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EDITOR: 5 Abandoned Ways To Market Your Concierge Medicine Program(s) During A Slow Season

“Have something good to say, say it well, and say it often. The essence of Concierge Medicine.” ~By Michael Tetreault, Editor-in-Chief

INFOGRAPHIC: Business Advisory Board -- "Meet Your 3 Patient Populations" --

INFOGRAPHIC: Business Advisory Board — “Meet Your 3 Patient Populations” —

No matter what part of the country your Concierge Medicine practice operates, most physicians and their staff face the challenges of an occasional slow season. In fact, over the past five years, Concierge Medicine Today (CMT) has surveyed and tracked precisely when patients are choosing to enroll in Concierge Medicine programs and not surprisingly, January remains the most popular. Not far behind in second, third and fourth place are March, September and October. February also sees a slight bump in patient enrollment as well in the fifth slot.

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So what does this mean for you and your annual earnings? What time of year are staff and physicians both scratching their heads and thinking, ‘where is everybody?’ or ‘oh no, what did I do that I don’t know about yet?’Fear not, every medical office will go through a slow down. Particularly during June, July and August, thus the significant boost to morale occurs in September when everyone goes back to school and is home again from a much-needed vacation. But what you do in the slow times will usually be remembered in the light. After your busy enrollment season ends, a stretch of slow business begins, and your sales will at times, see dramatic drops. You might be busy, but memberships are slow. On top of that, who’s to say your current monthly retainer patients in some offices, will remember you when the next flu season rolls around? When we surveyed those subscription-based medical offices with price points under $100/mo. and who bill their patients monthly, versus quarterly or annually, over 65% of polling respondents in these medical offices reported that between 5% and 25% of their patients will pay the one-time monthly fee at the beginning and then, they vanish. Never to be seen again. This according to a poll of Direct Primary Care Journal (DPC Journal) subscribing reader physicians/staff from June 2015 to June 2016.

January remains the most popular. Not far behind in second, third and fourth place are March, September and October. February also sees a slight bump in patient enrollment as well in the fifth slot. ~Source: Concierge Medicine Today, 2015-2016 (C)

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In these slow times, there is a tendency to overreact. Float more social media posts out than usual and over saturate your email database with news, happenings, and special offers. Those are great ideas, but can be seen a mile away by some patients who are simply just, “busy” and you are not on their radar at the moment.

Here are a few help tips to consider that we’ve seen and heard actually work to help physicians retain patients and gain perspective in times when it seems you may be unpopular in eyes of your local community.

Maintain Your eMail Newsletter  Your email newsletter works as a reminder for consumers to check in with your website content, and to connect with them socially. While you may not choose to send out email communications as frequent as you do during your busy season, but that’s ok. Sending out your newsletter throughout your slow season is a fantastic way to establish loyalty with your current customers, and help grow your audience during the off-season.

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Your email newsletter works as a reminder for patients to check-in with your website content, and to connect with them socially. Pictures matter too! But a word to the wise. If you’ve suddenly jumped onto social media and updated your Facebook Page which has been dormant for quite some time, don’t expect a big response. Consider Facebook Ads for a couple of weeks to patients/people in your community and zip code. And, if you have a Facebook Page that you never update, start now.

Okay, back to the email newsletter. While you may not choose to send out email communications as frequently as you do during your busy season, that’s ok. Sending out your email newsletter throughout a slow season is a fantastic way to establish loyalty, trust and top of mind awareness with your current patients. Think about it like this. Remember those nights when you go to sleep and suddenly, the whole room is dark. Then, “chirp, chirp”. A cricket! Are you serious?!

The next morning you wake up, meet your family around the kitchen table for some coffee and in the conversation like a dropped mic you say, “did you here that cricket last night?”

Your email newsletter works in the same way, without the annoyance factor.

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Stay Social All Year 

First rule of thumb here. If you or your staff are posting once a month or even once a week, that immediately tells a patient, ‘wow, this office hasn’t even updated their Facebook Page in two weeks. I wonder how long it takes them to return phone calls?

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Your patients pay attention to little things like this. Because of this, it’s important to stay in contact with your Page followers throughout the entire year. Posting something every few days is a good start. And, watch what you say on Twitter and Instagram. These are usually opinionated postings and patients may disagree with your political opinions or random comments.

To add to this point, just a few weeks ago, we talked about social media and hashtag activism and whether or not it works. You can read the full stories here.
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Another great idea related to using social media, gather (and publish) patient reviews and testimonials (with permission, of course), and share the new content you’re reading about. Patients like to know what their doctor is reading. They may not always want to know what you think about flu shots or telemedicine use, but they like to know you’re thinking about topics they are concerned about. So cross promote and Share stories you find interesting on your Page(s). All of this helps you stay relevant.
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Grow Your Patient Database 

During your busy season, your practice and website may remain quite busy. This is when you capitalize and prepare for the hypothetical winter season when patients seem to go into hibernation on you. That is the time to build a patient email and direct mail list that will give you the ability to stay top of their minds during your slow season(s).
Also, make sure your website has plenty of calls-to-action for subscribing to an email list or your blog. Free downloads or free checklists are a great incentive. Growing this list is easier when you have plenty of traffic. Your slow season success hinges on your forward thinking productivity during your busy time. One tip worth noting here, get your staff involved.

Did you know that most people who DO NOT know, like and trust you as their physician will determine your competency as a physician, by the first impressions your staff has with a new patient? It’s true. In fact, at the 2016 Concierge Medicine Assembly in Atlanta, GA this past August our Keynote presenter supported this statement in his presentation, having worked with thousands of physicians and patients to attract them to a new kind of medical delivery practice.

Gather “Good Vibes” from Patients All Year Long in the form of Reviews 

This is probably the one I like the most and works the best. Throughout the year, but particularly as your busy season comes to an end, you should be asking your patients to review your staff and services. A good way to do this is by handing them a comment card and letting them drop it in the mail (you provide the free postage so they don’t have to by the way!) By gathering patient comments, their stories and testimonials when they’re still fresh in the minds or your subscribing patients, you’ll have plenty of reviews that’ll resonate with slow season readers and followers. Use these reviews and stories in your off-season email marketing, blog posts, website pages, and social media updates.

Remember this as well. People are watching you, even in the slow seasons. What you do, say, tweet and speak about publicly matters. Use these reviews and stories in your off-season email marketing, blog posts, website pages, and social media updates.

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