How a consultant can help your medical practice get more patients in the door.

Whether you are in a private practice or managing a large scale healthcare brand, delegating your marketing and advertising will save you time, energy, and money to focus on what you actually enjoy.

Over 100 years ago, John Wanamaker gave the classic quote, "Half the money I spend on advertising is wasted; the trouble is I don’t know which half."

Of course, a lot has changed in a hundred years. With modern analytics, we do know which ad dollars are performing and which are not. Or at least we can know, in the sense that tools exist that can physically tell us that information.

But let's face it - we are doctors. We didn't go to school for all those years in order to learn digital marketing. And that Adwords dashboard may as well be written in Middle English for all the sense it makes. If there are tools, there are highly specialized tools that require a lot of time to master.

In my experience as a healthcare consultant, once doctors realize the need to advertise they fall into three camps about it:

1. Do nothing and rely on referrals;

2. Hire an agency and hope for the best; or

3. Stop seeing patients to focus on running the business.

Here is a quick breakdown, including pros, cons, and how a healthcare consultant can help each one. Click the link above to skip to the section that is right for you.

1. Do nothing, rely on referrals.

The obvious benefit to this approach is that you don't have to spend your money or time to deal with advertising. The clear negative is that you are not getting the benefits of advertising either, and your patient volume will depend on how reliably you can get referrals. If those referrals are mostly through insurance companies, there is the added risk of slashed reimbursement rates, which we are currently seeing across the country.

Maybe, during a patient drought, you have researched advertising and SEO only to find out that these tactics typically take months of investment before showing a return. Faced with investing money in an ad campaign that may or may not work - right when money is tightest - you may have chosen instead to ride the current crises out (often at the expense of your work-life balance) and never actually got to the point where you actually start investing in the business.

If this sounds like you, a healthcare consultant can help you design a campaign that fits within your budget. More importantly, a good consultant can go through the numbers of your clinic with you and help you determine what your budget really is. We can use the information you are currently capturing about your patients to figure out how much money you get when a new cash patient comes in the door (this is called average lifetime client value), and then use that to decide how much you can reasonably afford to spend to get that cash patient in the door (customer acquisition cost), and how many new patients you would need to see in order for the campaign to be considered successful (ROI). Then we can review the marketing options to see which are the best tactics to achieve your goal within your budget.

If money is tight and you can't see how to invest in marketing, a consultant can help you figure out where and how to change your business practices to increase profit and reduce expense (known as business reengineering) to free up the necessary resources to build an effective marketing campaign. Ultimately, if you can't afford to invest at least 5% of your gross annual sales in marketing, there are serious intrinsic flaws with your business plan and you should fix them before it is too late.

Click here to schedule an initial consultation if you would like to see if your business is a good candidate for consulting. At the end of that free call, you will know whether I can help you, if so how, and what that will cost in terms of money and time to implement.

2. Hire an agency and hope for the best.

The benefit here is that you are outsourcing the SEO, advertising, and content marketing for your business. If this sounds like you, you have learned that a comprehensive marketing strategy really is necessary to get the number of new people you need to come in the door, and you have correctly deducted that it is not worth your time to get too into the weeds with how it is accomplished.

Typically, you will find an agency to handle the SEO and advertising sections of your marketing strategy. The agency will interview you about your business and goals, and then set your campaigns for you. The ads are automated to improve over time, and a monthly report is sent with all the relevant data.

The first way a consultant can help in this case is by going over the SEO and ad reports and making sure you understand them. Not only can we calmly walk through what all of the numbers mean, we can put those numbers into the context of your specific business.

For example: organic traffic is up by 12%, that's great. How many actual people came in the door of your specific business because of these ads and how much money did they spend once they got there? How much did it cost to provide that service, and how much of that money did you personally take home? That is what really matters, but the agency typically won't go to this level of analysis with you.

The second way a consultant can help you is by acting as a general contractor. Although plenty of agencies can do the grunt work of your SEO and ads, the people working in these agencies don't know medicine and can't speak about it on your behalf. Sure, they interview you during your set up call, but there is only so much you can get from an interview. And when you think about how important quality content is to Google, it can be actually harmful to your website to have unqualified writers creating content that is either not medically accurate, or that does not project your true level of expertise on the subject. This is true for blog posts, web pages, advertisements, and landing pages.

As a licensed Doctor of Acupuncture, a business owner with 15 years experience running a 7 location clinic acupuncture franchise, and now a healthcare consultant, I can contract with the writers, editors, graphic designers, and web designers you need on your behalf. After talking with you and learning your marketing goals, I can deliver completed pieces of content including blog posts, white papers, web pages, landing pages, social media posts, infographics, case studies, and more. I only work with writers who are licensed providers in your field to ensure medically accurate information, and will have the content edited and proofread before it reaches your desk. Once you approve the content it will be correctly published to your website according to your branding and with licensed pictures that correctly tagged. If you are managing a clinic that is currently investing thousands of dollars a year on marketing, it makes sense to spend a little more to have someone do it correctly for you. Click here to set up an initial consultation to find out if this is a good fit for you. By the end of this free call you will have a clear understanding of how I can help you specifically, and what that will cost in terms of time and money for your business.

3. Stop seeing patients to focus on running the business and do the marketing yourself.

If this is you, the positive here should not be glanced over - you have made the commitment to treat your clinic as a successful business. And like every other successful business, you understand that it is a full time job to manage it correctly.

Unfortunately, marketing is not the only job you are taking on. Once you have delegated the majority of the treatment work to staff members, you have to be more on top of your HR and insurances. Plus the accounting and finances of the clinic, especially as you grow into multiple locations. Then there is the constant review of systems and processes to make sure you are getting the most out of your investment and labor. Even with clinic and office managers, someone has to develop and improve the systems, train the managers, and then evaluate the managers' performance.

And, if you are really going to make it at this level, you are going to have to accept a universal truth: there is only one you. Certain tasks (e.g. making networking connections, applying for loans, training staff, giving speaking engagements, etc.) can only be done by you. You are going to have to delegate the things that can be delegated if you want to have any chance at a normal life outside of your job.

A consultant can act as your right hand person. In my case, as a licensed Doctor of Acupuncture with 15 years of both clinical and business experience, I can take highly specialized items off your plate. This post is specific to getting people in the door, so think of how much more productive it would be to have a consultant work as a project manager on your marketing campaigns. I will work with you to establish the goals of the campaign, then get back to you with a concrete plan to meet those goals. When you approve that, I'll send you some budget ranges to guide the decision on how best to implement the plan. When you approve the budget I will take the money and use it to pay all of the independent contractors (writers, editors, web designers, graphic designers, etc.) to make the plan a reality. You don't even have to know who these people are. I will present the product in various stages for you to approve over email instead of hours of poring over portfolios to find the right contractor, negotiating a price, communicating regularly, managing mistakes and inconveniences, etc.

Please click here to schedule a free 30 minute consultation to learn more. Ultimately, there are multiple tasks that can and should be delegated so that you can focus on more important things, including your personal life. A consultant is the qualified, experienced person that you can trust to make that happen without giving away equity or making any long term commitment.

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