To transform your marketing into an investment, you have to know what works.
By Mary-Susan Abell
As a doctor, your goal is to help your patient feel better and achieve optimal health. But once that patient is healthy and out the door, how do you continue filling your appointment slots with new patients? You build your practice through investing in marketing.
Whether you realize it or not, you are already marketing your practice, even if in small doses. Before you disagree, think about your average day. Did you run into an acquaintance at the coffee shop and talk about your career for a moment? If yes, then you were networking. Before seeing patients, did you check email or comment on social media? You just engaged in external communications and possibly social media marketing. During lunch did you run over to another practice and talk about how well a certain medication works for your patients on behalf of a pharma company? That’s public relations. At the end of your day, did a patient rave about how much she just loves your practice and tell her friends about you? This is your best form of marketing, both for cost and reliability – positive word of mouth referrals.
Marketing combines many different elements under one umbrella and when done effectively, pushes your name and practice name to the forefront of the consumers’ mind and positions you as the expert in your chosen field. Therefore, when the time comes – now or in the future – and a patient needs your area of specialty, there is no other thought than to choose you.
Does this work? Absolutely. A local allergy practice made the bold move to bring marketing in-house more than a decade ago when it was still an uncommon practice. New patients tripled over a five year time frame as a direct result of integrated marketing efforts. The practice grew from a regional player into a state-wide presence and is now one of the largest specialty practices of its kind in the country. This practice so believes in the power of effective marketing that it dedicates a percentage of its overall operating budget to the concept. The doctors understand that marketing is an investment, not merely expenditure.
Keeping Them is Key
Why is marketing an investment instead of an expenditure? Often, the focus is on bringing new patients in the door; however, you also need to think about investing in that person in order to keep him/her as a patient in order to sustain your practice. Think about how much each new patient visit is worth to you initially. Now think about how much those patients are worth one year and five years into the future.
Continuing to promote your name and expertise through social media campaigns, television/radio commercials, sponsorships and media interviews are ways to ensure new patients view you as a long-term partner. There are also many touch points you can use with current patients to stay top-of-mind, as well, such as e-newsletters, birthday greetings and contests. In today’s healthcare environment, patients have many choices, so educate them through marketing as to why they should choose you.
Keeping and Adding Customers
- Social media campaigns
- Television and radio commercials
- Media interviews
- Birthday greetings
Mary-Susan Abell is the founder and president of Marketing Medic.