Medicine lags behind real estate, retail, and car dealers in terms of a medical marketing agency, sales, and service. There are a lot of charlatans in the industry. Recently there was a case: a person recruited freelancers with a salary of 15 thousand rubles and called it a marketing agency, began to promote clients. The market is overflowing with specialists, but there are few professionals: managers, doctors, teachers, and marketers.
What are the tasks of a medical marketer?
In medical marketing, there are three principles that a novice specialist needs to remember.
- Medicine is an industry of indications, not desires. People dream of buying a new phone but don’t dream of going to the doctor.
- The patient’s wishes and medical advice often conflict with each other. In the beauty salon, the client can choose the length and color of eyelashes/hair/nails, and the clinic works according to medical indications.
- In medicine, advertising is directed at customers who do not know what they need, how much it costs, and why the chosen option is better / worse than the others. The goal of a good clinic is to inspire confidence and educate the patient.
Clinics are divided into two types. The first type is engaged in the provision of services. The second is quality care. The first type advertises in the format “tooth implantation for 7,500 rubles.” The patient sees it, believes it, goes to the clinic, and is faced with hidden fees, additional expenses, and vague forecasts of the implant’s life.
Clinics of the second type solve the problem in general: in what condition the surrounding tissues, how the teeth will close, what will happen to the oral cavity in 5, 10, and 15 years, and offer a solution. But unfortunately, they often have to explain to the patient what he wants he does not need, but the price will be higher.
We have a landing page (landing page) about implantation. Statistics show only 30% of patients are interested in implantation and leave a request on this page to place implants within a year. 70% instead of implantation go to therapy, orthodontics, and related areas. The patient cannot diagnose himself and choose a treatment. The clinic and the doctor should do this for him.
The medical marketer has two tasks. The first is to ensure that the patient finds a clinic that treats, but does not provide services, applies, and comes to the appointment. The second is to form trust, an expert image, and convey the general philosophy of the medical center before coming to the clinic.
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What knowledge does a marketer need?
Creating a system and building a strategy without the classics is difficult. It’s sad when a candidate who has learned how to set up targeted advertising comes to an interview and says: “I’m a marketer.” What kind of a marketer are you? You are a herpetologist. You know how to set up one type of advertising, and the big question is how well.
But basic knowledge is not enough. Still have to:
- deeply understand the product;
- navigate the indications according to which the doctor treats;
- know which age audiences come with what problem;
- be able to work with fears and distrust;
- understand the patient’s pain, his needs, and how to satisfy them;
- Take into account the characteristics of patients: it is convenient for one to do everything at once, and the other is ready to come often, but not for long.
You must master digital tools (context, target, CRM, SMM, portals), content, contact, and cross-medical marketing. But the main thing is to learn how to combine and quickly learn new things correctly. For example, medical marketing cannot be reduced to disparate advertising campaigns. Otherwise, you will waste your budget. Instead, marketing is a strategy for interacting with patients, a system of measures aimed at attracting customers, retaining, repeating calls, and building loyalty.
For example, offline tools have lost their meaning over the past year. But remote consultations, online seminars, and communication with doctors in instant messengers have become commonplace. In 2020, Yandex launched a new communication service every two weeks. Unfortunately, 95% of them, like turbo sites, didn’t work. But the companies that tested everything benefited from the remaining 5%. Tools, trends, and types of communication change at an incredible speed, and you need to adapt to this.
All projects and campaigns need to be digitized and analyzed. Marketing is 30% creativity and 70% mathematics. You need to track the performance of every channel, every promotion, every ad, text, email, conversation, and message. A marketer should be able to build sales funnels and, to do this, master Yandex and Google metrics, call tracking, IP telephony, a CRM system, MIS, and social media in medical marketing tools. It is necessary to work based on objective data and not on sensations.
The language is tired of talking about end-to-end analytics, but the questions do not end there. Unfortunately, I have not yet seen a fully implemented end-to-end analytics in the form they talk about at conferences in medicine, as long as it’s fantastic.
The closest option is when the clinic collects all possible data in one place, for example, a Google table: numbers and sources of Yandex. Google Analytics, call tracking, and final treatment plans from CRM. All this compares and double-checks with the help of numbers from the MIS because integrations often fail. Then he traces the client’s path from the source to the final check and considers who and what makes a profit.
