21 Feb The Right Formula PART II: Right Time
Right Message + Right Time + Right People = Success
“Strategy and timing are the Himalayas of marketing. Everything else is the Catskills.” — Al Ries
Ever suffer through the telling of a joke by someone who didn’t know how to tell a joke? Painful, wasn’t it? What was the problem? Probably timing. He didn’t know when to pause for dramatic effect and when to deliver the punch line. Or maybe he said the punch line before the whole joke was told, so that the entire joke didn’t make sense, and he had to tell it over. [insert rolling of eyes here]
While I admit it’s a goofy analogy, marketing timing can be similar. Let’s say you’re a G.P., and you and your practice administrator have decided to do a direct mail campaign to families moving into the area. Smart idea! You’ve carefully written your copy (message), and you know to whom you want to deliver it (people). All that’s left is the timing.
So, when would you mail it? If your answer is that you’d time your mailing for delivery to the new family’s home within the first week of their arrival, you’d be in good company. Probably 90 percent of us would think that’s a great time to do it, but we’d likely have gotten the timing wrong. Why?
Think about it. They’ve just arrived. They’re busy busy. They’re unpacking boxes. They’re wrenching their backs dragging one-ton armoires upstairs and hanging pictures and smashing their thumbs. They’re getting phone, cable, and internet service. They’re enrolling the kids in school. They’re meeting new neighbors. They’re tired and cranky. They’re getting piles and piles of junk mail with offers from pizza to checks to address labels, and there’s your piece, in the clutter of it all, on their kitchen table. Chances are, it’s barely glanced at or never even seen. It gets tossed. Bad timing.
Mailing a week or two later would make all the difference. Why? Because you’re probably a “second tier” priority in their to-do list, unless someone is sick upon arrival. It’s important for them to have a local doctor, of course, and they will look for one, but LATER, when the dust has settled a bit. Same message; same people; different time.
An actual example of timing is a cardiology practice that noticed that 35% of all individuals with a hypertension diagnosis had a cardiology-related event within two years. They sent a brochure about heart attack warning signs and their heart center after the initial hypertension diagnosis and increased their patient base. Another is an OB/GYN practice that increased obstetrics volume by sending a mailer about birthing services, with an offer for a free pregnancy planner, to women with children around the ages of 18 to 20 months (the average time between births is 31 months).
A lot of timing is also just common sense, of course. Most immunologists know to market just prior to spring, fall and back-to-school. Plastic surgeons and aestheticians tend to advertise quite a bit in the first quarter of a new year, when prospective patients are making resolutions to look and feel better.
The results? Better ROI because of timing. Sometimes several months of intense marketing at the right time generates a better return than marketing the entire year. Yep. You heard me. A marketing guy said some of you don’t always have to market 24/7/365.
So how do you get the timing right? As mentioned in Part I with the right message, start by putting yourself in your patient’s shoes. Think of yourself as a patient, not a doctor. Ask yourself when you would want to hear the message you’re sending.
As you know, consumer behavior is changing rapidly. Market rhythms, cycles, and trends are not as predictable as they once were, and the healthcare market is fragmented and cluttered. Increasingly, timing is key. Consumers want — demand, even — healthcare practitioners who will meet them at their very moment of need. That moment may sometimes be what marketers call a “life event trigger”: a new baby, a new job, change in marital status, etc., and it can help us with timing. Using the trigger as a key, relevant marketing messages can be customized to the individual and delivered in direct response to, or anticipation of ,those windows of opportunity.
Using these and other methods of smart marketing timing will result in successful campaigns that generate revenue for your practice. Try it.
Next time, we’ll look at the last piece of the marketing formula: PEOPLE.