avatar Nick Dumitru

Your brand isn’t the foundation of your business. Your business is the foundation of your brand.


Practice Perfect: Actionable business information to take your medical practice to the next level. Now your host Nick Dumitru.

Nick: [00:00:19] Welcome to Practice Perfect, episode number two. On this episode we’re going to talk about a subject that is probably going to piss off your marketing company. It may anger your advertising firm, but it’s a subject that is crucially important to your practice and your understanding of this and rejecting common beliefs and misconceptions is what’s going to take you to the next level. I’m talking about branding and I’m going to talk to you about how to create a brand when you can’t afford branding. The reality is that most cosmetic practices, most medical practices, most medispas, can’t truly afford the cost of branding. It’s a buzzword. It’s something that is pushed by all of the big advertising firms because they’re dealing with corporations with enormous budget and those corporations can afford to spend that money, waste that money, use that money, to create something out of nothing.

Nick: [00:01:19] The biggest lie you’ve been told about branding is this: that you need branding. The fact of the matter is that you don’t. I’m going to tell you about that a little later on in the program. Before we get to that, I want to talk a little bit about what a brand is. Don’t confuse a brand with corporate identity, and by that I mean, that your practice needs a logo. Your practice needs to look professional, your practice needs to have a beautiful presence online and in print. When you give your materials out, that’s not a brand. That is just your identity. It is your face to the world. I want you to think of a brand as an individual. I want you to think of a brand as a person with all of that person’s component parts. And if you see a person just standing there, you make certain assumptions about them. So you look at their identity. Are they wearing a suit? Are they a woman? Are they wearing an evening gown? Are they wearing a business suit? Are they wearing jogging pants? Are they looking disheveled? Do they look well put together? The identity for that person is what you gather when you first look at them. It’s what you take in visually and then you use your pre-programmed conceptions to come to a conclusion about that individual. And now corporate identity is the exact same way. It’s no different than putting on a nice suit or a nice dress to go out for the evening. It’s no different than dressing appropriately for the part. Policeman wears a policeman’s uniform. A doctor wears a white coat and we instantly identify them as what they are. That’s corporate identity. That’s not a brand. The brand is the connection. It’s the interaction. It’s everything that puts your patient in touch with your practice and the experience that they have. It’s the personality of your practice. It’s, if we go back to the analogy of the person, it’s what happens when you walk up to them and you say hello. Do they say hello back? Are they friendly? Do they smile at you? Are they angry when they look at you? What a courteous to you were they polite? Did they make you feel good on the inside? Do you wanna talk to that person again? That is the essence of what a brand is. But that can’t be created. If you think about all of the work that goes into creating a human being, an adult human being, it’s the full sum of their experience, their education, the food that they were given, the interaction from the parents. It’s hundreds of thousands of dollars at the minimum and more likely millions when you factor everything together over time. That’s how I want you to think about your practice as well. You’re growing into the market. You’re at the infant stage and if you want to bring that to fruition, you’ve got two options: you can try to manufacture that through forced methods, such as mass advertising, billboards, television ads, radio ads. You can try to do all of that to get the name out and try to tell people that you are an individual or you can invest money into the interaction, into the quality of the development of your people, into the quality of the development of your brand, as it matures and is not fabricated. So it sounds a little esoteric. It’s a little you know high level right now. We’re going to get into what that means in just a second.

Nick: [00:04:41] What it boils down to is that the brand is really nothing more than doing good business consistently. Period. That’s it. If you want to build your brand you start to do good business. And that emotional connection, the connection between your customer and your practice and the business that you do together, that will foster a brand in the marketplace. That connection can only come from interaction. It can only come from actually engaging with your practice and doing business with your practice. If you see a person you cannot build a relationship that makes you want more of that interaction by not engaging with the individual. If you saw someone that you wanted to talk to and you wanted to be friends with, could you do that by just standing around? Definitely not. You’d have to go up to that person, you’d have to engage them in conversation, spark a connection, do activities together. The deeper the activity, the closer the connection. If you ever go camping with someone you grow closer. If you travel with somebody, if you go backpacking with them. If you’ve gone to school with them and you’ve been tight the whole time. Those shared experiences are what build that connection and that’s the foundation of starting to build a brand. So if you want to build a brand, do good business. That’s the first point that I want you to understand.

