It is simplistic in appearance. Many may say that it is even naïve. Yet "hidden" in the simplicity may be just what you were looking for: a low stress, high return approach to marketing. It is a chance to build a practice that is consistent and dependable in an economy that is anything but.
On the surface, marketing is far more art than science. I have read—and continue to read—the bestselling marketing books that crop up each year. I do it because I, probably much like you, want to know the "answer" or the "solution". In spite of my chiropractic beliefs, I still find myself looking for the magic pill. Yet, too often, I read books back-to-back, each written by an expert with impressive credentials, each story told with unshakable confidence, and each completely contradicts the other. Direct mail is in. Direct mail is out. Telemarketing is in. Telemarketing is out. Big yellow page ad in. Big yellow page ad out.
Whenever I get hit with these opposing "truths", I am haunted with echoes in the recesses of my brain—areas not touched since college economics: "This is true as long as everything else remains the same." The reality is this: Nothing remains the same. What works in Atlanta may not work in Albuquerque. What works in Davenport may not work in Denver. What works in Timbuktu may not work in your neighborhood. And that is just looking at geographic differences. What about demographics? What about technique? What about socioeconomic differences? Listen to the experts, if you want. I do. They have great ideas. But keep this in mind: It is not the art of marketing that is efficient or successful. It is the science. And how does this relate in any way to chiropractic software? I’m glad you asked.
For years and years advertising was the king of the marketing hill. You spent money. You waited for new business. You spent money. And waited for business. The problem was—and is—trying to determine how effectively you spent your marketing dollars. Direct marketing—either by mail or phone—was the answer to many peoples’ marketing prayers, because it gave a direct and measurable return. The value here is having the ability to test different approaches. People are fickle. People are finicky. Try what you think will work…and measure to see if it does. It is in this process that you will quickly discover where to spend your marketing dollars...and where you are just wasting your money. Repeat what works. Discard what fails. The challenge that most chiropractors have is collecting accurate numbers with which to make these decisions. So, before you drop next year’s Annual City [fill in community event of choice] Screening, make sure you are looking at the proper numbers. It’s easy to keep track of how much you spend and how many new patients it generated, but is that really the whole picture?
Lets say you are trying to prepare a marketing budget for next year. You sit down with all the numbers to figure out what worked and what didn’t over the course of the year. You see that Spinal Screening A cost $450, generated 9 new patients, and you ultimately collected $6000. Looking at Spinal Screening B you see that it also cost $450, but it only generated 2 new patients and $1800. If forced to choose one screening over the other, the logical choice with the available data appears to be Screening A. But, again, is that the whole picture?
Patient referrals should play a tremendous role in the growth and health of your business. Yet, how many offices take them into consideration when analyzing the return on investment of their marketing efforts? Let’s take the previous example. What if the two people from Screening B were business owners, or community leaders, or medical doctors, or attorneys? What if those two referred five, and those five referred twenty-three, and so on and so forth? Looking below the surface and including the money collected from the referred patients, we may find that Screening B ultimately brought in $30,000 or $40,000. Trying to judge one marketing effort from another without all of the facts can be a costly mistake. This is where most office systems fail; they don’t report patient referral information completely. This leaves you to make business decisions without some of the most critical information about your practice: The complete effects of patient referrals.
Though the task of collecting this information may seem daunting, a software tool called the Cascading Referral Analysis™ has recently become available to do it for you. It allows doctors to calculate their Return on Investment (ROI) on any marketing effort—including patient referrals resulting from that source. The Cascading Referral Analysis™ gives you the exact number of patients and the collected dollar amounts for each event, plus those generated by their referrals. You can also look at that information per patient. If you are a visual thinker, you can even see the connections on screen and step through them one at a time. This detailed information is not only fun or interesting to look at; it can be critical in allocating your marketing dollars.
The science of marketing can be a powerful tool. Yet there is one component to the Cascading Referral Analysis™ that falls more into the mystical art side of the marketing equation. B. J. Palmer stated that, "You never know how far reaching something you may think, say, or do today will effect the lives of millions tomorrow." With a tool like this, you can demonstrate for your existing patients how important it is to refer other people. It is a powerful thing to actually see the far-reaching effect…to know that referring one person was the catalyst that cascaded into a group of twenty or thirty people. Maybe next time they think about sharing the chiropractic story, they will realize that the health and well being of many others is counting on them as well.
David and DeDe Van Riper of InPhase Technologies Group have worked in the chiropractic profession at many levels for more than a decade. InPhase Technologies Group is a company dedicated to providing a comprehensive approach to chiropractic office systems.
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