Marketing Your Medical Practice
Accessing information on the internet has become a much larger component for people gathering health information and deciding where they want to access healthcare. In a recent Pew research study, 72 percent of internet users have said they looked online for health information in the last year. Of those who had looked for information online, 77 percent said they started with search engines like Google™, Bing™ and Yahoo!®.
It is important to create a marketing plan that includes an online strategy. Below are five common mistakes that medical practices make when marketing their businesses.
1. No website for the practice
If you do not have a website, then you are not even in the game. If you solely use traditional media such as Yellow Pages® advertising, print, TV and radio, then you are losing customers to those who market effectively online.
Ask yourself: How much is one patient worth over the lifetime of working with that patient?
2. You own a static website
You have a website, but you just put it up and forgot about it. To properly market to new and existing patients, you need fresh and engaging information that is useful to the patient.
Your website must be optimized for search engines, which includes good keyword research and website architecture (the way your site is built) and more. Train a staff member to do this, or hire a firm who specializes in this.
Your business is found online by the way people search. People search by entering keywords into search engines, for example, “How much is Rhinoplasty?” If your business has not been properly analyzed for search keywords, then you will not get the traffic to your site that you want. Site traffic equals new patients for you.
Techniques to get more traffic to your website and more patients include:
- Search engine optimization (SEO)
- Pay-per-click advertising (PPC)
- Article marketing (published articles that link to your website)
- Press releases
- Video marketing
Providing valuable content regarding your medical practice is the start of a thriving online marketing plan.
3. No social media presence
Marketing is about relationship building–supporting your existing patients and nurturing new individuals. Social media is a great place to deliver information about your practice. With the right strategy you can even get your patients to assist you in marketing your business for you.
I worked with a pediatric dental practice that gives its patients a “Flat Dentist,” a cartoon version of the dentist based on the Flat Stanley books, and has them take pictures of the “Flat Dentist” around town and while on vacation.
The patients then post their trip with their “Flat Dentist” on Facebook®, which gets shared with all of their friends and family. This is a very effective way to get engagement with your patients and their circle of influence.
4. Your staff is not trained
Whether you are doing traditional marketing and advertising or you are an experienced online marketer, the way you handle your patients when they are in your practice is critical.
You can have the best ads, the best marketing and the most amazing website, but if your patients’ experience in the office does not match your amazing marketing efforts and branding, then you may get them in the door, but you will not keep them as clients.
From the way your staff answers the phones to the way they handle the check in/out process is important to how your practice is perceived. Do you have systems and training to handle the following?
- Incoming calls
- Checking in/out of patients
- Following up to see how patients are doing
- Resolving billing issues
- Responding to online reviews
If not, examine your business from a customer point of view and develop protocols for a great patient experience. At the end of the day, you want patients to feel great and valued and your practice to stand out from the competition.
5. You are not measuring your return on investment (ROI)
The most critical piece in your marketing plan, other than getting started, is measuring your ROI. How many patients are you getting from your marketing efforts and where do they come from? You cannot know the answer to this without measuring and tracking.
If what you are doing is not making you more money than what you are spending, you need to change what you are doing. There is nothing wrong with a strategy not working. In fact, finding out what does not work is just as important as finding out what does.
Remember, what worked yesterday may not work today. Many organizations have relied on Yellow Pages® advertising for years, yet is your client base using Yellow Pages®? In today’s market, maybe not.
Remember: 72 percent of consumers check online for their health information and that includes looking for phone numbers and doctors they should seek out.
Build a strong foundation to successfully market your practice.
- Develop a well-designed website designed to be found by Google™ and the other search engines
- Create a marketing plan designed to bring in new patients
- Include programs that engage your existing patients and leave them wanting to come back to your practice
- Provide regular staff training to support the marketing plan
- Measure your efforts to make sure your plan of action is still effective
Your practice can generate more patients for less cost with the proper training and right marketing strategy. These are just a few of the ideas that you can use to create a thriving and vibrant marketing plan that increases profit and enhances your patients’ experience.