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The First Step to a Successful Marketing Campaign: Research

To craft a successful marketing campaign for your practice, you must first conduct some basic research that will start to identify what your marketing plan and promotional pieces will look like and the message they should deliver. The first step in your research is to work out the general mindset and styles that dominate your particular geographic area. Every state, city, town or area has its own mindset and styles that are unique to that place. If you have lived in the area where you practice, chances are you know them well. Additionally, it is smart to check with others from the area to ensure that your opinion agrees with the general consensus. If you are new to the area, ask locals, as they generally have a good idea.

Some examples are provided below to give you an idea of what one might list as the mindset and styles for his/her area.

Example #1:

Mindset: “Slow and steady pace”, “Friendly”, “Easy going”

Style: Earthy. Lots of greens and whites used in colors.

Old fashioned.

Example #2:

Mindset: “Efficient and Professional”, “Friendly”, “Straight to the point”

Style: Modern and Edgy. Lots of blues used in colors.

High-tech.

Next, identify the top three practices in your area and find out how they market themselves. Doing this will enable you to see which marketing approaches have been successful for your area. Looking at your three competitors’ websites is a good start, as well as looking in the Yellow Pages, local newspapers, Valpak/ADVO, etc., to see how they are marketing. Look for which words they are using to sell their services to people, which offers they are advancing and what their designs look like.

The next step is to identify the successful campaigns or promotional pieces you have created and used thus far. You need to look for any promotional pieces, slogans, brochures, ads, internal marketing campaigns, discounts and word-of-mouth success that resulted in notable increases in delivery. Again, pay attention to the words that were used, the offers that were put forward and the visual impact of the design. It is also good to consider the general demographics of your area. A good website that provides this information for free is: http://www.city-data.com. Gathering this data should enable you to get a good idea of both what worked for you and what works for other similar professionals in your area. It also provides you with a general impression of what people in your area like and will respond to.

This basic homework will provide you with a foundation of information that can be used as you work out new marketing campaigns, whether internal or external.

Fill out the form on this page to read the rest of this article and find out the second step in crafting a successful marketing campaign. (highly recommended). Click to scroll to the top of the page.

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Get Your Promotion Organized: A Promotion and Marketing Calendar – Part 1

Have you ever noticed that you have all sorts of great marketing and promotional ideas that you just never seem to put into action?

Do you realize during a staff meeting that those brilliant ideas that captured everyone’s attention and agreement in the previous meeting haven’t even been thought of again until just now?

Have you ever come to the end of a month and realized only then that you didn’t get around to doing much marketing or promotion at all? If so, you’re not alone!

While the specific reasons for failure to successfully carry out promotional actions vary from one practice to another, the most common cause is simply the failure to write them down on a marketing calendar designed to pinpoint what actions will be taken…and when.

A Promotion and Marketing Calendar is a potent, yet uncomplicated, tool.

It designates and specifies those agreed-upon activities which, when performed by the staff, will bolster the flow of new patients/clients into the practice.

By logging an idea on the calendar when it is conceived, it becomes concrete, agreed-upon, predicted, planned for, etc. The calendar helps to maintain control and structure in the Promotion Department and acts as a communication tool for the rest of the staff, as it is there in writing for all to see.

The Director of Promotion (if you don’t have one, get one) would be in charge of seeing to it that all pertinent information is entered on the promotion calendar. He would bring it to the staff meeting each week and review those activities and events that are either in progress or being planned.

The promotion and marketing of the practice is an ongoing activity.

The marketing calendar should be kept full of activities for at least 6 months ahead so that the practice always has some type of promotional actions occurring.

The items on the marketing calendar could include, but would not be limited to, such things as:

  • Open Houses
  • Client/Patient Appreciation Day (Week or Month)
  • Direct Mail Out projects
  • Newsletter preparation and distribution
  • Special days and PR functions for that day (e.g. Valentine’s Day, Grandparents Day, Secretaries’ Day, etc.)
  • Dental Health Month (and associated plans, projects)
  • National Pet Month
  • Educational Letter Series production and distribution schedule
  • Reminders to the staff to stimulate referrals
  • Staff games for activities such as prospecting and referrals

Click here to fill out the form and receive specifics on the TYPE of calendar to use and HOW to use it to ensure your marketing gets DONE (highly recommended).

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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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Marketing: Why are Surveys Important to Your Practice?

Are you as confident in your ability to get a steady flow of new patients into your practice as you are in your ability to provide high quality technical care?

You should know that successful marketing has a technology that, when applied correctly, will get results with the same predictability that you get clinical results on your patients. This technology, whether applied to internal or external marketing, will help you generate a steady flow of new patients. This article contains a brief overview of some of these key marketing techniques used to bring about these results.

