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The Right Formula PART III: Right People

The Right Formula PART III: Right People

Right Message + Right Time + Right People = Success

Humanity is overrated.” — Dr. Gregory House on the hit TV show, “House, MD”

People are funny. We’re finicky. We’re cynical. We’re skeptical. We want what we want when we want it. We want it cheap. We want it fast. And forget delayed gratification. Whose idea was that, anyway? This is the age of now or just-in-time.

As a physician, historically, you probably haven’t experienced as much of the “want it now” cynical consumer because you’ve essentially controlled how and when your services were delivered. But that’s changing, isn’t it? Patients want night clinics and weekend hours. They want their prescriptions filled right in your office, “now, please.” They want automated appointments, automated test results reporting and zero exam room waiting times, thank you very much. And guess what? If you don’t deliver all of that and more, there’s probably a physician down the street who “gets it” and does.

It’s getting harder to keep up and deliver on a standard of service that is climbing higher and higher. That’s why marketing to the right people and keeping them has become critical. Here are a few ways to find them and to make sure more of your marketing dollars are being directed to the right people:

1) Pick the low-hanging fruit, first. It will come as no surprise to most that the best source for more of the right people (patients) is your existing right people. If you want more of the same kind of patients, ask your existing patients to refer you to their friends and family. It only takes a moment, most people are happy to do it, and it positions you as someone who cares about the patient beyond the transactional aspects of the relationship — you’re not only interested in their health, you’re interested in that of their loved ones, too. The old adage “you have not because you ask not” applies here. Ask!

2) Be sure the marketing vehicle is relevant to the intended target. Are you a specialist? If so, then marketing to all people with a mass media vehicle like television would probably be a mistake. You’d be paying to reach people who have no interest in your services. (By contrast, television would likely work for a G.P., for example). Instead, target, target, target. This very publication is a good example. If you are trying to reach referring physicians, target your message in a publication that reaches 12,000 of them (the one you’re holding now does — you’re welcome, Bill). They’ll get it.

3) Mine the data. The good news about the information age is that data is readily available in a thousand places filterable with a thousand criteria. If you want to reach BMW-driving soccer Dads who have Platinum Amex cards, there’s a list for that. The more specific you are, the better the data gets and the more effective your campaign. Come up with a composite profile for your best, most profitable patients (from your existing patient base), and voila! — you have a blueprint for who to look for when you do your research. You are doing research, aren’t you? Intuition is the enemy of marketing effectiveness.

4) Sell into existing networks. No need to reinvent the wheel. If you’re a doc who specializes in pain management, join a local online discussion group for fibromyalgia and offer a free seminar at your office for patients and their caregivers. Invest time and energy in being a meaningful contributor to online communities, and you will earn the trust of the group, not to mention positioning yourself as an expert.

5) Make your website and online campaigns work harder for you. If you are not using your website to collect email addresses and other contact information of your patients and their families and friends, you are missing an incredible opportunity. People still buy from people, after all. If you make it easy for people to refer you, you’re that much farther ahead. Start a practice e-newsletter or a blog. Write the articles yourself. It will make you seem “more human” and approachable. You are human, aren’t you?

Well, I hope this series has been helpful. I’ve truly enjoyed discussing a little marketing with you these past three months. Marketing is part art and part science, and sometimes even the most seasoned marketer gets it wrong. Obviously, I’ve barely scratched the surface, but by using the fundamentals of the “right formula,” you will have an above-average chance at success and your practice will be positioned to take advantage of the new patients — and new profits — that thoughtfully crafted marketing can bring. Good luck.

Chuck Morris is a marketing communications and branding consultant with Morris Creative Group LLC in Knoxville and Chattanooga, Tenn.