Optimize Your Marketing

In today’s economic climate a great deal can be said for the benefits of marketing effectively. There are many mediums for marketing a practice – referrals from existing patients/clients are normally the best and most cost effective means of getting new patients/clients. External marketing, such as the Internet, business directories, new resident mailings, bus benches, and even the local newspaper, radio and TV, has worked for some. Some form of one or more of these has proven to be successful in various markets, but not all of them are effective in all markets. Given all this, it is vitally important to know how your new patients/clients are finding out about you, and based on this, you should focus your marketing dollars in the most effective areas.

This brings up the topic of this Hot Tip.

Somewhere on your new patient/client form there should be a little line that says, “How did you find out about our practice?” If you don’t have this line on your new patient/client form, you should institute it right away. Some offices have little check boxes that mention their various marketing activities, and others just offer a blank line to be filled in. However you do it, the purpose of this is for your new patients/clients to tell you which of your marketing tools have been most effective. This is vital information for your promotional and marketing activities, only as long as you do something with it. Unfortunately, many doctors don’t use this information properly.

In fact, the last poll taken in our online journal “The Practice Solutions Magazine”, showed that 54% of those responding said that they “did nothing” with the information that they got from this question on their forms. At the same time, our current poll shows 43% stating that they are increasing the amount of marketing they are doing currently. The poll data seems to support that “marketing for new patients/clients” is important to practice owners but the importance of tracking effectiveness of marketing seems to be missing.

Let’s take up effectiveness of marketing as a running theme and discover how it might be used. A simple starting point would be to actually use the data you have already gathered by doing a quick breakdown of where your new patients/clients came from for the past 6 to 12 months. Assign your front desk person the task of reviewing the files of all your new patients/clients and tabulate their responses to the question concerning what brought them to your office. Once the tabulation is done, have this staff member provide you with a summary of this information – i.e. “45% came from referrals, 20% came from new resident mailings, 10% from Yellow Pages ad, etc.” Use the results from this summary and locate the area(s) that seem to be providing you with the most new patients/clients. Do not be surprised if “referred by a friend or relative” shows up as the number one item – in fact you should be surprised if it doesn’t.

At this point, inspect your marketing budget. How much do you spend to make sure people know how to find your practice? How much are you spending on ads and how many new patients/clients came from that? What kind of materials do you have to stimulate referrals? Examine each area that you are spending your marketing dollars on and what your return is on those dollars. While taking into account the cost effectiveness of each activity, you’ll want to invest more heavily in the area(s) that are giving you the most return. For example, if “referrals” is your number one draw, and the local radio ad is not producing much, how can you shift your advertising dollars into more support activities for referrals? As an example, creating a “Refer a friend or family member” card might be one way to start.

To summarize:

  1. have a means to know where your new patients/clients are coming from;
  2. don’t ignore this data – tabulate and evaluate the information;
  3. invest your marketing budget in the most effective areas based upon the data you gather;
  4. regularly re-assess this information and adjust your marketing plans and investments accordingly.

If you do the above regularly and religiously, you’ll find a steady increase of new patients/clients coming in your door. The first priority is always to strengthen the area that is working best, before looking to add additional avenues.

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Marketing and Promotion Ideas for Your Practice

In my nearly 23 years of delivering practice management training and consulting, I’ve found that of all of the marketing techniques available, properly asking for referrals is easily one of the most useful marketing and promotional ideas for your practice. There are several reasons for this:

  1. It is the least expensive. You don’t have to create and buy ads, make newsletters, send mailings, etc.
  2. It is something that you can directly affect on an ongoing daily basis and see and monitor the results without much time lapse.
  3. It is something that you can train all of your staff to do. You can create reward systems to enhance the staff to do more of it.
  4. You can, more than any other way, attract the type of patient/client that you want. If you analyze the patients/clients in your practice, you can quickly isolate those who are the most cooperative, financially secure and the most fun to have around. These people will, by referral, bring in similar types of new patients.

