Marketing expert Jarod Spiewak shares his digital and traditional tips and tricks for helping doctors promote and grow their practices through marketing.
Speaker 1: You are listening to Your Practice Made Perfect. Support, protection, and advice for practicing medical professionals. Brought to you by SVMIC.
J. Baugh: Hello everyone, and welcome to this episode of Your Practice Made Perfect. My name is J. Baugh, and I'll be your host for today's episode. Today we're going to be talking about marketing your practice, and joining us to talk about this very important topic is Jarod Spiewak. Jarod, welcome.
Jarod: Yeah, thank you for having me J.
J. Baugh: Well it's good to have you here. Before we start talking about our topic for today, why don't you tell us a little bit about yourself?
Jarod: Yeah of course. My name's Jarod Spiewak, I am the founder and lead strategist of Comet Fuel, formerly Blue Dog Media, but we rebranded during 2020. Basically what we are is a boutique marketing agency that helps businesses make more money through ROI-centric marketing campaigns, which basically just means, ROI for anyone that doesn't know, is making more money than you're putting into your campaign. In terms of myself personally, I have been in the field of marketing for a little under a decade. In February here it'll be nine years. I've run the ringer from being in-house employee, to working for agencies, to owning a couple of my own businesses in different sectors. I would say I'm excited to be here, because I think I'm well versed enough to be able to bring a lot of value to the listeners.
J. Baugh: Well I know our listeners are looking forward to hearing what you have to say about marketing their practice. So, let's kick this off with talking about some of the basics. Why is marketing important for a medical practice?
Jarod: Sure. So let me play devil's advocate here for a second. Marketing is the only reason why your practice makes money. Every way that somebody comes and decides that your practice is one that they want to decide to work with, decide to - for whatever it may be - whether it's a one-time surgery thing, maybe it's a cutback surgery. They have a lot of one-off customers for, or maybe it's something that you see patients on a regular basis, over a large number of years. Marketing comes in very many forms, and it's not always that you're paying for ads, it's also things like word of mouth. If somebody gives you a referral, that's referral marketing. If somebody tells a friend, that's word of mouth marketing, you can use those interchangeably.
So it's really the process of getting patients into the door, getting them to start a conversation with you, that is everything on the marketing side. And then once you start to have that conversation with that prospective patient, then it goes into more of the sales side and the ones that are of course a patient, then it's more on the retention side. But marketing is basically everything that gets a patient into the door.
J. Baugh: So if I am a practice owner or a manager, how do I even get started with that process, and what are some simple or basic steps to take to get some type of marketing for my practice kicked off?
Jarod: Yeah, of course. So the most basic things that everybody can do, regardless of time or money or any sort of budget allocation that you may or may not have is, and especially for newer practices that are very green on the marketing front is, making sure that people actually know that you have a business and what you do. You'll see this 1,000,001 times, so for a lot of people, this probably isn't new information, but it's actually very important is, tell your friends and family about the practice that you have because they probably know other people too, and that they can refer people to you.
Make sure that, whatever office space that you might have, that you have clear signage that, even if someone's driving by, if somebody's walking by, they can at least get the impression to understand, "Oh, there is an orthodontist here. Oh, there is a dermatologist here. Oh, this practice is actually a lot closer than the one that I'm visiting right now, maybe I'll look at switching." Or, "Running into an insurance issue and I need to start looking around again." Or whatever it may be. So at the very basics, make sure that people actually know that you exist in the first place, to be honest. Clear signage, tell people that you know, that you're in business. Understand how to... When you meet somebody and they ask you what you do, be able to explain what you do, and a little bit of why you're different than the other practices that are around.
J. Baugh: So what if one of our listeners can't hire someone to handle the marketing for their practice, and maybe they have limited time to dedicate it for themselves. Do you have any tips or advice for someone who's in that situation?