Patient Records

By examining your current patient base, you’ll be able to approach and execute your marketing projects with increased confidence. You will find out who uses your services most often and you’ll gain an understanding of their health needs.
Look over the records of patients you’ve seen over the past several months. Collect and tabulate information from the files such as age, occupation, gender, income and location. Doing this will give you an excellent picture of who your patients are, and you can profile your typical patient. Having this information on hand will allow you to tailor your promotion and public relations events to your majority audience.

As you’re collecting information from the patient files, also count and categorize the types of services you deliver to the different groups. This provides you with a deeper understanding of what people in the various demographic categories need and want from you. It will help you decide which services to emphasize in your promotion.

Surveys

The information learned from surveys is your road map to successful marketing and promotion – both internal and external. National surveys provided by trade publications and other agencies can be helpful, but there is no substitute for finding out what the people in your own area are thinking and what would motivate them to walk into your practice.

Read Part II of this article to understand, whom to survey, how to survey, and the different types of surveys to be done. Request “Marketing: How are Surveys Important to Your Practice? – Part II” (highly recommended).

Read Part II of this article to understand, whom to survey, how to survey, and the different types of surveys to be done. Request “Marketing: How are Surveys Important to Your Practice? – Part II” (highly recommended) Scroll to top

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Internal and External Marketing

There are two areas in a practice that are targeted when marketing your practice. The first is internal; the second is external.

“Internal” deals with dissemination and promotion within your practice and to already-established patients. It includes things such as:

  • In-office patient referrals
  • Reactivation of old patients through letters and calls
  • Newsletters
  • Mailings to existing patients
  • Events, such as open houses and patient appreciation events
  • “Thank you” notes for referring patients
  • Welcome-to-the-practice letters

“External” deals with locating and reaching markets outside of your practice. It includes things such as:

  • Prospecting outside of the office for new patients
  • Advertising by using direct mail, yellow pages, etc.
  • Forming referral networks with other professionals
  • Having events and/or lectures for groups within the community

When starting out on a new marketing plan it is usually smartest, easiest and most cost effective to begin with internal marketing, as you have ready access to information about your current patients. Current patients are also more valuable because they are familiar with you and your practice.

Once you have an effective internal marketing program going, you can then look at what external marketing actions you want to do to potentially increase your stream of new patients.

Request Part II: Marketing and Promotion Ideas for Your Practice (highly recommended) Scroll to top

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Search Engine Marketing –

Why Does SEO Matter More In a “Down Economy?’

By Lisa Thayer, GoldfishNetwork.com

The question on many business owners’ minds today is “How should I market my company given the current state of the economy?” The short answer is by placing your marketing dollars in client specific, targeted advertising campaigns that have a built in accountability for measuring results.

In uncertain times, a business owner’s first reaction may be to reduce their overall marketing and advertising budget as part of a “batten down the hatches” mentality. That reaction is prevalent among companies that have experienced some reduction in business lately whether due to “the economy” or for a multitude of other reasons. While that response may give your CFO temporary anxiety reduction, before you know it she’ll be pestering you about declining sales figures.

Now is the time to step back, take a deep breath and make decisive, informed business decisions and steadfastly refuse to respond emotionally to the nightly news. Review both online and offline marketing endeavors looking for those that produce the best return on investment.

Search engine marketing can often produce a better ROI than many offline marketing endeavors due to the fact that spending can be controlled, results can be measured and you can easily make incremental changes to adapt to conditions as they continue to fluctuate. Online marketing also works for you 24/7 without accruing additional payroll expense.

If you stay the course, you may even be able to spot new opportunities and actually capture a larger segment of your market as others react instead of methodically planning a marketing strategy.

The best way to achieve optimal results online is to first have a qualified search engine professional review your website. It doesn’t do you any good to spend money to drive thousands of people to your website if once they arrive on your site the visitors don’t have a compelling reason to do business with you.

When it comes to search engine optimization and marketing “one size does not fit all”.
A good SEO review should advise you in creating “calls to action”, help to solidify your unique selling proposition, present solutions to rectify any design or usability issues, and even identify areas of weakness in your competition.

Once the SEO review is complete, you will be able target your specific customers and therefore be able to maximize your efforts and reduce your ad spend.

Lisa Thayer is owner of GoldfishNetwork.com, a website design and marketing company located just south of Portland, Oregon. GoldfishNetwork.com serves clients in 12 states across the United States. Lisa can be reached at (503) 783-0440 or by e-mail: Lisa@GoldfishNetwork.com

Generating New Patients by Using Surveys

How do you market for new patients in a cost efficient and effective manner? Internal marketing is always the best avenue to begin with as it produces the most cost effective return, which is of utmost importance in managing a practice. Surveys are one method of internal marketing. But how do you go about generating new patients by using surveys?

