THESE 10 TRUTH BOMBS WILL BE TOTAL GAME CHANGERS FOR YOUR REFERRAL MARKETING PROGRAM

Marketing for referrals is tough, so arm yourself well with these 10 truth bombs so your marketing program will survive and thrive this year.

It’s rare to hear physicians say that they have their referral marketing program completely figured out. Even physicians who have an employee or two dedicated to growing and maintaining new patient referral sources usually feel like there is something that they are missing, something that just doesn’t seem quite right.

Simply put, referral marketing isn’t easy. There are many factors to consider that can effect the success of your program.  I’ve put together a list of 10 truths to center you.  I hope they bring you peace and a little friendly guidance.

Truth #10: Keeping yourself relevant and in the spotlight is imperative.   

Think of it this way.  Marketing your practice is as important as having homeowner’s insurance for your house.  Just like you never know when your washing machine is going to malfunction and flood your house ruining all of your rugs and furniture, you never know when your biggest referral source might decide that they are going to start sending their patients to someone else and cause you a tremendous loss of income.

But if you make your identity known, and maintain top of mind awareness, consistently asking other practices to refer their patients to you, you’ll still be standing even if you lose the referral source that you’ve depended on for years.

Truth #9: Just because a doctor knows you and likes you, doesn’t mean they are going to refer to you.  Every time I meet with a new physician client for the first time, they say something like this: “I have known Dr. John Smith for years and our kids even play on the same sports team.  We get along great, but he never sends me any of his patients.”

It is at this point in our meeting that I ask my new client this question. “Have you ever asked him to send his patients to you?” The answer I usually get back is, “no.”

The truth is, it’s not enough that physicians know and like you.  They have to be asked, either by you or someone else, to refer their patients to you.  Otherwise, they are not going to change their referral habits.

Why?  Because they aren’t thinking about you in this way.  Sure, they like you just fine and they are happy when they run in to you around town but when they get back to seeing patients, they are keeping the same referral habits they have had for years.  Unless, you have asked them to do something different.

Truth #8:  Physicians should visit each practice once, but not more than once, a year.  It is just so important that referring offices see you smile at them and hear you tell them how much you appreciate their referrals if they are already sending patients your way.  It is also super important that potential referral sources get to meet you and hear you say these words: “Please send your patients to me.  I’ll take great care of them!”

But…(and please don’t shoot the messenger) if you are a physician you are a one hit wonder.  You only need to go to each office once a year to thank them or ask them for referrals or you will look very desperate and give the impression that no one is sending patients to you and you’re not busy.  And we don’t want that for you.

That being said, it is perfectly acceptable and very important that you have someone else visiting these same offices on your behalf, saying thank you and asking for new business.

Which leads me to Truth #7.

Truth #7: Sending your practice manager or a bubbly medical assistant out to visit offices every now and then is probably not going to do the trick. And neither will the buckets of pretzels from Costco with your business card taped to them. (In fact, those buckets of pretzels probably aren’t going to accomplish much of anything at all.)

Sending a representative from your practice on a consistent basis, with a high rate of frequency will make an impact.

Look closely again at that sentence you just read.  The 2 key parts of that sentence are “on a consistent basis” and “with a high rate of frequency.”  That means you would be better off sending a representative to the same 10 offices once a month than you would be if you sent them to 30 different offices each quarter.  Without the consistency, and the repetition of the follow-up visits, they are less likely to impact any of the 30 offices they have only targeted once.  But after seeing the 10 offices for the 3rd time, and the 4th time, and the 5th time… they will start influencing their targets.

Truth #6:  The conversations that your marketer has with referring offices will be more administrative in nature rather than about your CV.  They won’t be very clinical either.

This is probably the thing that I was the most surprised about when I started my career as a medical marketer.  I had come from the magical land of pharmaceutical sales where I was trained on every-little-itty-bitty-teeny-tiny detail about the products I was representing.  I was told how to deliver my message and I was told what details I should never forget to say about my drugs.

Then when I left the pharma industry and started marketing for referrals for a physician who hired me I trained up on every-little-itty-bitty-teeny-tiny detail about the practice and specialty I was representing.  I crafted my own message and confidently set out to deliver it to physicians and nurses and MA’s and hit a brick wall.

NO ONE wanted to hear this type of message.  They wanted to hear where our offices were located, how quickly they could get patients in, what insurance plans we accepted, what our NPI #s were (what was an NPI #, I wondered…), and if I had any direct lines I could share with them so they’d never have to wait on hold when calling our office.

They were interested in administrative details.