Jarod: Yeah, so this can be a catch-22 for a lot of people, and I'm saying this off of a lot of personal experience with my own businesses, is that there are two assets that everybody has, every person and every business and that's time and money. When you don't have money, you can spend your time doing things, and when you don't have time, you can spend your money to allow other people to do those things for you. Honestly, it can be a very dangerous situation to be in for a business, if you neither have time or money. So honestly, for most people, and this is, again, speaking from personal experience, you often do have one of the two things, it's just a matter of prioritization. And what I mean by that is, "Should I prioritize spending my time on X, Y, and Z, versus spending time on getting more people in the door. Is it right for me to spend more money on upgrading my equipment right now, or hiring somebody to do X, Y, and Z, versus getting more people into the door."
So I think that there's a bit of a balance there, because those are really the two things that everybody has, and if you don't have time and you really don't have money either, there's honestly not really much that you can do. So for most people, it's really a matter of prioritization when it comes to using the money and or time that you do have. Now, for those who are in a place where those assets are very limited, where you have very limited money that you can actually spend on hiring somebody, you have very limited time to actually invest in it, but you're able to find a way to spend what you can, in terms of time and money. What I would recommend, is that on the monetary side, don't hire somebody to do everything for you because you cannot afford it.
I see this time and time again of, "Hey, I have $200, I'll pay someone to make a $200 website." And then that website has to be redone within a couple months. It looks awful, it doesn't show up anywhere, it's not converting people, so on and so forth. Where the money that should be spent early on when you're really strapped for cash, is on hiring consultants. Which is that $200 that you have, can maybe hire somebody for 50, a hundred dollars an hour to spend two to four hours on the phone with you, to walk you through how you can basically spend your own time to make at least something half decent as a website. And because it's your business, you're probably going to put a lot more effort and thought into it than somebody would if you paid them $200 to make that website for you in the first place. So basically you're leveraging your money to better spend your time with a higher level of expertise.
Same thing if you were to dive into something like paid advertising, let's say Google Ads or something like that. If you were very strapped for cash, maybe you can afford to spend a couple of bucks on the actual ad spend, but maybe not so much on hiring someone to actually build a campaign and manage it for you. Your money's going to go a lot further if you hire somebody on a consulting basis, basically walk you through, look at what you've done, and give you some pointers based on the time that you spent in there, or just answer some questions. Guide you on, here's the Udemy course, that's $20, that you can buy that'll give you a pretty good idea of how you can get started on your own sort of thing. So that's what I would recommend on the monetary side of things.
On the time side of things, what I recommend for a lot of people is, the internet is basically accessible by everybody, everybody has an internet connection. Use it. There is so much you can learn just by Googling it. You can find a 1,000,001 videos on customer retention, on patient retention. You can find a 1,000,000,001 videos on how to set up a Google Ads campaign, on how to build your own WordPress website, or WIC website, or Squarespace, or whatever it may be. Where you'll be able to do something, maybe not to the level of an expert for sure, but get something that would be much more efficient than you basically spending the lowest dollar possible, if that makes sense.
J. Baugh: Yeah, it sure does. So we've covered some of the need-to-know for getting started with your own marketing campaign, so let's talk a bit about some of the details that you should consider as you analyze your marketing strategy. Something that's talked about a lot in your profession, is scaling the ROI of a marketing campaign by finding the path of least resistance. What does that mean?
Jarod: So this is something that if anybody who looks into me and looks into me in the future, has maybe heard of me beforehand, you'll see me constantly talking about basically breaking out different buckets, if you will, of what actually constitutes your ROI. And I'll dive in a little bit more into that in a second here. And then finding the path of least resistance, which is basically focusing your money, time, and all of your efforts on whatever will improve your practice and growth most. So let me dive in and unpack that a little bit. When you're doing any sort of marketing, your overall goal is ROI or return on investment, which is basically how much money am I putting into this, versus how much money am I getting out of it. Now, there are different goals and different marketing campaigns. Sometimes you're going for a direct ROI such as, "I'm a dermatologist. When somebody searches for a dermatologist on Google, I want to show up there, either organically on ads, and they're going to work with my practice."