Some marketers collect all customer touch points with a brand and statistically calculate each touch’s contribution and channel. But I don’t see its benefit and only look at the customer journey. Without the previous touch point, there would be no next one. Likewise, without warming up, there would be no purchase, so it makes no sense to calculate which of the points played a major role.
Any analysis brings surprises. Sometimes I find a user who went to the site 78 times from contextual advertising. I look deeper – it turns out that this is our doctor. Or a supplier of consumables called 120 times on contextual advertising – he recalled the clinic’s phone number. It’s funny, of course, but that’s the reality. We have to explain how contextual advertising works.
A marketer in medicine must be able to communicate, primarily with doctors. Doctors are the main source of information for articles, posts, and newsletters. But doctors don’t have much time and don’t take marketers seriously. They don’t want to explain the obvious. So you need to be able to overcome resistance and prove competence.
Although, of course, the head of the clinic should explain and regularly remind the medical staff why medical marketing is important and how it brings personal benefits to doctors. Then the work will be teamwork, and communication will be effective.
How to get this knowledge?
What is the best way to get all this knowledge? I have always done wrong, but I do not advise you. It is better to attend several universities and get some basic classical education in economics, management, management, or medicine. To this base, you need to “buy” concentrated foreign experience. Hundreds of webinars, courses, conferences, master classes, and individual consultations exist. Buying someone else’s experience is cheaper and faster than earning your own. You can make yours.
Over the years, a professional reaches a level where it is no longer possible to buy someone else’s experience: either it does not exist, or it is far and expensive. Then there is self-education. In the world of the Internet, any information can be obtained for free, on sheer enthusiasm. Yes, it will take a lot of time and patience, but the investment will pay off. There are hundreds of blogs, social media pages, and communities where experts share tips and tricks. I also regularly conduct free master classes. Anyone can get to them.
Even if technical information is required, it is useful to read about the experiences of other industries. For example, setting up a CRM system in medicine is rarely discussed. But it is useful to read about its setting in online education, trade, and restaurant business.
What problems are clinics facing?
Managers and marketers come to my seminars with typical requests:
- There are no patients.
- No money.
Profit depends on the stage of development of the clinic: there are no average figures for the market. At the scene of aggressive growth, profits can reach 100%. If the business has moved from multiple growths to optimization, 20-30% of profit is an excellent indicator. On the other hand, it is bad if there is no profit. A stagnant business will start to fall in a year. What doesn’t grow dies?
- No patients, no money.
- In principle, it is not clear what is happening in the clinic.
Classics of the genre. Usually sounds in the format: “I bought/opened a clinic. No patients, no money. And what to do next?
- I compete, and I want to build a system.
- How to open/expand a clinic.
The most pleasant, although not the most popular, request. But it’s great that more people carefully plan their future business. So I do not advise you to open up and only think about where to take patients. At the start, all questions must be answered.
- As a doctor who opened a clinic, retire.
The doctor opened a clinic, perhaps even a successful one. But it works on manual control, tied to the individual. So it is worth distracting – everything falls apart.
What mistakes do clinics make?
Let’s analyze the typical marketing mistakes that clinic managers make.
Complete lack of medical marketing
The average head of a clinic is not well versed in medical marketing. Representations at the level: the sign hangs – good, the patient came on the recommendation – excellent. When he hires a marketer, he expects a miracle. A miracle usually does not happen for two reasons: the employee is not capable of it or is capable, but he is not allowed to build a system. The clinic and the manager refuse to change and think in basic terms: sales funnel, conversion. History repeats itself until bankruptcy or until the manager decides to look into the issue.
“There is no money, but you hold on.”
In my opinion, the normal budget for marketing is from 2% to 20% of the clinic’s turnover, depending on the stage of development. But many leaders see it differently. Each visit to the site, call, visit of the patient to the clinic, or re-treatment costs money. You will have to pay for each action, but the costs must pay off.
The marketing budget also depends on the strategy. To think over the strategy, you need an audit. Growth points can be hidden everywhere. You may have many primary patients but few doctors or few good doctors. Maybe a lot of hits, but a bad conversion.