Truth #5:   Identifying and talking to the right audience in each office is one of the most important factors in your marketing program.  And it’s not always going to be the doctor!

A couple of years ago we conducted a study to determine which audience had the most influence on patient referrals in the medical practices we were calling on.  I was interested in the roles each sector of people played in the referral process and wanted to make sure that our reps were targeting the right audience during their office visits.

I was shocked at the results as are many physicians when I share this information with them.

It turns out that physicians only determine where their patients will be referred to 28% of the time.  Referral Coordinators determine where patients will be referred to 30% of the time.  The lion’s share of the decision-making regarding referrals goes to nurses and medical assistants at 42%.

There is so much to be said about how this information changes the way you should be targeting various audiences in the medical practices you want to get referrals from.  I will be writing a blog post focusing on how to target each audience in the next few weeks!

Truth #4:  Every piece of marketing collateral you use for referral marketing needs to serve a purpose.

During one of our Lexicon Medical training seminars a few years ago, I asked all of our representatives to bring a sample of all of their marketing materials to share with our group.  I then invited a panel of referral coordinators from various family practice offices to have a Q&A session with our reps so we could improve our marketing knowledge by learning what would work best from the very people we were calling on.

Our reps then displayed all of their marketing materials on the conference room table and our panel of guests went through each and every piece sorting them into 2 categories:  stuff they liked and stuff they didn’t.

There was a very consistent pattern to the things they either liked or didn’t like so we all caught on very quickly.  Basically, if it served a purpose by providing information that they needed in order to do their jobs more efficiently they liked it.  If it was just a glossy visual aid they didn’t, and they said that those things hit the trash can pretty much the minute the reps walked out the door.

If you are just starting your referral marketing program, here’s what I recommend you make.  You need a postcard that tells about you and your practice, an insurance list that details every-single-itty-bitty plan that you take (add your NPI #) , a referral form (preferably with diagnostic codes), and about a zillion business cards.

Truth #3: Technology is great but there are still 3 main ways offices refer.  I conducted another study a couple of years ago by asking offices about their referral processes.  We learned that 1/3 of offices refer patients by handing out business cards for specialists to their patients, 1/3 of offices refer patients by using a referral form,  and 1/3 of offices refer patients by handing their patients a Preferred Provider List that showcases all of the specialists that they recommend they use.  Hardly anyone uses the new technology available to them.  Yes, paper is still the industry standard in the medical referral world.  It’s not that these technologies aren’t useful or brilliant, it’s that there is a learning curve to use them and not everyone uses them.

Now imagine that you have been visiting medical practices and only handing out business cards.  You have been leaving 2/3 of the potential referrals on the table because they don’t have your referral form and you’re not on their Preferred Provider List. The same goes if you have been leaving referral forms but not enough business cards.

If you are missing one or all then you are missing out on the possibility to get those referrals. Ever!

Truth #2: Marketing takes time!  And if you are like me, you are impatient.  I have had to learn to be patient when it comes to marketing for my clients and my own business, Lexicon Medical.

The most important thing you need to consider when setting out on a new marketing frontier is this:  Can you afford to do it for at least 6 months?  If you can’t, then you should save your money and look for alternatives.

Why?  Because if you invest in a marketing plan for 2 months or 3 months and then decide to pull the plug before you’ve gained momentum then you have literally thrown that money away.  You are not likely to see results from any type of campaign you tried for just 3 months if there is no follow-up and then more follow-up to your follow-up.

The good news is however, that the pot of gold isn’t too far away.  Once you have engaged your audience repeatedly, consistently, and frequently, you are gonna get results.  Hang in there!

Truth #1: You’ve got to start somewhere!  Whether you’ve already got a marketing rep or just started venturing out to shake hands and kiss babies on your own, I applaude you for doing something!

Basically, don’t do nothing.

A truly successful marketing program gets better with time. It goes from being version 1.0 to version 2.0, 4.0, 6.0 and so on.

Even the best laid plans will face curveballs.  Even the most driven business owners will wind up on different paths than they originally envisioned.  So if your marketing program isn’t mapped out by 9:00 tonight, take heart!  Just set goals for yourself, make a plan, and head in a good direction.  Set a positive trajectory so that when you do head out there asking for referrals, you’re ready to soar.

Kristin W. Parker is the founder of Lexicon Medical, a medical marketing company and a Virtual Mentor and blogger at www.DosesofParker.com.

ACCOMPLISHING GOALS, REESES PEANUT BUTTER CUPS, HAPPY DANCES, and BELLS (& how they all go together)

It’s January 9th and I am still writing about goal setting.  In fact, I can let you in on a little secret.  I will be writing about goal setting all throughout the year.  One of the reasons I  write about setting goals is, I love setting goals.  You could actually call me a a goal-setting junkie.