Here’s an initial tip that you can use to more effectively market. You can do a simple survey with all new patients that come in to find out what brought them to your practice. This can be done as part of their new patient intake forms or verbally done by the receptionist or any other designated staff member.

We have a variety of prepared surveys for our clients to use. Here are some question types you can use to make your own survey:

  • If you were referred, who referred you and what did they say that interested you in our office?
  • If you responded to an ad, which one did you see? What about it attracted you?
  • If you responded to our website, how did you locate it and what about it interested you?

A second tip is the use of surveys on your existing patient base. Start by going through your existing patient records and find about 50 of your “A List” patients/clients. Do a demographic study of where your best patients/clients are from. Then write a survey for those patients/clients and find out:

  • What attracted them to your practice?
  • What keeps them coming back to your practice?
  • What do they like the most about your practice?
  • Are there any services they would like to receive from you that you don’t currently offer?

You can then use this information to target the greatest demographic area of your “A List” patients/clients and use their survey answers as “hot buttons” in a marketing campaign targeted to generate more patients/clients that are similar to these “A List” patients/clients.

This is called targeted marketing. It’s all about generating quality patients and clients, not just people walking through the door. Quality patients keep their appointments, follow your treatment programs, pay their bills, spend more than their insurance allotment etc. These are the kinds of patients/clients you want to generate for your practice.

If you can determine what area your best patients/clients are from and what brought them to you in the first place, you can then design a marketing campaign to generate more of those type of patients and clients.

Don’t just guess at what you think will bring new patients/clients in the door. Find out what got your best patients/clients there and use that information to your advantage. “Know before you go” is the motto of all good marketing. You find out the “know” by surveying.

Ken DeRouchie

The practice Solution Magazine is published by www.silkinmanagementgroup.com

The Benefits of Regular Practice Newsletters

Marketing is a vital part of the management of any business, whether a health care practice or any business in general. Implementing successful marketing actions that help increase the number of new patients/clients as well as help facilitate the retention of existing clients and patients is important to the success of any practice. Are you taking advantage of the benefits of regular practice newsletters as part of your marketing activities?

One of the best and least expensive tools in your marketing “tool box” is the newsletter. A newsletter is a tool that can be used to reach not only existing patients/clients, but potential patients/clients as well. As an internal device, it is an excellent way to stay in touch with your patients/clients and keep your name, your practice and your brand in their mind on a regular basis.

A practice newsletter provides advantages for the practice that other promotional and marketing methods don’t always offer. It provides a simple and compact way to communicate a longer message and can easily be put onto your website as well. It also creates a perfect forum for continuing education.

In years past, creating a newsletter involved costly printing and postage. In today’s computer driven society, most of us have a home computer allowing for email newsletters to be used. Email newsletters have a much higher likelihood of being seen and read by your intended audience as it shows up right in front of them when they open their email program. It’s simple math: they more of them that are seen, the more of them that will be read.

Here are two other major advantages of regular newsletters:

  •  The more contact you have with your current patients/clients, the more likely they are to respond to recall reminders and schedule appointments. Familiarity breeds response.
  • Email newsletters give you the opportunity to market for referrals and generate new patients/clients.

Here are a couple of inexpensive but feature rich services we recommend for email newsletters.

Constant Contact: www.constantcontact.com

Campaigner: www.campaigner.com

Neither of these services requires any kind of programming knowledge. They are very simple to use. You simply create a user account and then log into it. You can then pick from hundreds of pre-made newsletter templates which also allow for customization with your own graphics. You can cut and paste your own content into the template and save.

The maintenance of the database is simple and automated. You can upload your email data base list as a Microsoft Excel spreadsheet or as a comma delimited text file. Once the newsletter is sent, the people on your list have the ability to remove themselves from the list with just one click if they don’t want any future emails. If there are any bad email addresses on the list, they will show up in the statistics as “bounced” emails and you can remove them.

Both of these services offer good statistical tracking of the emails you send – i.e. how many were opened, what links people clicked on, etc. so you can see what people find of greatest interest. This is useful in tailoring future newsletters.

The cost for these services is extremely low. They both work on a sliding scale, depending on how many email addresses you have in your database. The starting range for up to 500 email addresses is only about $15-20 per month! That’s a far cry from only 10 years ago when putting a hard copy newsletter together and mailing it to your patient/client data base could easily cost more than $1000.

If you aren’t now sending out regular (monthly or quarterly) newsletters, we highly recommend that you begin doing so. If you do so you’ll find greater patient retention and more referrals walking through your front door.

Ken DeRouchie

The practice Solution Magazine is published by www.silkinmanagementgroup.com