Has Your Practice Outgrown Its Marketing Budget?
Building and marketing a medical practice effectively is a completely different endeavor in the digital age than it used to be, when you only had to worry about a few advertising mediums.
Today, effectively marketing to patients requires a multi-pronged approach that can be difficult to implement, not to mention keep up with.
The way your patients communicate is changing, and your marketing approach needs to change with it, by including things like...
- A strong social media presence
- Multiple, easy avenues of contact
- Readily-available information
- User-friendly website
- Integrated online appointment and feedback systems
In addition, keeping an eye on external factors that may affect your practice is also essential to your ability to adapt to changing times and new advertising mediums.
New healthcare laws like the ACA are changing the way medical practices operate; the recent slump in the economy is changing the way patients view healthcare. Your practice may even be facing a changing patient base.
All of these things can affect how you should spend, and whether you should increase, your advertising budget.
How do you know if your practice has outgrown your marketing budget?
1. Your practice has grown.
One of the most common reasons that an online marketing strategy fails is that your practice has outgrown its marketing budget. This is especially true for doctors who have consolidated their practices into a single entity, and do not increase the marketing budget to match the new size of the single practice.
Think of it this way: Your practice had a marketing budget of $500 per month to cover two doctors. Now, you’ve brought in an additional two doctors from another practice, but leave your marketing budget at $500 per month.
You’ve effectively slashed your budget for each “line of service” in half. If you have a marketing strategy in place and you’re not noticing patient gains, it may very well be because you haven’t allocated enough money to the project.
2. You need to market to a new patient type.
Another problem may arise when you begin marketing to a new patient type. This expansion means you’ll need new materials to market to this type of patient; if you’re not properly prepared, such expenditures can quickly deplete your budget.
This is doubly true if you choose to start marketing to several new patient types at once. It may seem like an easy decision to start marketing to patients beyond your current targets, but if you don’t take into account the increased costs, you can set your practice up for budgetary problems.
3. You offer new treatment options.
Adding treatment options is another step that requires the creation of new marketing materials. As with expanding your targeted patient groups, this can become a problem if your marketing budget isn’t set up to handle the new expenditures.
4. You open a new office location.
Opening a new location can also be a time of increased marketing costs and budgetary concerns. Your patients will need to be informed of new options for your services, and future marketing materials will have to be changed to reflect the new location. As with adding doctors to your practice, the addition of a new location requires that your marketing budget increase accordingly.
5. You're not using digital marketing tactics.
If your practice is focusing on more traditional marketing, it’s imperative that you move into the digital age. Marketing is changing rapidly and if you haven’t evolved to incorporate the Internet, you’re considered antiquated by today’s patients.
Your prospective patients may not even be aware of you, simply because you haven’t provided them with a modern medical website or social media page, or information and tools to help them find you. Implementing digital marketing will solve these problems, and may even be a pleasant surprise for you; unlike traditional marketing, a small investment can go a long way.
6. Your practice isn't growing as quickly as you would like.
Marketing campaigns that aren’t producing expected results need to change to meet the needs of your prospective patients and goals of your medical practice.
This requires you add more money to avenues that are working, while reducing your expenditures on less fruitful endeavors. A clear plan for marketing to patients allows you to see exactly where your money is going, and where it’s getting the best returns, allowing you to make changes that best benefit your practice.
It’s a full-time job just to run a practice on a daily basis, so a lot of doctors decide to turn marketing over to specialists. This is one of the most effective ways to start marketing to patients where they are: online. There are several agencies, like docero, who focus on making sure you succeed with effective marketing strategies for your medical practice.
By providing useful patient tools that also serve to expand your online marketing strategy, you can more effectively reach new patients and provide a solid, comprehensive experience for them.
A great marketing strategy will result in a good return on investment, too. That means that every dollar you spend on advertising will result in more patients and a growing practice.