That's a very direct approach and there's more indirect approaches, which is more so, "I'm going to rent this billboard and people are going to get the impression of my brand and of my practice, and recognize me, recognize my logo, recognize my slogan." Whatever it might be, So that when they're in the future, looking for a doctor for a specific thing or looking to change the current practice that they work with, that they remember my name. So at the end of the day, everything that you're doing on marketing is so that you make more money than you put in. But sometimes it's very direct, sometimes it's a little more indirect and a little bit more long tail.
Now with that being said, the ROI of a marketing campaign is a lot more to do than what often is talked about, which is, "Hey, we need more clicks to our website." Or, "We need more conversions from the clicks that we are getting." Now, the challenge with that, is everybody is focused on that, meaning that it's often the path of most resistance to get cheaper clicks, to get more clicks, to get more traffic, to get a higher conversion rate, because everybody is focusing their efforts on there. And you getting clicks and you getting conversions does not actually result in you making more money. What has to happen is, somebody has to come to your website, assuming we're talking about digital marketing. Somebody has to come to your website, they have to pick up the phone and call you. So step one, come to the website. Step two, become a lead or a prospective patient.
They have to call you, they have to fill out a form, they have to engage with you over live chat, if that's something that you have. If you're doing any sort of email marketing, where you download a PDF and then you email them over time, then they have to fill the email for that. But they have to somehow get in contact with you. And they still haven't made a single penny or cent from that person yet, so what then has to happen is, they get in contact with your practice. You have to contact them in a reasonable amount of time back, if they don't get in touch with you, or if you get them on the phone, you have to convince that person to become a patient with you... The sales or intake process, and as much as people hate considering sales, at the end of the day, that is what it is.
And then from there, that person is now a patient. You then have to retain that patient over time, so that you have multiple and subsequent transactions with that patient, which will overall increase the value of that patient for you. And so when you look at all these different buckets, all these different things have to happen in order for the practice to make money from their marketing efforts. They have to get the traffic or the clicks, they have to get the lead, and they have to convince that lead to work with the practice. And then the practice has to retain that patient over time. And the practice has to understand their numbers in terms of their profit margins in order to actually be profitable on that patient interaction as well. So getting back to the overall thesis of this is, by understanding and tracking all these different areas, tracking how many clicks you're getting, tracking how many conversions you're getting, what type of conversions. Tracking what percentage of people become patients, and how quickly you're responding to patients, if somebody fills out a form over a weekend, how quickly do you get that person back?
So and so forth. Tracking what percentage of people become patients. What's your retention rate on patients, and what's your overall profit margins on patients? You're able to map that all out and then figure out where in this path can you make the largest impact in the least amount of time and the least amount of effort. And oftentimes, for a lot of businesses in general,is that because everybody is so focused on getting cheaper clicks and getting more conversions, the complete other side of the equation is often left untouched. Where there is no SOPs or standard operating procedures done on the phone end, where there is no metric tracking internally to determine, is the person who's manning the phones, is your front desk person responding to people fast enough, are you converting patients at a high enough rate? Have you SOP’d what's happening on the phone so that if your front desk person leaves or when somebody else is on shift, that everything is consistent, they're following basically the same procedure to make sure that your overall conversion rates are really great.
And it's not when Susan is answering the phone that people convert at a much higher rate than when Bob is answering the phone, because Susan's just a lot better at her job. Well the issue there, is that there's a liability within the business there that if you were to fix that, would see a massive improvement. How often are you sitting down and recording your calls and sitting around with your team to go, "Okay great, here's what we're saying on the phone that's really great. Here's what we're not saying. Here's a common question that we get asked that seems like we don't have a great answer to, so let's actually formulate, how do we respond when somebody has this objection or has this question." Or whatever it may be to increase the percentage of people that actually become patients. That has nothing to do with your clicks or your conversions, which is what most people think when they think of marketing. However, it is going to increase the ROI of your marketing because now, those clicks and those conversions are a lot more valuable.
