Medical Practice Marketing: Where to Start
If marketing of your medical practice is a new priority for you, knowing where to start can be challenging. In addition, chances are good that you haven’t really budgeted for any type of promotions, so you need to find creative methods to make the most out of a limited budget.
So just where do you begin, what do you focus on, and how do you make sure that you get the most benefit from your marketing dollars? Over the next couple of posts, we’ll provide a few guidelines to help you.
Formulating a Strategy
We simply can’t stress this enough, and it’s the one area where physicians and practice managers often stumble because they have no marketing experience. So I’m going to make it easy for you. Before you start planning, answer these two questions:
- How much can you spend over the next 12 months on your marketing?
- What age group does your primary target market fall into?
The answers will determine whether you go for a mainly online or mainly offline strategy, or a combination of the two.
For example: If your budget is less than $10,000, it weighs on the side of more online, less offline. Similarly, if your target market is mostly under 50, they are likely to find you online more easily. This doesn’t mean there’s no place for offline marketing – just that it shouldn’t be your main focus.
Planning Your Online Components
Let’s assume that you decide on a strategy that’s 80% online, 20% offline, aimed mostly at people aged under 50 and with a limited budget. Online marketing typically takes the approach of inbound marketing, which is the process of attracting patients by offering resources that help them to find you.
You can achieve this by:
- Developing a branded website, optimizes for search
- Implementing inbound marketing by regular blogging and publishing of other types of content
- Creating profiles for effective use of social media
- Search engine advertising such as Google AdWords
- Email marketing
Sound like enough to send you heading for the hills? Ok, let’s unpack these one by one:
Developing a Branded Website
To compete in the online space effectively, you need a brand that promotes what you do and how you do it. Before you do anything else, contract a graphic designer to develop a brand identity and design a logo for your practice. You’ll need to use this everywhere, so don’t start until you have it.
The next item is a website. Don't waste money on a simple brochure website. That is not going to work for you and bring in new patients. Rather spend a little more working with a qualified web marketing strategist who can help to get you found with an SEO plan. This will position you as a respected authority and bring results.
Make sure your site includes the following:
These are the obvious:
- Home Page: Welcome visitors to your site and tell them (briefly) why you exist and what you offer. You need only three short paragraphs, tops. Make sure they include the key terms people search for, at least once on the page.
- About Us Page: This is essential for showcasing your physician credentials, areas of specialization and your mission statement.
- Services (or products): If you offer it, list it here with a short explanation
- Contact Us: Where are you, and how do they get in touch with you?
- Blog: This one is critical if your online strategy is going to succeed.
These are the not so obvious:
- A clear offer that links to a Landing page with a call to action
- A keyword strategy
- Links to social media
- Opt-in email capture
- Analytics for identifying where traffic is coming from
- Well structured content that is easy to navigate and clear to both the consumer and search engines
If you already have a site, have it reviewed by a professional to make sure that the important items are covered, that the site is optimized for search engines and that everything works. Then build the other components of your online strategy around it, using the website as a central hub.
In the next few posts we'll cover the social media aspects, online advertising and the offline components of this type of strategy. Watch this space!