By Stewart Gandolf
Chief Executive Officer
Not long ago, we published an article titled: Doctors Don’t Advertise” and 10 Other Lame Marketing Myths. Some of the ill-advised “reasons” on our list sounded a wake-up call for a few readers. It turns out that they recognized that medicine is a profession, but healthcare is a business.
Ultimately, for every hospital and healthcare provider, marketing and advertising is an investment, not an expense. It is what fuels new business, growth and success. And, each in their own way, these businesses doubled-down on the marketing effort and made marketing a fresh priority.
Easy ways to lose business revenue…
Think of this as a companion article. Over the years, we’ve met a few of the folks that were losing business without know it. In random order, here are some of the top-line symptoms to avoid:
- Allowing the website to atrophy: It’s easy to be caught up in the constant activity of a busy office—and, from the inside, the website is a “set-and-forget” tool. The thing is, from the outside, the hospital or practice website is the main front door for new business. It’s vital to keep the content fresh, authoritative and up to date. In addition, embrace the latest and best Search Engine Optimization (SEO), keywords, user experience and mobile design techniques. There’s no value in a website that can’t be found online. If you’re not listed ahead of the competition, you’re losing ground and may not know it.
- Analysis paralysis: Some administrators, executives and healthcare providers are overly cautious about marketing and advertising. They recognize that there are potential risks. And lacking experience—or being unable to win a consensus among partners—the analysis becomes a paralysis. Opportunity is lost to inaction. Once more the competition is handed an edge.
- Answering the phone as an interruption: There’s rarely a quiet moment in a busy medical office. All too often, a ringing telephone is a nuisance…it’s a low-priority but an instant distraction that takes people away from efficiently moving charts from the entrance to the exit. And, all too often, the ringing telephone is the first call from a prospective new patient. And when someone answers the phone as if it was an interruption, there’s a strong likelihood that the caller will sense a cold and unwelcome greeting. Don’t expect a callback.
- Reliance on a template website: On the upside, a “template” website can be attractive… especially if you don’t notice the dozen or more identical, cookie-cutter sites of others. This is a word of caution that an inexpensive (cheap) template website does not differentiate your practice from others, does not provide unique, authoritative content (search engines will think plagiarism is at work), and it may not be mobile ready. Worst of all, no matter how “affordable” it was, it does not produce a return on investment (results). Of course, your competitor may be thanking you.
- Don’t update the website, directories or listings: It is common for the information about any given provider to be listed in at least a dozen places online. On one hand, it’s easier for a prospective patient to find a provider resource when there are multiple listings. But when these simple NAME-ADDRESS-PHONE listings are missing, incorrect, or out of date, the obvious downside is that a potential caller will not struggle to decide what’s right. There’s no compelling reason to act, no call to action and no strong differentiation. Hello, competition.
- Isolating the doctor from patients: It’s common, in some offices, for everyone to watchfully protect the doctor (or doctors) from any and all distractions. Although well intended, sometimes the idea can go too far and the doctor no longer has contact or relationship with patients, staff or professional colleagues. They don’t hear patient concerns or praise. In those instances, the intended leader in the office can be out of touch with the public they serve, issues that need to be fixed, or office routines that minimize the doctor-patient connection.
- No plan produces zero progress: “If you don’t know where you’re going,” said the Cheshire cat, “any road’ll take you there.” Once again, a busy office may be bursting with activity, but there is no real productivity. Successful medical providers—both individuals and hospital service line departments—will fail to plan exactly when and how they intend to move forward. The goals may or may not be understood, but the strategies and tactics to achieve them are vague or absent.
Consequently, any provider situation that should or could be making business strides and growth may actually be, unknowingly, losing business to the competition.