Know the Seven Sins of Practice Marketing

September 16, 2008
Physician's Money Digest, March15 2003, Volume 10, Issue 5

Marketing a private medicalpractice can be challenging,even painful, ifyou don't approach it with theright knowledge, tools, and guidance.By reading about others'mistakes, you can boost your effectivenessand take a shortcut to success.Just make sure you avoid thefollowing 7 deadly sins:

1. Spaghetti marketing. Effectivemarketing is planned communication,so be sure you follow awell-laid plan. When you marketwithout a plan, it's like throwingstrategies against the wall to see whatsticks. We call that "spaghetti marketing,"and it can be truly brutal onyour budget and your practice.

Plan your marketing carefully,preferably with the guidance ofexperienced professionals who knowthe ins and outs. They can steer youtoward the tactics that are proven towork in any given situation—andhelp you steer clear of the thingsthat will fall flat. Continue to adjustyour plan as you learn, but don'tstart throwing spaghetti at the wall.Plan first, then execute.

2. Analysis paralysis. Physicianstend to be scientific, analyticalthinkers. That's great when itcomes to practicing medicine, butnot so great when it comes time tolaunch a marketing campaign.

Sometimes you think so longand hard about what to do that youconfuse thinking with action. Thinkingand planning don't attract patients.Actions do. Give yourself abrief deadline for making yourdecision, then act. If this is difficultfor you, just remember that noprint ad, radio spot, or yellowpages book is forever. You canmake improvements next time.Analysis paralysis is dangerouslysimilar to the third deadly sin.

3. Making decisions by committee.Many practices haveput valuable marketing plans asidebecause the partners couldn'tagree on the minute detailsinvolved in executing their marketingstrategy.

When you wait for consensus,you may find yourself waiting idly byas competitors beat you to thepunch. Even when you finally reacha group decision, the result is often awatered-down version of an effectivevehicle that will wind up doing nothingto accomplish your growth goals.

Appoint 1 person in your officeto approve the elements of yourcampaign, and you'll avoid muchhassle and lost opportunity.

4. Inadequate training. If externaladvertising is a part ofyour marketing campaign, it is vitalthat your staff receive excellenttraining in the handling of these newpatients. They will come to yourpractice with different questions,mindsets, and concerns than patientsyour staff may currently beused to. Make sure they understandhow to welcome these new patientswith open arms.

5. Treating Marketing as aCost Center. Marketing is a revenue center, not acost center. You must treat it assuch. First, that means you need tobe willing to give marketing sufficient budget and time to succeed.Second, it means you must followup rigorously to understand—andadjust—the return on investmentyou achieve with each marketingstrategy. If you don't know howeffective (or ineffective) your marketingis, you won't know which elementsare a waste of money.

6. Insufficient DelegationA well-designed marketingplan includes countless movingparts. Don't try to oversee everythingyourself. Be sure to delegatetasks and use the resources at yourdisposal to make your marketingefforts blend seamlessly with theoperations of your practice.

7. InconsistencyMake sure the messages youconvey are consistent with yourpractice. Patients will lose trust ifthey walk through your doors tofind less than they expected. Also beconsistent with your plan. Don'tstop running an ad just because thephone isn't ringing off the hook.Give the campaign time to work.

These articles are provided by Practice

Builders—the nation's leading private practice

health care marketing firm specializing

in the design and implementation of customized

turnkey marketing programs. For

more strategies on effective and ethical

medical practice marketing, call 800-679-1200 or visit www.practicebuilders.com.