Unfortunately, the marketing world is filled with companies who see orthopedic, spine and neurosurgeons as having competitive personalities and even deeper pockets. The latter characterization is what leads so many of the companies to be less than truthful and, in many cases, outright fraudulent. Below are 4 of the most egregious scams we see “marketing companies” try to pull off when working with orthopedic, spine and neurosurgery practices:
1. The “Leasing” Your Website and Content Scam
The first step in effectively marketing your practice is having a mobile responsive and up to date website. So many practices will Google “orthopedic web design company” and will find no shortage of companies. Other practices will meet companies at society meetings like AAOS, AAOE, NASS or AANS. All of these marketing companies will promise to build you a shiny new website, for a large fee of course. Here is what you don’t know- you don’t own any of it.
Buried in the agreement you sign is some form of language that indicates all of the content on your website, your website domain and hosting accounts, email servers, your reviews, images and graphics, your social media pages and even your videos are being “leased” by your practice from their company for the duration of your agreement. Therefore, if you try to end your agreement with that company they have all your assets as a hostage.
If you are able to negotiate the release of these assets, the company will then provide you with a stripped out version of your website and remove almost all of the content on the site and reviews, rendering the site useless.
Here is one more thing you should probably know – almost all of the “website content” created for you is actually just cut and paste content that the company uses on hundreds of orthopedic and neurosurgery websites. This is a giant red flag for Google and can have a significant effect on your organic search rank on Google.
If your practice needs a new website, make sure you always own all of your assets and always get that in writing.
2. The Social Media Management Scam
By now, most practices have acknowledged that they must maintain an active social media presence. The same deceitful marketing companies that will build your website will also assure you that they can handle your “social media presence” – for an additional fee of course.
Below is an example of how these companies maintain your social media presence. This is an example of 4 different orthopedic surgeons, in 4 different practices, in 4 different states, all with the exact same social media posts made by the same company on the same dates at the same time.
How can they do this you might ask? There are several free tools where these companies can put all of their clients social media pages into one app, compose a post, hit send and it post the exact same post to every one of their clients pages including your practice and the local shoe store. Nothing unique. Nothing about you. Nothing about your practice. Nothing about why a patient should choose your practice. Just useless garbage that allows them to tell you that they are “posting”to your social media pages.
To us, this signifies that the marketing company sees no difference between your practice and any other company they work with. They see each of you as just a number. This is also a definitive indicator that the company has little to no experience with orthopedic or neurosurgery practices and does not understand patient behaviors or how to engage patients. They see no difference between your practice and the local shoe store.
A true Social Media Marketing campaign requires knowledge of patient behaviors and how to target the right content to the right audience so that your social media pages actually generate new patients for your practice.
3. The Marketing Packages Scam
One of the first things your practice will want to know is what it costs to hire a marketing company. Everyday we see marketing companies bait and switch orthopedic and neurosurgery practices with “packages”. These packages detail things like how many hours in a month they will dedicate to your practice, how many website changes they will make or how many social media posts they are responsible for.
At first glance, it seems like a sensible system where everyone involved is aware of expectations and responsibilities. That is until you ask for something. Here is an actual example that an orthopedic practice client of ours shared with us:
– A new orthopedic spine surgeon joined the practice and the Practice Manager asked the marketing company to add his picture, bio and CV to the website.
– The marketing company tells her that they will need 10 hours (spread across 5 days) to create the additional webpage.
– However, the practice had already used the 15 hours per month that the company allocates for their website, so the practice will either need to wait until next month or upgrade their “package”. If they do not want to upgrade the practice can purchase the additional 10 hours for $100 per hour.
– The practice decided to purchase the additional hours.
– So, it cost the practice an additional $1,000 for the marketing company to add a new physician to the site. A process that should only take an hour or two at most.
How is this ethical or effective? What was done to help the practice during the original 15 hours that month?
In the real world, optimizing a website for SEO, content, updates, Google Adwords development and tracking, analytics monitoring and ROI Tracking takes a considerable amount of time per month and absolutely nothing of any value can be accomplished in 15 hours per month. This is a scam of the worst kind. You should not have to “buy” additional time from a legitimate marketing company.
4. The Paying to Be On A TV Show Scam
Over the years, almost all of our orthopedic or neurosurgery clients have received either a call or email from a “national news show” who tells them that they want to feature their practice on a national medical show. Some of them are even hosted by reputable celebrities like Martin Sheen or Joan Lunden and have names like “American Health”.
The practice is told that this is a “free” opportunity and all they will need to do to be on the show is pay the “production costs”, which can be anywhere between $10,000 – $20,000 for a 3 minute spot. They will also tell you that the show will air next to March Madness or Superbowl and be shown on networks like ABC, CBS and FOX. Sounds good, right? This is a scam!
The way this scam actually works is that the “production company” gets 4-5 doctors of any kind to agree to be on the show and pay the fees. The production company then takes that $50,000 – $80,000 they made in “production fees” and buys dead air time (early morning hours and weekends) from any of the networks mentioned above. The network they purchase the air time from has absolutely no affiliation with the program, does not run commercials for the program nor endorses it. In fact, the networks will run a disclaimer prior to the show insisting that they have no affiliation with the show. You basically bought a one-time infomercial. If they call or email you – do not buy into this!
Our clients have been featured on almost every news outlet in the country, including CBS News, NBC Radio, The Doctors Show and countless others. The one thing all of these appearances had in common was the practice did not pay the producers to be on the show. That is not how real public relations works and is ethically off-limits for a legitimate television show.
Gold Medical Marketing has invested years into ethically and effectively providing Direct to Patient Marketing services for orthopedic, spine and neurosurgery practices and it truly infuriates us to see these practices be taken advantage of. So many practices have called us after working with a less than honest marketing firm and shared their horror stories. When we take over for these companies and see the work (or lack thereof) that they have done for the practice and it is absolutely abysmal.
We have often made the comparison that using a “general marketing company” for your practice is like calling a plumber to fix a rotator cuff tear. Orthopedic and neurosurgery practice marketing requires an in-depth understanding of everything from clinical terminology to patient behaviors to reimbursements and ROI tracking.
Gold Medical Marketing is the only firm in the country specializing exclusively in Orthopedic, Spine and Neurosurgery Practice Marketing. CEO Daniel Goldberg has lectured extensively on the topic of Orthopedic and Spine Practice Marketing at some of the most esteemed medical conferences across the country (see full list here).
Gold Medical Marketing’s team works with practices across the country to create the most effective marketing strategies based on their location and patient demographics. Gold Medical Marketing also offers No Cost Marketing Audits wherein we will objectively review your current practice marketing efforts and create a strategy for your specific practice. Even if your practice does not have a current marketing strategy, we can create a strategy specifically for your practice. Contact us today to learn more.