Welcome to America Smiles with tips and tricks where we try to help the average laboratory owner with some guidance on how to run their laboratory more effectively. The topic we’ll discuss is marketing-related; my favorite subject. More specifically, we’ll be tackling essential marketing tactics that all labs should be using.
Don’t Get Comfortable
Far too many laboratories find themselves in a situation similar to the one I’m about to describe. Say you’re a one-man lab with five or six doctors and are very comfortable with your situation. If you’ve just sat there and you’re not marketing and/or advertising, then you’re not running a business. You’re essentially working for five or six different doctors.
Your business is being run the way they want you to run it. Here at America smiles, we service somewhere around three to four hundred laboratories every month on a variety of different levels. I love all my customers want to keep all my customers, but the fact of the matter is we have an effective marketing campaign to get new customers. I get to be very, very selective. If I find out that I have a client that doesn’t fit what we’re looking for, we find a way to dismiss that client. That’s the reason I tell you that you don’t want to be in a situation where you’d be held to five or six clients.
If you have a two-man lab, you probably have 10 to 12 clients, a three-man team might be 18 to 20, but you don’t want to be beholden to any one of these customers. You want to be marketing and advertising so that you’re building and creating the business that you want while finding doctors that want to fit your business model. You’re not just gravitating. If I lose this guy, I will lose 10% of my business. You don’t want to be in that situation. How do you do that? Number one, have an attitude that marketing is just as usual and customary as sending out invoices and statements; you would never think of sending out a case and not having it include an invoice.
You would never think of the first of the month coming around, and you didn’t send out statements. Develop the mindset that it’s just as important to send out invoices and statements. If you start there, that’s 90% of it.
Where Marketing Begins
You can go out and do traditional door-to-door knocking on doors. You can do a mailing campaign. You can do social media. You can run campaigns with your other doctors and ask them, Hey, can you refer me to a friend? There are all types of ways that you could build a business. You already have more information than you might realize. Just look back. How did you get your first doctor? How did you get your first five or six doctors? Whatever you did, do that again, but with the mindset that it’s essential. The principal, most important reason is to build the business you want to own. Not just be employed by 6, 7, 8, 10 different doctors.
Nothing Can Replace Persistence
The method we recommend that we’ve found most effective is mass mailing if done right. The worst way you could do mass mailing is to put together a 5,000 piece mailer, send it out one time, and hope you get a doctor. All marketing has to do with brand recognition. You want a doctor to see your name over and over and over again. In truth, that may be what it takes to get them to pick up the phone. Think about how many times you have to see something before acting on it.
When Branding Pays Off
I like to brag about a doctor I got one time, Dr. Ed Vallish. He told me, “Keith, the reason I started using your laboratory is I thought I would see you less.” I was in his office so much. He figured the best solution was just sending me to work to keep me out of his office. He knew who I was. It took years to get him to try me, but there’s nothing wrong with sending out a postcard and to start with a small group of a hundred doctors, the hundred nearest doctors to your laboratory should all know that you exist. If I was to call and survey the nearest hundred doctors to your lab, they should all know who you are.
They say, yeah, we get his stuff all the time. The day their laboratory delivers a case late or fails to deliver it at all, a case doesn’t fit, or they go on vacation. You want that doctor thinking about you first. There’s nothing wrong calling all hundred doctors saying, “I’ve been sending you postcards for years. Is there any chance I could pick up a case as we’d love to do one case for you?” Or, saying, “I’ll do it half charge.”, if that’s what you must do to get the ball rolling. The main thing about having an effective marketing strategy is developing the mindset that you’re supposed to be doing it.
And that’s it.