My Secrets to Marketing to Doctors – Part I
by Patrick Phillips
If you own (or want to own) a medical billing company, you might know how hard it is to get in front of a doctor and explain why he or she needs to outsource their billing to you. Sure, they can save time and money by utilizing an outside billing firm that is focused on getting every penny that is due to the practice. And even if they already outsource their billing, you may have unique ways to save them even more money and collect even more of their hard-earned dollars.
But how do you get past the gatekeeper to present your value proposition to the doctor? Or, how do you work with the gatekeeper to help them realize the reasons why you could make their life easier and show them to be the hero by introducing your outsource services to the practice?
After working with hundreds of billing company owners and helping them to sign up hundreds of doctors from coast-to-coast, I want to share some of my secrets with you that will help you get as many physician clients as you can handle.
The first thing that will help you is pretty obvious: doctors want to do business with professionals. Are you presenting yourself and your company as someone that a doctor would want to do business with?
For example, let’s start with your marketing materials. Are they professionally designed and written? Or did you write them yourself? If not, start with a search for a copy writer (www.fiverr.com, www.freelancer.com). Find someone that has a proven history of writing advertising and sales materials that are convincing, factual and that provide valuable educational information for the office manager and the physician. Make sure they can provide examples of their past work and see if they have what it takes to engage and convince someone of what they are selling.
Next, search for a graphic artist who can take the finished copy and turn it into a professional-looking brochure or flyer. If you have designed your own material and had it printed on your ink-jet printer, I can assure you that it is not making a good impression on the medical staff.
Spend the money to have your marketing materials designed and printed professionally. There are many online printing companies that can take a pdf and print it in full-color on nice paper stock and beat anything that you can produce yourself. (www.vistaprint.com, www.overnightprints.com).
This advice applies to your business cards as well. I can’t tell you how many people try to save money by designing and printing their own business cards and they look like it! Remember, this is the first impression that prospects have of you and your company. Make the first impression a good one.
Now, assuming you have professional-looking marketing materials, what is the thrust of your marketing message? Are you just letting medical practices know that you are in the area and have some medical billing for sale? It’s like selling popsicles in the Artic. “No thanks, I already have some ice!”
There are only two situations out there: 1) the practice handles the billing themselves in-house, using their own staff and software; or 2) the practice already outsources their billing and think they are happy with it. I say “think” because they probably don’t know whether they are getting the maximum amount of revenue that is due the practice – they just assume that everything is fine because they receive checks in the mail each week and so the billing company must be doing a good job, right?
Not necessarily. Depending on whether they use the latest technology, whether they are using the best clearinghouse, and whether they are using best-practice in the follow up of denied claims … all these factors determine whether the practice is receiving every penny that is due them. In many cases the billing company is only collecting 70% or less of the money that is being billed, which means that the practice is leaving 30% of their revenue on the table. They may think this is “normal” because they have heard similar figures from other practices. And, they may justify this because the doctor can always “write off” some of this lost revenue on their income taxes each year.
This is why you must adjust your marketing to the reality of what offices are actually facing and make sure that your message addresses these factors. Why would someone change spouses when they think they are at least as good as all the other spouses they know? You must create at least a question in their minds that maybe there is a better spouse out there that could bring them more satisfaction and happiness. Well, anyway, you get the point.
Just because what a practice is currently doing is what they have “always done” does not mean that their billing is what it should and could be. Your message needs to break through that mindset and help create just a tiny bit of doubt in their minds about what they are currently doing.
And this is your greatest obstacle to marketing to medical practices: contentment with what they are currently doing. No one likes change. And especially if it involves something that could disrupt the workflow in the office.
Look, every medical practice has a lot going on every day. Probably the last thing they want to think about is changing their current billing arrangement. Besides, anyone involved in the billing, if they are doing it in-house, is going to be concerned that their job might be in danger. If the billing is outsourced at some point, don’t they become obsolete?
So this is another hurdle you must figure out how to overcome. What I call the “fear factor”. Not just a fear of losing their job but fear that someone might find out what a poor job they have been doing of collecting all the revenue that is possible.
So address those fears right up front. Let the office manager know that you are not there to eliminate someone’s job. You are there to increase the practice’s revenue, save time and allow those who are doing the billing in-house to reallocate their time to helping the doctor see more patients more efficiently.
After all, seeing patients is the only way that the practice can generate revenue. The more patients that can be seen on a daily basis, the more revenue that is generated by the practice. More revenue means everyone is happier since cash-flow is the life-blood of every business. Happier employees means happier patients. And increased revenue means happier doctors (and their spouses). And happier doctors means happier employees. More cash-flow means new equipment, nicer waiting room, more employee benefits, etc. Every challenge in every business can be solved by improved cash-flow. And you are the one that can help make that happen.
Now, how can you convey that you are the person, your company is the company, that can help the practice increase their revenue and make things go smoother in the day-to-day operations? It all starts with utilizing what I call “educational marketing”. Don’t just “sell” your advantages over the competition. Give value in your marketing efforts. Share news and information about the medical industry, about the changes coming, about the advantages you can offer the practice. Send out a newsletter, create educational handouts to drop by, mail the doctor a book, give the office manager some reprints of articles you have found on things that are happening in the industry.
Set up Google News alerts on medical topics and stay up on what changes are happening (www.google.com/alerts) and you will never be without something of value to share with the office managers and doctors you are targeting. As long as you give a link to the original article, feel free to share any pertinent information with your prospective offices. In today’s world, it is all about traffic, so news sites and authors want you to share their articles with others.
Be sure to include your contact information on any handouts you give out so the staff sees your name/logo over and over. It is repetition that will insure that you are the one they call if and when they do decide to look into outsourcing. You want to make your name and your company name “top of mind” at all times. This is key to a professional image.
Another key to a professional image is, of course, your own appearance. Never go out to offices without dressing as professional as possible. You cannot spend too much on your clothing. Having said that for emphasis, here’s a tip: go to an upscale department store and ask for the business consultant. Have them show you what you need to dress professionally … and then go to a store you can afford and buy the same type of clothing there.
Make sure your personal hygiene is appropriate for close encounters with other humans and then put on a smile (see chapter 2 of How to Win Friends and Influence People by Dale Carnegie if you don’t know why a smile is vital to your success. Now read the rest of the book).
In Part II, I will go into detail on ways to engage with doctors and blow away any competition from other billing companies in your area.