Marketing is, in many ways, defined by how well you leverage emotional triggers like fear, guilt, pride and instant gratification to craft messages about a service or product in question.
So, just because patients experience the above-mentioned emotions whenever they visit a doctor’s office, that doesn’t mean medical practices are excluded from savvy content marketing campaigns or social networking and web presence.
Outlined below are basic marketing techniques to get your medical practice started.
Defining your practice
This may seem counterintuitive. After all, if your medical practice clearly states you’re a pediatrician, then you’ve defined yourself, right?
Nope. You’ve spent years earning credentials and learning about your medical specialization. There is no reason to trivialize by reducing it to one word. Defining your practice allows you to communicate to your patient base what you stand for – values, goals, etc. – so they feel confident and comfortable in your care.
Forget the pre-packaged buzzwords on the online "About" sections of other practices. Think about performing a SWOT analysis (Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities and Threats) before defining your practice on paper. Then, differentiate yourself by both truthfulness and demonstrating your personality.
Branding isn’t just the packaging on your favorite brand of suit or the sailboat on your Nautica button-up. It is, however, among the most important investments you’ll ever make.
Think about it this way: Would you rather buy books from Amazon or an e-commerce site that looks like the original Space Jam site?
Abide by the three Cs of branding: credibility, consistency and connection. With a high-end design comes credibility – it enhances your image, giving your patients the impression you know what you’re doing. It’s also your first chance to establish familiarity, before a patient even visits your office.
Naturally, consistency becomes essential to extending this sense of comfort and familiarity. This is the backbone for the connection you’ll establish with patients. Your branding will help demonstrate who you are, what you can deliver and why they should trust you.
Don’t forget branding spills over into corporate collateral – business cards, letterhead, envelopes, print ads and prescription pads, among other materials. Signage and giveaway items within and beyond your waiting room should maintain this consistency as well. Branding is perennially important to emphasize the benefits of your practice to your community.
Web presence is a must, to the point where it feels weird to even mention.
But it’s not about just throwing up a standard template, some non-formatted text and a stock image or two. Your site should be informative, and it needs to match your brand. Think of it as repurposed branding for an online, living testament to what you can do and an extension of your credibility.
Search engine optimization (SEO) plays a role here, so whether you’re web savvy enough to develop your own site or you’re working with a professional, ensure your content can be picked up by search engines.
Usability is perhaps the most important element of your site’s success. Just like you wouldn’t choose photos of animal carcasses as waiting room art, a patient needs to feel comfortable in your online home. Not to mention, if you judge, say, an EHR vendor based on usability, why wouldn’t your patients use similar criteria?
Your site is your practice’s online presence. From here, you can decide whether you want to establish a strong social media presence for yourself or your practice (which can give patients a more intimate view of your personality, thereby establishing trust and confidence), or whether you want to branch out and provide thought leadership (get published in blogs and other sites). Possibilities are nearly infinite.
The same rings true for all of the tips above. Consider them benchmarks you can take in several directions. Feel free to experiment a little.
What kind of marketing techniques have you employed at your practice?
Ahmed Mori joined CareCloud as a content writer specializing in meaningful use certification, EHRs and mHealth. He enjoys researching and reporting on innovative healthcare technologies. Read his work on Power Your Practice and the CareCloud blog.