Most doctors hear the word marketing and two things come to mind:
1. Marketing is just advertising.
2. Advertising is not acceptable in medicine.
As a result we rely on word-of-mouth to grow our practices. By relying on just this one tool of marketing, we severely limit our growth and therefore our revenue.
So how do we market our practices effectively and with integrity?
1. Realize that marketing is much more than just advertising. Just about every interaction you and your company have with the public is a form of marketing. This includes:
a. The way your phones are answered.
b. The way patients are greeted at your office.
c. How your office is decorated.
d. The attire of your staff.
To maximize the effect of this marketing, do a comprehensive audit of your office. Call your front office line to see how the phones are answered. Look at the front desk from your patients’ perspective. Does it look professional and welcoming? It may seem unrelated to the quality of care that you deliver, but your patients’ impression of your care is influenced by all of these factors.
2. Brand your practice. By this I mean think comprehensively of your practice as a whole. How would you like it to be perceived? Do you want to project professionalism or state-of-the-art care, or warmth and caring? Determine a logo and tagline that portray this to your patients. Then organize your practice in this way. Make sure that your phones are always answered the same way with your tagline. Make sure your letterhead, appointment cards, advertisements, and website all have your logo. Through repeated exposure to your message, the public will be trained to think of you above all of your competition,
3. Use word-of-mouth in a systematic manner. This means that you do not just rely on patients to tell friends and families about you. Ask your patients directly if they know of anyone who would appreciate receiving information from you. When you get new patients, ask them dow they heard about you. If it was a referral from a current patient, make it a point to thank that patient personally. If it was from one of your marketing pieces, ask which one so that you know which of you efforts is most effective.
4. Call your local newspaper and offer to write a health and wellness column. This is free advertising and it solidifies your image as the expert in the eyes of the public. Of course when you write the article be sure you include your logo and tagline.
5. Consider writing a blog. Once again this will portray you as the expert in your field. It will expand your reach outside of your immediate area. When you write your blog, make sure it has your practice logo and a link back to your practice website. This way when someone is searching for a physician in your field, your name will be most likely to appear on the first few pages of the major search engines.
The object of your marketing is not only to increase your exposure to the public. With a comprehensive marketing plan your name will be the only one that comes to mind when a prospective patient needs your services.