Every successful business seeks ways to grow, expand and thrive, even though they might have to lean on the guidance and counsel of others who have been their and beat down the path of least resistance. Medical practices, especially small ones, are often on their own, and as they strive to see patients and provide quality care, gain a solid and good reputation in their communities and build their brands – often through word of mouth — there usually is little time for some of important business building tasks like marketing their practices.
As a small business owner, I’m in the same boat. I focus on serving clients, producing results and trying to satisfy their needs. Even though I know I should spend at least 25 percent of my time building the business and creating a stronger sales funnel, I often don’t even know where to start.
Additionally, as someone who covers healthcare and speaks to a lot of primary physicians and caregivers, marketing their practices is not a priority given the responsibilities they have in other areas of their practices. In an effort to help cut through some of the clutter, I recently asked a few experts for some tips, or marketing hacks, for practice leaders to market their services. Their responses follow:
Dirk R. Hobbs, CEO, Healthy ColoradanDirk Hobbs
Develop a focused message — Focus on first positioning the practice to ensure a consistent, effective message across all materials. Physicians like a clear message and so do patients, yet this apparently simple starting point is most often missed by marketing novices and experts alike. To effectively craft the message requires knowledge and research of the competitive landscape. List the stand out features of your practice and compare them to the rest – be analytical, everyone thinks theirs is the best; prove or explain why.
Map those attributes important to the patient/referral community (not to you). Discard those that fail this test and confirm those that remain with your “customers” to ensure accuracy. This can be done through a short survey during paperwork.
Develop and standardize content that positions you as a resource of trust. Calls to action are fine, but customers want to know “why you”. When your message is clear, outreach is more effective with prospective customers.
Positioned and focused content separate you in the market, differentiating you from the rest. This helps craft a unique and compelling message targeted to people who need your resources.
Bret A. Larsen, CEO, eVisitBret Larsen
Create a top-notch website — In the age of digital media, a website can go a long way in setting the stage for your practice. It serves as the one-stop shop for all your services; it’s the resource center for both your patients and staff. A current mobile optimized website with simple navigation, will allow your patients to easily view your offerings and set the tone for your practice.
Use patient testimonials — If you have loyal patients who recommend you to every family member and friend, use them! Ask if they might be willing to write a review or allow you to quote them on your website or a brochure. You may also want to consider claiming your profile on Yelp! and updating it with your practice information.
Host an open house — Invite your staff, referral coordinators, colleagues, current and prospective patients, and even the local media to an open house at your practice. Offer prizes or a raffle to incentivize people to bring their friends. It’s a great chance to let people know you who you are and what your practice has to offer.
Try referral gifts — Offer loyal patients a gift for referring a patient to you. It’s a nice way to say thank you, as well as remind them to tell their friends about you. It can help encourage word of mouth marketing, one of the most compelling and effective ways to spread your brand.
Send birthday cards/emails — A personal touch goes a long way. Sending a birthday card or personalized note tells your patients you care. A birthday postcard can also serve as a reminder for regular check-ups and help ensure compliance for patients’ annual visits.