A friend recently read my eBook. Her feedback included wanting to hear more about how I market my practice. She asked if I visited physician’s offices or only sent out mailers. The following is a cover letter that I am including in the current snail mail campaign.
“Yesterday morning at Starbucks, I encountered a young man in a terrible hurry. I watched his frantic pace as he fixed his coffee. He then hurried out, crossing the light at Wabash. If I were able to see him as a patient we would work together to decrease his anxiety, allowing him a calmer approach to life. My goal at Clear Life Path is to change people’s lives just like this young man’s.
I would like to be of help to you and your clients. When you call me I will quickly and calmly return your call.”
Included in the envelop with this short note is a well designed page with pictures of me and shots of my office and another page of me as a “Featured member” of NEI, Neuroscience Education Institute, Stephen Stahl’s exceptional CME organization. It is a very nice write up of my “… Evolving Clinical Outlook”. This piece was made possible by my getting to know and staying engaged with Lisa Lynch (no relation), marketing director of NEI.
So, how do I market my practice? I engage people in the business. As I stress in the eBook – referral sources are the”life blood” of our practices. It has been my experience that MD’s rarely refer to me. There are exceptions but clinician referrals, for the most part, come from non physicians. When I do meet new clinicians I try my best to get them to join me for lunch or coffee. I include their contact information in a database. I use this information to send out periodic mailings like the one described above. Without fail I send cards with a brief note thanking them for joining me for lunch. I also send notes thanking anyone for a referral.
I have a nicely designed website and am getting increasing numbers of potential patients contacting me from it. I also get referrals from friends of current or ex-patients.
The bottom line is that I think of marketing as a central piece of my business and I recommend you do the same. How do you promote your business? Tell us how in the comment section, accessed via the link at the top of this piece.
This piece was inspired by Seth Godin’s Purple Cow. The central message is that old school marketing methods don’t work any more. In order to achieve growth today, Mr. Godin insists, you’ve got to make a big splash of a particular kind. He calls this Purple Cow. The book is about his take on the how and why of “the remarkable”.
But you can’t live the purple cow always – “too risky, too expensive, too tiring… But when you need to grow or need to introduce something new, it’s your best shot.”
“Remember it’s not about being weird. It’s about being irresistible to a tiny group of easily reached sneezers with otaku. Irresistible (for the right niche) is just remarkable.”
This is just a hint of his language in Purple Cow. The idea is to really really embody passion – to enliven, “in joy” your practice in all its aspects. Make it remarkable.
So how is this relevant for the work of Clear Life Path Consulting?
In each client’s case I am helping them transform their existing practice into a Concierge Practice. This fits nicely in Godin’s “remarkable”. Astonishing customer service is at the core of the concierge concept as we have developed and practiced it. An unusual degree of commitment to promoting our accessibility to our potential patients – and a remarkable degree of availability to our ongoing patients/clients is what we are all about.
I think it goes without saying but I will risk redundancy to say it – extraordinary competence and commitment to the work we’re hired to do for our patients are the sine qua non of our practices. Our accessibility and availability are much, much more than icing on the cake – they are the inevitable manifestation of our brand of remarkable engagement – observed in a different domain.
Much of the work with my first consulting client has focused on helping her articulate her brand, establish her online presence, and promote her practice. These hours focusing on another clinician’s business has brought home a stark reality. Psychiatry is a hard sell. Did it really take me over twenty years to figure that out?
In my soon to be released ebook, a Primer on growing cash-based practices, I discuss this matter in some detail. I describe the evolution of my marketing style from a fear-driven desperation to a calmer confidence-based promotion of my work. Working on another clinician’s business allowed me to see this more clearly.
Andy Sernovitz, in his Word of Mouth Marketing, writes of highly satisfied customers “evangelizing” for products and services. We have a problem. People don’t talk freely about their psychiatric treatment. My satisfied customers are happy to get what they need from my practice then move on. I can’t remember one person in all my years of practice that became an “evangelist” for my business. I think it would strike me as odd if someone did.
Keith Morgan, of Buckledown-Interactive.com, and I will soon finish the website for CLPConsulting.org. Then I will promote the business very aggressively. I will be targeting a very well defined market – psychiatrists, psychologists, and other therapists that run businesses much like mine. Sounds like fun. But still after 25+ years I must say that the thought of pouring that kind of energy into targeting my customers directly gives me great pause. Why?
Do you have a similar reluctance to market to your customer base? Are our customers our target market? Or do we market chiefly to our referral sources? This is a bit confusing.
Please take a minute to leave a comment about your marketing practices. I would really enjoy hearing other perspectives.