We have said before that consistency is the key to successful marketing programs. However, we all know that the demands of owning a business, treating patients, and maintaining a work / life balance can pack our schedules so full there is barely time to breathe. That is where PIE comes in: Planning, Information, and Execution. By devoting enough time at the beginning for each of these three phases, you will be able to set up a marketing program that in a few months will essentially run itself. Let’s take a look…
Planning: is the process of researching, brainstorming, and developing the foundation of your practice marketing.
Information: is the content and data needed to produce an effective and informative marketing piece.
Execution: is the implementation of the planned objectives and information and their distribution into the public space.
Now think about your patient marketing—what are you going to do and how? Successful patient marketing programs are consistent, educational/informative, and engaging. One recommendation that satisfies those criteria is newsletters. Practice newsletters can be sent to both patients and doctors (two birds with one stone!) and are easy to execute given the proper planning and information. Here is a step by tep guide to starting your practice newsletter program:
- Research: dive deeper into your options. See what your competitors are doing. Researching different newsletter formats, mailing options, and vendors can be critical to the success of your program.
- Brainstorm: think about your patients (and possibly doctors). What would they like to read about? Some topics include common diagnoses treated by PT; ways to stay healthy (preventative care); and business or community news.
- Develop a plan: analyze your ideas and see what are feasible with your time and budget. Start at a point where you are comfortable and know that the first few months will be more intensive in terms of the resources needed. Plan to adjust schedules and expenses to compensate for these constraints.
Consider this: could you capitalize on economies of scale and use an expert marketing agency to implement a practice newsletter campaign for you? Here is a DIY v. Agency breakdown of the Information and Execution phases.
- Content: the articles, images, stories, and news needed to build your newsletter
- DIY: do you have a wordsmith on staff who can help write 1-3 articles per month? Would you be able to research and provide feedback? What does your photo library look like? Can you layout a spread?
- Agency: topic-specific articles would be written for you and customized for your practice. You would provide testimonials and news updates to further supplement the content. A mix of professional stock images and practice photos would be used and laid out to maximize your marketing real-estate.
- Data: the patient and/or doctors mailing address and mailing list management
- DIY: can you export your patient and doctor lists from your office systems or EMR? How do you know that the information is current and people have not moved? Can you keep updating this list monthly?
- Agency: from your initial mailing list, the agency would process the list for duplicates and run it against NCOA or the National Change of Address database to update those addresses for persons who have moved. This ensures that your newsletters are reaching your target market. Each month, the agency would ask for list updates to keep things current.
- Implementation: the production and distribution of the newsletter
- DIY: do you have a local printer would can make copies for you? Are they able to fold and seal them for mailing? Can you address them in house? Are you able to get bulk postage rates?
- Agency: establishes relationship with commercial printing and mailing services that secure bulk production discounts and postage rates. They facilitate the execution process from print-ready newsletter layouts to addressing and mailing of the pieces.
Following this step by step P.I.E. process, you should be on your way to making an informed decision about how to start your patient newsletter program. Whether DIY seems like the best fit or whether you want to enlist an agency’s expertise, the consistency is key principle remains a top-priority. By marketing your practice through monthly newsletters, you are routinely educating and engaging with your patients and encouraging them to seek your services for their healthcare needs.