ESCRS 2014: Cost-effective Ways To Attract New Patients

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As part of a panel discussion with Mike Malley of the Centre for Refractive Marketing, based of Houston, Texas, the organisers of the Practice Development Days asked me to present on cost-effective ways to attract new patients.

I found it very interesting presenting with Mike, as his style is even more upbeat than my own. Mike presented a series of examples from the field, of creative and cost-effective clinic marketing practices including:

  1. Patient referral online portals
  2. OD/MD referrals portals
  3. Automated patient surveys
  4. Automated patient Review requests
  5. Selfies for Sunglasses via Instagram
  6. LASIK Tomorrow Lay-A-Way Plans
  7. Google Chat LASIK Seminars
  8. LASIK Scratch Off Games
  9. Promotional online videos

My presentation focused more on the big picture of cost-effectiveness in marketing. I asked the 120 attendees: “What do you think is the average marketing Return on Investment?” In other words, if you spend £1 in marketing, how much do you expect to get back on average? Some people in the audience started at 50%, others went higher at 200%.

Then I asked, how many people had felt they had wasted money on marketing in the past – that it had not generated the returns they were expecting. Nearly every hand in the room went up.

It turns out, the average return on marketing investment is about 9%.

Screen-Shot-2014-09-23-at-12.05.00-1024x767
I tried to propose a possibly reason for this, and suggested that people have simply stopped trusting advertising, as this research – also from Neilsen, shows:

Screen-Shot-2014-09-23-at-12.10.50

Clearly changes are afoot. I then shared the following chart, which suggests what marketers are doing now to address the erosion of both returns and trust in traditional advertising:

The chart above demonstrates that the online world is briskly outpacing reliance on the traditional advertising arena. This isn’t news of course, it’s been happening for over a decade. So what are online marketers doing?

It’s interesting to note that email marketing is making the most gains, a practice almost completely ignored by most healthcare businesses.

Despite the revelations in this data, it’s still important to consider other means at increasing your patient base – means often ignored until they become massive problems, and means that have a much higher relative upside than traditional marketing. These means are telephone training to increase the number of leads than result in appointments, and consultation training to increase the number of appointments that result in treatment sales.

At the end of the presentation, I compared the average return on marketing investment, with the average ROI’s I have seen over the past 10 years of clients executing the practices I teach in my training workshops. The results speak for themselves.

You can’t stop marketing. You have to find a way to make the phones ring or else you’ll have too few consultations to convert into patients. Still, don’t ignore the last two steps, or your first step will have considerably lower ROI than you might otherwise enjoy.

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Rod Solar

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Rod co-founded LiveseySolar and acts as a Fractional CMO for our customers. He’s on a mission to help transform the lives of 10,000 people with vision correction surgery by 2024. To achieve that, he inspires his customers to make confident decisions that will help 50,000 people take the first step towards vision correction.

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Laura Livesey is the co-founder & CEO of LiveseySolar. She has developed powerful refractive surgery marketing systems that increase patient volumes and profits for doctors, clinics, and hospitals, since 1997.

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