Medical_Practice_Marketing_Dollars

Never Compete On Price!

In the medical field it is usually NEVER profitable to compete on price. So, our first bit of advice is: Don’t compete on price! Price reduction alone is never a good strategy for improving profits. Building a recognizable and reputable brand for your medical practice is always the most effective way to create long-term growth. Offer your patients products and services that provide exceptional value and meet their needs. People will justify the price of something if it meets their needs!

Unfortunately, not competing on price isn’t always an option. If you are in a hyper-competitive market, a slow economy, or trying to develop niche markets, implementing strategic pricing programs may be necessary.

The best way to choose a pricing strategy is to identify the purpose behind it and evaluate whether or not it fits into your medical marketing plan. Depending on your purpose, the following are effective ways to compete on price as a medical professional:

Money off Next Purchase

A great way to encourage long-term patient loyalty is by offering a dollar amount off of your patient’s next purchase. For example, a dentist can offer $20.00 off a tooth whitening treatment when patients who come in for a routine cleaning schedule a whitening treatment within the next 30 days. This is an effective pricing strategy because it requires that a patient make a repeat visit and purchase. It also supports any medical marketing strategy designed to promote a specific product, protect market share, or maintain a healthy sales volume.

Multiple Products for the Same Price

This is your everyday by two get one free promotion. This type of pricing strategy is most effective when your two purchased products cover your cost of the free product. Patients like these types of promotions because they feel compelled to “get their money’s worth” and take advantage of a limited offer. Use this type of pricing strategy to launch new products, develop niche markets or reward repeat patients.

Referral Programs

Offer your patients a gift card for new patient referrals. If you are an aesthetic practitioner who offers laser treatments in packages or provides services which require follow-up visits, your current patient base will be eager to refer patients and receive gift cards to use on their return visits. This builds patient loyalty, creates profit in mature markets, and will certainly attract patients.

 

Practice Membership Specials

Costco, Sam’s Club, and CVS have built their brands on this pricing strategy. In the medical field, this pricing strategy best operates in the form of a point system similar to accruing frequently flyer miles. Look at a chiropractic practice for example. A Chiropractor can offer a free membership which allows patients to earn points for treatments they receive. Once a patient has earned a certain number of points, they can then use those points to redeem specific treatments. Don’t let patients apply points to any and all treatments you offer. Identify which treatments are the lowest cost to you and let patient’s apply points to those treatments.

Special Payment Plan Programs

No physician wants to go into the business of banking so use this type of pricing strategy with caution. Payment plan programs are most effective when designated for specific types of procedures that are big ticket items. Payment plan programs are simply installment plans that allow patients to pay for a procedure over time upfront. Practices that offer cosmetic procedures will find this pricing strategy most useful. For instance a cosmetic surgeon may offer a payment plan for liposuction or breast augmentation to be paid in three installments with the third and last payment due on the procedure date. This give people time to organize their resources for big ticket items and can help you attract patients who might otherwise not be able to afford your service.

No matter what pricing strategy you decide to use in your practice, be sure you don’t fall into a price war with your competitors. Price wars can devastate a practice and negatively affect your medical marketing efforts. Use pricing strategies to your advantage when you can, but focus on building a superior brand that will build patient loyalty and improve your profits long-term.

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To maximize your ROI on marketing dollars spent you must measure up to the promise you’ve made to your patients. Your medical marketing strategies may bring them in the front door, but it is the quality of care provided, the patient’s experience with your staff, and the satisfaction of your patients needs and wants that brings them back. Use the following ten tips to ensure that you measure up to your message!

Schedule with add-ons and emergencies in mind.

Create your daily schedule with time built in for unexpected obligations. For example, leave 30 minutes open during your morning office hours to accommodate an emergency. Don’t schedule that time slot until you start your day, and don’t worry, it will get filled and if it doesn’t use this time to work on articles, make phone calls, or catch up on paperwork.

Create a weekly list of goals.

Use your Smartphone or Day-Timer to map out your goals for the week. Prioritize your goals and check them off as you complete them. As you check off these goals you will feel a sense of accomplishment and stay encouraged to stay on track.

Empower your staff.

Hire self-starters that you can trust to make good non-medical decisions. Your time shouldn’t be spent scheduling repairs for equipment, ordering office supplies, or making minor office purchases. You have a qualified staff…use them!

Use office videos to cross market and provide patient education.

Create office videos to explain common procedures and to market other products and services to your patients. If a patient can watch a video for several minutes and better understand a procedure, this frees you from having to do it yourself and saves you time throughout your day. If you are a primary care practitioner who also offers aesthetic care, you can also use videos to tell patients about aesthetic procedures that might interest them.

Use idle time wisely.

When you’re not working with patients or when between surgical cases use that time to make phone calls or sign charts. You could even use this time to write blog posts and improve your internet marketing or outline an article for press.

Don’t take phone calls during patient’s appointments.

Unless it’s an absolute emergency, don’t take calls while you’re with patients. Not only does it make your patient feel unimportant, but it prolongs your patient’s visit and puts you behind schedule. Designate a specific time to return routine phone calls.

Dictate while you’re with the patient.

