By Gina M. Wesley, OD, MS, FAAO
Maintain strong community ties–and bring in new patients, by assigning a member of your staff marketing director.
DELEGATE MARKETING DUTIES. Empower a capablestaff member with this critical duty.
EQUIP FOR SUCCESS. Provide the training and resources to help your marketing director to achieve their goals.
RETAIN FINAL APPROVAL. The practice owner should always sign off before any marketing campaign in practice’s name is launched.
My practice prides itself on staying in touch with patients and reaching out to potential patients, so I made the decision last year to appoint a “marketing specialist” on my staff.
Click HERE or the above image to watch Laura George, director of marketing for Draisin Vision Group in Charleston, S.C., describe creative marketing ideas that have worked for her large optometric practice.
RecognizeNeed for Marketing Specialist
I created the role of practice marketing directorbecause I recognized the need to dedicate someoneto researching and formatting our marketing campaigns.
Essentially, I needed someone I could trust to “run with it” when I came up with our next marketing event. In our practice, Patty fit that description.
Patty’sofficial job title is patient administrator, as she specializes in handling patient relations with scheduling, complex insurance questions and any sensitive patient matter that may need attention. Being the marketing specialist falls within that job role nicely. Patty also only works about 20-25 hours per week, and her time spent dedicated to marketing is probably no more than two to four hours per week.
Our marketing efforts needed attention and constant management. Simply trying to find time to meet with marketing companies or reps who sold services/products related to what we wanted to do was extremely difficult. I usually just opted out of those meetings, but there were a couple that probably could have benefited my practice (such as a head of a community organization looking for sponsors for an event that had great exposure).
I wasn’t able to effectively do all this myself as my practice has grown and become busier.My practice is currently six years old, I have 4.5 full-time employees, do about 2,000 exams per year and my annual revenues are around $1 million. I delegated some initial portions of the marketing to Patty, and as I got busier with seeing patients, I delegated more of the tasks to her.
ChooseEmployee Best Suited For Role
Patty is a mom, a plus in a practice with many children patients, plus she’s savvy, and pays attention to mailings and what appeals to her. Essentially, I’m trying to draw in patients like Patty and her family, so I know if she is drawn to a marketing campaign, or designs one that she likes, chances are other prospective patients will, as well.
Don’t Need to Promote
This wasn’t a growth role because I really saw the definition of marketing specialist as a part of her existing title. I think this is key for other doctors to consider: You probably already have someone at your office who could fulfill this role, or whom you know would be good at it. Transition some of that person’s responsibilities to another staff member to free up a few hours per week to dedicate to marketing. You may not even need more than an hour or two per week to get things off the ground.
Marketing Specialist: Basic Responsibilities
• Decide on content or marketing campaigns
• Organize postal mailings
• Revamp web site to meet marketing goals
• Organize special events such as trunk shows
• Meet with companies pitching marketing services
• Create and manage practice newsletters
Establish Basic Responsibilities
Patty helps organize any postal mailings we do in the office, such as for frame sales. I discuss with her what we need for content, what message we want to send, how many pieces we should do, and then she takes it from there to work with the printing company if necessary.
She will revamp our web site with pictures, content and add pages if necessary. Patty will organize and market events we have at the office, and she is in charge of our monthly newsletter that is e-mailed to all our current patients (we collect e-mail addresses from most of our patients). She also is responsible for meeting with any company that wants us to utilize its marketing services, and vetting the company before passing along the information to me.
Practice Owner Retains Final Approval
If it’s an established mailing or ad we’ve used before, Patty can decide on her own. If it’s anything new, it needs my approval. However, even in the established ads, Patty usually checks with me to get the go-ahead. I also often run the potential ad campaign past other staff members to get their input, too.
Track Your Growth, Consider Outside Expertise
I’m not yet considering outsourcing our marketing. My practice has grown since I’ve moved to a new building. I track how and why my patients come to see me, and the number one reason is because I’m a provider for their insurance, the number two reason is referral. So, because of that, I definitely concentrate on making sure each patient experience is great, and we focus a lot on internal marketing to our existing patients.
We try to tell them and show them about services or products they may not know we offer, and the internal signage and marketing books we have in our waiting area are all managed by Patty. I think it’s important for practice owners to know where their patients are coming from before analyzing the need for outsourcing marketing.
In addition, there are clear advantages to having one of your own employees, rather than a marketing agency, handling your advertising and promotions. Who knows your practice better than those who work in it? I think an employee who is passionate about what your practice does and “gets” the message you are trying to send is the best person to help you with marketing.
Related ROB Articles