Barlow/McCarthy Blog

Shark-like Practice Marketing

Jan 10, 2018

By: Kriss Barlow, RN, MBA |

When I saw this quote on LinkedIn, I just loved it. Of course in the case of practice marketing the “chase” and “bite” need to be expressed a bit differently! But if we look closely there is some wisdom here that works.

Practice marketing has different levels of interest for marketing. The challenge is: the budget is generally tight, message control is variable, issues of access complicate the deliverables and let’s face it the plate was full before this was added to the mix. Just for fun, I opted to take these great shark actions and translate them into some simple reminders for the practice marketing strategy. See how “shark like” you are.

Up Early: New practice ramp-up drives many great marketers nuts. Not because of the work involved; that’s OK. It’s the promises made without marketing or often its a lack of time to prepare. This is a system issue that becomes a marketing issue. Here’s what we’ve seen work best:

  • Create a new practice onboarding plan and then get input and commitment
  • Put it on the intranet with peoples names and process
  • Get involved early through a meeting with the physician(s) so they understand what marketing does- and does not do. Name and face count, so one personal meeting will make up for weeks of email.
  • Report on effectiveness in plan implementation

Chasing: You need to chase the right bait. Take the time to assess the market, the need/opportunity and their aptitude for growth. Some basics belong in every practice plan while other tactics are used by need. Draw your customized tactics from a “bank” of effective marketing techniques that have worked for other practices. The chase is about optimizing the effectiveness for time spent. For example:

  • Every practice needs a solid web presence, a digital strategy and clear call to action
  • Print is optional in today’s environment. Consider the audience and the have a stable of 3-5 go-to print offerings if the audience (not the doctor) is older or if you have niche offerings that demand more education
  • Social may be a priority if your new practice is in a young, commuter market

Setup the plan so you can pick and choose according to the market needs and streamline the implementation and dollars spent.

Biting: If you do it, measure it. Set up systems of measurement alongside the plan so everyone will understand that some tactics will create awareness while others will encourage appointments. Practices often look at two numbers, the patient acquition cost (PAC) and  return on investment (ROI). Make sure you know expectations, your part and the practices’ role and the math- what goes into the calculation. Some organizations rely on scheduling systems, sometimes the practice has a role. Cajoling practices to help with this is painful, so put it in the plan, get them to sign off (literally) on their part and work to get ahead of this.

Reminding: Take credit for the role that marketing plays in successful integration and growth of the employed practices. While most of the rhetoric is about pain points with our employed practices… we sure seem to continue to align! When doing your report, make sure to call out the impact you have in: involvement and engagement, communication, awareness and practice growth.

Whether it’s Monday or another day, I like the shark analogy. While the world swirls around us, today we know that employed physicians are integral to the health system. What has worked for you to remind your stakeholders that you’re chasing, biting or reminding them of our contribution to the practice side?

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