By Stewart Gandolf
Chief Executive Officer
Major changes and pivotal events in the growth of a medical practice require a solid marketing program—and a stream of new business—to assure success. Here’s when to consider financing for marketing and how we can help. [Series installment.]
In the kindest of terms, the current state of healthcare in the United States is “dynamic.” Maybe “chaotic” would be more accurate.
Changes of all sorts have challenged physician practices, medical groups and healthcare businesses to maintain a loud-and-clear marketing message above all the storm.
Our point is: marketing and advertising needs to travel with change; it can’t be an afterthought. After all, prospective patients are unaware or unconcerned that the practice has moved, providers have joined or left the group, or that competition in your profession has changed from tough to fierce.
Marketing: pay-as-you-go versus financing
Hopefully there’s a defined budget for your advertising and public relations investment. It’s a pay-as-you go proposition with tracking and return-on-investment. And that’s a good routine for typical, near-term business purposes. (If you don’t have a plan or a budget, let’s talk.)
But in working with hundreds of “in transition” businesses, we’ve found several pivotal situations that rise above “routine” and require a longer view and perhaps a different approach. These are the more significant changes that have a longer trailing effect or are longer lasting.
In each of the following examples it makes sense to consider amortizing the cost factors, including marketing support, over several years through financing.
- When buying new capital equipment. A classic oversight in buying or leasing new medical equipment is the need to generate additional patient volume that justifies the investment. Decision makers sometimes take it for granted that, “If you build it, they will come.” Not so. It’s the job of marketing to communicate the value and attract new business.
- When moving to a new location or buying a practice. It’s frightening how often providers open the doors of a new office and discover there’s no one standing at the threshold. We remind them that they wouldn’t buy a jet aircraft and expect it to fly without fuel, lubrication and maintenance. What’s more, a start-up effort needs extra thrust to get airborne. Please refer to the bullet item above. You’ll sleep better at night when a marketing plan and budget are attached to office blueprints.
- When building your brand. Serious growth goals demand a serious game plan for winning, especially in the face of tough competition (or when the market is changing). Moving beyond “doing a little better than last year” requires a sustained marketing effort with extra muscle and depth. There’s a longer-term payback, but the view is better from the front of the pack.
Of course if marketing were free, a lot more organizations would jump into the game. But since it’s not—and significant changes need marketing support—the question is, how can you make it affordable?
In these situations, and many others that are similar, it makes sense to look at financing for a marketing program that bolsters the decision to buy new equipment or open a new office. It’s a bit like insurance. Overall, it doesn’t add a lot to the total investment package, but there’s peace of mind in having the means to generate new business revenue.
There are a number of financing options available for most situations. We’ll discuss them in detail in another article with the help of experts from that industry. Suffice to say that we’ve worked with several national firms and programs that can include marketing in financing for your project needs.
Whatever you are planning to buy (or lease), if financing makes sense, don’t invest in your medical practice or healthcare business without thinking about the need for marketing and advertising. Healthcare Success has special programs and business relationships to help our clients, so call us first.