The whole trick to getting referrals is nothing more complicated than ASK FOR THEM. This can and should be done as a coordinated team effort by all staff. There are many successful actions that you can implement in order to accomplish this.

To get referrals, first, determine which patient/client will be approached. A quick staff meeting at the start of the day can identify patients/clients who’ve had great results and are very happy with their service. Those satisfied people are the ones that you would want to approach. Next, determine who will talk with one of these people. It may likely be the receptionist who will be talking with the person after their appointment. Lastly, work out a simple script that can be used and have a card ready to give out to the person that they can then give to their referral.

Other Marketing Ideas

The following is a list of other successful actions that you can do to promote your practice and get new patients. They are all very inexpensive and easy to do:

  • Ask for referrals!
  • Ask for referrals!
  • Ask for referrals! (ok, point made).
  • Send patients birthday cards.
  • Send out a quarterly newsletter that educates patients.
  • Put up a new patients/clients welcome board in the reception room.
  • Put up a “Thank you for referring” board in reception listing out the patients/clients who referred new patients to the practice.
  • Send thank you letters to every patient/client who referred anyone into the practice.
  • Reward referring patients/clients by sending them to dinner, the movies, etc.
  • Provide a staff reward for generating referrals.
  • The doctor and staff should hand out business cards anywhere and everywhere that is appropriate.
  • Post your practice mission statement in your reception room.
  • Make post-care calls to patients/clients to ensure that they are doing well. This shows you really care.
  • Give tours of the office to school children.
  • Offer family discounts for cash patients.
  • Put up educational posters in all treatment rooms or areas to educate patients about the health care you deliver.
  • Have TV monitors with educational videos that are on a continuous playback loop showing in reception and/or treatment rooms.
  • Have a patient/client appreciation month.
  • Participate in health fairs.
  • Give brisk service with lots of care and affinity.
  • Have all staff who are on the phone always “smile on the phone.”
  • Stay in good communication with any patient or client who is waiting – never let them just sit in silence for any long period.
  • Never make patients/clients wait. Deliver on time.
  • Call your patients/clients by name.
  • Develop a logo and place it in every possible place you can – letterhead, newsletter, business cards, posters, etc.
  • Call patients/clients 2 weeks and then 2 days prior to recall appointments.
  • Confirm appointments the day before.
  • Have simple informational pamphlets. Create your own if you have to.
  • Make follow-up calls after sending a postcard mailer.
  • Use over oversized or odd-sized business cards. People will notice and remember them more than a normal card.
  • Take photos of happy patients and clients and place them on the bulletin board.
  • Have the doctor write a column for a local newspaper or other publication addressing issues within your profession.
  • Share successful results of patient delivery with your staff.
  • Once per year, offer 10% off for payment in full on all old accounts receivables.

All of the above actions will cost you very little up front and will generate the highest quality patients for your practice. Put these into place and you will see your new patient numbers not only increase, but the quality of your patient base will increase.

If you would like no-cost, no-commitment tips on how to effectively implement this information into my practice, fill out the form to the right, and we will be more than happy to assist you.

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If you are a practice owner and would like to receive either:

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The Underrated Business Card

Business cards don’t seem to be in vogue as of recently, however they are still a highly effective tool for getting your name out there. Everyone in the practice should be attentive to any and all opportunities to promote the practice. One of the easiest methods for doing so is handing out business cards. This is a successful tool and is also a commonly accepted practice in the business world.

Initially, each staff member could be given some of the doctor’s cards to distribute. Advise the staff to keep an ample supply of cards in their purse or wallet. Opportunities to hand them out will present themselves in a number of various situations. For example, when a person asks, “What line of work are you in?” The staff member (and doctor) could answer the question, say a little about the practice, and offer a business card or two.

One can take advantage of every day situations to hand them out, e.g., while at the grocery check-out counter and engaged in social conversation with the clerk, at the beauty salon, at the gas stations, the bank, etc. The list could go on and on. The idea is to keep a flow going all of the time. Many practices have been built and expanded in just this fashion.

