The Future is Yours to Lose.
We can’t ignore Three facts:
- There are more than 700,000 physicians and surgeons in America.
- Cosmetic minimally-invasive procedures represent more than 82% of all procedures performed representing almost 40% of the total expenditures for cosmetic services, according to American Society of Aesthetic Plastic Surgery’s most recent statistics.
- According to: money.cnn.com statistics two years ago a growing number of American doctors is harboring an embarrassing secret: Many of them are going broke.
In analyzing hundreds of case studies, we at Patients Unlimited Marketing Consultants found that there are 7 primary factors for practice failure. Any one of these factors can push a practice to the edge of failure. As you might suspect, Interestingly many of the practices in our case studies exhibited more than one of these factors—which sent some of them beyond the edge. Whether or not you lose the future of your practice is determined by how many of these 7 factors of failure are present in your business. And if these factors are present, how many of them can you recognize and correct?
Failure Factor One – Lack of a Plan
Failure to have a plan in today’s business environment is tantamount to signing the death warrant for the future of your practice. “Do you really want to play dice with the future of your practice given the current stakes?”
For those clients who are not playing a game of chance, creating a plan for their practice is an absolute must. By-the-way, not just any ole plan will do. It has to be a plan with a comprehensive perspective of consumers’ wants and needs and resources at hand. let’s continue exploring the factors associated with losing the future of your practice. Coincidently, our second factor for failure also has to do with planning.
Failure Factor Two – No Rainy Day Plan
One of the most difficult aspects of consulting is convincing clients to prepare for bad times. The Medical entrepreneurial ethos is one of looking forward, success by sheer will, no need for a “Plan B” because “Plan A” is going to work. The optimism required taking risks inherent in starting or maintaining a business often excludes thoughts of low or no cash flow, smaller profit margins, bad news about a new cosmetic technology you just bought that was part of a marketing plan, a posted negative review on the internet that goes viral. Nor does this optimism account for all the new competition ready to low-ball services at every turn, an economy, that though recovering, is still anemic, and a more informed but fickle consuming public using the Internet to find their new cosmetic specialists… using their trusted family and friends less for this advice.
In not planning for contingencies, you set yourself and your practice up to panic budgeting and poor decision making. Practices doing panic budgeting believe themselves to be in “survival mode.”
Failure Factor Three – “The Products and Services Sell Themselves”
Walking into the office of a cosmetic specialist isn’t the same as, say, walking into a mall or almost any other place where discretionary funds are spent. When people walk through the door of your office, it’s easy to think they already know what they want. The only question is whether they’ll select you to provide the aesthetic service they are investigating. The belief is that your services sell themselves particularly with the aid of the manufacture’s are suppliers’ brands!
Whether it’s a breast augmentation or new poison for the wrinkle, laser procedure or something in between, there’s a common belief that prospective patients don’t have to be sold.
So operative is this belief, little thought and expense are given to investment in continued training, motivation and additional staffing.
Failure Factor Four – Using the Internet as an End not as a Means
The Internet, the information superhighway, the World Wide Web, by whatever name you choose to call it, its development and our increasing dependence on it is nothing short of remarkable.
Currently, we’re seeing too many cosmetic practices using the Internet as an end rather than a means to an end. Although Internet solutions can be employed as a means to perform traditional marketing chores, emailing rather than letters or phone calls, the Internet has become a misused crutch by too many practices.
There are several ways to misuse the Internet in your marketing effort. The most egregious misuse of internet based marketing is its use and it’s variants as your total marketing solution. Practices that use e-blasts, Organic and Cost per Click as their sole channels for marketing ignore older yet still effective marketing techniques like satisfaction surveys, seminars that don’t require potential patients to be online. By tossing out established, proven marketing techniques that remain effective, you reduce the number of communication channels available to reach potential patients.
Further, and this is important, internet marketing solutions are becoming increasingly complex requiring expensive staff and consultative advice to render the same results generated in the past.
Failure Factor Five – No Strategy for Social Media
If you are waiting for your Google+ and Facebook business pages to start spitting our e-mails from patients like a jackpot Las Vegas slot machine… it doesn’t happen a simple as that!