But, I will also tell you this.  I love accomplishing my goals even more than I love setting them and I take every step necessary to make sure I achieve them along the way.

Let me map this out for you.

The first thing I do is write down everything I want to accomplish during the year.  The list is always way too long, so I prune it back as much as I can, making sure that the biggest and best goals survive the cut.

The easiest goals on my original list are usually the first ones to go and what I have learned about myself is that they go first because they are usually too boring to keep me interested.  Sure, it would be nice to accomplish things quickly and easily, but I want the goals on my list to hold my attention long enough to captivate my imagination.

So first, I make a list and then, I scrub it down, only leaving the best of the best goals.

The third thing I do is post my list in a place I will look at and reflect on daily.  For me, this is my prayer notebook.  My prayer notebook is a 2 1/2″, white, 3 ring binder that has all of my Prayer Requests and Answered Prayers written in them.  The binder is falling apart and has verses written all over it.  I keep saying that I need to mend the edges because they are ripping apart, but secretly I love how tattered and worn my prayer notebook has become because of how much it is held and used.

My goal sheet for the year holds a special place of real estate in my binder.  It sits in the left pocket so that every morning when I open my notebook, it is the first thing I see.

The forth thing I do with my goals is track my progress.  I’ve learned that I like to break down my goals into baby steps and that if I write down what I did each week to accomplish each goal, I will eventually end up at the destination I want to be.

screen-shot-2017-01-09-at-10-33-48-am

As you can see, there isn’t much room to write, so I just write a few words beside each week of each month describing what I did to work towards that goal.

The final step in my goal setting process is the celebration.  At various times during the year, I will reflect on certain goals and realize that I made even greater strides towards goal completion than I thought I would.  And that is usually celebrated with a happy dance (yep, a literal happy dance in my office no matter who is there to witness it) and a ‘DING’ on the bell.  (yep, a real bell)

In fact, our whole administrative team at Kristin W. Parker & Company dings the bell when we move the needle towards our goals.  Then the whole office claps and cheers! (and breaks out the Reese’s Peanut Butter Cups and La Croix) We love celebrating how far each person has come on their project and that little celebration inspires that person to persevere the rest of the way to the finish line.

reeses

Whether you are a physician, an office manager, a director of marketing, or a physician liaison, take the time to set your goals for your practice growth.  January 9th is just as good as January 1st was for setting your goals, but don’t wait too much longer.

If you haven’t already, NOW is the right time to start!

Kristin W. Parker is the founder of Lexicon Medical, a medical marketing company and a Virtual Mentor and blogger at www.DosesofParker.com.

 

 

HOW 2 LITTLE WORDS CAN CHANGE YOUR MEDICAL PRACTICE IN 2017

Let’s see if this scenario resonates with you.  You are a high achiever. You like setting goals.  You start out every new year inspired and confident. You say, “This will be the best year ever!”

and then…

It’s January 2.  And life gets busy.  The kids are back in school.  Meetings take over your life.  The emails start flooding in.  Your voicemails are adding up and you wonder how you will ever get caught up on the old stuff long enough to accomplish any new stuff.

What if I told you that 2 little words could help you change your dynamics?

Try these words on for size.  “IF” and “THEN.”

These 2 little words can pack a punch when you use them to plan your day.  They can truly help reframe your mindset and give the perspective you need to focus on the things that really matter.

Most leaders of medical practices start the year by saying, “We will create and implement a marketing plan this year.”  What they should say is, “If we create and implement a marketing plan this year, we will grow our patient population and improve our bottom line.”

The statements are very similar, but one reminds you of your WHY.  The other just adds another thing to your To Do list.

Try these three statements as well:

  • If I introduce myself to one new physician each week, I will have 52 new contacts this year in the medical community.
  • If I hire a Physician Liaison in Q1, I will have new referral sources starting in Q2.
  • If I participate in social media, I will engage a new population of prospective patients.

Whatever your action item may be, attach a positive outcome to it so you are instantly reminded of WHY you should spend time working on it.

IF you really want something, THEN go for it!

IF you need help with marketing your practice this year, THEN call Lexicon Medical.

Your marketing goals CAN be achieved this year!

www.lexiconmedical.com     www.dosesofparker.com     855.MED.REPS

 

 

 

What Kind of New Year’s Fireworks Show Does Your Medical Practice Produce?

