There are many things that the local marketing company in your area are probably very good at. They are probably capable of helping many restaurants, stores and other local businesses grow. But your orthopedic or spine practice isn’t one of them. The reason is because they lack experience, expertise and knowledge about orthopedics and spine.
Please keep in mind that this article is not meant to denigrate or insult these types of companies but is more aimed at discussing specialization, experience and capabilities.
Think of it this way: if a patient tears their ACL, a cardiologist isn’t right doctor for them just because he/she is an MD. The patient needs someone who is knowledgeable, experienced and is an expert in treating ACL injuries. So, for your orthopedic practice, just because a company claims to know about marketing, it doesn’t mean they are the right ones for you.
Countless times throughout the year an orthopedic, spine or neurosurgery practice will contact us to see how we can help grow their new patient volume. One of the first questions we ask is how they have historically marketed their practice. Almost invariably, the practice says they, “found a local marketing company” who told them they are more than able to help grow their practice. Whether it was building the practice a new website, writing content, Google SEO and Pay Per Click Marketing, Social Media Marketing, video or any other efforts – the local company assured the practice that they have worked with healthcare clients before.
In truth, most marketing companies see orthopedic and spine practices as having deep pockets and therefore are very unlikely to turn the practice away – despite their lack of experience.
Over time, the practice begins to understand that the marketing company was less than honest about their abilities in orthopedics, spine or neurosurgery. Three of the most common reasons these local marketing companies cannot (and should not) help your practice are below.
1. Not Understanding Orthopedics and Spine
Here is a fun exercise. Call the local marketing company right now and ask them the symptoms of a meniscal tear. Ask them what are the most common causes of sciatica. Ask them the difference between a Microdiscectomy and an ACDF. If they can’t answer immediately, then how are they supposed to bring new orthopedic patients into your practice?
Marketing for an orthopedic or spine practice is not like marketing a restaurant or clothing store. There are no 7 day sales, no discounts for patients and no coupon codes. There are only patients who are researching potential treatments and potential doctors.
The marketing strategy developed for your practice must reflect an understanding of conditions, procedures, clinical terminology and patient behaviors. This is important across all marketing efforts including your website, Google Adwords, Social Media Marketing and any other outlet.
2. Not Understanding Patient Behaviors
In many cases, we will perform a review of the current marketing strategy of the practice including the Google Adwords, Social Media Marketing, Content Marketing and any other external marketing efforts being performed by the local marketing company. What was see is a veritable disaster of a strategy and thousands of dollars of the practice’s money being wasted. Below are two common examples:
When we look into a Google Adwords campaign, we will see hundreds of clicks for vague terms like “knee pain”. This is because the local marketing company thinks to themselves, “Well _______ Orthopedics treats knee pain, so I guess it is something we should be showing ads for”. This couldn’t be more wrong.
The reality is that the person searching “knee pain” has given no indication they want to see a specialist or receive treatment. Statistically, they are looking for home remedies, OTC medications or exercises to treat an acute bout of knee pain. Now, if your practice is paying $3, $5, $8, etc. per click on the term “knee pain”, these clicks can add up to spending thousands of wasted dollars and result in no new patient calls or appointments.
Another common mistake we see is within Social Media Marketing. Local marketing companies will take articles, posts and content from anywhere they can find it and post it to your page so long as it has even the slightest bit to do with orthopedics or spine. Here is the problem – posting random blogs and articles from other websites is not an effective Social Media Marketing strategy and does nothing to reinforce the expertise, experience or services of your practice. It is just spam that is being posted in potential patients feeds that leads them to ignore or unfollow your page.
These are just two examples of the thousands of common mistakes these companies who have no experience with orthopedic, spine or neurosurgery practices make.
3. Not Understanding Data, Reimbursements and Collections
What is the actual dollar value of a click or an impression to an orthopedic practice? Zero.
If you are spending money to generate new patients shouldn’t you know whether you’re seeing new patients from your marketing efforts? The problem with local marketing company’s monthly report full of clicks, impressions, shares and other data that has no real translatable value or no data about real new patient acquisition. This is because they inherently don’t understand that not every person who clicks the website makes an appointment. They don’t understand that the care path of a patient can be weeks or months. They also don’t understand that reimbursements can often take weeks or months to collect. So how can the marketing company track new patient ROI if they don’t understand the revenue cycle of a new patient?
As a result of this lack of understanding, the practice is never truly aware of how effective their marketing is, if their practice is growing in new patients and the revenue growth they are seeing month over month or year over year.
Despite all of this, it is very common for practices to believe that they need a local marketing company because that company understands the market and is easily accessible because they are in the same town or county. With regard to accessibility, there is no reason a company in another state should be any less accessible than a local company. Email, text, phone calls, video conferences and in-person meetings are all part of the communication that is vital to the success of the marketing program. In a world where everyone is connected to their phone and email 24/7, the response rate of a local company and one across the country should have no difference.
With regard to understanding the market, living in a certain area gives a marketing company no advantage if they do not understand the local demographics and how that impacts the practice. For instance, if the practice is looking to increase the volume of Total Hip or Total Knee Replacements, does the local marketing company know what demographics are best suited for that? If the practice has a Sports Medicine focus, does the local marketing company know what demographics are best suited for that?
The reality is that it all comes down to research into demographics and psychographics to understand the behaviors of patients in a specific market. Just living there is not research.
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.