By measuring which patients it makes financial sense to invest in marketing to, you can improve your marketing return on investment and create more returning, long-term patients.
Marketing is one of those business expenses that you look at from time to time and wonder if it really works. It can be a huge expense or very little, depending on your growth strategy, level of business or longevity in your locale.
Regardless if you are doing marketing or not, be aware that your competition is continually marketing to your patients, and stealthily luring them away with two-for-one deals, low prices and promotional offers. Just turn on your television in prime time on any given night and you will see message after message targeting anyone who will pay attention. That’s national. What are you doing?
Understand Your Marketing Opportunity
ODs have the most unique opportunity in healthcare with medical and retail in the same location. I understand the limitations and good judgment to examine patients yearly without pressing them to come in more often if there is no eye health need for them to do so. But do we really want our competition tempting our patients for the next 364 days without any response?
It costs five to six times as much money to attract a new patient as it does to maintain the ones we have, according to most marketing sources. Many offices today have a growing number of inactive patients--perhaps numbering in the thousands. What efforts are you taking to try to re-activate the patients you have already seen and established and already have a relationship with? The most recent Management & Business Academy Practice Performance Metrics, sponsored by CIBA VISION and Essilor, stated the average dollars collected for an exam, and all associated revenues was $306 per patient. If there are 1,000 inactive patients on file, does is make sense to do a marketing effort to get back some of the $306,000 of potential revenue you already have in house?
Segment Patients for Marketing
Perhaps you can’t spend money to reactivate all of your patients. For that reason, segment patients into those you desire to keep, those you need to keep, and those you are happy to have, but don’t necessarily want to spend marketing dollars to maintain. In working with clients, I break the three levels this way (pick your own numbers); patients who spent $700 or more per year, those who spend $300-$700 annually and those who spend under $400 per year.
Pull out all Marketing Stops for "Super Patients"
Maintain and defend your relationship at all costs with patients spending over $700 annually. They are your “super patients!” Send them special coupons, invite them to trunk shows and personal shopping days and let them know of new arrivals of their favorite color of frames or designers.
Maintain Presence with "Bread and Butter" Patients
The patients spending $300-$700 dollars per year are probably your bread and butter patients. These folks are the ones that keep the cash flowing. They are prompt payers and loyal patients. Market to these patients similarly to how you market to your top tier, but create incentives for them to buy more. Both of these groups should receive some kind of monthly or bi-monthly message from your office. Whether it is a white paper on glaucoma, the effects of UV damage on the eye or good nutritional tips for long-term eye health, you want to maintain your presence--or mindshare--with these patients.
Invest Minimally with Scant Spenders
Patients spending under $300, while important, have the potential to chew up large amounts of marketing dollars and effort, while returning little money to the practice. These patients may also be driven by price more than any other factor, so their loyalty to your practice should also be factored into your spend.
By segmenting your patient base and then differentiating marketing spend based on how much each group of patients spend with your practice you can ensure your marketing results in more patient visits per year.