Don’t Let the Treatment Get Ahead of the Diagnosis

By Stewart Gandolf
Chief Executive Officer

success formula infographicThe first four diagnostic questions to ask before you take a marketing leap…

Imagine this happening in your office… A new patient presents himself and announces that he needs a broad-spectrum antibiotic.

How’s that again? Yes — could you please write the prescription so he can be on his way? And thank you very much.

We don’t know a single practitioner who would reach for the Rx pad or seriously consider this patient’s request without a health history, exam, symptoms, test, procedures or whatever else is professionally appropriate to a well-considered medical diagnosis.

Hold that thought.

As we talk to professional practices around the nation, at least once a week someone will call and tell us they “need a flyer” or they “want a newspaper ad” or something else intended to grow the business. Our concern, of course, is that the “treatment” may be getting ahead of a proper “diagnosis”-marketing-wise. And when we ask questions, that is often the case.

The first four questions to ask

In marketing-successful marketing programs, that is-it is important not to presume to know the solution before you carefully walk through some key questions. So don’t jump ahead. Invest the time to ask questions, understand the problem and get a clear and unbiased perspective on where you are and what you need to do to achieve your business development goals. Here are the first four things to decide.

1. What is the goal?
Begin with the end in mind: What is the quantified outcome? Goals are best expressed in specific amounts, such as increased revenue dollars or a number of new patients or cases.

The terms GOAL, STRATEGY and TACTIC are sometimes incorrectly used interchangeably. A goal is the big picture expressed as a number. A strategy or strategies are the ways the goal will be achieved. And tactics are the tools that achieve the strategies. So if someone feels they need a new tactical tool of any kind, it should be because it specifically supports one or more strategy that achieves the goal. Define the goal first, then decide strategy, then tactical tool-in that order.

2. What is the likely Return-on-Investment (ROI)?
Because marketing generates revenue (not an expense), elements of a marketing plan produce a measurable ROI-provided, of course, that you are tracking results daily. Can you predict or estimate the ROI as part of the plan. HINT: overall the goal is to have about a 4:1 Return-on-Investment. Tactics individually or collectively need to generate a positive ROI.

3. Am I sticking to my marketing plan?
Sometimes a practice will loose marketing focus. Perhaps the competition is advertising via skywriting, and they will be tempted to answer with a skywriting campaign of its own…and not part of the plan. Stick with the plan with appropriate adjustments, not impulsive add-ons.

4. Don’t have a plan?
If you don’t have a well-considered, evidence-based marketing plan, you can skip questions 1, 2 and 3. Get a professional plan first. The selection of any tactic without the context of a (goals, strategies, tactics) plan is an open-ended risk and quite possibly a wasteful mistake.

If you need help with these questions, please call us. We don’t do skywriting, but we can help with the marketing diagnostics.

Stewart Gandolf
Chief Executive Officer at Healthcare Success
Stewart Gandolf, MBA, is Chief Executive Officer of Healthcare Success, one of the nation's leading healthcare and digital marketing agencies. Over the past 20 years, Stewart has marketed and consulted for over 1,000 healthcare clients, ranging from practices and hospitals to multi-billion dollar corporations. A frequent speaker, Stewart has shared his expertise at over 200 venues nationwide. As an author and expert resource, Stewart has also written for many leading industry publications, including the 21,000 subscriber Healthcare Success Insight blog. Stewart also co-authored, "Cash-Pay Healthcare: Start, Grow & Perfect Your Cash-Pay Healthcare Business." Stewart began his career with leading advertising agencies, including J. Walter Thompson, where he marketed Fortune 500 clients such as Wells Fargo and Bally's Total Fitness.



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