Five years ago, having a strategic plan for how to utilize Facebook as a vital business tool might have been viewed as a high tech vision of the future, or something for a different kind of business, not for a cosmetic specialty practice. The days of a well placed ad in the phonebook are over. As far as marketing is concerned, Google and Facebook are what newspapers and the broadcast networks used to be a generation ago. Pretending social media is something you can ignore or that you shouldn’t be engaged in is perilous to the future of your practice.
Let’s look at the flipside of ignoring social media. Jumping into the social media arena because everyone else is doing it is as destructive to the future of your practice as trying to ignore it. If your practice is using social media, Facebook, Google+, Twitter, blogs, and the Printerest, the question you should be asking yourself is whether your use is tied to the comprehensive plan I discussed back in Factor 1. If your answer is “what plan” or simply “no,” don’t panic, there’s time to do it right. In order to achieve the maximum benefit from social media, your presence needs to be guided by the strategic vision in your practice’s comprehensive plan.
Failure Factor Six – Not Fire-walling the Reputation of Your Practice
It is fascinating to discuss with clients the measures they take to protect their data: anti-virus software with constant updates, firewalls on their local area networks and servers, strong passwords, and good IT support. They take great pains to protect data, as well they should. Yet we at Patients Unlimited have discovered that most doctors have failed to construct a fire wall around their future business marketing engine. They leave exposed the most valuable commodity they possess: their reputation and the reputation of their practice.
From this point forward, physicians have to be very concerned about their reputation and the reputation of their practice. Specifically we want you to examine your online reputation as broadcasted by so-called review and reputation sites that now includes Google, Facebook and Yelp. In the past doctors could hide behind a fictitious name or ignore a patient’s complaint by saying, “it’s impossible to make every patient happy.” Though this is no less true today, in the past, a relative few would know or hear about a complaint. A complaint could be replaced with a satisfied patient’s testimonial in a newspaper ad. That’s yesterday.
Today, social media sites have changed how all business is conducted. In this new, interconnected environment your ultimate currency is the reputation of your practice.. The Internet has now democratize and globalize access to information. Almost any given individual can extend their opinions, for good and for ill, far beyond the limits of their geography.
Using social media, one or two bad reviews or an organized, patient driven campaign can put practices some out of business. And contrary to popular belief, the use of positive messaging to counter a negative campaign only works when there is a great deal of existing positive information. In other words, if your practice is held in high regard by a group of people, then a negative campaign will not affect this group’s opinion of your practice. Assuming positive options have been proactively posted however, for those who have no positive opinions about their practice, the negative message will affect all subsequent messages concerning your practice.
Failure Factor Seven – It must be the Technology
We’ve spent a great deal of time talking about how the technologies of the Internet and its utilities like Google, Facebook, reputation review sites have changed the landscape businesses need to navigate as we have considered in the concept of a comprehensive plan. On this final factor for failure, let’s take the discussion off the Net and return it to the practice itself.
Conventional wisdom says being on the cutting-edge of technology almost always gives a practice a competitive advantage. Staying on the cutting edge of technologically and using new developments in procedure techniques allows for an increase in positive patient outcomes and an enhanced armamentarium allowing for an expanded patient base: all good news.
However, if your practice obtains its patients on the basis of the technology you use, then you’ll have to keep surendering to technology in order to keep your patients. What’s wrong with this?; a couple of things. First, depending on technology to move your practice forward takes the future of your practice out of your hands and puts it in the hands of researchers, inventors, manufacturers and your competition. In putting your future in the hands of technology, you’ve removed the most important and valuable asset your practice has to offer: your credentials, your experiences and your reputation with satisfied customers and your expert marketing staff you have invested in.
One vital lesson learned as we have marketed health care services…no matter what new emerging marketing technologies has arrived more than 60% of new patients came from patient that already knew about them.
Like a top cosmetic procedure result is an art; failure a science that can be reviewed in a post mortem. The greatest stories we tell about our business and life often concern our successes. Ironically, the greatest lessons of life, and business, are often not found in our stories of success but in our failures, and in the futures we’ve lost.