Oil Change, Dentist, Haircut … Marketing

Okay, get out your iPad, or Blackberry or Google calendar or whatever it
is you use to schedule appointments and meetings. You know where this is going,
right? Put marketing on your calendar.

If you want your car to run properly, you schedule a regular oil change.
If you want to keep your teeth, you go to the dentist every 6 months. If you
want to look presentable, you get a haircut every 4 to 8 weeks. If you want to
stay in business, you schedule your marketing activities.

It depends

Sure, most of the big patient care companies and vendors/manufacturers
have marketing staff. They might have an entire department but in O&P there
are a lot more small patient care companies and vendors/manufacturers than
there are large ones. So, who handles marketing? Well, if it’s like a lot
of the O&P businesses I know, the answer is – it depends. Depends on
who is in the office, depends on what day it is, depends on who has enough
time, depends on who pays the bills, and so on. The problem with “it
depends” is that usually means marketing does not end up on the calendar.
If there is a deadline, stuff gets done but regular, consistent marketing
activities may fall by the wayside. They do not become urgent until “Uh
oh, business is down. We need to do some marketing!”

The solution

How do you remedy that?

  © 2010
iStockphoto.com/Georgina Palmer

Make a list. Make a list of the marketing activities that you are
currently doing. In-services, trade shows, golf tournaments, new patient info
packets, t-shirts, water bottles, facebooking, newsletters. Write down anything
you are doing to create awareness.

Make a budget. Once you make the list, you might realize that you spend
a lot of money on little marketing things – pens, clipboards, prescription
pads; but you spend considerably more on big events like golf tournament
sponsorships or t-shirts or lunches. What is your return on investment on the
little things? Then ask yourself the same question about the big things. Better
yet, let’s start simple. Are you even tracking your return? Total up your
numbers and find out exactly what you are spending on marketing and determine
how much you want to spend next year and what you want to spend it on.

Make someone accountable. You do not have a marketing staff so, “it
depends” is okay as long as:

  • the person knows that he or she is the one responsible for that
    particular activity; and
  • that person knows who he or she needs to be accountable to if the job
    does is not completed.

You can have different people handling different activities as long as
everyone is clear about their roles and responsibilities.

Put these activities and who is responsible for them on the calendar.
Daily Ms. Smith will send out new patient info packets. Every Wednesday Mr.
Jones will update the XYZ O&P facebook page. Once a month, practitioner
Brown will conduct an in-service at a local hospital or rehabilitation
facility. Quarterly the entire staff will volunteer at a charity golf
tournament and so on.

Add marketing activities to your calendar and not only will your car run
well, your teeth will look good, your hair will look great and your business
will be nice and healthy.

Elizabeth Mansfield

Elizabeth Mansfield is the president of Outsource Marketing
Solutions. She can be reached at.elizabeth@askelizabeth.net.

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