What drives your decision-making process when deciding what forms of marketing to use? Is it your fear of not appearing in the Page One results of a Google search for the phrase “plastic surgery,” or concern that your fellow colleagues are featured in a publication and you’re not? If so, you are making your decisions based on fear, and that won’t be conducive to creating a sound, long-term marketing plan.
Yet, with so many forms of marketing available today, what’s the best mix for your practice and how do you keep it balanced? What are the most effective strategies and tools? What type of messaging is appropriate for the medical industry to ensure that you are handling sensitive topics with respect and integrity while staying within legal and society membership regulations? With the fast-paced life of a plastic surgeon, how can you find time to make a plan? Who do you trust to help you create and implement that plan?
In my 10 years of experience working with plastic surgeons throughout the United States, I have identified some basic principles that will help you create a successful marketing plan for your practice. First, though, let’s look at some typical practice profiles.
I see three kinds of practices. Group 1 has an aggressive, integrated marketing plan, a great staff, and a compelling identity and mission. Systems are in place to make it an efficient, smooth-running practice. They have a highly competent patient coordinator and office manager who do more than handle administrative tasks. They build relationships with patients and promote the practice’s marketing message in every interaction. The closure rate on these practices is generally high and can vary from 70% to 90% or higher.
Group 2 has tried various marketing ideas, but is frustrated. They know that they must improve. The staff feels that they are working longer and harder with less to show. The staff is not always as focused or driven as the physician would like, and there may be excessive turnover. The physician’s message is getting lost. Some consults slip through without getting the attention they need, and their closure rate remains low. Many physicians in this group have experienced incredible turnarounds when they implement a strategic marketing plan.
Group 3 consists of physicians who are starting out, either just out of residency or possibly leaving a group practice. Competition in this group is stiff. They need patients, of course, but they also need internal systems set up and marketing direction. They also need a unique identity for the practice, so that they can differentiate themselves from the competition.
So, how do you make sure your practice is most like those in Group 1? The questions are many and can be intimidating. Most medical schools don’t offer plastic surgeons classes in the business of marketing and branding, and likely you don’t have extra time to devote to it.
With your completed creative brief in hand, you are now ready to start writing your plan. In the next issue, I will outline a seven-step plan that will allow you to jump-start your marketing efforts.
Candace Crowe is president of Candace Crowe Design, which specializes in plastic surgery marketing and patient education. She can be reached at (877) 384-7676 or www.candacecrowe.com.