Imagine you started a new advertising campaign. Within weeks, 100% of your new clients respond to "How did you hear about us?" by citing that new advertising campaign. A lot of practice managers would think they had found the advertising method that definitely works for them.
However, also imagine that you check your end-of-quarter numbers only to see that business this quarter was exactly the same as last quarter. Would you still say the new advertising investment was working for you? It certainly grabbed attention, and that's good. But isn't the point of advertising ultimately to increase business?
The practice of asking "How did you hear about us?" is merely a buzz detector. Beyond that, it is not the measure of marketing effectiveness. The problem with the practice of asking callers "How did you hear about us?" is that practice managers routinely over-interpret the meaning of the results. In the scenario above, if the practice manager never stopped to evaluate actual business growth in conjunction with the time-frame of the new advertising venture, he or she might happily pump money in to that endeavor for years, the whole time gratified by a false impression of results.
Ultimately, the only real measure of healthcare advertising is a measure of business size over time. In home health and physical therapy, this is best measured by the number of starts-of-care (SOCs) per month. When adding a new marketing campaign, look for growth in monthly SOCs. However, keep in mind that most successful campaigns will create some new flow of business and then maintain that flow. The same campaign at the same level will not create unlimited, perpetual growth. Know that discontinuing successful campaigns will tend to cause the growth they originally achieved to dissipate over a matter of months or years. Constant growth through marketing requires constant growth of marketing. For a further exploration of this subject, check out: Measuring Marketing Effectiveness: The Most Popular Errors
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