As the last quarter of 2010 rolls around, it is a natural time to start to look at the successes and failures of the year so far and put plans in place to build on that foundation to improve your practice in 2011. So if you had to write a report card for your practice in 2010, how did you do?
- Was your appointment book as full as you wanted it to be?
- What conditions did you have the best results with?
- Did you get enough time off or with your friends and family?
- Did you move significantly towards your vision for your practice?
Over the next few months in this column, we will be looking at ways to help you develop your practice in line with your unique vision. Sustainable practice development will not only require sales and collection growth through great clinical results and effective internal and external marketing, but also continuous broadening and deepening of the integrity of your practice systems and staff.
Although vision, mindset, organization and staff training are all crucial parts of this process, most practitioners looking for guidance in this area have only one thing on their mind: “How do I get more new patients in the door?” Consequently, we have chosen this first column to address that key question. Our intention is to provide assistance and best practices to make it as easy as possible for you to move confidently forward towards your ideal practice.
Your 2011 External Marketing Checklist
Quarterly Practice Events
One of the most effective strategies for growing a practice sustainably is doing regular events. As well as providing a great opportunity to attract new patients, it can also help to position you as a trusted advisor and expert in your community. Quarterly events would be the minimum we would recommend for a large practice and the maximum we would recommend for a small practice.
Our first recommendation is to align your event with a national organization. No matter your clinical specialty or market positioning there will be at least one event per quarter that will be congruent with your practice. For a partial list of ongoing events please see the following website: http://www.pohly.com/dates_alpha.shtml<http://www.pohly.com/dates_alpha.shtml>
Aligning your event with a national organization will help you in the following ways:
1) Provide you with free marketing material
2) Make it easier to get local press coverage
3) Work with the trends of the mass subconscious
Then it is just a question of finding a relevant and galvanizing topic, a suitable space, and using your marketing resources to promote the event (staff, email and physical mailing to current patient database, social media, flyers, newspaper ads, etc.)
Quarterly events have been used successfully in both large and small practices around the country, in various demographic locations, and have never failed to do the following: increase the number of new patients; increase the number of returning patients; and raise the profile of the office (brand awareness) in the community.
When done right, it is even possible to get free local publicity with newspaper, radio, and cable TV! The more that you can position yourself as the “trusted advisor” or “health care resource” in the community, the more you and your office will come to the “top of the list” in the mind of your potential target customers.
As you do these quarterly events (and other internal and external marketing events) over time, the more your patient base grows. The time will come when you will look at your appointment book and your collections, and your slowest months will be better than your previous busiest months.
Your #1 Return on Investment: Google Places
If your practice is not yet listed on Google Places, you might be missing out on people who are looking for you. It’s free and it can, when done right, get you to Page 1 of Google without a website! Not only that, if potential customers don’t find what they are looking for on one of your competitors’ Google Places pages, you might be listed at the bottom of their page (as relevant competition), and they may find their way to you, because your competitor wasn’t what they were looking for.
You can put time-limited coupons up for free on your Google Places page, and we suggest that you do that in conjunction with your Quarterly Events. We highly recommend enticing some of your favorite clients to write testimonials for you, and post them on your Google Places page. Those testimonials will remain there forever and provide unbeatable “social proof” of the fabulous practitioner that you are. To get started go to: http://www.google.com/places<http://www.google.com/places>
Why It’s Important to Participate in Social Media and Electronic Marketing
Society has been through massive changes throughout human history. The information age and the technical revolutions of the 21st century are no different. Social Media represents a fundamental shift in the way people communicate. All businesses need to adapt to these changes, or risk being left behind. A real opportunity exists right now for our industry to connect with local communities and offer true primary care. Facebook, Twitter, YouTube are all free, and when used effectively can drive significant traffic to your website and through your front door. Future articles in this series will delve more deeply into how you can use Social Media to help grow your practice.
Holistic Practice Development helps practitioners to grow healthy, sustainable practices, regardless of demographic or economic environment. Dr. Andrew Colyer and James Maskell have a combined 30 years of experience in the health care industry, and would love to help you grow your practice. For your free practice strategy session, please visit: http://www.HolisticPracticeDevelopment.com <http://www.holisticpracticedevelopment.com/