Over the last 25 years I have invested millions of dollars in marketing and promotion. I have also made considerable investments in training in the subject of marketing. After immersing myself in the subject for the last couple of years, I have delineated the 5 most important fundamentals that get results in professional practice expansion and success. No matter the noise or “Next Big Thing” in the area of marketing and promotion, these basics will win every time if they are implemented, no matter how unintelligently.
Fundamental #1: Know Marketing
If you want to be successful in private practice, then it is simply not enough to be an excellent practitioner. The differentiator in your marketplace is how well you understand and implement your marketing strategies. Simply put, all business comes down to marketing and if you don’t know the subject, the competitor in your marketplace who can get results in the area will eat your lunch.
The whole point of marketing is to take your prospective client/patient through an orientation of your services so that when it comes time to “close the sale,” the buying decision is already made. In other words, the best marketing brings your prospect up to a level of agreement, both logically and emotionally, that your service is the solution to their pain. Once marketing does its job, then the transaction of money and other valuables for your services can be accomplished and the exchange can then be completed.
The way to be a great marketer is to know marketing. Study the subject—take courses, attend seminars, buy books, hire consultants and marketing experts and learn from them. Look at the most successful practices in your industry and you will discover that the highest income earners are the best marketers. Emulate what they do within the framework of your own goals. Learn about internet marketing, social media, webinars and seminars, writing articles and podcasts—every channel of communication to disseminate your message.
The more you know how to consistently create that effect, the more people will be helped and the more your practice will expand.
Fundamental #2: Understand your Public
Every professional provides a service that benefits a certain group of people. We get our education and our licensing and become proficient in technical procedures to create a result with our clients/patients. This is the starting point of marketing—having a product or service that gets results. Now the question becomes, “to whom will I offer these services?” This is your public.
You cannot possibly be all things to all people so you must specialize your services to a particular group. To do this, you must first choose your public and know exactly what they want. You engage in market research and surveying to assemble enough data so you can understand the unique needs and wants of this group. Only then can you offer your services in a way that will create the necessary demand.
Fundamental #3: Have a Unique Selling Proposition
A Unique Selling Proposition (USP) is that unique offering in the marketplace that will most appeal to your public and differentiate you from the competition. Once you figure out what your prospects want and how much they will pay for it, you must communicate your value in such a way as to get them to act upon your offer. This is positioning your offer in their mind that is unique to their needs. For example, a person looking for cosmetic dentistry on a budget may respond to “an affordable aesthetic smile for you” as a USP. There are limitless variations and are based on what you can provide, but the key is be unique and accurate as to the demands of your chosen public.
Fundamental #4: Be the Most Well-Known Expert in your Market
People love celebrity. The dictionary defines a celebrity as “a well-known person.” Your charge is to be the biggest celebrity for what you do in your market.
The reason is simple. When your potential client/patient has a need for your service, whenever that may happen in the course of living, you want to be the first person that comes to mind. This is known as “top-of-mind awareness.” Use this to your advantage. Position yourself in such a way that you are the obvious choice of service providers when the need arises.
To become the most well-known expert you must do two things:
Actually BE an expert. Really know your stuff. Then take the complex tools and techniques of your profession and simplify them so your public can understand them. The more you help them understand what you really do, the more they will look to you as a source of knowledge and resources in their lives. You really can’t fake this—the public will eventually figure out if you’re the real deal or not.
Tell EVERYONE that your are an expert and show them. Write a book. Get on local TV and radio. Write articles for local publications. Own the first page of Google with information you want your public to see. There are many resources available to help you accomplish this, but it won’t happen by accident. You must invest in these PR and marketing services continually and squeeze out as much value as possible for the fees you pay.
This takes a lot of work but the investment will pay dividends for your entire career.
Fundamental #5: Be a Master of Self-Promotion
Your job as a private practice millionaire is to continually increase your sphere of influence. By doing so, you create goodwill and leadership in public opinion, especially in regards to the consumption of your industry’s services by the public.
You must approach your marketing and promotional efforts at a professional level. In other words, you must become so proficient in the field that your competition will want to actually hire you to help them with their marketing. The more you master this area of your practice, the more you are in the driver’s seat with not only the expansion of your practice, but with the public’s increased demand and acceptance of the services your profession provides to the community.
Once you gain that expert status, you then have the ability to transfer that authority to someone who can succeed you, by way of some form of practice transition, so you can free up your time and attention for other interests. You then become the “rainmaker”, allowing you to capitalize on your celebrity by socializing with the public and generating new business on your terms. Or, you may want to treat instead of doing social events, allowing you to be the “clinical expert”, which can allow you to charge premium fees for time with you rather than an associate.
However you want to transition the functions of your practice, you will have an easier time if you build a great reputation as a thought leader. Then you will have the ability to imbue someone else in your practice with your seal of approval when you want to transfer responsibilities to them. Your public trusts you, so they will trust your choice in a successor—the ultimate transition plan.
Your ultimate success in private practice is more than quality service. It is your ability to market and promote yourself and your firm to the public in such a way as they will pay you handsomely for your results.
Challenge yourself to be a pro. And may you find success beyond your dreams.