Dr. Thomas Hopkins sighed – the kind of sigh only losing thousands of dollars on ineffective healthcare marketing could buy.
“I’m told you can tell me how to fix our marketing,” he said sitting back in his chair. To his right, a worn out manila folder, the insides overflowing on the desk.
“Is that your practice’s marketing materials?” I asked.
Dr. Hopkins, looking somewhat embarrassed, as he spread the materials on the table.
I quickly study the materials and see at least four different ad campaigns, a website design, three brochures, and a few logo concepts.
I could see some good graphic design, but that was all.
Each piece lacked the marketing foundations that make the difference between marketing as an expense and marketing as a return on investment.
Altogether, it looked liked ideas had been thrown against the wall in hopes something would stick.
“Fix suggests your marketing was working,” I said. “Looking at your marketing materials here, I’d bet your marketing hasn’t made much of a return for you or your practice.”
“I just don’t get marketing,” Dr. Hopkins began, his face becoming flush.
“I’ve worked hard to build this practice. For nearly seven years, day and night, all I do is think about how we can improve. We work so hard!”
He spoke with the passion of a fighter.
“Our patients love us, the feedback from referring physicians is positive. I know we’re great at what we do. But the thing is, we can’t seem to get new patients or referrals consistently. Sometimes our calendar is busy; sometimes it’s slow.
I know it’s a good business, but sometimes I feel trapped because we can’t break through to the next level. And on top of that, it seems like new practices are popping up all the time.”
I nodded, understanding I was meeting another healthcare professional determined to crack the marketing puzzle.
For ten years, on a weekly basis, I’ve met and spoken with private healthcare practice owners just like Dr. Hopkins. They needed marketing answers to break through to the next level and stay ahead of the competition.
These meetings always had one common theme, marketing best practices battling to overcome marketing bad habits.
“Can I use your whiteboard?” I asked, “I want to show you something that will give us a better picture of where your business is at.”
Walking over to the whiteboard, I could see dotted across it, a list of more marketing tactics and wishful goals that Dr. Hopkins hoped to achieve.
“You can erase that,” he said.
On the clean board, I drew a triangle. In the bottom left, I wrote “OPERATIONS.” In the bottom right, I wrote “FINANCE,” purposely leaving the top point of the rectangle blank. “Every business” I explained, “No matter if you are a medical practice, a bakery, or an internet startup, has three main drivers of the business.”
I pointed to operations. “Operations is where you spend most of your time, for you, it’s taking care patients, it’s what you’re best at and the thing you enjoy most. You wake up knowing you have a unique skill to care for people, to help them and keep their teeth healthy.
The fact you have patients who have been with you for years, says there is a vital reason for your practice to exist and that you know how to deliver excellent patient care.”
Dr. Hopkins nodded. It was an accurate description. “Okay so, we can give you a grade beside Operations,” I said. “You have mastered operations, what would you grade yourself there, Dr. Hopkins?”
“You can grade that an A,” he said with confidence. The accomplished pride of the dentist glowed through his skin.
“It’s true. We may be among the best in the city,” he added.
“You’ve been in private practice for seven years, which tells me that you’ve learned to manage your finances.” I pointed to Finance. “Over the years you’ve managed your cash or found people to help manage it with you. What should we put there as a grade for Finances?”
He thought for a moment, “I’d say that’s a B. It would be better, but we’re wasting money on marketing, I don’t know what is working or not with our marketing, and it’s hurting our finances.”
I wrote B under Finance. “Your company is doing well on two of the three main drivers of a business,” I said. “This makes you a good business. Most of the businesses that survive are like this. But, that’s also the bad thing about it, isn’t it?”
I looked at Dr. Hopkins closely, “Because, you don’t want to be like most businesses.
Just surviving, every year a continuous struggle.”
The endless responsibility of continually having to save the day weighed on Dr. Hopkins’s shoulders. His eyes, looking down at the desk, arms crossed, displayed worry over a dozen issues in the back of his mind.
It was clear what he wanted: he wanted the business to drive itself forward, without everything relying on him.
“You’re a good business,” I reassured him. “But good businesses, become great when you add in the third driver of business:
No, not marketing tactics like the ones in that folder, but marketing strategy” I said as I wrote “Marketing” above the top point of the triangle.
I sat back down at the desk with Dr. Hopkins.
“I have good news,” I said as I gathered up the old materials and placed them back in the manila folder.
“You’ve done the hard part already. Everything you need to learn about the driver of marketing, I can teach you in three logical steps. And the first step will be 50% of what you need to know.”
“Really?” he responded skeptically. “You see with advances in technology, healthcare marketing, and advertising have become more of a science. There are best practices. If you just look at successful companies and think about what works, you’ll see marketing is really about having a consistent marketing strategy, that is repeatable. It simply comes down knowing: do this but don’t do that and you are more likely to succeed, it’s like a light switch.”
“It’s just that few people think about marketing from this macro point of view, from a CEO’s perspective. Few people think about how to bring the best practices of marketing into a system that any healthcare practice can follow. After all, if you don’t have a consistent system, how can you have consistent results?
You already think this way about your operations and your finances. You just have to learn to think this same way about your marketing.”
Dr. Hopkins leaned forward in his chair. “So, how do I use this approach to marketing, instead of just trying tactic after tactic?”
“That’s exactly what I want to talk about… an automated healthcare marketing platform called PracticeCloud.
It’s a system that takes the best practices of marketing that are required to consistently attract new patients, enhance your reputation and track your marketing metrics in one simple system.
Dr. Hopkinds, Would you like me to share PracticeCloud with you?”
Sign up now for a demo to see how Dr. Hopkins and hundreds of other healthcare providers have consistently grown their healthcare practice with PracticeCloud, the all-in-one healthcare marketing platform.