Replace "Feel Good" Activities with Real Marketing to Attract Real Patients

By Stewart Gandolf, Chief Executive Officer

marketing plan bookYou may be able to fund your marketing plan without spending another dime, simply by slashing waste

Good intentions and charitable good deeds are not the same as effective marketing. Giving is good and marketing is business-keep those objectives separate to discover savings that produce results.

It was a case of mistaken identity. The catch-all category of "public relations" was pulling the marketing budget way out of shape. Good intentions had overpowered meaningful results.

Unfortunately, many organizations and healthcare practices spend money on things that feel good, but don't produce results. Here's a case example...

Awhile back a specialty group we know suddenly realized they were spending $100,000 per year on miscellaneous "PR" activities, including taking the lead on an annual charitable event. It was a worthy cause that everyone liked, and they had been involved for several years. In addition to the dollars expended, their various "feel good" efforts consumed a lot of staff and doctor time. It just sort of happened...and grew each year.

At the same time, however, their referral base of doctors was shrinking due to increased competition and the contracting economy. Worse, after all was said and done, they couldn't point to a single new patient that resulted from all the time and effort. Good intentions, but nothing came back from the invested time and money.

So with our help the group reduced the financial commitment on "feel good" activities to $10,000; still a significant contribution. And, they could stay involved with the charitable project and retain nearly as much visibility.

Further, they still had $90,000 in their marketing budget to invest in producing serious results through a plan that is 100% focused on yielding doctor referrals and direct results for the group.

We think charity and good works in the community are important and admirable. We applaud the good intention. And if the partners or staff want to donate additional time or money, it's something they can do on their own.

The case of "mistaken identity" was in assigning the costs to the "marketing" budget, and expecting a measurable Return-on-Investment. Charitable good deeds are not the same as marketing. Neither are "feel good" activities.

Watch for waste and stop it. We can help with specific advice on where and how to reallocate the savings into a plan to produce tangible results. And a special note to group practices and hospitals-there will probably be political implications to your wise reallocation efforts.

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