When it comes to marketing, do you feel like nothing works?
You run an ad but your clinic just isn’t seeing the return – you can’t remember the last time your calendar was “fully booked” with appointments?
The price tag involved in most external methods of advertising is often discouraging to clinic owners who don’t have deep pockets or the time to do marketing – and rightly so.
But, there is a big difference between external marketing and internal marketing – and the internal stuff is where most clinic owners fall short.
I am fortunate enough to be able to work with some very sharp health-business owners in my one-on-one coaching program and a lot of our time discussing innovative ways to do marketing. I continually see the difference between great health businesses and those that are always struggling to stay afloat.
The difference is always a strong focus on internal marketing.
So, before wasting any more money on external marketing, the fastest and cheapest way to see a positive return on investment is by fixing your internal marketing first.
Here are 10 low cost internal marketing tips to help get you moving in the right direction.
1. Don’t give up on past patients
It’s much easier to reactivate a past client than it is to find new ones. So, reach out to those patients who have cancelled appointments and have not re-booked. Reach out to patients that you haven’t seen for a while.
Use a method I call Winback Phone Calls – it’s a phone call to a patient who has not visited your clinic in the last 30 and 60 days.
You can also use Winback Letters – a handwritten letter from the therapist to a patient who has not visited the clinic in more than a month.
2. Improve phone call conversion rates
When the clinic phone rings, how well is your team converting new inquiries to new patients?
Are your staff members being polite, focusing on the patient and making sure the majority of those calls become paid bookings?
How do staff respond to the pricing questions?
Never give patients the price upfront, instead, reframe the question with: What have you done? What happened? How did you hurt yourself? How does that make you feel? How does 2 pm work for you on Friday.
You should be converting 80% of your new patient calls to booked assessments. Most clinics are only converting around 50%.
Do you measure this? The key is to operate phone calls in your clinic like a mini call center – figure out what works and teach all your staff to follow the same system, so you can convert more calls into patients.
3. Answer the phone
We’ve all heard the boring and lengthy answering machine greeting, “Sorry, we missed you. Your call is very important to us….” – it’s just not enough to answer the phone!
If you’re sending phone calls to an answering machine and wondering why you’re wasting your external marketing dollars – that’s why. It’s because the phones aren’t being answered.
How much business are you losing today as a result of not answering the phone?
If a new prospect calls your clinic and you don’t answer the phone, what happens? That’s right, nothing.
You should be answering 95% of your phone calls. Most clinics are answering around 60%. Do you measure this?
Get somebody to call your clinic at least 30 times at random – try different days and times – record this as an exercise and you’ll soon see there are gaps in your process.
4. Improve your patient experience on the first day
Go back in time to when you were a child, what do you remember about your favourite stores and restaurants? The people working there of course. They created the fond memories and experiences.
Now apply this to your clinic. Creating an awesome patient experience is one of the best ways to achieve sustainable growth, particularly in the healthcare industry where the core product or service is difficult to differentiate.
Differentiate yourself from the competitors by providing an incredible patient experience on the first day – the moment the patient walks through the door. How they feel about you and your clinic after their initial assessment will determine your compliance rates.
Here are a few things to keep in mind:
- Always greet them by their first name to make a more personalized experience.
- Respect your patient’s time. Do NOT keep your patients waiting past their scheduled appointment time or being placed on hold on the telephone.
- At the end of your SOAP notes, write something personal about your patient so you can pickup your conversation next time. ie how was your ski trip in Calgary?
- Try these lines “If you were my mom/wife/grandma, this is what we do…” Treat every patient as if they are members of your own family so that they will leave your clinic feeling that you are their most trusted health advisor.
5. Create a patient birthday program
More than likely you will have collected information about your patient’s birthday during the registration process, so why not use this information to win the loyalty and attention of your patients.
Send a “Happy Birthday” email to your patient along with special birthday offers that will engage your clinic brand and garner some goodwill from your patient. Even better, get the therapist to call them personally.
6. Advertise monthly offers in both the waiting and patient rooms
Patients spend a lot of time in the waiting room before they proceed to their treatment. This valuable time can be used to promote information about specializations, and new treatment offers through posters, signage or even displays.
Every month, move the signs and displays around to keep them from getting stale. Regularly update and change displays to keep the patient’s informed and interested.
Try to have a marketing campaign with a monthly theme and offer. Once you do it for the first 12 months, you’ve just built your monthly marketing campaign for future years.
7. Advertise at the reception counter
Take advantage of the most important real estate in your clinic, the reception counter.
This is the area where your patient will begin and end each appointment. Display products or promotions to visually remind patients of something they need, stimulating impulse buying. Biofreeze, Tens Machines, Heat Packs or Massage Therapy Offers, etc.
8. Branded shirts and name tags for your entire team
There are a multitude of benefits why your employees should be wearing branded shirts and name tags, including:
Professionalism: The clinic branded shirts and name tags are part of a uniform that sets a tone of professionalism. Also, when wearing a name tag, your team will act more professionally as their name is out there for everyone to see, their reputation is on the line. It also will tell you which employees are team players and which ones are not.
Loyalty: A name tag will help to put patients on a first-name basis with your staff. When patients feel like they know your team, they are more likely to keep returning to your clinic.
Branding: Getting your staff to wear clinic branded shirts will help with your branding efforts. Both the name tag and branded shirts will immediately identify your employee as an ambassador of your clinic. In essence, when your staff wears a clinic branded shirt and a name tag, they are like a walking “billboard” for your clinic.
9. Set up a catchy product display
Bring out the neck pillows, knee braces, heat packs, and tens machines from the back room. If patients can’t see the product, they will not buy it.
Set up the display in a high traffic area and ensure that the display shelves are well stocked.
10. Educate patients with injury-specific emails
Reinforce both your brand and services to your patients, by sending injury specific emails to them every two weeks. This is great way to nurture your patients to promote your brand and to try other services at your clinic (i.e., physiotherapy, massage therapy, chiropractics). Before you click “Send”, a few things to keep in mind:
- The goal of the emails is to provide helpful content and tips that relate to their injury.
- The content of the email must be useful so that the patient does not unsubscribe to your emails.
- You need to segment your email list and send your patients very target emails.
- Do NOT send generic emails to your entire patient database. E.g., Tips on improving lower back pain will not be useful for someone who has carpal tunnel syndrome.
These internal marketing tips really do help increase the effectiveness of your clinic, and revenue, too.
And best of all, if you put these internal marketing practices in place, your external marketing is going to be much more effective – and that makes the perfect marketing mix for building a successful clinic.