On a daily basis, doctors are asked a litany of questions from their patients. Thoroughly answering these questions and putting patients at ease is considered by many to be one of the primary responsibilities of a physician. Likewise, it is the role of a marketing agency to respond to the questions and concerns of their clients. Interestingly, the questions that doctors should ask of their marketing agency are similar to those that are asked of them every day.
1. What is my diagnosis?
A marketing strategy should never be developed without first making a proper diagnosis. This entails taking a history and performing a “physical” exam of the practice. The following must be analyzed in order to come to a proper diagnosis:
Is your website designed and built for user experience and search engine optimization? Everyone knows that Google is king. To achieve strong rankings (the ability to be found), having a website that meets Google’s benchmarks is non-negotiable. The May 2021 release of Google’s Core Web Vitals update makes this even more important than ever.
Is your content well-written? Content needs to be written for people (patients, not physicians), but also for search engines. This fine balance needs to be assessed in order to determine the value of the existing content.
What do the statistics show? An agency must understand the performance of a website to be able to identify opportunities and craft a strategic plan that will lead to improved performance. How many visitors does the site get? How long are users sticking around? What’s the average load time? All of these factors, and so much more, should influence the ongoing marketing plan.
Search engine optimization (SEO) analysis
Simply put, SEO is the sum of all activities that allow a website to be easily found on search engines. A combination of onsite (within the website) and offsite (external to the website) elements influence the site’s rankings. An agency must understand the entire SEO landscape before an effective strategy can be created.
Previous or existing marketing assessment
Statistics from all marketing efforts, both past and present, grant valuable insights into what has actually worked and what has not. You may have tried a few marketing tactics in the past that did not meet your expectations and vowed never to invest in a similar campaign again. Before writing anything off, a full assessment should be performed to determine the reasons behind the successes and failures.
Is your practice ready for marketing and an increase in patient traffic? It’s important to observe things the way a patient does to ensure that every experience – on the phone, online and in person – is positive and will lead to patient retention. From your website to your call center to your waiting room, even office staff and exam rooms, a proper evaluation should be performed.
2. What are the treatment options?
The role of a good healthcare marketing agency is not just to deliver what is being asked, but rather make an honest assessment of what is truly best for your practice. The diagnosis informs the treatment plan and allows the agency to put a solid plan in place that will ensure the health of the practice.
3. What are the risks?
Just like in medicine, there are always some risks in marketing; however, a well-planned procedure will lead to positive outcomes. Different activities carry different risks. For example, print advertising carries a higher risk than investing in a website. Once an advertisement stops running, chances of gaining new patients as a result of the ad dwindles. Website development, on the other hand, is an absolute necessity and is something you will own for the long-term. (Disclaimer: once complete, make sure you ask your website development agency who owns the site and the content within it. Some agencies maintain ownership of sites that they build.) Investing in paid digital advertising also has a much lower risk. Google Ads, for example, charges a fee only when an ad is clicked, and the budget can be adjusted at a moment’s notice. Your marketing agency should be able to explain the risks and benefits of each activity that is recommended.
4. How much does the procedure cost?
Understanding the cost of marketing services and the agency’s billing structure is very important. You should never be surprised by an invoice. There are several standard billing options, including:
Make sure you understand what’s included and, more importantly, what’s not. Most agencies will impose limits (for example, time limitations) and you should enter into an agreement understanding exactly what you will receive for your investment.
For some projects you might be quoted a flat fee. Again, you should ask your agency what will be included in the flat fee and whether there are exceptions. For example, if you are having a new website built, you should know whether the fixed cost includes an unlimited number of revisions to the design, or whether there is a limit on the number of edits you can make.
Many agencies provide services at an hourly rate. You should always be provided with an estimate of the anticipated length of time it should take to complete the project. Sometimes, unforeseen circumstances arise and additional time is necessary. In these instances, your agency should provide you with an advanced warning along with an updated estimate.
If your agency is managing your paid digital or traditional ads, be sure to find out what the actual advertising spend is vs. the management fees. Some agencies will provide one lump sum and it is not transparent as to what the agency is taking and what is being applied to your advertising budget.
5. What are your qualifications?
There are a lot of good agencies out there, but being good does not automatically make them the right fit for your practice. Healthcare is a very unique industry. An effective marketing strategy that provides a return on investment requires specialization and experience in this niche. Before making a final decision, ask the agency for examples of some work they’ve done in the healthcare market. Also, request references and speak with some of the agency’s clients to gain an understanding of what their experiences have been.
Points Group is a full-service marketing and consulting agency. Since 2002, we have specialized in helping medical practices grow and increase revenue. Contact us today for a free consultation and begin the process toward a proper diagnosis.