Same thing with your profit margins. How often do you sit down and actually look at your books with your accountant and go, "Okay, this is what we're paying for that we don't need to. This is how we can get cheaper supplies from a vendor because we order in this way, rather than that way. We order with somebody new now, reducing our overall expense is going to increase our profit margins, which will increase our ROI." So ultimately finding the path of least resistance. It's just looking at every single area and figuring out what needs to be improved the most and what will be the easiest. Sometimes it's clicks, getting them cheaper, sometimes it's conversions. But for a lot of people, what's ignored is the profit margins, the retention rate and the actual sales or intake rate, which is just left there and it's left as is.
J. Baugh: So earlier in the episode, you mentioned the term Google Ad campaign. So when you work with healthcare practices, what are the most costly mistakes you see them making with their Google Ads?
Jarod: The number one mistake by far that I see, is not tracking conversions. If you're not tracking your conversions, I'll dive into what a conversion is and how to track them in a second here. But if you're not tracking conversions, you may as well not be running ads at all. The reason being is that if you're not tracking the performance of your ads, what you're actually getting out of these ads, then you could be wasting zero or a hundred percent of your budget every single month, and have no idea. I cannot tell you how often I get on the phone with somebody, and I hear something like, "I feel as though my campaign is profitable. I feel as though we're getting patients from this." And then we set up tracking, and then it turns out that, no. There were very few conversions coming in. In fact, they were actually losing money every single month.
But because there was a, "Hey, I felt as though, because I was spending money people were coming to my website, of course they're going to contact me." But if you're not actually tracking that, you don't know how well things are actually working. You don't know what you need to improve, you're not actually tracking that. So diving back in there as to what a conversion is, is just ultimately you get to define a conversion, depending on how you have everything set up within your website, depends on how you're going to want to track a conversion, but primarily it's going to be two things. One, you want to track when somebody fills out a form on the website and be able to say, "Okay great, this person clicked on this ad. They searched from this keyword and then they filled out a form. And I can see that."
Setting up form conversions are fairly straightforward, you can do it right through the Google Ads platform, just add two different tracking codes to the website. There's 1,000,001, YouTube videos out there walking you step-by-step. And also the Google support will generally be able to walk you through something as simple as that. The next thing which is where a lot of practices are not tracking, if they are tracking forms is actually phone calls. You can track, if somebody clicks on your ad and goes to your website on their desktop computer and then takes out their phone on a device that they have never visited your website on, they call your number, and you can track that as a conversion. And you can track it back to the click that they made on their desktop computer. The way that you do this, is using a call tracking platform.
I personally prefer CallRail, this is what we generally recommend for all of our clients, but there's a ton of them out there. CallRail, CallTrackingMetrics, CallFire. If you want to get really technical, Twilio, but you need a developer to set that up. It can be a lot cheaper, but if you don't have a pretty good technical knowledge, then ignore that one. But generally CallRail is what we recommend. And it allows you to track when somebody actually calls in from, not only your ads, you can set this up for any sort of marketing campaign, even traditional marketing campaigns as well. What I often tell people, is that if you can do only one thing right in your entire Google Ads account, is to make sure you're tracking conversions. Because if you're tracking conversions, then you know if you've done things right or wrong. If you're not tracking conversions, you have no idea what is or is not working.
Making sure you're actually tracking conversions is the number one thing that you should be doing and it's the number one mistake I see, it's the first thing I always look at in every single account that I ever access. And it's almost always where I spend the first three to five minutes talking to somebody about what they're not tracking. The next thing that I would say is a pretty big mistake that I see within Google Ads accounts, is the overall strategy of the campaign, is that if you are sent... This is mainly when I see people set it up themselves, but if you set it up yourself, spend time to actually understand what it is that you're doing, and make no assumptions as to how it actually works. A big mistake I see people that decide to go at of their own free will, is that they set up their campaigns, they add their keywords and they set it up as broad match keywords.
