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The ultimate test: Have you listened to how your staff handles incoming phone calls lately?
Marketing campaigns might vary by practice but successful marketing always comes down to addressing three key issues, according to Adam DeGraide, CEO of Orlando, Fla.-Based Crystal Clear Digital Marketing.
1. Finding a higher quality and quantity of patients.
2. How to sell or serve patients.
3. And most importantly how to keep patients.
A practice marketing strategy that focuses on DeGraide’s “find, serve, keep” strategy can’t fail, he tells Dermatology Times. That’s because in order to find, serve and keep patients, practices have to focus on the fundamental strength of excellent customer service.
The Phone Call
DeGraide says the most important part of any bulletproof strategy has nothing to do with social media, email or search engine optimization (SEO). Rather it comes down to how well the people in the practice answer the phone.
“You’d be amazed at the difference from one practice to another - even from one staff member to another,” he says.
DeGraide says Crystal Clear Digital Marketing has captured thousands of dermatology and other practice phone calls in recent years. While some staff members might answer the call introducing themselves and asking callers how they can help, others answer with an unwelcoming, generic “doctors’ office” response.
Having a bulletproof marketing strategy starts with finding, serving and keeping people when they call, says DeGraide.
“We’ve listened to the calls and realized that the average time it takes a person at the phone from a dermatology practice to say, ‘And who do I have the pleasure of speaking with today?’ is 2 minutes, 34 seconds,” DeGraide says.
Instead, the majority of calls result in a flurry of quick questions, like date of birth, but staff tend not to establish a rapport with the caller, which is vital to marketing success.
Simple Bullet-Proof Strategies
DeGraide recommends these simple bullet-proof strategies:
“You need to have a website that is well built and mobile responsive. Highlight the features and procedures at the dermatology practice that you want to grow and want people to be aware that you offer. It’s really not rocket science. You have to have phone numbers, social media links, forms. And it has to be maintained on a weekly if not monthly basis. It has to stay fresh,” he says.
Next, be active on social media platforms that reach the people you want to reach. It makes sense, according to DeGraide, that dermatology practices wanting to attract cosmetic and even medical patients should consider being on Instagram, Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest and LinkedIn.
Being active on social media means having an SEO strategy, which requires that dermatologists write lots and lots of content to educate people about everything from skin cancer screening and preventive maintenance, to acne treatments and elective aesthetic procedures.
Finally, DeGraide suggests practices run their marketing through customer relationship management (CRM) software. CRM software - which is different than practice management software or the electronic medical record (EMR) - helps practices build and promote to a database of people that aren’t yet patients. It allows dermatologists to manage and automate those processes in a practice, he says. Crystal Clear Digital Marketing has developed CRM software specifically to serve the needs of their clients.
“You have to actually make sure you have people and processes in place to convert the phone calls and forms into patients who come in for consultations and provide a five-star consultation, so they become patients. And provide five-star service and care, so they get the results that you talked about. And then they leave the practice and become what we call a raving fan of the practice,” he says.
Where Doctors Go Wrong
The biggest hurdle many dermatologists have for building a bulletproof marketing strategy is themselves, according to DeGraide.
“Typically, the dermatologist will abdicate, not delegate, the responsibility of marketing to somebody that might not have any real vested interest in the process,” he says. “I’m not suggesting you can’t delegate the responsibility, but you still have to monitor it. You still have to be involved in it and care about it.”
Dermatologists, he says, should avoid “the check box mentality.”
“The doctor who owns the dermatology practice will say: Do I have a website? Check. Do I have an SEO company? Check. Am I doing social media posts on a regular basis? Check. Do I send out emails to my existing and prospective patients? Check. Am I using technology to help me? Check,” DeGraide says. “But there’s typically a check box that’s not filled out and that’s: When was the last time I sat and listened and trained my staff on how I want my practice to be represented on the phone when we reach out to these people?”
The bulletproof bottom line: Dermatologists have to care about and oversee practice marketing, according to DeGraide.
“There is no technology or marketing in the world that will fix a practice with broken people and broken processes,” he says.
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