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.
Commit to community outreach — Get involved in your community and get to know you patients. Need a place to start? Try volunteering. Once you have a better understanding of who you are trying to reach, you can customize your marketing to your patient population. The more you know about who you want to reach, the more you can focus your efforts.
Offer to guest post — If you don’t have the bandwidth to keep up with a blog or regular social media channels, find other blogs or websites where you can contribute. This will allow you to reach a broader audience and help drive traffic to that top-notch website you created.
Clayburn Griffin, president, Clayburn, LLC, a digital marketing firm
Here are a couple of tips for medical practices: Solicit testimonials and personal stories from your patients. It makes for great content and is exactly what people are looking for. You can have an SEO do all the keyword research they’d like, but nothing beats a person in the same shoes as potential new clients writing it out in their own words. Chances are someone out there is going to word the description of their pain and symptoms like other patients have. And when someone arrives on your website, they’ll be able to relate to the stories of those you’ve successfully treated in the past.
Set up a Google Adwords campaign — You don’t have to be a marketing genius, but it can’t hurt to hire a pro. Start small. Bid on exact match keywords of about three of the most common problems you treat and target the campaign to your service area. Use the Call Extension so people can click to call you. Don’t simply link to your homepage, though. You need a landing page that will allow the user to easily convert into a lead by leaving their contact information or scheduling an appointment right then and there.
Michael Morgenstern, vice president of marketing, The Expert
Start with content — If you’re not developing content such as blog posts, white papers, infogrpahics, case studies, videos or webinars, start right now. A strong content strategy can be the driving force for nearly all of
your online marketing efforts. You can leverage this content to augment your SEO, email marketing, paid search and social media initiatives.
Start building a list of opted-in email subscribers — You can source email sign-ups on your website, on social media and in-person events. Further leverage your content by running periodic email marketing campaigns, such as weekly or monthly newsletters.
Get involved with social media — Facebook, Twitter, Google+ and LinkedIn boast huge user bases. Chances are there are pages, groups and communities on these channels that are very relevant to your business. Join these groups and join the conversation. Share your content through these channels to build your brand, gain newsletter sign-ups and generate more leads.