July is Health and Medical Services Month here on the Signpost Local Marketing Blog! We’ll be surfacing best practices and strategies specifically for marketing your practice and driving more new and repeat business.
Not a medical professional? Don’t worry, we’ll still be sharing insights that will help you to promote your local business, acquire new customers, and encourage loyalty. Want your industry to be the next featured month? Drop us a line, and let us know!
As a medical professional, you’ve probably developed a reflex that causes your skin to crawl anytime you hear or talk about your work as a “business”. For many that’s what keeps you committed to serving your patients and carrying out the essential tasks to keep them healthy and safe. Sometimes it’s hard to remember that at the end of the day, your practice is a business like anything else, and as such requires a bit of diligence when it comes to promotion and marketing. Patients are the lifeblood of any health and medical practice, and deserve your dedication, but at the same time you still need to keep the lights on.
Without sacrificing much of your valuable time, you can still stay on top of your marketing strategy. In order to do this, we’re prescribing the following promotion ideas, to keep your practice thriving, so you can focus on what really matters. Digest these tips, and if you’re still feeling queasy when it comes to your health marketing, call us in the morning.
Attend and consider hosting networking events with other medical professionals. Learn more about their practices and approaches. Connect with colleagues in different specialties to learn more about what they do and how you might be able to refer patients to one another. This way, if and when you feel comfortable with the caliber of their work, you can create a referral network of medical experts with various specialties. Be sure to invite referral coordinators from other clinics and hospitals, as well who can be a great source of business.
Be active in your community: Volunteer your time and expertise. Have a clinic presence at any health fairs, and volunteer at community or sporting events, and anywhere else you can set up a booth. This allows you to meet and get to know more people in your community, who might need or know someone else who may be in need of your medical expertise.
If your expertise is more universal or cosmetic, donate a package or gift certificate to a charity auction or benefit. This also gives you access to potential patients in your area, and helps build good will. For example, if you’re a dentist try a voucher for a free whitening session.
Have an apple a day. (It’s just good advice for everyone)
Make yourself available to local news outlets, as well as online and print publication to comment on any health concerns or issues in the area. Approach local newspapers or magazines about a recurring byline that provides public with tips for better health. Whether advising how to minimize sun exposure around holiday weekends, or preventative precautions to take at the height of flu season, there is no lack of relevant and actionable information you can help out with. Which brings us to our next point…
Give talks on health issues that you specialize in or have special knowledge in. Advertise any conferences you participate in, but as important as these are for staying current with the latest innovation and approaches, these typically aren’t on the average patient’s radar. Include any speaking engagements or participation at these events in newsletters or on your website as they inspire a heightened trust in your expertise. However, also try to give seminars or other more informal talks for the general public on a variety of topics relating back to your specialty. Create one-pagers or other resources that are branded with your practice’s contact information, or hand out branded pens or pads, for them to take notes while also keeping your practice top-of-mind. You can also get involved in the local Chamber of Commerce and host lunch-and-learns at the local assisted living facility or library. Showcase health tips for seniors, or sessions for their family or caretakers.
Don’t forget about the personal touch. Send a handwritten thank-you card to each new patient that comes into your office, and to the doctor that referred them. You can also send a small token to the person that referred them.
On that note, send out birthday cards and/or e-mails. This is also a great way to remind people of any annual check ups, or additional procedures they might be considering.
Create and distribute welcome packages to new patients with resources about all your ancillary services, as well as some free gifts that keep your practice at the forefront of their mind, such as a pen with your office information on it, as well as a fridge magnet. Give out these packets to partners or other referrers too.
Utilize SMS marketing to keep patients engaged in between visits and to send them appointment reminders. Missed appointments continue to be a problem throughout all healthcare fields. Recent research estimates that an individual practice can miss out on anywhere from $20,000 to $180,000 in revenue, annually, due to missed appointments. Text message reminders have been credited with cutting down this no-show rate by as much as 50%. Include any special instructions prior to the appointment (i.e. do not eat for at least 12 hours prior to the procedure, make sure you have someone come with you, to help you get home, etc.), and either prompt them to respond to confirm, or provide a link where they can confirm, cancel or update their upcoming appointments.
List your practice’s info on online directories, where patients can find you. These free online directories are a good place to start. Contribute as much as possible to each, including media (photos and/or videos), in order to make your profile as robust as possible, stand out to prospective patients, and build trust.
Invest in good branding and a website: Did you know that colors increase brand recognition by up to 80%? Skilled designers know the psychology behind different color palettes as well as layouts. Medical professionals perform a very intimate service, and people want to feel as comfortable and trusting of their physicians or medical experts as possible. so it’s important to be honest, transparent and inspire trust. 64% of people cite shared values as the main reason they have a relationship with a brand, so be sure to reflect this in your site, where most potential clients will “meet” you and your practice for the first time, before deciding whether or not to give you their business.
Focus any SEO efforts in your local area, and make them as specific as possible. Use keyword discovery tools, such as Moz Keyword Explorer, Ahrefs Keyword Explorer, or the free Google Keyword Planner. Focus on what makes your practice different whether approach, philosophy, patient relationships, methodology, etc. to use for long tail keywords that will ensure the searches with the best fit find your practice. Don’t be afraid to get specific in your geotargeting, either. Instead of “chiropractors in PA”, try “Bucks County Chiropractor” for more discoverability where it matters.
Leverage email marketing to keep in contact, and your practice on their radar. This is especially important for the more specialized practices, where (hopefully) years could pass before a patient requires your services again. In the meantime, why not help them with their recovery journey if you’re a rehab or give them seasonal tips for staying healthy and safe, or “signs you could have X”, “preventing arthritis” etc. Or, try busting any misconceptions or health myths in your specialization. Request feedback following any procedures or consultations to identify advocates, and keep them engaged with special offers, and tap them to provide more five-star reviews on Yelp, ZocDoc or other important third-party sites in your area. You can also encourage them to refer friends and family in need of similar services. Automate this outreach to keep your practice on track with these efforts and so it keeps working for you in the background, without requiring constant supervision and maintenance.
Rethink traditional educational pamphlets and brochures. Educate in a way that is more interesting to your patients, or replace with short videos that relay the same information about different procedures and services and the types of conditions you treat. You can have these playing in your waiting room, embedded on your site, and included in email newsletters. You can also get creative and ask happy patients to provide video testimonials.