How should I spend my marketing budget? We hear this question a lot at Etna, and it’s one that deserves a great deal of consideration. Our clients understandably want to grow all procedures because they are talented in all of them. A broad-brush marketing approach, however, tends to produce lackluster results, and as a strategic partner, we recommend a more focused strategy.
Why Focus Your Strategy?
If you instructed your marketing vendor to create a plan designed to grow all procedures and services, and they agreed without pushing back, you may want to consider looking for another vendor. Here is why:
- Spreading your marketing budget evenly across your entire service line waters down your efforts.
- Quality Search Engine Optimization (SEO) work requires both time and skill, and it takes a MASSIVE budget to make meaningful gains across all service lines.
- If you prioritize all procedures and services, you won’t be “known” for anything and won’t be able to leverage specialties to grow your brand.
The adage rings true: “If everything’s a priority, then nothing is.”
So, how do you narrow it down?
Identify Your Priorities
Think about the services you offer, the margin of each, and your staff’s availability. It’s also wise to consider your primary and secondary markets and which procedures attract the most interest from prospective patients. This can be accomplished with a little research, using tools such as Google Search Console, AdWords, Google Trends, and your Google Analytics data to provide a bit more insight.
Create a list of no more than 5 to 6 top procedure priorities where you will spend your marketing dollars.
Priorities Can Change Over Time
As your practice changes, so will your priorities. A nimble marketing plan can shift your focus to different procedures and services that present new growth opportunities. It’s important to evaluate your practice each year, establish updated goals, and then measure your progress over time.
Some common objectives include:
- Improving keyword rankings for top procedures and markets
- Growing website traffic
- Increasing leads for your top procedures
- Building your subscriber list for retargeting efforts
- Expanding your brand footprint
- Generating additional revenue
What prompts practices to change priorities?
Adding new key staff members, opening new locations, or adding or removing services all represent changes that could shift priorities. Examining the growth of procedures and services targeted during the previous period might also lead to a change in priorities if they performed poorly. A trip back to the drawing board can provide a fresh start.
Why Isn’t a Procedure or Service Growing?
There are several factors to consider when growth lags. Some of the biggest include:
- The popularity of the procedure or service. Is it outdated or no longer in demand?
- The market saturation. If every practice offers this procedure or service, you may need a unique selling proposition.
- The competitiveness of your priority markets. In certain regions and cities, it takes a considerably larger marketing budget to stand apart from competitors.
- The population density surrounding your practice. Practices in rural areas may struggle to generate enough demand for their services.
Deciding if a procedure or service should remain a priority—or if you need to focus instead on another service—requires careful consideration. If a priority procedure failed to meet the prior year’s objectives, but you believe it should remain a priority, consider taking a different marketing approach. This could include introducing new channels for your message.
What’s the Best Marketing Mix for You?
After deciding on your priority procedures and services, the next step is creating a marketing plan to promote them. A marketing vendor should help establish which marketing channels will yield the best results for you.
Remember what we stated at the outset: Spreading your marketing dollars too thin can prevent you from pursuing a fully integrated marketing effort. Integration is vital and something that should be a goal.
Consider this example: You want to grow a new service, so you pursue the following strategy:
Update your website to include information about the service.
- Create a new service page or add the service to a related page.
- Introduce a website banner or feature block to promote the new service to anyone that visits your site.
- Add before–and–after images to your gallery (if available) and create a new category.
- Consider creating a new blog post that talks about the benefits of the new service.
Promote the new service to your fans and subscribers.
- Send an email blast introducing the new service (consider a limited time offer for your subscribers).
- Post on social media platforms (consider boosting the post to increase the views) and include a link back to your site.
Possibly include ads to your marketing mix.
- Pay Per Click Advertising (PPC) can really help increase your visibility for a service you’re not yet ranking for organically.
- Social ads can boost your brand awareness and generate leads for new services by hyper–targeting audiences who are most likely to convert.
Research, research, research!
- Make sure you understand the new service’s target audience.
- Identify keywords for your content that answers what potential patients are asking.
- Uncover backlink opportunities from bloggers, vendors, related websites.
Be Realistic About Your Marketing Budget
I know you’ve heard it before—you’ve got to spend money to make money!
Ask yourself how much and how quickly you want to grow. The answer will help guide your budget. If you’re in a competitive market or trying to increase demand for a popular service, a shoestring budget won’t produce results.
Again, this is why a focused marketing plan that concentrates on a few procedures is the key to realistic and sustained growth over time.
Demand smart management of your marketing dollars and ask to see performance metrics throughout the year to ensure you’re on the right path. Be flexible—there may be times when a channel isn’t performing as well as anticipated, so be ready to change the approach or pivot to other channels when necessary.
Research, preparation, and establishing priorities can help you grow your practice year after year. Have a conversation with your marketing vendor to help narrow down your priority list and create a marketing mix tailored for you.
Here at Etna, we take a strategic approach to ensure we are delivering data-driven recommendations to each of our clients no matter their location, specialty, or organizational structure. If you’re looking for a partner to help grow your practice, reach out. We’d love to speak with you.