One of the most common ailments I hear from practices is how overwhelmed they are when it comes to marketing. ‘Where do we start?’ ‘To tweet or not to tweet?’ ‘Should we co-brand and what the heck is co-branding?’ After leaving a conference like the VCS meeting, where there are hundreds of new ideas and strategies presented, it can be paralyzing to decide when and how to implement the many notes you have scribbled down.
Several years ago, my colleagues and I at IF Marketing recognized that practices were craving a way to simplify the marketing process. Under the guidance of Dr Steven Dayan, our team analyzed the dozens of promotional plans we had made for our clients around the world. We realized a trend was emerging within the strategies; they all consistently divided into six clearly segmented components.
We were relieved to see that we could condense the massive plans into a natural, fluid formula that progressed organically. Based on six areas of a practice that sequentially built and enhanced the next, the formula could be applied to any office with the same consistency as Phi to the ideal face. The strategy we discovered was intuitive, easy to follow and most importantly, effective. This new approach to marketing finally gave practices a digestible and rhythmic plan to follow and fulfilled the need for the ‘now what?’ when wanting to start a promotion.
With that, the answer we were all searching for suddenly became incredibly simple. Literally, it was SIMPLE. Merging the first letter of each segment, the word ‘SIMPLE’ serendipitously formed. The SIMPLE strategy guides practices to, first and foremost, start marketing efforts by working with your strongest asset; your Staff. After strategic team building and staff training, you move into maximizing your Image or your brand. Once branding efforts are fine-tuned, you incorporate your Medical Credentials into the marketing efforts to increase conversions, defend prices and strengthen brand fidelity with your market. Patient Education is the fourth segment and perhaps the richest, as it provides endless opportunities with the potential for an incredible return on investment. Loyalty and Retention initiatives follow and help ensure current and new patients keep coming back. Strategically last, External Marketing is the final component to the SIMPLE approach.
When working with most practices over the years, we have found they often dive into pricey external marketing initiatives as their first attempt to boost business. Although powerful and necessary, external marketing efforts (promoting to a group that is not familiar with you) typically have the highest cost with the lowest return. Perhaps more importantly, if you start your marketing plan with external efforts and have not first invested in the preceding five segments, you are setting your practice up for a weak return on the hard-earned dollars being spent. One hit wonder external efforts are a dangerous way for practices to attempt to grow. Even if you have a successful external marketing effort in place, such as a great new website, if you don’t have the staff trained to convert callers, a brand that educates on your points of differentiation and loyalty metrics in place to keep patients coming back, the investment will be fleeting and yield a fraction of its potential.
The SIMPLE approach encompasses all areas of marketing and gives a much needed compass to help you feel in control when executing new marketing ideas. By dividing and conquering your growth strategy, marketing will actually take less time, have stronger results and be easier to implement and maintain. So as you pack your bags and head home after the meeting, remember to start all your new promotions by creating a quick plan that ensures your marketing efforts will set you up for long term-success. It’s just that SIMPLE.