Marketing advice from a very successful OD in his 70's: "Have one of the (staff) start at the A's, pulling down each record off the wall. Open it and if they haven't been to the office in two years or more, call them and tell them it is time to come back. That's what saved my practice." Marketing advice from an enteprising 50-something year old doctor with several practice locations and a multi-million dollar business: "One word - Radio."
Marketing advice from a 20-something year old associate OD working for a small two doctor practice:"Social Media and Search Engine Optimization. It is the way of the future."
And remember last month, the example of the doctor who felt the secret is accepting every vision insurance plan available?
Who's right? Everybody. They are all correct in their own way.
While few of us would be so inefficient to pull a paper record down and call one at a time, you can't deny it would be highly effective and highly reliable way to stay in touch.
In my study of long term successful practices, they all have a strategic method of continuing to attract new and retain existing patients. Everybody markets, but the successful practice has a strategy in place and sticks to the plan. Many practices participate in "knee-jerk" marketing by simply reacting to reduced practice activity. Others focus on the "one thing" that they are convinced is the secret.
Developing a Successful Marketing Strategy
1 - Identify Tools
List every avenue you can think of that gives you an opportunity to spread the word about your practice. Think of signage, internal systems to show off new equipment, advertising, recalls, phone calls, emails, asking for referrals, and social media specifics. Look through old notes, read articles. Visit ROB for some very good ideas.
2 - Choose
It is not a good idea to try to do everything you can. Categorize and decide where you want to concentrate your energies and money. But make sure to spread it out and not put all of your eggs in one basket. Sometimes it is easy to get excited about something new and neglect effective marketing tools. Care needs to be taken to make sure the strategies match the vision of the practice. You don't have to implement every good idea.
3 - Delegate
One person in the office needs to be given the responsibility of making sure that all things on the plan are done as scheduled. This person should be empowered to make things happen and everyone should have a role and understand the importance promoting the brand.
4 - Re-Visit
Maybe the most critical step. Plan to plan. Things are changing so fast and new methods are constantly emerging to help us stay in touch. No matter how perfect your marketing plan is today, parts of it will soon be obsolete.
Every strategy will be different and will depend on a number of factors: practice personality, budget, age of practice, demographics, personnel availability, etc. The point is to concentrate on marketing and be consistent year round and year to year.