Meaning is that... Let's just use the dermatology example again. Let's say you're trying to get people in for Botox injections and you just keyword Botox injections, that's it. Well, the issue is that, that's actually what's called a broad match keyword, which means Google says, "I'm going to show your ad for anyone that's kind of, sort of searching for anything kind of, sort of related to Botox injections." And then all of a sudden, you get clicks for people searching for Dr. Oz. "Why did I get a click for that?" Well because for some reason there's a connection between Dr Oz and something that he said about Botox and Google recognized that and they go, "Hey, this advertisement mentioned Botox in their keywords, so let's just show their ad for that." Something that you obviously wouldn't get a conversion out and you likely wouldn't get somebody becoming a patient off of that click.
And so what you actually want to do, is use different keyword match types, which are broad modified match, or BMM. Phrase match and exact match, which is much more restrictive and actually tells Google what you actually want to show up for, such as... An exact match basically says, "Hey, they have to search for pretty much this exact thing." Google does take some liberties with what the word exact means. Phrase match means they have to have that exact phrase within their search, and the broad match modified means that it has to have each one of those individual words, but in any order. And so what that does, is that cleans up your account quite a bit, and it removes a lot of the bad clicks that you're getting, so that's number two. And the third thing I would say, which is another thing that's pretty easy for anybody to look at, whether they want to audit the work that somebody is doing for them, or they want to start their own account or audit their own account, is looking at your search term report.
So keywords are what you put into the Google interface to say, "This is what I want to click. This is what I want my ads to show on." And the search term report is what you actually got clicks for. When you put in a keyword, Google doesn't just show your ad for that exact term, Google takes some liberties to understand, "Okay great, this is the topic. These are the phrases that I want my ads to show for." So your search term report, which can be found where you go to click on what your keywords are, it's the second or third one down, it will say search terms. You can see what people actually clicked on. And you can go through that list and find whatever wasn't relevant to the practice, and then add what's called a negative keyword.
So your keywords say, "Hey Google, I want my ads to show up for these things." And your negative keywords say, "Hey Google, if somebody has this word or phrase within their search, do not show my ad for this." So for example, somebody searches for, "free Botox injections" you can go in there and add a negative keyword for free or DIY, if someone really wanted to go down that route. So you can make sure that your ads are only showing for search terms that are actually relevant. The worst account I've ever seen was about 99% of their clicks, and this is someone spending a couple of thousand dollars a month on their ads, 99% of the clicks were just completely irrelevant because they weren't managing their search terms and they just put in keywords that sounded like a good idea, but honestly weren't, into their account.
And they were just getting a bunch of clicks and they were like, "Hey, our account is really working for us. You can see we're getting calls in." But they weren't tracking it, this is a combination of all three things I mentioned, they weren't tracking the results. They were just using broad match keywords, and they weren't managing their search terms. So once we actually looked at the search terms, once we actually set up conversion tracking, we noticed that this isn't generating them any conversions. They're wasting a couple thousand dollars a month on getting literally nothing from it. And their search terms are just getting a bunch of clicks for stuff that isn't even really relevant to their overall business. So those are the three things I would recommend to look at without getting too technical.
J. Baugh: So let's talk just a moment about social media accounts. How can a practice use social media for marketing and what are some of your tips and strategies for that?
Jarod: Sure. So whether or not social media is really even a good idea comes down to, do you have the ability to put your personality into a written format in terms of online marketing? And what I mean by that is, some businesses just take a very general approach where it's, "Hey, let's mention this event that we're doing. Let's mention that, "Hey, we have a new blog post up. Let's say, hey, we know we just hired this person, here's a new insurance company that we can work with." Or, "Here's how we're changing our business hours." General information like that is great to post, but when it comes to, if you're trying to use social media to attract new patients and try to basically get the word out there for your practice, is that you have to really put a personality behind that. Whether that's yours or whether that's somebody on your staff that is going to handle the social media for you.
