Mid-year review: It’s time for a tune-up
Is your marketing plan working? Not really? Well ....
By Kay Coulson
Now is the time to look at your annual marketing plan, review anew the patient experience your practice delivers, and make adjustments as required.
1. Elevate your view. Is revenue up or down versus last year? Are key surgical procedures up or down? No matter how much you care about marketing spending, web visits, or patient reviews, start with the big picture. If you’re not growing, it’s a problem. Demographics are in your favor for every elective procedure you perform. Cataract surgery, LASIK and cosmetic procedures should be growing. If they aren’t, dig deeply to learn why.
2. Enable text. Making reminder calls is one task all staff members hate to do. Join hair salons and dental offices and allow text reminders.
3. Look at yourself. Mobile and tablet traffic likely outperform desktop traffic for sheer number of visits to your website. Have you looked at your site on a phone and a tablet? If your site isn’t optimized for all screen sizes, you’re losing potential patients.
4. Call your practice. It’s amazing how rarely this occurs. Call two or three times. Count how long it rings. Note who answers the phone. Were you put on hold? Is your on-hold messaging calming or annoying? Most people want to multitask while on hold; they don’t care how important this call is to you. Note how friendly the team is and whether team members follow the screening patients’ script. If your phone team is rushed, callers are put on hold, and the only real questions asked deal with insurance coverage, you’re not a modern practice. Now, call your top two competitors. See how you rate.
5. Read reviews. Reviews matter, especially on Yelp, Google+ and Healthgrades. Read yours and your competitors’. If you find negative comments, contact who wrote it. If you find positive reviews, respond directly in that forum. If there are none, gather your team and develop a plan to solicit reviews. You don’t need reviews everywhere, only where they matter. Make this a priority.
6. Ensure you’re findable. Search key terms for those service lines you want to grow: cataract surgeon, LASIK reviews, Botox, and so on. Are you in the Top 3 in an organic search? Position #3 in a paid search? Nowhere? When Google changed its search algorithm, your organic search position on key terms could have been hurt. Look at the top two to three search terms you care about and ensure your position is strong. Subscribe to services like Moz or Rank Ranger to guide your organic search improvement.
7. Don’t forget Bing. Bing and Yahoo have partnered, and Bing is Firefox’s default search provider. Google matters most, but be relevant on Bing.
8. Refresh your team. When did you last revive the look of your office staff? If your team wears scrubs, sharpening your staff ’s look is especially important heading into summer. Scrubs resemble pajamas and promote a relaxed, sometimes lazy approach to patient interaction. If they’re faded, wrinkled, or dirty, what does that say about your practice? New options abound for tops/bottoms that don’t look like traditional scrubs and they elevate practice appearance. Spend a few hundred per employee to sharpen your practice’s presentation.
9. Are terms new to you? The digital world is driving patient acquisition and practice reputation. Commit to understanding these critical drivers of practice growth, so the answer to #1 is consistently “yes”. OM
Kay Coulson is president of Elective Medical Marketing, a Denver-based consulting firm that helps surgeons grow their elective vision service lines. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org