In another life, one of my clients was a gym franchise. We spent the bulk of their not paltry budget in the first quarter of every year. Why, you ask? Because that’s when people are signing up for gym memberships. Don’t believe me? Take a look at these memes.
So, what happens with the vast majority of these Q1 gym goers? They fall off the wagon pretty fast. In fact, today I saw an advertisement for a gym that said today was “Quitters’ Day” and if you made it past today you were doing better than 80% of those who started January 1. Kinda crazy when you think about it.
Why am I talking about gyms and failed fitness goals? Far too often, marketing is treated the same way as a New Year’s resolution. “This year we are really going to focus on marketing, building our brand, and driving meaningful communication to our customers, both new and returning.” If I had a dollar for every time I have heard that or something strikingly similar, I would not be writing this blog post. I would probably be on a beach somewhere catching some rays.
The Marketing Cycle
The Marketing Cycle usually goes a little something like this:
- Phase One: Things are on cruise control; the practice is healthy and getting enough patients. Nobody is worried about marketing because they are too busy doing all their other tasks.
- Phase Two: Panic! “We lost a doc and he took his customers with him!” “Our business is down.” “Things have slowed down a lot in the past couple weeks.” This is when all the stops are pulled out and spend and effort go into marketing.
- Phase Three: Occurs when lead volume and new patients arrive from the Phase Two panic efforts. Everyone gets busy again and we circle back to Phase One.
Some practices go through the entire Marketing Cycle a couple of times a year; others maybe once a year.
So, how do you get off the hamster wheel of committing, forgetting, and then panicking? Well, you treat it like a sustainable workout routine. See what I did there? Spend 20 minutes a day or an hour each week focused on marketing – not just numbers and results, but what’s next. After some consistent effort, you will end up surprised at how quickly your overall marketing improves. Not just acquisition, but both retention and reengagement.
What can you spend 20 minutes a day on?
Here are couple ideas:
- Read your reviews, not just on Google but anywhere you can find them. Don’t pay attention to that one crazy person, but if you start to see a trend, good or bad, address it.
- Ask your staff what the patients are saying on the way in and out. This has the added benefit of training your staff to ask those all-important questions: “How did you hear about us?” & “How was your visit today?”
- Look at your office, inside and out. Remember, your office represents your brand. Does it need an update to reflect your practice’s culture and desired experience? If it does, great! If not, what needs to change to convey your vision of your brand? (Note: While you are out there, snap a few pics and send them to us, so we can update your Google Business Profile. 😊)
- Review your patients. Are you getting the types of patients you want? Do they meet your desired target demographics? If they do not, what needs to change? Examine the patients you have that fit your desired criteria. How did they find you? What keeps them coming back?
Those are just the tip of the iceberg when it comes to your 20 min marketing work out session options. I promise if you take the time to think about these things and communicate with your agency and partners on these topics, your business will improve. Gradually at first, but over time you will start to see those small improvements turn into big long-term gains. Best of all, those Phase Two panic moments will all but disappear, unlike that stubborn dad bod that has you going back to the gym each January 1st.