If the audit showed that advertising is needed, then the marketing budget of an experienced clinic should not exceed 10% of the turnover. The exact number depends on the goals. If there are no appeals, the budget will have to be increased.
Without strategy and tactics, business turns into chaos. The leader must know what he is doing, why, and why. For example, I recently argued with the manager of a new clinic. She doesn’t understand why the agency can’t ramp up ads for expensive high-frequency queries and fully load the clinic. But such a patient costs the clinic a fortune, and we will never pay for it. Instead, it is more profitable to attract fewer customers but increase awareness, average checks, the share of word of mouth, and build a brand.
It’s impossible. To grow a business, you need a strategy. The manager can hire a full-service agency with an impressive price tag, but he must manage it strategically and coordinate with the rest of the processes in the clinic. No one understands better than the clinic itself what is happening in it and what can be profitable in it. You still have to delve into it.
I stepped on this rake five years ago. Dear person, the company’s founder advised me about a large agency, a whole holding. The credit of trust was huge, and I gave them a large advertising campaign. The result, of course, was not encouraging. The contractor did not have enough specialists, performers, and mistakes.
Full confidence in the contractor
I love working with contractors, and I think they are justified. A small clinic does not have money for a good herpetologist or copywriter in the state. You can’t force a marketer to write texts, and you can’t do advertising on social networks: there are no jacks of all trades. Something will go wrong.
Even if the clinic works with different contractors in similar areas, then you can evaluate the effectiveness. For example, one contractor for therapy brings leads for 300 rubles, the second for 4000 rubles. If the average check and other indicators of customers are the same, then there are questions about the second one. But to manage contractors and evaluate their work, you have to calculate everything, understand everything and formulate a strategy.
Trust but verify. I saw many things from contractors: edited screenshots from advertising cabinets, “wrongly” calculated numbers in presentations, doubling of expenses on invoices. We need transparent relationships.
Transparency is when you choose a cycle of operations, such as a week. Every week, you check costs, CTR, number of clicks, cost per click, and conversion to hits. Discuss mistakes, wishes, and steps for the next cycle. You end each meeting with a protocol: results, decisions made, performers, deadlines. Then follow this protocol and return at the beginning of the next meeting.
I have a single reporting form for all contractors that they must complete. It helps not to rack your brains and quickly evaluate the necessary numbers. But it is important to speak with contractors and employees that reporting helps not to find and punish the guilty but allows you to manage to advertise and draw informed conclusions. It is easier to communicate when everything is transparent.
And always prescribe TOR and work regulations. You will encounter different interpretations of the agreements if they are not prescribed. For example, I now have a conflict of interest when no one wants to deceive anyone, but the TOR is not spelled out, and the contractor believes he is owed more money.
Don’t step aside
Another approach: they hired an agency and gave them a task. The agency offers ten tools, 30 hypotheses, and 100 creatives for each hypothesis. But the leader chooses 2-3 and wraps the rest. The contractor has no freedom: he has to advertise not what the patients need but what the clinic likes.
A self-respecting agency, in this case, breaks the contract, but the majority cannot refuse money and plays a castrated version of marketing. It does not bring results – after 2-3 months, everyone disperses dissatisfied with each other.
A marketer cannot manage advertising campaigns if they are interrupted because of money. Clinic management must ensure stable funding and planned budgets. Otherwise, the context only accelerated – the money ran out. The campaign immediately stops, the statistics are distorted, and it is impossible to draw a reasonable conclusion.
“Come to us, and we are cheap.”
Agencies often come to us and promise to give a stream of leads for implantation for a fantastic 500 rubles. When we sorted it out, it turned out that the agency had in mind leads to promotional offers. There will be no more flow for conventional implantation. Filling the clinic with patients who want to receive quality service and pay three times cheaper than the market is easy. But why?
Dumping the market price harms everyone. About 5% of clinics have chosen this strategy: a cheap entry product that pays off with upsells as the treatment progresses. But for most, dumping is agony and an attempt to attract at least some patients. In this agony, some agencies are building a business.
Super Premium Lux
Among premium medical centers, the opposite approach is also found. The management believes the clinic is too good for discounts and is waiting for wealthy clients to come themselves – the offices are idle. The balance is upset, and in the long run, the business loses. Patients go to competitors.
