Want to take your practice to the next level? Or simply increase the number of patients who are great fits for your practice, that results in a healthy level of growth?
It may be time to consider hiring a medical marketing agency to grow your practice.
In this article we’ll cover:
- The signs to watch for that indicate your specialty practice needs to hire a medical marketing agency.
- Tips for selecting a medical marketing agency and how to avoid making a mistake with a bad hire.
- How to determine the financial investment you’re willing to make for the hire to be worth it.
- How to get staff buy-in by explaining the “why” of hiring a medical marketing agency to grow the practice and what the rewards can be for the entire organization.
- How hiring the right medical marketing agency can help you better market your practice, attract the right patients and grow your specialty.
Common Barriers to Practice Growth
For specialized care physicians, choosing a medical marketing agency is a lot like choosing a specialty provider
You have a pain point for your medical practice and you want the pain to go away.
Signs that you may need to consider a medical marketing agency:
- The practice is operating at maximum capacity in terms of patient procedures, yet things still aren’t moving in the right direction.
- You’re feeling increased pressure from large hospital systems expanding into your market.
- The amount of effort put into growing and/or operating your practice seems to be a lot of work for little results.
- The number of procedures is slipping – and you’re wondering what other specialty practices in your city are doing to keep their numbers high – higher than yours!
- Referrals from other providers are not working like they used to, or the numbers just aren’t there.
Perhaps you’re also concerned about what medical care will be like for your patients, after the COVID-19 pandemic is contained, and how that will affect elective surgeries, specialty procedures, and more.
How Medical Providers are Taught to Grow Their Practice
When specialty physicians, let’s say an Otolaryngologist for example, asks about effective methods for growing their specialized medical practice, they often hear that using referral networks is a great solution. After all, that’s what you’re taught by practice consultants and that’s even discussed at medical school and in business books.
You’re encouraged to connect with other providers who refer patients to you by attending lunches, dinners and other networking gatherings to build relationships. You refer them and they’ll refer you!
However, with the competition rising and larger healthcare organizations gobbling up private practices, your referral sources are drying up – and that could be a big waste of your time. You run a significant risk of putting all of your eggs in one basket.
What should you do instead?
Consider hiring a medical marketing agency so you can be the one who drives patient demand for your practice.
How To Select the Right Medical Marketing Agency
Hiring the right medical marketing agency isn’t as easy as simply combing through the Google listings and finding the agency with the best logo designs. It’s a process that should involve careful consideration, the right questions, and fierce understanding of your goals, challenges, industry, and how to marry marketing with the bottom line.
1. Look for agencies with a track record of bringing patients into the office.
Ask successful practices what agencies they’ve worked with and ask potential agencies for references, case studies and proven demonstrations of the ability to drive results.
Ask questions like:
- How many patients has your best medical client garnered from your marketing work?
- What kinds of outcomes have you generated for your medical practice clients?
- How did their business change as a result of the services you provided?
Avoid vanity results, such as any fixations on “the most beautiful, award-winning commercials” or “the best-looking websites.”
Focus on candidates who help specialty practices increase their results and grow patient count by digging into how patients look for suitable doctors and why patients may book an appointment in addition to successful advertising campaigns executed in the most advantageous mediums for your practice.
The agency you’re talking to may be a skilled company that doesn’t focus one hundred percent on healthcare marketing, so make sure your practice is not the first medical client they’re practicing on. It can be an expensive lesson for you to learn.
2. Look for agencies that focus on your return-on-investment or ROI.
Get a proposal with a marketing strategy and see how they analyze your practice’s current standing in the market. Ask them to explain their system to qualify, measure and report results.
Find out their direct support for your goals and objectives, whether it be with website support, advertising, appointment setting, telehealth, patient reviews or all of the above.
3. Look for an agency you can trust.
Your marketing team should say what they mean and mean what they say. Their credibility is exemplified in the ability to talk straight and tell it like it is. They should be open, authentic and real about the action they’re going to take to help grow your practice and are transparent about the outcome.
Healthcare Marketing Agency Pitfalls to Avoid
In addition to hiring the right medical marketing agency, you need to have your spidey sense on high alert! The last thing you want to do is bring in the wrong agency, or worse, make a wrong move and invest money in marketing, only to get little to no return. Here are a few things to watch out for.
Beware of “prescriptive marketing companies.”
Prescriptive marketing companies are ones that prescribe marketing services without assessing the individual situation, including goals, challenges, and resources. No doctor would ever treat a person just by looking at them through a window! Don’t let a marketing agency do this to you.
Be wary of signing a long-term contract or if you hear lots of advertising buzzword talk without further explanation.
Also watch out for hype on past awards.
All of this is usually a lot of smoke and mirrors. Agencies that lead the conversation by singing their own praises, such as touting the number of creative awards they’ve won, yet they have few medical marketing clients to speak of or will speak well of them – these are also negative signs.
Hire an agency that will conduct a comprehensive diagnostic evaluation of your medical practice before they suggest the “right” marketing solutions. If they don’t ask you what you’re trying to achieve and how to know when you’ve reached success, then be wary.
Both you and the agency need to fully comprehend the goals for your medical practice and work together toward those same goals.
How to Set a Budget for A Medical Marketing Agency
Setting a budget is essential for any function in your business – including marketing. This also helps the marketing agency set expectations for what can be done within those parameters.
Here’s how to set a budget for your healthcare marketing:
- Determine the gap between the type and number of patients you see today and the type and number of patients you’d like to be seeing in the future – and what it could mean for your practice.
- Consider a realistic upturn in your procedures scheduling – it’s probably not realistic to think you can grow from three per week to 23, for instance, without additional funds for hiring new staff or new medical equipment.
- Then ask yourself what financial investment would be worth making the hire.
- Keep in mind that any “fixed budget solution” suggested by a medical marketing agency isn't really practical, because every specialty practice is different, with varying priorities and expectations.
The Right Medical Marketing Agency Makes All The Difference
Just as you keep up with the ever-changing pace of healthcare as a doctor, one of the biggest challenges of medical marketing is keeping up with new strategies for growing your practice.
Hiring the right medical marketing agency can help you better market your practice, attract the right patients and grow your practice. But it’s not a silver bullet. It’s a partnership that should also generate an ROI – a return on your investment.
See…you’ve just learned your first marketing buzzword!