Heard the adage, “You’ve got to spend money to make money?” Of course you have, and chances are you subscribe to that notion. Well, not so fast.
You should spend money on marketing your occupational medicine services, but you can spend it judiciously. Only so much new business can be generated from direct sales; new business must be supplemented with business that is generated through marketing activities that do not rely on face-to-face communication. If such marketing can be executed at minimal cost, all the better.
Marketing strategy should begin with a simple question: What is our goal? Your clinic most likely wants to increase gross revenue; but what does your clinic have to do to accomplish
- Keep your message simple.
- Brand the message with your clinic name.
- Broadcast the message to the broadest possible audience.
- Repeat, repeat, repeat.
Do not let your message get lost among the trees. Use 10 words rather than 100. Avoid the temptation to describe a litany of services; hone in on the single most important benefit to the consumer.
Branding your program name means always linking it with your core message: “Convenient Care’s Care Management System saves employers money.”
Broadcasting your message to the greatest possible audience may appear simple, but it requires an ongoing, dedicated effort to ensure that you maintain an accurate and comprehensive database of contact names.
The same message must be repeated over and over to the prospective consumers until they recognize the name of your clinic, what your clinic does, and your competitive advantage.
Marketing on a Tight Budget
How does an urgent care clinic achieve these marketing objectives within a shoestring budget? How does your clinic stay “in the face” of prospects in order to supplement the results of your sales effort?
The basic answer is to use a blend of all the communication tools at your disposal (for example, e-mail, websites, voicemail, personalized letters). A worthy and attainable goal might be to touch every employer contact in your database 20 times a year. If I were a decision maker at the Blue Bell Dairy and were exposed to your program’s name 20 times in a year, I would be more likely to use your clinic if and when a need arose.
A 20 hit per annum marketing outreach program might look like this:
- Tip of the Month. If you receive the RYAN Associates/ NAOHP tip of the week (e-mail [email protected] for a free subscription), you will recognize this outreach strategy. Develop an employer contact e-mail list (with an option for the recipient to opt out) and provide recipients with useful information (i.e., the tip). You are also positioning your clinic (subliminally, if not in fact) as an expert in occupational health—not a bad image to have when an uncommitted employer needs assistance.
- Semi-annual letters. Send a concise, personalized, and individually signed letter to all employer prospects twice a year. There is a monumental difference between “junk mail,” basic brochures and fliers, and direct correspondence. Use direct correspondence to catch someone’s attention, if only briefly, to convey a simple but meaningful message, and to do it repeatedly.
- Quarterly phone calls. You have to control voicemail and not let it control you. You typically do not want to leave a voicemail message if you absolutely need to speak with the prospect. When a “thinking of you” message is being used for marketing purposes, however, voicemail is an excellent means to say a lot in a few short seconds. Intentionally call at a time when you are unlikely to reach your prospect directly and then leave a carefully scripted message. Polish your script and then be prepared to say it with warmth, conviction and self-confidence.
- A consistent theme runs through each of these activities: they cost virtually nothing, consume little staff time, are brief, and are to the point. Taken as a single point of communication, their value is negligible; taken as an aggregate of 20 communication moments per year, their impact is considerable.
Marketing has become less a matter of expensive, dramatic events and more the delivery of a simple message delivered over and over again. Take the following principles to the bank:
Develop a very short, meaningful message.
- Isolate the recipient of that message to a time and place when your message is not competing with other messages (e.g., Monday morning e-mail; late afternoon voicemail, personalized letter received mid-week).
- Keep repeating the message over and over again, using multiple modalities (e-mail, voicemail, personal mail).
- This conceptual leap in marketing technique comes with an additional piece of good cheer: such techniques offer a considerable return for little cost. In marketing, it is no longer a matter of cost; it is a matter of tenacity.