’d have a referral page on the website. We’d have information that we could hand out to patients from the front desk. We might run a Facebook campaign that’s targeted to your followers, as well as their friends and family. Facebook will allow you to do that kind of stuff. This is where we start having these very specifics. Again, we’re being very diligent in listing out all this information, documenting all this information, so that we can come back. This is the last step that we’ll look at, and evaluate how well all of this is actually going.
It’s easy to throw a lot of effort at marketing and not know how you’re doing. There’s nothing more frustrating to really everyone that’s involved in a marketing process than to get it to the end of that process and go, “Hey did we actually get anything out of this? Did we actually see any new patients because of this effort?” A lot of practices that we talk to do not have good processes in place to be able to measure this kind of stuff, whether that’s a budgeting problem or whether it’s just everybody’s got day jobs already. Everybody’s very busy, so this marketing thing gets added on a lot of times, especially for a lot of smaller practices. The better that you can document this with your strategy and then with actually what tactics you want to take, it’s going to make a very, very big difference for you.
Also notice for Dr. Smith’s—this hypothetical example that we have here—there’s a lot of things that we don’t have on this list, because we know that perhaps a billboard probably isn’t relevant for his particular goal. Again, we could be busy, and we could spend a lot of money on the marketing, but that wouldn’t be the best thing. That wouldn’t actually lead back to something that would make sense. Newspaper advertising might make sense if you know that you’re getting a very targeted referral, but again, our core here is making sure that we’re getting friends and family of our current patients. It really helps you weed out a lot of information as well.
Slide 9: Delegate Responsibilities
Delegation is critical. Like I said, we do work with practices of a lot of different sizes. The ones that are able to make their marketing campaigns a success are the ones that don’t try to make all of that effort come under one person. You might jump into all of this and say, “I can definitely make this work. I can do all of this myself, and I’m going to make this thing succeed.” You might do really well for a week or two, and then you’re going to burn out because you do have other responsibilities. You do have other things that you need to get done, and you don’t have the kind of reach that you may need to be able to get in front of all of the patients, to be able to get in front of the right people at the right time.
Slide 10: Dr. Smith Asks His Staff to Help Out
Let’s take a look again at Dr. Smith’s example. Maybe Dr. Smith asks his nurses to recruit patients. “Are you interested in this? Are you having a good experience here with the doctor and with the staff and with the billing department and with everybody? If so, maybe here’s some information that you can use to help refer other people that would need our kind of service.” Maybe the front desk folks can help out with either collecting information, distributing information, whatever that process would be. In this particular example, Dr. Smith can’t be the one person to make all of this happen.
Let’s jump to another person. Let’s say that the practice administrator was responsible for making all of this work. That practice administrator doesn’t have time to talk to all of the patients. Neither really does the doctor to ask on every level of, “How pleased are you with our service overall?” This kind of campaign would be very limited if it depended on one person to make all of this happen.
There’s a lot of other kinds of examples. We work with a lot of websites for practices, again, in a lot of different parts of the country. Sometimes just having one person that’s responsible for keeping up with all of the information that needs to go on the website can be very difficult. Whether you’re adding on a new doctor that needs to go on the site or you have information that’s very current that patients need to know about right now. Maybe you’ve changed some sort of information about your insurance. All of that kind of stuff, there’s just a lot of moving pieces to communication in general, and especially your marketing. Look for where you can delegate. It’s going to help everyone get a lot less frustrated with the process overall.
Slide 11: Use Automation When Possible
Going back to this concept of efficiencies, look for where you can use automation. In the same way that delegating will help you be more efficient and will help you be more effective with what you’re trying to accomplish, automation will help you do this as well.
Slide 12: Dr. Smith Adds an Electronic Survey to His Website
This is something that’s very … It sounds like a good idea, so let’s dive quickly into the ways that you can actually do this. You don’t want to come off as robotic and impersonal and all those kinds of things. What is it that you can do to actually use this stuff to your advantage?
Again, going back to our example here. We’re going to look at some of these, again, more in depth. Something like just scheduling out the Facebook posts that need to go along with that advertising campaign. Scheduling out updates to the content on your website. Using electronic surveys. Are there other things that you might be able to do in the practice itself or through other outreach methods or through other communication methods that you can use to help this process along?
Slide 13: Social Media
Social media is one of those things that a lot of people will want to jump on board with, and they think that they’re ready to post every day and ready to go, all of that kind of stuff. Then to find out that it’s really hard to make time for when your patients are actually online, for when they’re most ready to see anything that you would have to post. Let’s say you’re a sports medicine doctor and you have a lot of advice about the correct way to go running or the correct way to stretch before your exercises. That kind of information is very relevant to people, but you don’t want to post that—you’re going to want to look at your Facebook stats and see when your people are online most often. That’s when you’d actually want to have those posts go live.
You can use services like Buffer. You can use a service called HootSuite. Both of them are very good, very solid platforms, and we’ve used them quite a bit here for ourselves as well as for clients. Both of those services can help you post that information at the right time. There’s nothing that precludes you from being able to respond to people as they’re commenting when you have time. There’s nothing that would prevent you from being able to post a patient testimonial once they’ve agreed and they’ve given all the proper OKs to be able to get that information out and share it with people. You can do all that kind of stuff, but then you still know that your core strategy of outreach is still working and it’s still in place. That’s something that’s going to be very important for you because medical practices are very busy. This is going to be difficult to keep up with otherwise.