Don’t put off for later, what you can do now! When dictating in front of your patient you record facts as they are fresh in your mind. This also reassures the patient that you are adequately noting their medical records and communicating with their referring physician. Today there is no excuse for not dictating in a timely fashion; simply use a voice activated dictating software program and headset like that offered by Dragons Transcript. Visit http://www.dragontranscription.com/.

Assign a time for managing paperwork and mail – do it only once a day!

Set aside time to review paperwork, and then delegate follow-up responsibilities to qualified staff members. Make notes for yourself with respect to special details and move on to your next project.

Ask your staff to keep you on time with your schedule.

Set a goal for the amount of time you spend with patients during an appointment and set a goal for time spent in between patients. Encourage your staff to help keep you on time. For example, if you fall behind schedule request that a sticky note be placed on top of the next patient’s chart, with a friendly remind to put some pep in your step. This will help you maintain an awareness of your goals and whether or not you are meeting them.

Give yourself some personal time.

To be your best self, you must have some time to yourself. Simply allow yourself 10 minutes to stretch, breathe, or relax at some point during the day, and not when your day is over. By giving yourself time, you will feel refreshed and ready to provide your patients with the quality health care they are looking for.

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Whether you are attempting to do your own marketing, or you have hired a professional to work with you, most healthcare marketing terminology will be new to you.  But instead of getting duped into thinking these concepts are harder to figure out, I’m going to share the 6 most common healthcare marketing terms that will help you better devise your own strategies.

Unique “Selling” Proposition
This is a term used since the 1940s to describe a concept in which a marketing campaign promised a specific thing. It refers to the uniqueness of a product or service that the competition cannot or does not offer.  If your “USP” is compelling, it can cause prospective patients to select your medical practice’s services over another. Successful medical marketing campaigns are built on unique “selling” propositions.  Look at your medical practice and determine what things make you different from your competitors.  For example, if you offer state-of-the art technology, not offered by your competitors, consider building your unique servicing proposition around that factor. Perhaps you are the only physician in your area offering a specific type of treatment, and that could be an option for you. Your USP should express the number one reason that a patient should choose you over any other heathcare provider.

If you need help developing your unique selling proposition, consider taking our free healthcare marketing e-course where we show how to create a killer USP.

Return On Investment (ROI)
The success of your activities should be based on several factors, one of which should be your return on investment. When measuring your return on investment, look at the amount of revenues one marketing campaign generated compared to the amount you invested in it. If you do not breakeven based on your ROI, then you should reconsider whether or not to reinvest in that specific activity. Actually, if you didn’t break even that means it’s not working and you need to assess what to change. Certainly, don’t be convinced that you “just need to keep at it” if the evidence clearly shows you’re not getting your desired results.

Target Market
Your target market is simply your prospective patients. It’s the segment o the population that you want to attract to your medical practice. Knowing who is in your target market will make or break the healthcare marketing strategies you implement. Being aware of who you are targeting for your practice will help you spend advertising dollars wisely and most fruitfully. Your target market is made of several factors including the location of people that live in a certain area, the age, gender, and income of those people, and they type of service those people may want or need. Ignoring this important aspect of developing a health care marketing plan will negatively affect the outcome of your strategies. In fact, you’ll need to go a lot deeper than demographics when it comes to defining your target market. If you want direction in this area, consider taking our free healthcare marketing e-course because inside the free course we show you how to do that too!

Pay-Per-Click
Let’s face it, the Internet cannot be ignored as an integral part of your medical practice’s marketing strategies. If you are ignoring the Web, or if you haven’t started building a Web presence you are headed for BIG trouble. Pay-per-click advertising is one example of Internet advertising.  This term refers to companies putting ads on websites and in search engine results, but only paying if their ad is clicked on.  This model can work for your practice provided you manage your online campaign wisely. Jumping into pay-per-click advertising without having done the proper research, objectives, and online tools can quickly become an EXPENSIVE disaster. Nevertheless, pay-per-click advertising is one of the fastest and most effective ways to get your medical practice found online.

Customer Relationship Management
This is a marketing tool that refers to the management of patients in such a way as to track information about them and their interactions with your medical practice. Collected data is used to attract new patients and to keep tight bonds with existing ones through marketing activities such as direct mail, email marketing, and special events. If you are not capturing personal and contact information about your clients – you are missing the boat! Develop a strong CRM program that is integrated with your EHR or you’ll be bon voyage to the land of broke medical practices.

Qualified Lead
Once you’ve established your target market, qualified leads are people who are part of that market and have expressed an interest in your service.    After setting your goals-including determining your target market-the methods you use to carry out your strategy will more than likely bring you qualified leads. These may come through interested word-of-mouth referrals, from advertising efforts, or the Internet.  However they come, you need to have a plan in place with how to deal with these leads so that they don’t slip through your fingers. Qualified leads are your number one source of new patients and new patient referrals hands down!

I hope you now have a better understanding of what these terms mean and how they affect your healthcare marketing efforts. You already know that knowledge is power, so now you can make informed decisions about the strategies you implement in your medical practice. And, if you find that you need some extra help you know how to find us! 🙂

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