September 2010 Archives

The real truth about promotion is simple: any promotion is better than no promotion.

This might seem to be a ridiculous oversimplification at first and only marginally useful, but this one statement solves all sorts of ills in business and very few professionals honestly live by it.  What is meant by this is that any promotion a business owner engages in—“bad ideas,” “poor content,” “low-return” advertising, etc.—is better than not promoting.  It is ALWAYS better to do some form of promotion than think about it, make a plan about it for later, or worse yet, just ignore it.

The number one problem with promotion in any business or marketing scenario is that folks just don’t do it.  Whether they consider it a waste of money, feel they couldn’t handle the extra incoming traffic flow, feel like they don’t really know what to do, etc.—when you get right down to it, they are all just excuses of why one doesn’t have to promote.  And if there were one piece of advice that could completely change a business’s income range it’s just this: send out regular, consistently high-volume promotion.  If a business were to follow just that one piece of advice, they’d be in clover.  Leave all other parts of management out, drop any ideas of organization, lose all semblance of orderliness and if you did just that one thing—consistently, regularly sent out high-volume promotion—you would have an income like you wouldn’t believe.

This holds true whether a person lives in New York City or a farming community in Iowa, regardless of whether the surrounding area has a population of 10 million or 10 thousand.  The truth is that if a community is large enough that it can sustain a practice at all, it is large enough that promotion will have a profound effect on its prosperity.  Even in a tiny town, if the owner was able to start a practice and limp along there, with enough promotion, people hear about the place and start to come from other nearby towns.

Sometimes people may think that due to the median income of their area, it won’t do any good to promote.  In truth, the income range of the surrounding people has nothing to do with it.  This will apply to a practice in Beverly Hills or a practice where 50% of the clientele is on public assistance.  Again, if the practice is able to charge any money and people are paying anything at all, then the practice will be able to greatly benefit from regular promotion.

Promotion drives in the business regardless of where the practice is located, regardless of local demographics or income and regardless of how old or new the building is.  People come to that practice because it is well promoted.  Assuming that the practice is routinely delivering excellent care to its patients, at the core of the issue, there really is no other reason people come in.  Even if they heard about it from their brother, that’s word of mouth—a form of promotion.

In example after example a practice owner felt like their situation was unique—their demographics were bad, or their local area was small, etc.  Yet in those same areas when the practice owner finally bit the bullet and just started promoting regularly, magically there was more business.  In fact, this happens so routinely it is almost funny.  The business owner believes that they’ve tried every form of promotion and none of it works—or if it does, it isn’t much.  They “know” that in their scenario to some degree it is “wasted money.”  In truth, the quantity of promotion they’ve sent out is typically quite sporadic in actuality.  They tried it a couple months and then gave up.  Real promotion takes months and months of persistence and must be done at a high volume level to see real results.

In most cases where the business owner sees too few people coming in to the practice and they don’t even see who else could come in, it is an internally-created situation.  It’s a “chicken or the egg” proposition.  In other words, the business owner sees few people coming in for services.  They then see quite “obviously” that there isn’t anyone to promote to anyway and that the people who need their services are already coming in.  In actuality, the people who are coming in are just the trickle that are still managing to show up despite poor promotion and themselves are still a product of promotion—if only word of mouth as a result of excellent services rendered.  Basically, the lack of promotion creates a very small traffic flow within the business.  This small traffic flow then “proves” to the business owner that there isn’t any real pressing need to promote anyway!  Funny?  Welcome to the business world.

Now, what is promotion?  Well, promotion is just sending things out into the environment that make people know about and want your service or product.  Fliers, advertising, letters, e-mails, websites, door-hangers and word of mouth are all different types of promotion.  It really doesn’t matter what sort of promotion.  Any promotion at all is better than no promotion.

The main trouble folks get into with promotion is just not doing it and, after that, just not doing it enough.  The amount of promotion sent out is far underestimated by most business owners.  Traffic doesn’t just walk in; it must be driven in.  The way this is done is by sending out communications regarding your business into the world around you.

In truth, the only real mistake one can make in promotion is not to do it.

How does one apply this in the real world?  Well, there are a lot of different marketing strategies, promotion plans and the like that a person could do.  And of course there is internal marketing, external marketing, referrals, advertising, etc., etc.  However, in the real world it works like this:

1.         Look through any past marketing you did, internal or external.  Find which promotion or marketing was even marginally successful.  Make a list.

2.         Even if none of these were wildly successful, pick the top three types of promotion.  If it comes down to it, just pick whichever one was most successful.  The idea is to keep it simple and doable.

3.         Look at the volume of this promotion when it was being successful.  What was the range in terms of numbers each week?  How many went out?

4.         Double this figure.

5.         Sit down with your Office Manager or other staff and work out how to get this quantity of promotion sent out for 8 weeks straight.  Just stick with it for 8 weeks and don’t quit until the 8 weeks are over.  This might seem like a minor point but it’s huge.  If you quit too soon you won’t see the results.  It must be stuck with for a full 8 weeks.

6.         Push through all stops and barriers and just doggedly ensure that this promotion goes out.  It really doesn’t matter if it was a referral campaign, an advertising campaign, appointment reminders, internal marketing, etc.  Whatever it was just make sure that you have enough fortitude to stick it out and get it done.

On the most basic level, this is promotion in the real world.  Over simplistic?  Well, in a way, yes.  This would be promotion at its most basic level.  It comes down to persistence and volume.  But even at much more complicated levels, even the best marketers forget the most key information: any promotion is better than no promotion.

The applications are limitless.  When applied to the more advanced levels of web promotion, e-mail promotion and social networking, it still has very real inherent workability.  No matter how good a person’s marketing program, it can always be stepped up and, in reality, that’s the game of promotion: ever-increasing quantities, reaching ever-larger numbers of people.

And while there is a whole lot more to promotion, while it is far more complicated than just the couple paragraphs above—in the end it comes down to…just do it.  You’ll win, your practice will win and your patients will win.  Why?  Because you deliver good service or else you wouldn’t still be in business.  And as many people as possible deserve to hear about you so that they can have an opportunity to receive that service and be helped by you.

And that’s what it’s all about.


Mark Hanses

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