Slide 14: Blog Posts/News Updates
Same thing if you’re using blog posts, or if you’re using just quick news updates. There’s a lot of different automated systems for blogging that’ll help you accomplish that kind of stuff, whether it’s a customized CMS or something like WordPress or whatever system it is that you use for that. There’s a lot of ways where you can just schedule that information out. You’re going to be very busy throughout the day. Make sure that you’re not making more work for yourself on this.
Slide 15: Email Marketing
Email marketing‘s another topic. This is especially useful for practices like dermatology, for plastic surgeons, for a lot of that kind of stuff, but we’re seeing it grow in importance for a lot of different fields. If you have information that you need to be sharing on a regular basis, again, for something like a dermatologist, if you have a special that you’re running and you want to let people know about it, that’s a good way to do it.
There’s a lot of good information that you can regularly share to your patients. Email marketing is something that can help you do that on an automated basis. Again, getting the information out at the right time to the right people. Email marketing to the people that have signed up for a newsletter or signed up for tips. Never just blanket message people. Once they’ve given you that permission to be able to reach out to them, it’s a really effective way.
Something like this would be very helpful, again, for just sending out a reminder every once in awhile to patients that might be able to refer other people. “Hey, here’s why I’m committed to your care. Here’s why I’m committed to your family’s care and your friends. Here’s information that you can let them know.” If you’re being helpful with the information that you’re sending, this is something that can be very effective, and people would actually want to get that information. It wouldn’t be a nuisance to people if you’re focused on providing help and providing care through this field.
Slide 16: Evaluation – Progress and Focus on What Works
We’ve talked about all these different processes to get everything moving. The strategy itself, the actual tactics on what you’re going to do, and then ways to actually make all that stuff happen by automating and delegating all of that good stuff. It’s going to be critical, and you need to plan out time to evaluate. You have to find time to be able to evaluate, because again, you’re going to be very, very frustrated if you don’t have any real sense of how you’re doing with all this kind of stuff.
Slide 17: Dr. Smith Identifies What Works
The one thing that I would say with this, if you don’t hear anything else through this whole presentation, is be specific. Be as specific as you can with your goals up front, with your tactics, with all of the assignments that you’re giving to everyone in the practice so that everybody knows what success actually looks like. Again, for Dr. Smith’s example, he can look at this whole marketing campaign and really boil it down to one question. What is the number of patients who attributed their visit specifically to referrals from friends and family? Here’s this one metric that I can use to know yes, this worked, or no, it didn’t.
That’s not the end of the world if it didn’t work, because maybe we need to shift our tactics. You can go back and specifically look at the point in your process that you need to change. If you’re not specific, this is where you’re going to get really frustrated when you’re trying to figure out are we spending our money on the stuff that matters? This is stuff that we’ll hear sometimes for a lot of different kinds of things, whether it’s Yellow Pages, or whether it’s a billboard, or even if it’s a website or if it’s any type of marketing where you don’t know what you’re trying to achieve, other than I know we need to advertise, and I know we’re supposed to be doing this kind of stuff. You’re going to be frustrated.
Look for those points where you can be, again, very, very specific to help you get a good feel, because if it is working, if you are increasing the number of patients because of this process, why wouldn’t you do more of it? Why wouldn’t you look for where you can increase this effort or increase this budget or do whatever you can to increase the return on that? If you know that you’re making more money as a practice, maybe you can bring in another doctor. Maybe you can continue to expand the types of procedures that you do. There’s a lot of different possibilities if you’re heading in the right direction, if you see that your business flow, in a sense, your business of medicine here is heading in the right direction. Without these very specific goals, you won’t be able to know.
Slide 18: Dr. Smith’s 5 Step Process Was a Success!
Very quickly, let’s take a final look at this. Prioritize what you’re doing. Have that strategy. Create the actual plan. This is where those tactics, where those actual steps of doing stuff actually happens. Delegate the responsibilities. You’re going to need help in actually getting this done. Automate any processes that you can, and then evaluate and refine. Again, don’t look at this as a yes or no, and marketing will never work for us if we don’t get this final goal to work exactly the way that we want. This whole process is about refining. We have a webinar that we’ve done in the past about ways to help you measure and ways to help you review that process to see how well you’re doing.
This is what we have highlighted here at the bottom. Have a plan, stick to it, and then cut out any steps that you don’t have to have in there. If you don’t need Facebook, get rid of it. If you don’t need these other things, be very focused on your marketing plan, your marketing dollars, so that you can see how you can grow your practice. This is what this is all really about. I really love marketing, and I really love all the many things that you can play with and tinker with in this field, but if it’s not helping you grow your business, grow your practice, it’s time to get rid of it.
Slide 19: Questions?
With regular review, these kinds of things become very clear, and they can be very helpful for you. I hope that you can get this kind of process in place. If there’s anything we can do to help you along with that, we have a lot of content that we share about medical practice marketing at p3inbound.com. We have a blog on there. We also have some previous webinars that we’ve done. Feel free to send us an email. Feel free to give us a call, anything that we can do to help. Thank you so much for your time today.