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For much of the medical fraternity marketing is a taboo subject, referred to in hushed tones, in a dimly lit room, with a person that definitely isn’t wearing a wire.
The age-old “I provide a good service and my patients do the marketing for me” mind-set is a hard one to shift. It’s a marketing ideal that has been passed down from physician to physician so stoically over the years that transitioning a practice from that (essentially) complete lack of marketing to a more marketing savvy operation can seem a thorny prospect. Not to mention shifting the attitudes of physicians whose minds, when talking marketing, drift straight to a greasy haired, thrift-shop-suit wearing door-to-door salesman.
Once you see marketing for what it is – just a way to let people know you’re here to help – you realize that you’d be silly not to juice it for all it’s worth. But if all you’ve heard over the course of your professional life is “if you need outward marketing, your practice mustn’t be any good”, it can be a difficult leap to make.
So, baby steps, right? You may well be keen and eager, but you don’t want to triple-somersault head first into the murky lake of marketing without checking the water first. Thankfully for those practices who are looking to further develop their currently minimal marketing, there are some cost-effective measures that can utilized to give your practice a healthy yet inexpensive push.
Beginning with Basics
Before starting any outward marketing, however, you want to ensure that your own affairs are in order first. Without any first-hand experience, the quality of your practice is a super hard thing to judge for most potential clients, so they’ll look to the smallest indicators as to whether you’re worth your salt.
It helps to think of an airline, another difficult to assess service for customers. Passengers aren’t able to check the engines for the quality of their maintenance prior to take-off. In place of knowing anything about jet turbines, passengers will subconsciously use cleanliness as a surrogate sign for engine upkeep. “Jeepers”, they might think, “if they can’t even wipe off the coffee stain from this tray table, what the hell are they not bothering with when it comes to their engines?”
The same can be said for a medical practice. “Do the dirty floors mean they use dirty needles?”, “Is this December 1995 issue of Woman’s Day from around the time that they last updated their professional skills?” Your image is a major factor in your marketing, so you need to make sure it is reflecting how you’d like to be perceived.
Keeping Your Clients
As most physicians already know, your current clients may well be the most important marketing tools you have. Taking care of them may be your best marketing investment. Some ideas include:
- Expanding your services – Offering loyal patients perks such as extended hours, house calls and sports physicals is a great way of showing your value to them and creating promoters.
- Birthday letters – A small and simple act can go a long way. A personally signed birthday letter to your clients will give them an ongoing and warm association with your name.
- Door to door service – Greet your patients at the door, and when they’re ready to leave, walk them back to it. Again, a small act that creates a warm, positive feeling towards your practice, and is a world away from the standard “take a number” style patient waiting areas.
Getting Your Name Out There
While the classic ad in the phonebook is still a necessary marketing investment for most practices (particularly those with predominantly elderly clientele), there are other, more low cost, and usually more effective ways to get your practice’s name out there.
- Social media – A severely under-utilized marketing tool in the health sector, social media can be a zero cost prospect to start up, and can get you in front of the eyes of a huge amount of people. Advertising on sites such as Facebook is ground-breaking, as the specificity with which you can select your audience is astonishing, and you can advertise for as little as a few dollars.
- Online Advertising – Using services such as Google Adwords is a great way to get your name in front of the people you want to see it. You can specific things like “keywords searched” or “audience area” and fine tune a custom campaign for very little money.
- Print Publications – While it’s an option that can be out of many practice’s budgets, print advertising still has its place. If you are trying to tap a market that may not be easily reached online or through other methods, choosing a printed slot wisely may get you the kick you’re looking for.
Getting the marketing ball rolling in a real way may seem like an unrequired excess by many practices, but with that sort of attitude still lingering around like a bad smell, doing so will put you in front of a big swathe of the competition.
And once you’ve tasted success with your more straightforward techniques, why stop there? A bespoke piece of content from The Social Savior could be just around the corner…