As marketing professionals, we are often asked, What works? What’s the hottest trend? What will get the phone to ring? While marketing should not be a one-size-fits-all approach, there are elements that, if thoughtfully implemented, will help you create a successful strategy.
First, it’s important to diversify and balance the source of your patients. They come to your practice in a variety of ways; they saw an ad in a community magazine, they stopped by your booth at a health fair or were referred by their neighbor. We group these into Marketing Pathways. The most successful strategies utilize all of these pathways.
When you think of a successful business, what comes to mind? Amazon? Apple? Starbucks? While they are all huge businesses today, they started small. They’ve weathered the test of time, up and down economies and technology advancements. They’ve stayed true to their brand and have creatively leveraged the growth strategies to get new customers, get their current customers to visit more often and get them to spend more per transaction.
Likewise, your practice will grow in one of three ways, which we group into Growth Levers.
New Patients, Patients Visit More Often and Patients Access More Services
Here are some marketing ideas that fall into each of these growth levers and utilize a variety of pathways.
Growth Lever 1: NEW PATIENTS
When you’re looking to grow your practice by acquiring new patients, it’s imperative you use a combination of branding and marketing. Branding is building your reputation in your physical or digital community so that when people need or want your services, they find you.
The issue with health care is that people aren’t always looking for your services. That’s where marketing comes in. You need to motivate patients to want your services through marketing.
To manage your brand online, check to see where you fall in search results. If you aren’t close to the top of the first page, you may need to invest in some Search Engine Optimization (SEO). Check your Yelp, Facebook and Google reviews. If you don’t have online reviews or the reviews aren’t as great as you’d like, you may want to consider programs that encourage patients to say positive things about you online.
Beyond your online reputation, you want to make sure you are building your physical reputation. Referrals are priceless. You can encourage patient referrals by handing out cards or other shareable items to satisfied patients. More importantly, you should communicate consistently with referring physicians. You can visit primary care physicians in your area with informational handouts, send regular physician geared newsletters or invite physicians to your office for things like hearing screenings or custom earmolds. You want to remain top of mind so they think of you when one of their patients needs your services.
Traditional advertising methods should also be considered when you’re trying to attract new patients. This can be accomplished through direct mail campaigns, a well-placed billboard, Facebook ads, newspaper, radio or TV.
Growth Lever 2: PATIENTS VISIT MORE OFTEN
Outside of a health need for patients visiting more often, it really comes down to patient engagement. That means frequent and consistent interaction in ways that help them feel connected to your practice. They’re more likely to come back if you develop a relationship with them. And while they may not need you now, if you regularly communicate with them, they are more likely to call you when they do need you.
By far the most valuable marketing resource is your database. If you continually mine your database to reach key patient populations, then you will always have a reason to reach out to them.
One way to use your database to get patients to visit more often is to identify patients who could use a service you offer or encourage them to treat conditions you’ve already diagnosed. For example, search your database for patients who have come in for chronic sinusitis and may be candidates for Balloon Sinuplasty or send a card to your tested not treated hearing loss patients inviting them to a Hearing Health Event for a demonstration of new technology.
You can also use your patient database to send out reminders, birthday cards, bill stuffers and newsletters. Let them know you are concerned about their well-being and educate them about current health topics and services and procedures you provide.
Be sure to also keep patients engaged online and through email. You should be taking advantage of social media. It’s free and people love sharing, tagging and commenting. Share articles and videos that relate to your services, post photos from an office event or a health fair you participated in, share employee announcements, and, most importantly, show your personality. People relate to people. Personify your brand to set yourself apart from other practices.
Growth Lever 3: PATIENTS ACCESS MORE SERVICES
Your focus is to move patients from point A to B as quickly and seamlessly as possible. But in doing so, you’re likely missing what they experience in between. To get your patients to access more services, you need to make them aware of what you provide. That starts before they even walk in your door.
Do the signs in your parking lot or building entrance direct patients to the right office? What do they see when they walk into your waiting room? If they brought their child in for an ear infection, would they know you fit hearing aids or offer ‘no shot’ immunotherapy treatment for allergies? It could be as simple as a poster listing your services or educational slides playing on a TV monitor.
Transition those same ideas into your exam rooms. Use wall space to promote your services or the benefits of a treatment you offer. Display a rack of customized brochures they can look through while they’re waiting or take home to read.
Use your database to include information about your services in newsletters, bill stuffers or invitations. The same is true for your digital presence. Does your website thoroughly cover all your services and do you vary your social media posts to include information that would interest patients with various health issues?
Just as no two practices are identical, marketing plans and fulfillment strategies should be tailored to your unique value proposition. Successful strategies utilize tactics in both marketing and branding. Use these tools to identify ways to reach new patients and connect with your current patients.
Contact your Fuel Medical account manager to request a copy of Elements of Successful Growth Strategies or to discuss marketing strategies.
Brand source: https://www.invespcro.com/blog/social-media-engagement/
Social Source: https://sproutsocial.com/insights/social-media-statistics/
FB Usage: http://www.wordstream.com/blog/ws/2017/01/05/social-media-marketing-statistics