Most medical practices don’t have time to concentrate on marketing. At the same time, even though there are a lot of sick patients out there, docs can’t just sit back and hope they come walking in the door. If you’re a doctor or administrator, you need a marketing plan.
Set Yourself Apart From Other Practices
Coming up with a name, and a theme, for your medical practice is hard. It’s not just about offering quality medical care anymore, though this is obviously important for any medical professional.
Consumers want to know why they should choose you over other practices. Do you employ the best doctors? Guess what? Every practice says that.
So, what else is different about you?
If you’re backed by a well-known medical center, you could use that in your name, while also highlighting your area of expertise. For example, if your parent medical facility is the prestigious Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center, but you specialize in immunotherapy for cancer, you might call yourself, Memorial Sloan Kettering Immunotherapy Center or The Immunotherapy Cancer Center of Sloan Kettering.
You could even adopt uniforms that are contrasting, or that incorporate elements of the cancer center’s official uniforms by shopping medical uniforms at uniformsandscrubs.com and getting “look-a-like” attire.
Get The Message Out To Consumers
Many of the integrative and alternative medical services in the U.S. are not covered by insurance. And, many health-focused consumers find it difficult to pay for healthcare services out of pocket.
This is especially true now that health insurance is mandated by the federal government. People have even less money than ever before to spend on “alt” treatments.
So, if you’re in this space, you have to make your pricing attractive. Many medical practices have switched to a fee-based model where patients pay a monthly subscription to belong to a medical practice. They receive personalized attention from the doctor and staff, and usually better care since the doctor can devote more time to each patient.
Doctors benefit because they even out their income and generate a consistent cashflow for their practice. This concierge medical practice alleviates some of the need to constantly find new patients to treat.
This type of practice also attracts patients who are unusually motivated to stay healthy or work on their existing health problems.
Getting the word out to consumers like these is usually done through networking or referrals.
Build Up Your Referral Base
A referral base is the foundation of any good medical practice. When your current patients love you, they will refer you to others. And, those people may become your patients. Not only does this reduce your need to market for patients, it reduces your marketing budget. Most patients aren’t medically competent enough to judge the validity of your diagnosis. What they do judge are your bedside manners and your customer service.
Of course, if you’re good at treating their illness, they’ll start to look to you as a trusted friend rather than an uncaring “Dr. House” type.
Create Unique Digital Content
Content is king – even in the medical industry. Even if you don’t have the marketing budget of a Mayo Clinic or Johns Hopkins, you can still put out unique content that helps your patients and potential clients.
Health-oriented consumers are hungry for good content, and they’re more willing to trust doctors than any other group when it comes to health and medical information. Many want to learn as much as possible about their medical condition, for example, and do what they can to address the root, systemic, causes and symptoms.
While there are websites out there, like WebMD, that cater to consumers with this type of information, there aren’t as many resources for evidence-based or integrative medicine and natural products.
Many consumers today don’t just want traditional therapies backed by small studies or incomplete answers. They also don’t want information from sources that doesn’t fit with their worldview.
So, for example, if your patients or clients are very health-conscious, but they also tend to favor a Chinese-medicine approach to solving problems, you can help them by introducing them to rare studies, objective information, and advice that fits into that context.
Put Up A Sign
Possibly the most overlooked piece of marketing is a clear and obvious sign for your practice. Many practices either forget to spend time designing a good sign or they forgo the sign altogether, assuming people will see a small plaque hanging on the door.
When people dry by your practice, you should have an interchangeable face that allows you to advertise “open to new patients” or “not accepting new patients.” This one little trick will help you boost patient load because many people will see a medical practice’s sign and assume that it may be a busy practice.
It’s not a secret that many practices don’t accept new patients because they’re taking on as much as they can.
But, if you’re a new practice, or you’re expanding, you need to let people know. And, a sign is the perfect way to do that.
Justin Sharp has worked in marketing for a number of years and likes to share his tips and ideas for promoting your business. He is a regular online contributor and writes for a number of business and marketing websites.