Dangers of Delegating Your Medical Practice Marketing

October 12, 2012

Judicious delegation is the mark of a great manager, right? Here’s why you should delegate as little marketing as possible in your medical practice.

What is the lifeblood of your practice?

Is it your skills? Your staff? Your office building or other tangible assets? How about goodwill in the community?

None of these things - it’s your patients!

These things are not worth two nickels without patients.

And how do patients come into your office?

Through a process I call marketing. You may call it something else, but every practice requires patients, and those patients receive a message about you from someone or from somewhere. The engine that creates and delivers that message is marketing.

You cannot afford to delegate (I think surrender is a better word) the very lifeblood of your practice.

Here are three primary reasons why you must maintain control of your medical practice marketing.

1. You have the most to gain or lose.

We are all painfully aware of the evils of letting third parties come between us and our patients. Why add another player to the game?

Even if you choose to delegate some part of your marketing, you must remain involved at a deep level. The patient is coming to see you; not some abstract idea of better health.

The revenue generated by delivering quality service to patients is YOUR money - shouldn’t you know exactly how it’s flowing in and out of your practice and whether it’s being wasted or not?

Unless you’re running a charity clinic, wasted marketing dollars are dollars you can’t use to accomplish your goals. How else will you track this if you’re uninvolved in the process that brings new and repeat patients into the office?

2. You are vulnerable prey to advertising agencies.

Don’t be a marketing victim!

What I mean is, don’t let sellers of advertising and marketing waste your valuable time, money, and resources creating pretty ads and fancy campaigns that can’t be tracked and simply balloon to fit a particular budget.

In a previous article I gave you three questions to ask your advertising advisor about a new campaign.

The classic example of a physician marketing victim is the doctor who loves seeing his picture on the billboard when he passes by on the way to the office.
Get past that mindset and learn to scrutinize your marketing dollars. Find out how much that billboard is bringing in each month - do you have a way of tracking each and every marketing outreach you do?

Even if you can’t micro-manage everything yourself, your marketing consultant should tremble when you show up because you’ve made them accountable by asking probing questions.

3. Your involvement creates unique positioning in your market.

The more of YOU there is in the marketing, the more powerful the message. Once you start stepping away from the message creation and message delivery process, the more impotent the message becomes.

Only you can infuse your personality and unique approach into your practice’s message to patients.

For instance, in almost any local market I can predict that several pediatric offices use the same ad style, the same promotion techniques with minimal variation from year to year. It’s all "me too" advertising with nothing unique or special.

This happens because it’s easier for a group of doctors to decide to outsource their marketing to a third party and step away from the process - "she’s handling it, that’s what we pay her for..."

Stay close to the process, even if you start outsourcing pieces of it.

If you don’t know where to start...

Start small. Here are some ideas.

Start by changing what is most personal to you, and most accessible. For instance, make sure your bio page on your website is accurate. Make sure any doctor rating sites have accurate information about you and update it if necessary. Look at your business card and make improvements and innovations.

Start by asking to be involved in marketing committee meetings. It’s the most important committee in a large group practice.

Take a look at your Yellow Pages ad - find out when the contract is up and discuss or research ways to improve it.

What do you think? Are most physicians so uncomfortable with marketing that they’re happy to waste money on untrackable, pretty advertising, as long as they don’t have to think about it?