Effective Internal Cross-marketing


Abstract: By encouraging cross-marketing between team members such as nurses and estheticians, you can ensure all your patients need are met under your roof.

Offering a broad spectrum of services is a key component to surviving—or even thriving—in an economic downturn. Cosmetic-based practices can feature recession-proof services—such as dermatology or reconstructive surgery—and surgical practices can increase nonsurgical revenue by hiring mid-level providers. However, introducing such services is only half the solution—an effective and successful cross-marketing program must be established within the practice for such diversification to pay off.

So, how can you get your surgical patients to come to your office for their routine Botox injections? How can you convert your photorejuvenation patients into seeing your dermatology-certified physician assistant (PA-C) for mole removal? How can you get your esthetician to start referring her patients for aesthetic cosmetic surgery? Following are five key components to encouraging your staff to cross-market successfully.

1. Educate your staff

Provide your team members with the tools they need to conduct comprehensive consultations during each patient encounter; this includes in-person, and via telephone and e-mail. From your receptionist to your mid-level providers, your team should be able to intelligently and completely discuss all treatments, products and services offered in your practice. Emphasizing education by conducting regular staff meetings, providing targeted reading material and reviewing case studies will give your staff the confidence and knowledge needed to discuss the wide range of practice offerings to all their patients.

CASE STUDY. An esthetician was seeing a patient for a radiothermoplasty consultation. The patient was seeking face lift-type results with very limited downtime. The esthetician recalled that the physician discussed both the suspension lift and the mini lift at the last staff meeting—and remembered the before-and-after photos displayed. When the esthetician showed the same photos to her patient, the patient determined that a mini lift was more in line with her expectations than radiothermoplasty, and scheduled surgery. The esthetician was very happy that she paid attention during the training, otherwise she might have just turned the patient away as not being a good radiothermoplasty candidate.

2. Reduce monetary competition

If staff members are benefiting from production-based incentives, they will be less likely to promote alternative or complementary services due to the fear that they may lose a patient to another staff member or the physician. Although monetary incentives can be beneficial in many ways, consider the downside when it comes to your internal cross-marketing program where cooperation among staff members is required.

Eliminating incentive-based pay does not necessarily mean a reduction in pay for the employee, nor does it mean an increase in cost to the practice. Salary is an option, although state laws need to be checked in order to make sure certain types of employees are eligible to be treated as exempt. Monetary compensation can also be replaced by sweetening nonmonetary benefits, such increasing vacation time or offering complimentary cosmetic treatments. The snag with this is that if certain employees are used to earning a commission, it is very difficult to take it away.

This is why physicians and managers need to think about their compensation plans thoroughly before instituting them because once in place, change can be very difficult.

CASE STUDY. A physician was paying estheticians on commission—based on production—and loved the results since it seemed to make the estheticians work very hard. When the physician hired a nurse to start offering Botox and dermal fillers at his practice, he encouraged the estheticians to promote the nurse’s services to their existing patient base. Despite strong foot traffic generated by the estheticians’ services, the nurse was not very busy. The physician later learned that the estheticians were not introducing the nurse’s services to their patients, since many could only afford Botox or a facial—not both, and the estheticians did not want to risk losing their commission. Once the physician eliminated incentive-based pay, the nurse became much busier—and patients benefited by being much happier with treatments and results that better suited their rejuvenation goals.

3. Create an incentive program

An alternative to individual incentives is to create a group incentive program with your internal cross-marketing program as the beneficiary. Creating a common goal for your staff to work toward is a wonderful team-building and morale-boosting activity. An example is offering an all-staff dinner or an off-site retreat, if certain milestones are met. A group incentive program can be anything where the team works together to meet a goal for the mutual benefit of the group as a whole. The physician or manager should set milestones for the entire staff, such as achieving a certain number of Botox injections for the month or converting a certain number of consultations, and reward the team when the goal is accomplished. The reward can be lavish—spa days or retreats; or simple—a catered lunch at the office or an early closing. The point is to give the staff incentive to increase production, as well as work together as a team.

CASE STUDY. The physician and his office manager were brainstorming about how to get the esthetician and the nurse to discuss cosmetic surgery with their patients. They had brought up the importance of cross-marketing all of the practice’s services at several staff meetings, but it didn’t seem to be working. The office manager suggested that the physician offer a catered lunch to the office for each nonsurgical patient converted into a surgical one. Once this incentive program was introduced, an immediate spike in surgical cases was noticed—and most were the esthetician’s and nurse’s clients. With the incentive on their minds, they were much more likely to bring up surgical procedures during their patient encounters.

4. Introduce patients to staff

Take advantage of slower periods in schedules by encouraging team members to step in with another provider’s patient. The more staff members your patients meet, the more exposure they have to your practice, and the more they will learn about all your treatment offerings.

CASE STUDY. The nurse has a light schedule on Wednesday—possibly due to the slowing economy. However, the PA-C has a full day of patients coming in for acne visits and skin cancer screenings. The PA-C suggests that the nurse step in during some of her patient visits to educate herself more about dermatology visits, as well as to meet new patients of the practice. The nurse scheduled several add-on Botox and filler treatments that day—and they were all the PA-C’s dermatology patients who had not known that cosmetic services were offered at the same practice.

5. Effective tracking

No marketing program is effective without a well-designed system for tracking results. There are many software programs available that easily allow you to generate reports detailing patient treatments and interests. This information is critical when designing an internal cross-marketing program.

CASE STUDY. When the physician hired the PA-C to offer general dermatology services to his cosmetic patient base, he thought a good place to start marketing would be with cosmetic patients who had received IPL treatments for brown spots and actinic keratosis. He used his practice software to pull a list of relevant patients, and sent a mailer introducing his PA-C and offering a complimentary skin cancer screening. The PA-C’s schedule was full of patients within weeks of the targeted mailer, most of whom were waiting months to get in with the dermatologist.

Effective implementation

Once you establish a well-educated, properly incentivized and cooperative staff, you will be ready to effectively implement a well-designed internal cross-marketing campaign. After you have articulated your practice goals, introduce your internal cross-marketing program to your staff members and make it fun—they will enjoy the teamwork, and you will benefit from the results.

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