Our last blog talked about using your practice’s data and statistics to prepare your annual marketing plan. Now, let’s dive deeper into marketing analysis. See how to choose the right campaigns and promotions to reach your practice goals.
When your practice is seeing an increase over the last time range measured. This could mean that you saw more patients or received more referrals than the same time period last week or last month, depending on your statistic range. Growth trends should be celebrated, and they should also be reviewed to see what caused the increase. A marketing analysis can indicate whether the growth was due to internal or external factors. Internal factors could be sending more newsletters, mailing a new postcard campaign, or posting more on social media. External factors should also be considered and could be changes in the competitive market, changes in your practice operations (ie. appointment hours or accepted insurances), or new legislation such as direct access.
Occur when your stats are consistent for a time period. Don’t get too bogged down in the details of consistent. If the change is less than 5-10% (depending on the size of your practice) then it is most likely a flat trend. A marketing analysis for flat trends should include reviewing routine marketing campaigns to see if they need to be refreshed.
If you have been sending out 4,000 newsletters per month to the same address and aren’t seeing growth, then its time to revamp your marketing. This could mean getting a more up to date patient list, increasing the number of pieces (we recommend adding 500 pieces to start), or sourcing new content to increase engagement. Not all flat trends are bad—if your practice is operating at 90-100% capacity and seeing flat trends then you are right on track! Now would be the time to do a more business oriented analysis to determine whether you need to expand operations or if you are on a sustainable track.
Usually strike fear in the heart of practice owners and marketers. Instead, look at a loss as an opportunity and not a failure. A marketing analysis of a loss can be infinitely more beneficial than an analysis of a growth or flat trend. When analyzing the loss, keep an open mind and explore different possibilities—both internal and external to your clinic.
Marketing Analysis of Loss Trends
If you experience a loss trend, there are typically two factors: seasonality or market change. Seasonality can be determined by looking at that month’s stats for the year prior. If you experience a similar trend last year, this year’s trend (if it is roughly the same) is due to seasonal impacts. Most practices see season losses during the later summer months (July and August) and winter holidays (December and January). A marketing analysis and recommended course of action for seasonality is to increase marketing campaigns for the 4-6 weeks prior to the loss month. For example, if patient volumes drop off in December, then increase your newsletters, social media, and promotions during October and November to bring in a steady stream of patients through the end of the year.
Market changes occur when there is an unexpected loss trend—something that is unprecedented based on last year’s or last month’s data. As soon as you see a market change that leads to a loss, start your marketing analysis. External factors can drive changes are might be easier to identify so we recommend starting with them first.
Some example questions to ask:
- What is the competitive landscape? Did a new practice open? Did a competitor expand their offerings or network (ie. merge with a hospital)?
- What about your referral relationships? Did doctors change offices or leave practice? Check your relationships by comparing this month’s referrals to last months.
- Did your state adopt direct access? Did a major insurance company change its policies?
All these questions can quickly help you identify if an external factor resulted in a loss trend.
Internal factors are sometimes harder to identify. We suggest taking a look at last month’s marketing to see if anything changed. Some key items to check are:
- Direct mail marketing quantities: did you decrease your number of mailed pieces?
- Frequency of blog posts or social media updates: did you post less often or are you not as active on a certain platform?
- Business operations: did you change your hours, staff, or services offered?
All of these factors are critical to performing an accurate marketing analysis. If you answered “yes” to any of the above, then your loss trend is caused by an internal factor.
Make changes to see results
Now, what should you do? Get back on track! If you decreased the quantity of mailed marketing pieces, increase back up to the previous levels (or send extras to offset this month’s loss). If you changed your digital marketing, consider going back to business as usual or move forward with the changes, but look at other options to increase communications.
Business operations are often the toughest challenge to solve as these decisions are usually made after careful review and planning. But, you can use marketing to compensate for business changes. If you shortened hours or decreased staff, send more pieces to drive up volumes (to a manageable level). If you changed your service offerings, consider running a special promotion hyping a treatment that you don’t usually market such as neck pain relief or post-surgical rehab.
A marketing analysis takes your practice’s statistics and provides realistic solutions to the trends experienced. Once you develop the habit of doing monthly and annual analyses, you will be able to quickly adjust your business and marketing operations to support goals and financial objectives.