Exponential Practice GROWTH

Marketing Strategies for Unlimited Expansion


Exponential Practice Growth
   22nd April 2012 

The Six Steps To Creating The Perfect Marketing Calendar 

"or How To Be Busy all Year Round" 

By: W. J. Simmons

     In this article I want to share with you six simple steps that can get you off the roller coaster of reactive marketing and on to the path of proactive marketing and the development of a permanent and steady new patient base:

     1. Buy a yearly calendar. I would suggest a large wall planner that is both highly visible and visual to you and any staff - i.e. it needs to be placed where it can be seen and acted on and it also needs to be visual so you can easily see what needs to be acted on!

     Many practitioners in my mind make a couple of simple errors with this part alone. They even buy a huge desk planner which is visual all the time it isn't covered with papers outlining your marketing strategies, other papers and journals, pizza boxes and the like (and I have seen this happen - the entire last six months of a plan were hidden by a thin crust Pepperoni which had been there as long as the planner had!) or they operate out of week-to-week or month-to-month book calendar when it comes to marketing their practice. The problem with this is that if you ask them where their practice will be, or what their plans are for the next year or even the next few months they can't tell you! You plan for the year needs to be constantly visual, sinking in to your subconscious even - or at least there reminding you and making you feel guilty you should be doing something to grow your practice!

     How much more effective do you think you would be, and how much more successful would your practice be, if you planned the entire year? Make sure to give all marketing projects a schedule. Unless scheduled with a date, all projects even the ones planned within the next six months are mere wishes and dreams.

     2. Create an ideal calendar. Take a month of your yearly calendar and fill it with your ideal marketing strategy or plan of events. For example, this might include two lectures, two in-house screenings, any advertisements you plan to run or a direct mail shot. Of course it is not always possible to give exact dates of when you plan to run something say six months in advance, but it is practical to have something scheduled you can try to give as much detail to as possible.

     If you've been running your practice in a crisis mode then you may have been loading up some months with too many marketing events. Don't let yourself be overwhelmed, remember what you're looking for is a steady continuous flow of marketing and patients. Try to get away from the idea of marketing at a frenzied pace for a month or two and then doing nothing at all next month.

     So what events and things can you look at organizing and putting in these individual months? Well, to give you a helping hand and a few ideas how about some of the following:

     Press releases
     Press and other media advertising
     Patient appreciation days
     Focus groups where you meet with your clients to see how things could be improved.
     Updating your website
     Article publishing
     Reactivation letters
     Birthdays - when appropriate
     Thanks for you referral letters
     Updating your bulletin boards, notice boards, posters and pictures (see below for why...)

     3. Decide how many new patients you want to attract each month and keep this number in mind as you create your calendar.

     For example, if you're sending out reactivation letters on a regular basis you might have discovered that you could expect an approximate return of 8-1. If you do lectures or health care classes, you might expect 10 new patients after each event or possibly direct mailing might bring in 15 new patients. Keep these ratios in mind because you can then plan appropriately for the growth of your practice so both you and your staff can meet your patients' needs.

     4. Put someone in charge of the calendar - old habits are not easily changed, so until you become accustomed to not only filling in your marketing calendar but also doing the things you have written on it, make it part of someone's job to keep you on track.

     None of the great ideas you've put on your calendar will come to fruition if there is not someone orchestrating the show. If you work by yourself then you're in charge of it, if you have receptionist or another active employee hold them accountable for following through with the marketing plan, this way you avoid projects becoming orphaned i.e. they are written on the calendar but there is no one to do them!

     Make sure you take the time to train and support this person so you get the results your marketing calendar was designed to bring in. This is the job of the marketing coordinator (sounds fancy doesn't it!) and it need only be a part-time role, but it makes sure that all of your marketing plans are coordinated and are completed. You may already have someone to co-ordinate the front desk, the billings and collections, so why not your marketing too? Ideally, this should take no longer than two hours per week so it is not a lot of work for such a splendid title!

     5. Plan for growth. After you create and implement your plan, your practice will start to grow and you need to make sure you have strategies and procedures in place to accommodate this influx of new clients and the continued growth they bring with them.

     For example, if you normally give your new patients a new patient pack, a collection of brochures, newsletters, commonly asked questions or exercises and things to do at home make sure these are prepared in advance so that you do not have to scramble about for them at the last minute.

     6. Schedule 3 or 4 hours once a year to creating and refining your marketing calendar and you'll be surprised how energizing, stimulating and rewarding it can be. Being any type of practitioner will become easier if you know and trust you will have plenty of new patients and your financial life is stable and secure.
Once you have some idea of your plan, I would suggest you even try to break it down into a weekly job of overseeing what you are going to do. At the end of your working week take an hour to either plan the following week and refine your actions and targets or look at your longer-term plans.

     Weekly planning allows you to block out time for the important things that may get lost or neglected if you only plan on a day-to-day basis.

     So, with the hour you have put aside at the end of the week...

     Firstly review the week that has passed. Did you reach your key goals, and if not were they achievable in the first place? (If they were not achievable I would recommend you refresh the section on how to set smart goals.)

     Once you have reviewed the week, you can then set 3-5 goals for the next week and 2 goals for the next fortnight and 2 for the next month. Determine what your key goals are and then make sure these are written so you will see them - and if you can see them you can act on them!

Source: http://www.osteopathicmarketing.com

Six simple steps to get you off the roller coaster of reactive marketing and on to the path of developing a permanent and steady new patient base