Four Phases to Unlimited New Patients
To generate all the patients you need to fill your practice, meet your profit requirements and expand your practice with associates, you need to promote your practice.
Practice promotion includes public relations (PR), marketing, advertising, web presence, direct mail campaigns and more.
The Difference Between PR and Marketing
To build a profitable practice, you must do two things: build a good PR image and market your services.
Practice owners and Promotion Managers who understand the difference between public relations and marketing are better able to control their flow of new patients.
PR actions are those activities that enhance the image of the practice, create goodwill and make the office well-known. PR actions include earning great Yelp reviews, joining clubs and organizations, writing and posting articles on the web or in newspapers, doing charity work and so on.
Marketing actions bring in new patients and include the practice’s website, internet advertising, patient referral projects, mailing campaigns, arranging referrals from other professionals, coupons and so on.
While PR activities may or may not generate new patients directly, they have a positive effect on the practice and make marketing approaches more believable and effective.
For example, you make yourself known in your town by riding an elephant in a parade or sponsoring a Little-League team. Very few new patients come in from these activities, but people in the community begin to recognize you at restaurants. You then do some marketing by repeating an internet advertising campaign, that did not work the first time you tried it. Voilà! Twenty-six new people respond.
PR is effective when used internally, as well. For example, you and your staff take a Saturday to clean the carpet, reorganize the desks, rotate the pictures, eliminate odors and improve the lighting. The next week, the staff has a feeling of more pride and patients feel more comfortable. You start a patient referral program and receive a surge of new patients.
The Four Phases
To generate an unlimited number of new patients, your promotional actions go through four phases.
Phase I: Internal PR
You create a high-quality experience for your patients. For example, you upgrade your reception area or you put your new patient forms online so they are easier to fill out.
Phase II: Internal Marketing
You take actions to bring in new patients with current and former patients. For example, you pass out gift cards to your existing patients for them to give to their friends and family members.
Phase III: External PR
You make the world outside of your practice think highly of your practice. For example, you write an entertaining and informative article about a procedure and get it posted in dozens of places on the internet.
Phase IV: External Marketing
You encourage people to come into your office for services. For example, you mail a postcard with special offers or you pay for ads with Google.
Why Go Through Each Phase?
The four phases have a natural gradient approach to assist you with implementation. The first phase (internal PR) is the easiest and least expensive to implement, the second phase (internal marketing) is the second easiest to implement and so on.
If you skip a phase that is in bad shape, you fail. For example, if your internal PR (Phase I) is poor, many of the new patients you bring in from external marketing (Phase IV) do not return. They are not impressed or even worse, a few of them post negative reviews.
If you jump to Phase IV without Phases I, II and III being in place, you lose money. For example, calls from your advertising are not handled properly resulting in few appointments (Phase I). New patients that do come in from your ads are not properly used as referral sources as no one knows how to do internal marketing (Phase II). On top of that, many people check your web presence (Phase III) before responding to your advertisements (Phase IV). So if you have no website or bad reviews, your advertising dollars are wasted.
Which Methods Work?
Because we know what works in each type of community, and because we keep good records, we know what works and what is a waste of time. Currently, we recommend 49 methods for improving your internal PR, 19 methods for marketing your practice internally, 43 methods for creating good external PR and 45 ways to market your practice to the outside world. This means you can select the methods that fit you and your practice.
We are also on the hunt for even more PR and marketing methods that work, especially new ones that very few people know about. Each time we test a new idea and get results, we quickly share the results with our clients.
If you need more new patients, and would like to hear more about our proven approach, let us know!