Garbage in is garbage out. With the New Year upon us, it’s time to sort through the trash and clean up our databases to maximize our marketing efforts. To what databases am I referring? Your databases of patients, referral sources, and vendors of course. If you don’t maintain a list of these groups with up-to-date contacts, then you’re missing a great opportunity to up your marketing game. Each of these groups needs your brand of service whether they know it or not and quite frankly it’s your job to make them know it! You do this by nurturing these relationships. So let’s explore how to nurture each of these groups to improve their world and expand yours.
The Patients: Without patients to help, we don’t have a business. The more patients we have, the more we can use our talents to improve their quality of life. If we improve one life, chances are that life will entrust us with others in their life and so on. It’s important to communicate with patients in what I call the peri-patient phase which includes before their first appointment, during their active management and after they’ve been discharged. My partner Chris Milkie often refers to this as the before unit, during unit and after unit of marketing that he learned from Dean Jackson. Nurturing is all about connection. As expert marketer Joe Polish wrote in his new book What’s In It For Them, “connecting with people requires a balance of trust, rapport, and comfort.” Author Neil Strauss defines rapport as trust plus comfort where trust is developed from comfort overt time. So in essence, building rapport with anyone requires time to make them comfortable that you’re not just business-hungry but coming from a place of service. With time comes comfort that you are indeed the right person/practice to help them and once you’re trusted to help them and do, rapport can develop. Now if you just “treat ‘em and street ‘em”, you likely didn’t develop trust or rapport. So much can be said about bedside manner and overall presentation for building rapport – refer back to a previous FABI Nugget I wrote entitled “P-ing Your Way to Patient Prosperity” for some advice.
The Referral Sources (other than patients): Physicians, health clubs, shoe stores, nail spas, etc are relationships that simply must be nurtured – if not by you, be certain it will be by any potential competitor (they’re likely reading this too right now). In days of financial relationships between primary care physicians and specialists within their corporate group (hospital or multi-specialty), physician referrals to the independent specialists are waning in many areas. The exception to this is typically if you provide exceptional service/care to their patients and themselves. Staying top of mind is essential to nurture these relationships. You can do this by sending them chart notes after each mutual patient encounter. You can do this after initial encounters only, each and every encounter, initial encounter and discharge- it’s a matter of choice and preference. You can also educate these providers on your services through newsletters or monthly updates – FABI’s Marketing Machine members receive a monthly mailing specifically to be sent to referring physicians – the work is done for you (thanks Chris Milkie:)) so there’s really no excuse to not extend yourself in a helpful way.
Aside from referring providers, connect with shoe stores, nail spas, health clubs and educate the staff at each. Education is power and you provide value to their business in extending yourself to them.
The Vendors: Is this guy seriously going to tell me to market to my vendors? Well – yes – sort of. Nurturing relationships with your vendors can only help you and you nurture them through communication and connection. When did you last send a Happy Holidays greeting to a pharmaceutical rep and thank them for their dedication to helping us provide better patient care? We don’t do this because we want them to bring our staff lunch and we don’t purchase or use products for anything other than providing additional/better services to our patients. We do
this because it’s easier to do business with people who like us. It costs virtually nothing but a minimal amount of time to cultivate relationships with those who help us and maybe get us better pricing on services/products. So go ahead and write a thank you note to some vendors – expressing gratitude is good for your soul and relationships.
Bonus Database! The Team: Maintain a database of your team members with date of birth, date of hire, immediate family names and birthdays, favorite foods/restaurants, hobbies, and anything else that gives you insight into how to best treat your beloved team members. Most social media platforms collect this data to improve user experience. You as an owner, employer and overall nice person should be doing the same. Then go ahead and use the information collected to best celebrate your team members and the families they work for.
You don’t need to be a statistician or expert marketer to maintain and manage a database. FABI can help practices large and small create or enhance their marketing efforts.
I do hope through this Nugget that I’ve given you more value than the time you spent reading it. Do you feel nurtured yet? If so, please reach out and let’s get comfortable over time to build some trust and further nurture our rapport.
From my database to yours.
To the nurturer in you,
Matthew C. Dairman, DPM MS