When budgets are tight, marketing is often the first line item to receive scrutiny. It’s tempting to try to save money by reducing or eliminating expenses associated with promoting your practice, but in doing so, you might just find that you’re hurting the bottom line rather than helping it in the long run. Here are five reasons to keep marketing in your 2012 budget.
- People are mobile. Even the most successful practices lose patients due to attrition. We live in a society that is extremely mobile and now, perhaps more than ever before, people are willing to (or are forced to) relocate in order to secure a job. Keeping your practice name front and center in the community will help you attract new families who move into the area as some of your current patients leave, either by choice or by necessity.
- Patients are not as loyal as they once were. Thirty years ago, patients tended to find a practice they felt comfortable with and stayed put. Today, patients will try out new doctors based on recommendations from friends, reviews they read online, or to get a seemingly better deal. Some patients are forced to transfer their care to other doctors when they get a new health insurance plan due to a job change. Promoting your practice on a regular basis will ensure that you have a steady stream of new patients coming into the office to replace the ones who move on, even if they don’t move away.
- You never know when you’ll have a new competitor. You might be lucky enough to be the only one (or one of just a few) practitioners in your specialty in your town, or in your part of town. But what happens when, while driving to the office one day, you notice that you have a new neighbor who will be competing with you for patients? If you’ve been consistent with your marketing and promotions efforts, you don’t panic, because you know that your good name is well known in the community and will continue to be with each passing year.
- Most practices need to grow to survive. Because of continually decreasing reimbursement from third party payers, the majority of practices need to see more patients year over year just to stay even. Even if your practice is successful and stable, the ability to steadily attract new patients will help ensure sustainability and long-term growth.
- It’s easier to stay in the groove than to get back into the groove. Like many aspects of running a prosperous business (staying organized, keeping up with accounting tasks, etc.), promoting a practice is a habit. Once you’re into marketing activities, whether that entails an advertising program, community lecture series, staying in touch with patients on a regular basis, or any number of other tactics, it’s much easier to stay in the marketing habit than it is to get back into the marketing habit following a hiatus. So, unless you’re winding down toward retirement, putting practice promotion on the back burner is probably not a very good business move.
Take a look at your 2012 budget. Can you really afford to cut back on marketing and promotion? No, we didn’t think so. Instead of constricting, move into next year focused on abundance. Your approach and efforts will be rewarded.