I don’t know a lot about fireworks, but I do know which ones catch my attention and keep me engaged in the show. I also have a pretty good idea about the ones that are fun for about a split second and then they are done.

Take the sparkler, for instance. It’s an excellent choice for beginners. I’ve even seen little kids use them. They are bright and safe but they fizzle out quickly. They don’t leave much of a lasting impression.

Then you have the Black Cats. Those are cool. They are full of sound even making a really loud BOOM. But then they’re done.

Now the bottle rockets- these are special. These things take off! They fly out! And then they flame out. Oh well.

If you really want to put on a show, you’ll need to take a step up and go for the Roman Candles.  These bad boys will light up the night. They will catch and retain everyone’s attention throughout the show. And if you launch them frequently enough and long enough you’ll even make a lasting impression on your audience.

You could be a Master of Fireworksology! (made-up title)

Now think about your marketing program for your practice.

What kind of “fireworks show” are you putting on?

Do you take gift baskets around to all of your referral sources during the holidays in hopes that they will continue supporting your practice the following year?  That is a very nice gesture – after all, who doesn’t like receiving a gift basket?- but that’s kind of like the sparklers of the fireworks show. They are fun and safe, but they don’t make a lasting impression.

Do you have someone in your office assigned to market your practice “whenever they can?”  If so, good job! Your show is getting better. However, it might get the same results that the black cats and bottle rockets would get if they were the only fireworks being used in a show. You might get a quick surge in referrals from the sudden BOOM that your staff member’s visit generated but if they aren’t going back consistently and frequently enough, your audience will get bored. They will get distracted between the pops and bursts. That means they aren’t thinking about you enough. That means they aren’t consistently sending you patients.

Now… do you have a marketing rep designated to market your practice with the right delivery? Are they delivering the right message to the right audience? Are they visiting your target audience frequently enough to retain their attention between each exciting explosion?

If you do, then you have a marketing program that will light up your medical practice and create a lasting impression. You have armed yourself well. Let the show begin!

If you are still tinkering with sparklers and bottle rockets but desire to take your show to the next level, you can outsource your show to us. We have just the artillery you need!

Call our team today to find out how to get started. 855-MED-REPS.

Happy New Year!

Should you outsource your marketing efforts or is it better to keep them in-house?

TrainYourRep8965

The wisdom of Forrest Gump is streaming through my brain right now. Remember the famous line from the movie?  “I may not be a smart man, Jenny. But I know what love is.”

Well…

“I may not be a doctor, but I know how to market one.” And at work I have the opportunity to do what I do best every day.

The truth is, all of us are good at something, sometimes we’re good at many things. But it’s really hard to be perficient at everything. That’s why I’m a big believer in focusing on getting better at my strengths rather than constantly trying to improve on my deficiencies.

As a physician, it’s important to carefully consider who you will have running your marketing program. It’s natural, and sometimes a good idea, to look first within your own office to find a marketing liaison who can represent your business to potential referral sources. After all, they already know all about your practice and they are already on the payroll. That sounds like a no-brainer, right?

maybe so. but maybe not.

If you really want to use someone from your current talent pool, rather than outsourcing this part of your business, you may want to first consider these things.

1. Does this person have enough time, energy, talent, and skill to meet my expectations for new referral growth?

2. If I reassign this person as a physician liaison, will their current duties go unattended and left undone?

3. If I have to hit the pause button on this person’s marketing efforts because I need them back in the office to perform their original job function, will that impact my new patient referrals? (hint: yes. yes it will)

4. Can I take time out of my schedule to get this person started on the right track?

5. Will I have the proper resources with which to run a marketing program so I can be competitive in my field?

If, after answering these questions, you’ve concluded that you might not want to pull one of your best resources out of their current role in your organization, you should consider outsourcing your marketing program to an organization who’s core competency is marketing.

What you don’t want to do is delay starting your program and lose out on the impact you can make.

You should be able to pursue your goals with full confidence, anticipating the new business growth that is to come.

Lexicon Medical is a marketing company that specializes in putting marketing reps in place for medical practices. Contact us today to find out how we can help.

What Kind of Fireworks Show Does Your Practice Put On?

flag-fireworks

I don’t know a lot about fireworks, but I do know which ones catch my attention and keep me engaged in the show. I also have a pretty good idea about the ones that are fun for about a split second and then they are done.

Take the sparkler, for instance. It’s an excellent choice for beginners. I’ve even seen little kids use them. They are bright and safe but they fizzle out quickly. They don’t leave much of a lasting impression.

Then you have the Black Cats. Those are cool. They are full of sound even making a really loud BOOM. But then they’re done.

