4 RED LIGHT Indicators That Show You Have a Major Marketing Problem in Your Practice (Without Your Realizing It)

Now that summer is officially over, we have just three and a half months left in this year, and (judging from the dramatic spike in the number of calls to our office) — you’ve likely got marketing and growing your practice top of mind.

There’s a great quote that goes something like: “Half of being smart is knowing where you’re weak.” Because clinical marketing is such a complex and baffling subject to many physicians, I’d like to help clear the fog a bit and outline for you four of the biggest indicators that you have a marketing problem in your practice. You might just be surprised at what they are…

1.     Problems converting patients. If you’re one of the many cosmetic doctors who seems to have a lot of initial consults booked, but struggles with low consult-to-treatment or -procedure bookings, then this is a clear indicator that you have a major marketing problem on your hands. Fortunately, the good news is that it can be easily fixed. Low conversion rates can be caused by a couple of things. Typically, this issue indicates that you have a problem with your positioning and marketing message, and you’re attracting the wrong kinds of prospective patients (tire kickers or bargain hunters, those who are extremely price-sensitive).

This is an extremely common problem that we see all the time with physicians who only rely on digital marketing to generate leads for their practice, and don’t have a well-balanced marketing system in place — one that also utilizes traditional media (TV, magazines, radio, direct mail, billboards, etc.) Digital marketing is great at getting the phone to ring at a comparatively very low cost — but the trade-off is that these consults are usually people that have high no-show rates and low conversion rates. The fix for this problem is to change your marketing message so that you are positioned as the #1 expert in your market, and then to use a multi-media marketing system in your practice to get your phone to ring (not just a digital one!)

The second reason why you might be having problems converting patients is in the actual consult itself — which, again, can easily be fixed with a tweak to your marketing and the message/communication you’re sharing with them. Perhaps your prospective patients don’t understand how superior your practice really is, or haven’t been educated properly on how to choose a properly qualified cosmetic surgeon. Perhaps they’re confused about the options and the way they’re being presented — or perhaps they simply don’t trust you yet and you’re trying to get them to commit straight to a surgical procedure instead of moving them along a sales funnel that starts with smaller steps first, which they can receive immediate great results from (e.g., skin treatments, injectables, etc.) As trust builds in your relationship, patients are more likely to be open to your suggestions for higher end treatments, and to commit to you to perform them.

2.     Not having enough initial consults booked. This is a classic marketing problem — your marketing is simply not generating a steady flow of patient leads. The likely problem is either that you’re advertising in the wrong media and not reaching the right audience, or you’re simply not advertising enough and need to expand your campaigns into new media channels to tap into new markets (e.g., direct mail campaigns sent to new movers, digital radio ads, etc.) Either way, you MUST ensure that every single ad you place for your business is 100% scientifically trackable, so you can see immediately which ads are bringing you patients and which ones aren’t. (Remember — asking patients where they heard about you does NOT count as scientific tracking!)

3.     Getting a lot of price resistance from prospective patients. See indicator #1 above. If you have this issue in your practice, it’s because you have a fundamental problem with your marketing message — patients believe your services are just the same as any other cosmetic surgeon! They don’t appreciate your unique skill and expertise, which has to be corrected, starting with a complete rebrand of your practice to make you look better and different than every other aesthetic doctor in your practice.

4.     Low patient retention. Perhaps your marketing is doing a great job of getting new patients and converting them (well done!) But where you’re having headaches is getting them to return to you. I call this “churn and burn” — because not having a robust patient retention program in your practice is likely costing you a bare minimum of 25‒50% of your current revenue! That’s a huge amount of money that should be in your pocket, but isn’t. If this is you, it means you and your staff are working a whole lot harder than necessary. Fortunately, this can be fixed with a consistent and compelling patient retention program. Implementing a great one can also significantly increase your referrals. Remember, it’s at least five times easier to sell to an existing patient than it is to convert a new one!

Implementing a great marketing system to address these indicators (and more) may seem like a seriously daunting task. In my experience, even the idea gives many physicians a headache! After all, you started your own practice to do just that — to practice your profession, your expertise — and running the business side of it can feel like just a necessary evil. But it doesn’t have to be that way. Ideally, a well-implemented marketing system will deliver high-quality prospects, convert them to paying patients and keep them cheering fans for life — automatically! It means less stress on your part, knowing that your system is working away for you on its own. It means more time to spend with your family, a much more efficient running of your practice, and an extraordinary experience for your patients. Best of all, it means that you get to concentrate on doing what you really love, practicing medicine.