The reason being is, the average person, the average consumer, has no interest in what a business has to say, they have an interest in what people have to say. And so your practice’s account, if you use it under your practice’s name rather than your own name, has to have a personality with it, and it has to be something that's real. It has to be something that will actually engage with people. The worst thing that I see is, "Hey, we're invested heavily into social." And it's just very corporate speak, it's very dry, and it's just something that nobody wants to engage with. You can look at the account and go, "There's a human behind this account and not a PR team."
J. Baugh: So before we wrap up this episode, I'm wondering if there are any other last minute tips or advice that you would like to leave our listeners with?
Jarod: Yeah, so what I would say is, if you're looking at your marketing, maybe you're on the newer side of things, you're maybe a bit cautious of spending time, spending money, et cetera. The best thing that you can do, is spend a little bit of time, whether it's over the weekend, a long holiday, whatever it may be, and utilize this great tool that we have, called the internet and Google and YouTube, and just start learning. There's so much you can learn about what marketing tactics are not worth diving into, what you can expect in terms of costs, how to set up conversion tracking, how to utilize social media, how to set up Google Ads campaigns, how to... If you wanted to try to DIY some of the SEO yourself, you could try to dive into that, and you can get pretty familiar with what you're capable of handling yourself.
But also if you're somebody who's afraid of, or a bit hesitant when they're possibly looking at hiring someone to do stuff for them, you can start talking to that person with a lot more education and be a lot more confident that you're much more likely to make a good hiring decision when you're able to understand what they're actually saying. And you understand, what are some IES things that people often say, or what are some things to look out for? What are some things that everybody should be asking? "Did they ask me about my goals? Did they ask me about what I'm doing, versus what I'm not doing?" Or whatever it may be. You're able to go in that engagement either on the hiring side, being able to make a much more informed decision, or on the time side, where you're putting your own time in, being much more confident that you know what you're doing and that you're going to be able to basically give it the best shot you possibly can.
J. Baugh: Well Jarod, you've certainly given us some great advice today when it comes to marketing a medical practice, and we want to thank you for your time and for your information that you've given us today. Thanks for being with us.
Jarod: Thank you for having me.
Speaker 1: Thank you for listening to this episode of Your Practice Made Perfect. Listen to more episodes, subscribe to the podcast, and find show notes at SVMIC.com/podcast. The contents of this podcast are intended for informational purposes only and do not constitute legal advice.
Policyholders are urged to consult with their personal attorney for legal advice. As specific legal requirements may vary from state to state and change over time. All names in the case have been changed to protect privacy.
Jarod Spiewak is the founder and lead strategist of Comet Fuel, a boutique, strategy-first, marketing agency that helps exceptional businesses fuel long-term growth, without all the typical agency BS. Jarod got his start in the world of marketing at the age of 14 by needing to figure out how to make money online to pay for college, which he started attending at 15 years old, after months of writing content for less than $0.01 per word and working for next to free through Craigslists “gigs”. Several “real jobs” and years later, after working as the lead strategist for a marketing agency and as a contractor to several other agencies… Jarod didn't feel as though the agency that he wanted to work for existed, so he started it instead. A boutique agency that combines marketing services with business and finance. Over the past few years, Comet Fuel (formerly Blue Dog Media) has successfully managed over $10MM in advertising spend and has returned millions of dollars in profit for their client’s SEO and SEM campaigns.
J. Baugh is a Senior Claims Attorney for SVMIC. Mr. Baugh graduated from Lipscomb University with a Bachelor of Science degree in Accounting and from the Nashville School of Law with a J.D. degree. He is currently licensed to practice as a Certified Public Accountant and as an Attorney in the State of Tennessee. He has been a member of the Claims Department of SVMIC since 2000.
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