Energize Your Practice By Using These 10 Marketing Tactics
Marketing is often misunderstood as just a way to attract new customers. However, marketing is any activity that steers your practice in an intended direction including increasing revenue, introducing new services, recruiting new providers and even combating negative publicity.
Some components of “Good practice” marketing include strategic planning, insurance plan contracting, patient relations, recall systems, practice hours and more.
This short, comprehensive guide based on “good practice” marketing will help steer your ophthalmology practice in its intended direction.
Employ a Written One Year and Five Year Marketing Plan
The most essential part of a marketing plan is the goal, because it is the base from which all decisions are made. Therefore, your goals should be the first step of the process. Generally, practices with a plan in place tend to perform better than those without a plan. Begin with your five year goals, since your one year goals will be incorporated in the process.
Your five year goals should be strategic and broad in scope. They should be written so they are clear, specific and measurable. Your goals should be challenging, yet attainable, and time sensitive. Be sure your goals are specific to your market, experience and demographics. For example, a mature practice in an urban area will have different goals then a novice practice in a rural area.
When determining your goals, consider factors such as:
- Budget (typically 3%-8%)
- Market assessments (economy and demographics etc.)
- Competition assessments (reputation, experience, location etc.)
- Target market (location, diagnosis, insurance coverage etc.)
- Target desires (affability, availability etc.)
- Self-assessment (ability, availability etc.)
- Calendar of implementation (pacing, seasonality etc.)
- Execute (involve staff, implement the plan etc.)
- Reviews and adjustments (assess results monthly, adjust accordingly)
Limit your goals to no more than five, which will make it easier to craft strong, detailed goals. You should evaluate your goals after each year, then amend them for next year’s goals. Your new goals should be based on whether or not you were able to achieve this year’s goals.
Make an Oath to Quality
Extraordinary service increases patient retention and referrals, which reduces marketing expenses. Incorporate extraordinary experiences you have encountered at other businesses into your practice. For example, how were patient tardiness and billing disputes that were not the patient’s fault, resolved?
Fine Tune Your Recall System
Too often, second LASIK or second cataract surgeries are missed as a result of scheduling issues and passive recall systems. Audit 20 charts per day for clinical recall requirements. If a large number of charts fail compliance, audit the final three to five years of charts over the course of six months. Call and schedule patients who are not in compliance.
Successful practices understand that their patients are busy, so they pride themselves on providing easy scheduling, prompt service and friendly interaction, which is important for patient retention and new referrals.
- Address patients by name
- See referrals and new patients as soon as possible
- See patients on time
- Make an effort to interact with patients
Display Your Name Anywhere Potential Customers Would Look
To make your name stand out in customer’s minds, it should be displayed in various publications. This includes the local phone book, Ophthalmic directories, physician listing services, and free standing office signs etc. Likewise, include your name, address, telephone number and web address on all documents given to customers.
Interact with the Public
One of the most successful marketing techniques is networking with others. Encourage your Ophthalmologist to meet and network with various people. Nurses, medical assistants, Health-food store owners, Pharmacists, physical therapists and hair dressers etc. all know someone who is in need of an Ophthalmologist, and they are most likely to refer them to someone they are familiar with and like.
Have a Local Webpage
General Ophthalmologists typically only serve their local community, so it would be a waste of marketing to advertise your practice to new customers searching for a local Ophthalmologist in a different region. Build your webpage so that it reflects the office environment and educational material that pertains to your specific region. Be sure to include your web address on all patient material.
Update Your Sign
After some time, the free-standing sign in front of your practice becomes invisible to those who view it on a regular basis. Changing the shape, size and color of the sign will attract more attention.
Consider Whether to Employ or Market-to Opticians and Optometrists
Opticians and Optometrists prefer to refer patients to Ophthalmologists sans an on-site dispensary and who do not employ Opticians and Optometrists. These Ophthalmologists earn approximately $50,000 a year per employed Optometrist. Review your marketing plan as well as your situation to determine if this is the best option for you.
Limit Your Insurance Plans
By limiting your practice to better paying contracts, your doctors can see fewer patients for the same income, which will allow them to spend more time with each patient. Drop one plan at a time until you reach a comfortable patient-load and income.
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Look out for my next article soon.