When you are running a medical practice, you are no longer just a physician – you are also a businessperson. And any business needs a way to promote itself, find new customers and make your brand known in the marketplace. In short, promoting and marketing your medical practice is a fundamental part of your overall medical marketing plan. People who know about your medical practice are far more likely to be turned into patients. And happy patients grow your practice.
You may have a great patient base and experienced staff and offer excellent services. However, if you want to expand your services and grow your practice, you need to start thinking about your marketing strategy. This means putting some serious thought into who your target audience is, how you plan to increase your revenues and how you attract more patients. Ask yourself these questions:
- What kind of cases or qualified leads do I want to attract?
- Which new services or products am I aiming to break into?
- How are my existing services different from my competitors?
These questions will help you narrow down your potential market and find a niche. A clear focus on niche audience will enable you to tailor your services and implement marketing strategies accordingly. This may also require taking a step back from the day-to-day business and applying an entrepreneurial mindset. By thinking like a business owner, you can evaluate what you are good at, what your patients demand and what your competitors are doing. This can be achieved by implementing a technique called SWOT analysis. A SWOT analysis of your medical practice will enable you to explore internal strengths and weaknesses as well as external opportunities and threats. Read more about SWOT Analysis here.
Fundamentals of medical practice marketing
Taking time out of your busy schedule to think about your marketing strategy is important for the growth of your practice. The strategic analysis will help you understand your practice, look for new avenues to growth, explore potential partnership opportunities and show how you can make the most of them. You will also need to focus on improving the marketing of your services and growing your patient base. Here are the fundamentals of marketing your medical practice:
Website: Your website is the first impression your patients are going to get of your practice. It is also the anchor to which most of your marketing efforts will point. The most effective way to generate a steady stream of new patients is to build a professional website that has lead generation, effective copywriting, SEO and lots of useful content. Your website should reflect the personality of your medical practice. You must try to drive as much traffic to that website as possible on an ongoing basis using online and offline marketing strategies. Keep in mind a website that is more than a year old may be out-of-date in terms of content, branding and technology. An annual inspection can identify faults and flaws. Besides, a website with outdated content appears neglected and may slip lower in search engine visibility.
Social media: Medical professionals are all over Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter and Pinterest. These social media sites offer a host of advantages for medical practitioners. They allow potential patients to get to know you before seeing you in the exam room. In addition, social media sites make great public forums for sharing health information and special events. As a physician, you can use social media to ask basic yet insightful questions about your services, staff, procedures or general improvements. However, when posting on Facebook, try to be brief and concise. This is because according to Facebook, posts that are 250 characters or less in length tend to attract 60 percent more likes, comments and shares than long posts. You can engage your fans and followers by asking for their ideas and opinions. If you are on Twitter, you must tweet often enough to be seen. While there is no proven formula, three or four tweets per day should keep your posts visible.
Blogging: Blogging is an effective way to engage your patients and, if done right, it can take your marketing strategy to the next level. If you blog multiple times a month, not only does Google rank you higher than your competitors, but other websites or journals will publish snippets of your content and give you attribution. Not just this, according to some recent studies, more than 60 percent of patients made an appointment based on a blog post that they read. When you consistently write informative articles, it enhances your credibility and builds trust between you and potential patients. All that you need to do is write a new blog every two weeks, share it on your social media profiles or send it out in an e-newsletter. The best part is that you can reuse your blogs over and over again. However, it is essential to develop a posting schedule and adhere to it. Keep the tone of your blog conversational, and do not make them too lengthy.
Referrals: Most practices need a referral base in order to thrive. Getting a new patient referral from another doctor requires relationship building. The first step is to identify which doctors will recommend your practice to their patients. You then have to plan a strategy to build and maintain relationships with those doctors. Attend conferences and meetings to seek networking opportunities. You must try to make yourself available to your referring doctors’ patients for any emergency visits. You can also ask your existing patients to refer your practice to their friends and family. You can also consider promoting your referral program on your website, through emails and posters in your office.
Search engine optimization (SEO): SEO is all about searching the most relevant keywords for your medical practice. To choose the best-suited keywords, you will need to get into the minds of your patients. The more relevant keywords you pick, the more relevant patients you will attract. Other than keywords, another factor that can affect SEO is your website speed. A website that loads quickly can boost your SEO efforts, whereas a website that takes a longer time will fail to engage visitors. Also, quality content should be at the core of your SEO strategy. You can create content to inform patients about your practice, services and office hours. Quality content plays a significant role in search engine ranking.
Patient review sites: According to a survey by Software Advice, more than 77 percent of patients use online reviews as the first approach to finding a physician. The survey also revealed that almost 47 percent of patients would go out-of-network for a doctor who has more favorable reviews. These review sites can open the door for you to engage with your patients. Online reviews are being increasingly utilized by existing and potential patients. Your practice will have a better chance of serving your patients well if you can use the power of online reviews for marketing your medical practice.
Online local directories: With the majority of patients using search engines to find local practices, getting listed in local directories is critical for the growth of your medical practice. These directories can improve the visibility of your medical practice and can take it to the next level. While some of these local directories, such as Healthgrades, Vitals and ZocDoc, are specific to the medical community, other directories such as Google+ Local and Yahoo! Local are not industry-specific.
Email marketing: Collecting e-mail addresses of your patients is a vital tool to a successful marketing campaign. This is one of the best ways to remind patients of their upcoming appointments. You can schedule follow-up emails for three to five months after each appointment to ensure your patients do not miss their annual checkups. Through emails and newsletters, you can also update existing patients with healthcare tips, seasonal offers and discounts and updates about your practice. It is surprisingly easy to kick-start your email marketing and start attracting more patients.
The goal is to increase your profits, grow your practice, establish your brand and be rewarded for all the hours you have spent in your practice taking care of patients. Remember, your competitors are evolving for the better, so why shouldn’t you grow as well?
So, does your medical practice have a marketing strategy or a plan for execution? At Practice Builders, we help medical professionals get smarter in the way they manage their practice. We assist them to build websites, write meaningful brochures, provide staff training and create healthcare marketing plans to promote their excellence in patient satisfaction.