Nick: [00:06:01] The other thing I want you to get is that doing forced branding the way that the large corporations do, takes a significant amount of money. And I’m talking millions and millions and tens of millions of dollars. It takes repeated exposure. It takes consistent exposure, so every newspaper ad, if you’re paying 6000 or 10000 for a full page spread to get the name out, quote unquote, has a lot of advertising agencies and marketing agencies are fond of doing, that takes cash. Plain and simple. If you’ve got a wad of cash, by all means you can certainly go and attempt to build a brand. But here’s the reality: the hard truth is that 90 percent of products, product launches in general, fail. I’m not talking about the small companies. I’m talking about large corporations here, Pepsi, Coke, Nike, Chrysler, Ford. All big companies have had failed product launches in spite of their large budgets, in spite of them having a war chest to go to market with. So that’s the other thing about branding. It’s not something that’s guaranteed. Anyone that tells you that they know exactly how to brand and how to grow exposure and you know they’re going to get you some sort of notoriety in the market is just fooling themselves for the most part. As a small cosmetic practice, one physician, two physicians, three physicians, if you’re not bringing in nine figures a year, you don’t really have the war chest to do this. You may be doing well, but you’re definitely not, you know, the size of IBM or Apple or any other large corporation that’s doing great business.

Nick: [00:07:34] The other reality I want you to understand is that for the most part, if you’re a surgeon, what you have is a transactional relationship with your patients. They come in for their surgery and then they probably don’t want to hear from you for the next 10 years. They’ve gotten their breasts or their tummy tuck or their facelift and they really don’t want to talk to you further. They are not branded to your practice. You can’t force them to like you because this is not a an ongoing relationship, for the most part. I’m talking in generalities, yes. You can bring them back for Botox. You can bring them back for non-surgical services, for CoolSculpting, and you should, but that connection didn’t come from you creating a brand and then being attracted to a brand and then them wanting to come back to your practice because your brand is so prolific and magnificent and in the market. They want to come back to you because they had a great experience. They had a great result. It had nothing to do with the brand. That relationship grew and then they came to like your brand. It wasn’t the other way around.

Nick: [00:08:41] The other thing you have to understand is that the brands in our industry are owned by large corporations. You don’t own Botox. You don’t own CoolSculpting. You don’t own whatever the current hot technology or injectable or cream. You may have your own cream line. Yes, they can be popular in the local market. If you’ve gone national then you can say that you’ve built yourself a brand through that. It’s very rare. Very few physicians that I’ve met have done this. And the more likely scenario is that you don’t have a brand. You don’t own the brand. But the good news is that you own the experience and the experience is your brand. The experience is why they come back and you can afford to do that. That’s the good news. It doesn’t matter, you don’t have to own the brand. You have to be the brand. So it’s a very key distinction when now you’re thinking about your marketing.

Nick: [00:09:35] I want you to jot down this line: a brand becomes as a byproduct a business. It isn’t made. You don’t make a brand and definitely not at your level of spend. And jot this down as well: your brand isn’t the foundation of your business. Your business is the foundation of your brand. It’s a very different way of thinking. You don’t want to focus on your brand. You don’t want to spend your money on your brand, waste your money on ads that don’t work. Put out TV advertisement and then not understand why you didn’t get a return because you just had your name out there. Your business is to do business. Your mission, your goal, your duty to your staff and to yourself and to your family, is to do good business. Not to build a brand. And now, that’s the part that gets a lot of people frankly a little bit angry, especially if they’re in the advertising business. They like to think that branding, because it’s a buzz word, because it is something that has been beaten to death in the marketing world, and has become almost expected, is the way to do business and I’m telling you that it’s not. I’m telling you this from experience. I’m telling you this from having done it for the past 20 years. Brands become as a byproduct of good business, not the other way around. There’s no guarantee in building your brand. So you have to focus on building your practice instead. The one way I put it to people is a little bit harsh but brand marketing is tantamount to urinating on your cash and flushing it down the toilet. I mean that sincerely. I’ve seen people do this over and over again at the smaller business level. So if you want to brand, if you feel that you’ve bought into the brand mentality, you’re more than welcome to put that cash in there and start flushing because unless you’ve got enough to plug that hole, it’s always just going to flush down the drain along with your hopes and dreams. You need a large amount of money if you’re going to focus on your brand instead of your business. But the good news is that you don’t have to. You can focus on your business and you can get paid. And we’re going to get into that right now.

Nick: [00:11:41] What I want you to do with the money that you’ve saved from your branding efforts is spend that money on building interaction. Hire the right people for your front desk, to pick up the phone, to respond to e-mails. Hire based on personality, not skill. If you’ve got staff that’s maybe not ideal for your practice, get rid of them and look at replacing them. That’s a better use of your time, it’s a better use of your money. You’re better off spending a little bit more on staff that are quality and are great and will actually do follow up calls who will actually pick up the phone when people call, who will call leads more than one time. That’s a classic situation I’ve been dealing with for decades is that people call you practice, they may get a voice mail or they send in an e-mail, the receptionist calls out, but it’s typically one call. And then she says I couldn’t get a hold of him. I don’t know what’s going on. We’re not able to get these people in. Well you’re never going to be able to do that, if you don’t have the right attitude. So foster that attitude, use the money to hire the right people, to put the right people in place.