The lone ranger
Marketing cannot be separated from the clinic. The clinic is a single organism where arms, legs, head, and stomach must act in concert. In many clinics, marketing lives a separate life: it masters budgets, launches advertising, counts traffic, leads and calls, and forgets about the rest.
Who is guilty? Everyone is to blame, especially the head of the company. He did not build interaction between departments, did not teach people how to communicate, and did not set priorities. Marketing, call center, and administrators must communicate and pass on feedback: what patients ask, what they do not understand, what problems arise, and what they write in reviews.
In the same way, employees need information from doctors:
- What patients come.
- Why do they come here?
- Why do they stay or do not stay for treatment?
- What do they want to receive from the clinic?
At the same time, marketing needs to be told if they have caught a warm, super-targeted audience so they can scale up campaigns.
Lack of CRM
It is impossible to work without a CRM system and IP telephony. You will not be able to manage marketing, context, or content. You won’t find out where you received the application from the client, whether they called him, whether the objections were worked out, and how many times they called or didn’t get through once and did not dial again.
Without CRM, you will have to work blindly, and then there is no question of any process management. Now marketing and CRM do not exist separately: one appears, and the second should go side by side.
It is important even for a doctor to know which advertisement the patient reacted to, what he read on the site, and how long he decided on treatment. Therefore, we still often use quizzes, which we offer the patient to calculate the cost of treatment. They additionally warm up the audience and teach.
Many managers step on the same rake: they take a CRM specialist, and they expect him to do everything. He doesn’t take the next one. The cycle will be repeated until the head of the clinic sorts it out himself or takes a marketing director who will figure it out.
Medicine does not make a profit quickly. You won’t be able to enter, “make money” in six months, and exit. We need a long-term strategy. For her, you need to understand what brings money. To calculate this, you need to get comfortable in marketing and numbers. Therefore, I do not understand owners and directors who say they do not need to understand marketing – they know how to ask subordinates. With such a setting, there will be no result.
A good specialist costs money. A professional will not work for three pennies. Such specialists will either waste your money or learn how to work and leave. You just pay for someone else’s education. Even if a person comes to you who is ready to set everything up for free, and talk about payment, when there is a result, refuse. He will study at your expense.
The times when it was possible to send all the money to the context and calmly wait for patients are over. Now only a combination of different tools works. We need bundles and combinations. Single ad campaigns are useless.
Channel performance is changing rapidly, so here are a few trends.
- The role of aggregators is growing: if you work with them correctly, they give a powerful flow.
- New channels appear, for example, Tik-Tok, and we gradually enter it.
- The context both worked and works. Target is the same. The main thing is to collect all the channels into a single system and continue to operate it. In Moscow, in dentistry, a lead from the context of 300-500 rubles is an excellent result. But in some subjects, such as implantation, it reaches up to 4,000 rubles.
- Videos work great, for example, video invitations for doctors on the clinic website.
- Careful segmentation of the base and personalization of communication is always useful. The closer and clearer to the client, the better.
- Media advertising has taken a backseat. We use it, but the efficiency has dropped many times over.
Lack of PR and brand
If a clinic is engaged in direct lead generation but does not develop a brand and reputation, it loses money. PR and brand development significantly reduce the cost of attracting patients. I was convinced of this when I transferred the contractor from the old brand to the new one. With the same tools, the cost of a lead differed three times.
The stronger the brand of the clinic, the brand of doctors, the more efficient and cheaper lead generation will be. In addition to advertising, we need articles, broadcasts, and stories about doctors, because people buy from people. Patients are willing to spend more if they buy from an individual rather than a legal entity.
No offline advertising
There is a block on offline advertising in my course, containing 57 tools: cross-marketing with other companies, working with schools and kindergartens, local opinion leaders, and dozens of others. The main thing is not to lose the assembled audience. For example, you can place a QR code on the materials with a link to your Instagram or a fake phone number to have contacts and statistics.
Few communication channels
Many clinics choose one communication channel with patients: calls only or website only. It should be convenient for the client to communicate with the clinic, and he needs a choice: mail, phone, SMS, Instagram, Telegram, and WhatsApp. The clinic should combine them into a CRM system and use the patient has chosen.
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