HOW TO WASTE 90% OF YOUR
MARKETING DOLLARS AND EFFORTS
"That marketing stuff never works for me..."
Sometimes, I talk to a prospective client who is adamant that they've tried it all, and none of it has worked. They're old hands, they assure me, at all of this "marketing" stuff, but their practice is different for any number of reasons.
When I dig a little deeper, what I almost invariably find is that while they tried to apply the general idea, they missed out on the "little things" that really make it work. Nowhere is there a better example of this than in the area of marketing to patients (both current and past).
The right idea, but....
I'm going to ask you to picture something ridiculous here. Imagine that the person in your office responsible for scheduling appointments and handling payment said the following to you:
"You know, Doctor, I was thinking - The point of me being here is to schedule appointments and process payments, right? Well, I think it would be easier for me if I just set up a little sign at the front that said "Please leave your payment in this box, and schedule your own appointment.
“That way, I could take care of the filing more efficiently! I mean, what's the point of me actually doing all the work myself, when this is much easier?"
Now, I can't be sure, but my guess is that if you ever got such a proposal, your response would fall into one of 2 categories:
1. Find a replacement for this person immediately
2. Have a lengthy discussion about why that plan is completely infeasible.
But before you decide to fire them, I'll ask the hard question...
Are you sure you're not making the same mistake?
I've talked to a lot of practice owners who look at a structure or a strategy that works when it comes to marketing to their existing patients, BUT decide that either it's too complicated, it's too costly, or it's too much effort to use correctly - So they end up using a strategy that has the same underlying idea, but none of the elements that will make it successful.
Then, of course, they can say forever after "Oh, I tried that once - It didn't work for me."
Let's look at a concrete example here.
Patient re-activation is a fantastic strategy to implement in your practice. Let's look at how it's designed to be used, and how it's often used in practice (and what changes cause the decrease in effectiveness)
How it's supposed to work:
1. Identify a large subset of patients who have been gone for a significant period of time (say 120 days to 3 years)
2. Develop a SERIES of contacts for these patients, to be received within a fairly short period of time.
3. Develop a schedule of contacts, such that each patient receives each contact at the right time. (I.E. If you decide to do letter -> phone call followup, make sure that there is a consistent delay between letter & phone call for all patients)
4. Follow through and make each of the contacts on the specified day
There you have it. 4 steps to a patient reactivation program. Now, let's see how this can be "tinkered with" to destroy the effectiveness of it.
Cutting costs & destroying profits
"I want to go through the list by hand, and try to guess which patients will be most likely to respond."
This kills a reactivation strategy in two ways. First, it can dramatically decrease the potential respondents (I had one client who wanted to go from 200 qualified respondents down to 58).
And, as importantly, it wastes YOUR valuable time. When you trade an hour of your time to cherry pick a list, not only do you dramatically reduce the total respondents - But you've also given up an hour of your time. How much is that worth? (Hint: Usually a LOT more than you think it is)
"You want me to get in touch with them 4 times over 5 weeks? No way Jose. We can do the same thing getting in touch with them twice, and it'll save money & effort."
Reactivation strategies recommend sequenced marketing for one reason - because it works. Trying to "save money" by cutting costs here is a little like the following:
Marketer: "Here is a lottery ticket that you can cash right now for $50,000. I'll sell it to you for $100."
Cost Cutting Chiropractor: "No way, I'm cutting costs - I'm not WASTING $100 on that stupid ticket - I can go buy a ticket in the store for $1."
In other words, you're trading a MUCH higher probability of success for a lower cost.
"That scheduling sounds complicated. What I'll do instead, is just mail off everything on day one, then have my staff follow up when they can."
This is another favorite tactic by many practice owners - The problem, of course, is that it completely destroys the benefits of sequenced marketing.
Consider - The original structure has the past patient get a personal letter, then a phone call followup 3 days after they received the letter. The "cost cutting" structure has 200+ letters go out, then phone call followup when? Weeks, or sometimes months after the initial contact.
That's no longer a sequence - that's no longer really marketing.
A proven and easy way to waste a LOT of your marketing dollars is simply to take a strategy or campaign that has been proven to work, and "fix" it.
Of course, I'm not suggesting that you blindly follow every pied piper who tells you that he'll bring back 90% of your patients and make you rich while you sleep.
What I am actually suggesting is that you keep 2 things very clearly in mind when deciding on a strategy to use:
1. Be very wary of looking just at the COST of any strategy - Instead, be sure to look at it from a return on investment point of view. A $100 strategy might be FAR more expensive to you than a $10,000 strategy, if the latter returns $50,000, and the former just alienates existing & past patients
Be aware of
the purpose of each part of the
strategy, and be able to test
whether changing or removing it
will end up giving you better
or worse results over the
course of the