The average small business spends about 6% of gross revenues on marketing. Yet 46% of business owners don’t know if their marketing is working and one in six of them report that their efforts are failing.
If these marketing stats feel all too familiar, it’s time to take a closer look at your practice marketing tactics. Effective marketing for doctors requires meeting your patients where they are and being able to measure your return on investment (ROI).
When deciding where to invest your marketing dollars, tech guru and former chief evangelist at Apple Guy Kawasaki says it best:
"If you have more money than brains, you should focus on Outbound Marketing. If you have more brains than money, you should focus on Inbound Marketing.”
Inbound marketing, according to Hubspot, “focuses on creating quality content that pulls people toward your company and product, where they naturally want to be. By aligning the content you publish with your customer’s interests, you naturally attract inbound traffic that you can then convert, close, and delight over time.” Ultimately, inbound marketing comes down to earning people’s interest instead of buying it.
As patients spend more time researching doctors online, your marketing dollars are best spent increasing awareness of your practice through digital channels. According to a Hubspot study, businesses that mainly rely on inbound marketing save more than $14 for every newly acquired customer.
Traditional outbound marketing tactics like radio advertisements, billboards, and direct mail haven’t kept up with the changing habits of today’s digital consumer. Most of these efforts are expensive, rely on a needle-in-a-haystack approach to acquire patients, and are impossibly difficult to measure. Plus, research shows that 84% of Millennials don’t trust traditional forms of marketing.
Following are five outbound—and outdated—healthcare practice marketing tactics that you’d be better off dropping.
Sending out printed postcards or mailers to recruit new patients might not deliver the best bang for your buck. Studies show that 44% of direct mail is never opened and, according to the CMO Council, the ROI for email marketing is quadruple that of direct mail (i.e. $28.50 vs. $7).
What marketing tactic can you use instead? Create an email newsletter and invite visitors to your website to subscribe. Building a content-rich blog with wellness content is another marketing tactic that, over time, will encourage patients to view you and your healthcare practice as a trusted source and partner.
Promoting your practice in a television spot on the local cable channel is a pricey proposition and a marketing tactic with an increasingly poor return. Most TV viewers today fast forward through commercials. In fact, studies reveal that 86% of people skip TV commercials and 60% of people download or record shows so they can bypass the commercials.
Your marketing dollars are better spent on targeted social media ads. Today’s patients—particularly younger patients—are apt to solicit opinions about providers from friends and acquaintances on sites like Facebook and Twitter.
Drivers these days pay less attention to what’s outside their car windows, whether they’re in motion or stopped in traffic. That’s because a lot of drivers are looking at their smartphones. Research from Zendrive indicates that Americans use their phones nearly 9 out of 10 times they get behind the wheel of their cars.
Depending on their location and size, billboard ads can cost several thousand dollars per month of run time and, for the most part, don’t allow you to target your customers, either.
Although Yellow Pages advertising used to be a must for any small business, the internet has changed that. Most people these days look for providers using search engines, online patient reviews, and social media. Even Bill Gates predicted more than 10 years ago that Yellow Pages usage for people below the age of 50 would drop to zero by 2012.
So, if you’re still advertising here, do yourself—and your marketing budget—a favor, and cancel your insertion.
Sponsoring the local Little League team or annual 5K race might warm your heart, but it likely is not helping your bottom line. Simply adding your logo to a team t-shirt and cutting a check for support won’t drive new patients to your practice. You have to be willing to create opportunities for people to interact with your brand—and that requires an additional investment of time, staff, and money on your part.
Today’s patients are online looking for meaningful content to guide their decision-making. Focusing your practice marketing efforts on meeting them where they are is the best investment you can make.
For more helpful practice marketing tips, check out “The Busy Doctor’s Guide to Marketing a Healthcare Practice.”
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