My oldest son Cannon is 9, which means he’s playing in his first season of “real baseball.”
What do I mean by that? He’s played ball for 4 years, but until this point, it’s been in a highly controlled environment. Especially when it comes to batting.
Started with tee ball. You literally place a ball on a tee, whatever height you want. Set up perfectly, take as much time as you need, then give it your best swing. Easy.
Once he got a little older, it was on to coach pitch. A little more difficult than tee ball, but still essentially a cake walk. The coach pitches it nice and slow, to the spot over the plate where each boy has the best success of hitting the ball hard and far. Simple.
But now… NOW these boys are playing “real baseball” – meaning another kid is pitching to them. The batter is no longer in control of the speed, the timing or the placement of the ball being pitched. And even though they’re too young to safely throw curve balls, some kid pitchers do have change ups and other “off-speed” pitches to confuse the batter.
This whole transition is frustrating for many of the boys as they start at this level. Last season they were hand-delivered big juicy meat balls, and now they must figure out how to handle this broad range of pitches they’re up against.
“Real baseball” and “Real practice marketing” share several similarities.
Imagine an elective practice who does very little (if any) marketing. Their patients come primarily from referrals – other doctors and happy patients.
Many referrals of that nature are like the nice, easy Coach Pitch balls. Right down the middle of the plate, not too fast, perfect pitch, easy to smack out of the park.
And then a practice starts to market… expands their reach… courts new audiences that may not have heard of them…
YES, this results in a higher volume of new leads aka more opportunities… but some of them are more like the not-so-easy-to-hit kid pitches. Some are in the dirt. Some are off-speed. Some are frustrating.
It’s a different game when you start to market, or even if you’re already marketing and you test a new channel, a new hook or a new promo.
Is that bad? No, it’s reality. And you have a few options for how to deal with it…
A practice in this position faces the same decision our players face:
- You can hope for fewer curve balls, OR
- You can learn how to hit the curve ball.
Do #1 long enough and you’ll get frustrated and retreat to dependence on those referrals. No shame in that. Plenty of people run respectable practices that way.
But if you want to be the dominant player in your market… If you want to help more patients… If you want to put the discount chains out of business…
Do what the big leaguers do – Learn to hit the curve balls.
– Troy “Put me in, Coach” Cole
PS – Doesn’t matter to me which side of the fence you’re on with this. We have clients who do a lot of marketing, and we have certain strategies and workflows in place to deal with the curve balls. We partner with others who do very little marketing, so we work to maximize those referrals. It’s your business, run it however you want.
The BIG thing to remember is that YOU gotta figure out what you wanna be, and act accordingly. We’ve worked with practices who SAID they wanted to play big league ball, SAID they wanted to dial up the volume, SAID they wanted to dominate their markets… but they didn’t want to put in the work or face the harsh truths necessary to play big league ball.
Again, totally fine if that’s you. Just do some soul-searching and figure out who you are and who you wanna be. (And “I thought I wanted this, but I don’t” is a perfectly viable position to take…)
PPS – You will get into situations where you’re seeing way too many ridiculous curve balls. You realize you don’t even want to face a certain “pitcher” (i.e. a certain media platform or a certain type of promo that’s costing you too much time and frustration). So I’m not saying you should think of your entire marketing plan as “Suck it up and deal with whatever you get.” Sometimes it makes more sense walk away.
But in my experience: 95% of the time your team is naturally inclined to look for coach-pitched meatballs. And they bail (often without even knowing it) at the first hint of a curve ball coming across the plate.
So before you say, “This promo / lead source / marketing channel / whatever is trash,” make sure you are SEEING the pitch… SEEING those leads come in… and treating them like the curve balls they are. ⚾️