As your budget allows, print business cards for each of the staff with their names and positions on them. This instills in each staff member a feeling of importance and professionalism. They will also experience a heightened sense of pride when handing out one of their own cards.

A staff meeting should be held during which the significance of new patients/clients is discussed. Impress upon the staff that as each person takes more initiative for building the practice, everyone will experience the increased benefits. Establish “games” for the staff wherein the staff who distributes the most cards and brings in the most new patients/clients is rewarded with cash or some other valuable prize.

The most successful method of using cards to attract new patients/clients to the practice (and to determine whose card they came in on) is to have an offer printed on the back of the business cards which extends to the recipient either a complimentary initial visit or a substantial discount on the first visit. The prospect should be informed to bring the card in with them to the first appointment. The receptionist could then record the name of the staff member as the referring source.

Request the second part of this article to get guidelines on creating a successful business card. Request “The Underrated Business Card – Part II” (highly recommended). Scroll to top

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How to take ownership of your Google+ and Yelp pages

How to take ownership of your Google+ and Yelp pages

Over the past few months we’ve done several articles about consumer reviews and their importance. A question I often get asked has to do with claiming one’s business page in Google+ and Yelp.

Many practice owners aren’t even aware that they have a page on Google+ and/or Yelp. It costs you nothing to manage and maintain these pages, and it offers many benefits.

The place to start is to make sure that you have both a Google account which is used for Gmail, Google Calendar, Google Drive, etc. and a Yelp user account. Both accounts are free. If you don’t have any kind of Google account, go to http://plus.google.com, then click the “Create account” link for a free account.

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This is done the same way with Yelp, go to http://www.yelp.com, then register for a free user account.

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Once you have an account, go back to http://plus.google.com or http://www.yelp.com and LOG IN.

Once you are logged in to Google+, use the search area at the top of the page to search for your business.

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When you are on the page for your business, you will see the following notice. Click on the button that says “Manage this page.”

This will take you through a series of validation questions to make sure that you are indeed the owner of the business. Once you are validated, you will be able to navigate back to the page and upload pictures, add the company profile/bio and add relevant information to the page. As consumer reviews happen, you will also be able to reply to them, add notifications and videos, and keep the page up to date.

Once you are logged in to Yelp, use the search area at the top of the page to search for your business.

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When you are on the page for your business, you will see the following notice. Click on the button that says “Claim This Business.”

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This will take you through a series of validation questions to make sure that you are indeed the owner of the business. Once you are validated, you will be able to navigate back to the page and upload pictures, add the company profile/bio and add relevant information to the page. As consumer reviews happen, you will also be able to reply to them, etc.

Doing this will put you in control of your business pages on these sites and make them into usable information hubs for your business.

Receive reviews within minutes! Instantly receive a simple template that you can send to your clients to request Google, Yelp and Facebook ratings and reviews! Click here to request and receive the review template instantly! Scroll to top

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[ Video ] Your Google and Yelp Reviews

NOTICE: This training video is intended for: Dental, Veterinary and Optometric practice owners.

Just In! Just in! What did Dr. Marlene Siegel, DVM of Pasco Veterinary Medical Center have to say about our assistance?

Topics of this Video



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    Positive and negative reviews offer a very unique opportunity that is rarely dealt with properly. Learn the tips of how to strengthen your practice growth with proper review management.

  • The benefits of negative reviews...Wait, what?

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  • How to gain positive reviews in an ethical way

    Google and Yelp do not treat all reviews equally. There is an exact science to the way reviews are filtered and ordered to show your potential clients and patients. Get the insight that you need to better understand how Google and Yelp “think.”

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Get Help! Reclaim Your Google and Yelp Pages Now (highly recommended).

Contact us below, and we will be able to walk you through and ensure your Google and Yelp review accounts are set up properly to maximize their effectiveness.