What time of year do you think about marketing your healthcare organization?
Well, if you are like a lot of doctors, you probably think about marketing mostly during your slow seasons.
And the logical knee-jerk reaction would be to go out and run some ads.
Makes sense, right?
It turns out that your slow seasons are absolutely the WORST possible times of year for you to market your business or practice. While it would be great if prospective patients thought about you all the time, in real life people have a natural predisposition to think of you during certain times of year.
Just as winter coats don't sell well in August, it will be very difficult to motivate prospective patients during the wrong times of year.
As the title of this article implies, you should only contemplate external advertising during your best times of year.
For many healthcare organizations, the Spring and Fall are best (January is slow due to new deductibles, the "dog days of Summer" are slow due to vacations and general lethargy, and everyone gets distracted by the Holidays).
However, there are many exceptions to this generalization:
Check your past three year's worth of records, and count up your numbers of new patient visits by month. (Not production or revenues, because those measures will lag.) Make sure you take into account aberrations, like that four week trip you took to Europe last year.
Then come up with averages, and then plot them on a graph where the average new visits are plotted on the Y (vertical) axis, and months are plotted on the X (horizontal) axis. In most cases there will be clear peaks and valleys.
The key is to do your external marketing at the beginning of the busy season, and cut back just before it ends.
To some degree, yes, so you'll have to be a good manager. However, here are some ways you can "even things out."
JM loved to ski, and he always scheduled his annual ski trip for early December. After reviewing his records as we recommend above, he noticed that December was one of his best new patient months, while February was historically his slowest.
Nowadays, you'll find JM on the slopes in February, smiling broadly because his entire trip was paid for many times over by the extra profits he made by marketing and being available during December.