Now the bottle rockets- these are special. These things take off! They fly out! And then they flame out. Oh well.

If you really want to put on a show, you’ll need to take a step up and go for the Roman Candles.  These bad boys will light up the night. They will catch and retain everyone’s attention throughout the show. And if you launch them frequently enough and long enough you’ll even make a lasting impression on your audience.

You could be a Master of Fireworksology! (made-up title)

Now think about your marketing program for your practice.

What kind of “fireworks show” are you putting on?

Do you take gift baskets around to all of your referral sources during the holidays in hopes that they will continue supporting your practice the following year?  That is a very nice gesture – after all, who doesn’t like receiving a gift basket?- but that’s kind of like the sparklers of the fireworks show. They are fun and safe, but they don’t make a lasting impression.

Do you have someone in your office assigned to market your practice “whenever they can?”  If so, good job! Your show is getting better. However, it might get the same results that the black cats and bottle rockets would get if they were the only fireworks being used in a show. You might get a quick surge in referrals from the sudden BOOM that your staff member’s visit generated but if they aren’t going back consistently and frequently enough, your audience will get bored. They will get distracted between the pops and bursts. That means they aren’t thinking about you enough. That means they aren’t consistently sending you patients.

Now… do you have a marketing rep designated to market your practice with the right delivery? Are they delivering the right message to the right audience? Are they visiting your target audience frequently enough to retain their attention between each exciting explosion?

If you do, then you have a marketing program that will light up your medical practice and create a lasting impression. You have armed yourself well. Let the show begin!

If you are still tinkering with sparklers and bottle rockets but desire to take your show to the next level, you can outsource your show to us. We have just the artillery you need!

You can reach Kristy Parker at 512.699.0114 or email at kparker@lexiconmedical.com.

If You Only Do One Thing For Your Marketing Program This Summer, Do This!

gtog3

My husband and I took our family of six on a week-long ski trip a couple of months ago for spring break.  We had planned the trip for months making sure that we had the perfect place to stay, the right gear for each family member, and we even created a menu for the week ensuring that each one of our kids would get their favorite meal during the vacation.

So how did the trip go?

Our kids LOVED it, my husband beamed with pride that each of our kids became better skiers, and I came home mad.

Everything had gone according to our plans.  The house we stayed in was fabulous, the ski gear was perfect, and the meals tasted even better in the mountains than they do at home.

So why would I have gotten upset about anything?

I was mad because I was exhausted.  In fact, I was more tired when we got back home than before we left for our vacation. When I had envisioned our ski trip, I had pictured myself relaxing in the lodge drinking Snugglers and reading at least 2 of the 3 books I brought with me on the trip. I’d planned on sleeping in until at least 8:00 each morning and then taking my time getting ready for about a half day of skiing.  However, that is not what my husband had envisioned.  He had envisioned every member of his family improving their ski skills enough to qualify for the winter Olympic games, which of course meant that we were the first family to arrive at the lodge every morning and the last family to leave every day. For five straight days.

With all of our prior planning, we had failed to do one very important thing.  We had not shared our VISION for the ski trip.

If there is only one thing we do before we take our next family vacation you can bet it will be sharing our VISION with each other. We will discuss whether our trip will be full of activity or relaxation and probably find a compromise that everyone will enjoy.

If you are a physician and there is only one thing you do for your marketing program this summer, take the time to develop your VISION for your practice.

I’ve been reading a book called “Visioneering” by Andy Stanley.  He makes so many good points in his book that I’ve nearly highlighted and taken notes on every page.  Mr. Stanley says, “Everybody ends up somewhere in life. A few people end up somewhere on purpose. Those are the ones with VISION.”

What type of practice do you want? Do you want to be moderately busy or do you want to have your next available appointment two months out?  Do you want to add providers to your staff or do you want to see every patient yourself?  Do you want to focus on a very niche indication or do you want to treat all conditions in your specialty?

Think about the type of practice you want to have by the end of the year and write it down.

Think about the type of practice you want to have by the end of next year and write it down.

Think about the type of practice you want to have in five years and write it down.

This is what you daydream about. This is your VISION.  This is what will motivate you to perform even the most mundane tasks.  This is what will be the single most important factor in driving your marketing program in the right direction this fall.

As Andy Stanley puts it, “VISION is a clear mental picture of what could be, fueled by the conviction that it should be.”

So what is your vision for your practice? 

How quickly do you want to make your vision become a reality?

Need help with putting together a marketing plan to help your VISION become a reality?  Lexicon Medical can help you do that. Visit our company website at www.LexiconMedical.com.