Nick: [00:12:43] You can further fund your brand evolution by investing in your social media interaction, the quality of your videos, write content for your website, creating an authority around your practice and convincing people to come in and do business with you. And the way to do that is not with brand marketing it’s with what’s called direct response marketing. In a very quick explanation, the difference between direct response marketing and branding is this: in branding, the goal is to get name recognition, to get people to know your brand and keep your brand top of mind. All great things, but I’m going to tell you that that happens anyway. If you’ve got enough money to run direct response ads and then you use the money from the sales to run more ads. That’s how you self fund. When you can’t afford the brand, you use your marketing to fund your branding. And by direct response marketing, what I mean is that you’ve got a very direct relationship between the advertisement and the sales conversion. So if you are running an ad, you are tracking that individual to the surgical sale and the whole goal of that ad isn’t to brand your practice. It’s to get that person to take action. That’s the key difference between branding style ads, which are there for exposure, and direct response ads and methodologies which are there to get the individual to take action and that can be something as simple as a phone call or an email to book a consultation through to a direct sale if you’ve got specials on Botox, Juvederm, CoolSculpting — anything else that that individual could purchase directly from you at that time. So the whole way to do that is to think about that is that if your ad isn’t asking for an action it’s probably a wasted ad. If that ad action isn’t trackable, then you are not sure where your ad spend is going and it’s going to be very very hard for you to spend more because you don’t know what you’re making at the end of the day. So put out an offer, get the person to take action, track that action through to the sale, find out what your return is and then plow that money back into advertising. This way you start to get the same kind of budgets that large corporations have to work with, but you get it through the customers finding you, through the clients, through the patients coming to your practice paying you money that you can then use to grow your practice. It’s a very very different way of thinking of it, if what you’re used to is brand speak. So I want to go back to your practice and evaluate everything that you’re doing, all your business practices, all of your advertising practices. Take a look at your ads. Take a look at your landing pages, the page where the click goes once they click the ad, and ask yourself if the ad is asking the person to click to get something. Is the landing page the website asking the person to take action so that they can get something? Are you then tracking that action and do you know how much money that whole sequence has made you? If you don’t have that in place you’ve got a lot of leverage. If you have it in place already then you need to go back and ask yourself what could I do better. How could I get more people to click on this site? How could I get my marketing agency or my advertising agency to really maximize this? Are you split testing landing pages? Are you using different wording? Are you testing different wording and images? There’s always upside and optimisation to this process. Unlike brand advertising, this kind of advertising can be measured, it can be adjusted and it can be improved. So if you don’t have all of this in place you should be extremely happy right now. I know the reaction is that you’ve got to be sad because, oh no, it’s not there, what have I been doing all this time. No. Keep a positive mindset. Understand that whenever you find a fault, you find opportunity and in opportunity there’s growth, because opportunity gives you the chance to change. And with that change you can move to the next level. So that’s how I want to look at that. Whenever you hear me speak on these podcasts about something that’s not working in your practice I don’t want you to feel bad about it. I want you to feel joyful. I want you to feel like you have got a new breath of new life because you’ve got somewhere to move forward. Right.

Nick: [00:16:57] The worst thing that I see with physicians is when they feel like they’re stuck. There’s nothing else, like I’ve tried everything, I’ve heard that so many times, just because you’ve tried something it doesn’t mean that you’ve tried it the right way. If someone comes to you and says, you know what, liposuction doesn’t work. I tried it. It didn’t work. Well, did it not work or was it done the wrong way? Advertising and marketing is no different. Just because you’ve tried something the wrong way, it doesn’t mean that that doesn’t work. Other people in your market are doing it. Others are able to advertise and get business and grow their practice and so can you.

Nick: [00:17:32] So what’s my parting thought for you. It’s this: if you want a brand, don’t worry about the brand. Do good business. Truly serve your patients and do it over and over and over and you won’t ever have to worry about your brand. Your brand will dominate the market without any help from the outside. I want you to think about that and think about your practice and think about what you can do and then go out there make it happen.

Nick: [00:18:00] Thanks for listening to Practice Perfect. I hope this episode has given you a lot to think about. I hope you’ve got actionable ideas that you can take back to your practice and go back and make changes, make improvements and take it to the next level. If you want show notes and additional help and advice and articles on how to grow your practice, visit us at ThinkBasis.com where we hold the podcast. That’s T H I N K B A S I S dot com, or just google the Practice Perfect podcast and you should be able to find our podcasting page. Have a great day. Have a wonderful week and I wish you all the best with your practice. Go out there. Make a change and make it happen.