A Clear Vision for Sucess

Written by on February 2, 2012 in Features, Practice tips - No comments

By Shauna Smith Duty

What will the New Year bring for your practice? For private physicians, balance should be a resolution in the coming months. Attending to patients, managing employees and running your office must flow with continuing education, human resources, patient retention and personal time. Marketing, then, seems to be one more rock in the mountain of things to do.

Never forget that you are the ruler of your schedule. Careful planning and execution will save valuable time and keep you on the road to success in all areas of your professional and personal life.

What is marketing? The American Marketing Association defines marketing as “the activity, set of instructions, and processes for creating, communicating, delivering, and exchanging offers that have value for customers, clients, partners and society at large.” In short, marketing is your practice’s external communication with potential patients and the community.

Why does a physician need marketing? While the purpose of a physician’s office is to help people lead healthy, high quality lives, the profitable physician’s office consistently attracts new patients through marketing. From a solid website and blog to newspaper articles and word of mouth, marketing is essential for both short-term and long-term success in business.

9 Tips for Maximizing Marketing

  1. Brand Your Practice: Every business has an identity, but not all convey it with a well-managed brand. From logo design and tagline creation to every piece of collateral and online content associated with your practice, branding is a big undertaking. A solid branding campaign will ensure a consistent and accurate message goes out to your potential patients.
  2. Involve Your Team: The term “corporate culture” is big these days. Zappos, Red Frog, Google, Amazon—business owners should be familiar with the culture of these successful companies. (If you aren’t, familiarize yourself right now!) Part of creating a great business requires activating your team members in everything from office decor to marketing. Let your team know about your plans for online, print and in-office marketing and give them tasks so that they can contribute. Their buy-in could lead to case acceptance and greater word of mouth referrals.
  3. Engage in the Internet: You can hire a marketing firm to Tweet, post and chat about your office online, but you need to engage in social networking, as well. Facebook, Twitter and Google+ are a few of the most popular social networks. You must comment, respond and share to reap the benefits of online communities to engage your patients!
  4. Measure ROI: Any savvy businessman or woman will tell you to track ROI (return on investment). This means, your office administrators need to document the many roads that lead potential patients to your office. Furthermore, stay on top of your website’s Google Analytics, track your YouTube views and if you use a quick response (QR) code, be sure to pay for associated reporting data. Doctors often repeat poor marketing choices because they can’t gauge effectiveness. As a rule, if you cannot track return on your investment, don’t invest.
  5. Measure your efforts: At the end of each month and each quarter, review your marketing plan with your team to make sure that you’re staying on track. Make tweaks as necessary, and always enforce deadlines.
  6. Partner with Professionals: Like-minded local business owners, those that are interested in healthy living, may be interested in link-swapping, a search engine optimizing (SEO) tactic that is mutually beneficial. They may also go in with you on marketing projects that would expand both of your client bases.
  7. Prioritize Service: You can lead a patient to a doctor’s office, but if you don’t provide good service, they won’t return. Word of mouth marketing is the most cost effective strategy for attracting loyal patients. The service your team provides has a direct impact on word of mouth referrals. Hire a secret shopper to report back to you on all types of communication with your office: email, phone call, blog comment, Facebook comment, appointment scheduling, appointment rescheduling and an actual in-person appointment. You can learn a lot from an outsider’s review of your customer service.
  8. Educate Patients: Everyone wants to be smarter. By educating your patients on their health, healthy living and new procedures, you’re empowering them with knowledge, and they’ll appreciate you for it! At every opportunity, share your expertise with your patients.
  9. Ask for Referrals: Though it can be intimidating or even embarrassing (at first) to ask for referrals, studies show that business people who ask for referrals tend to get more referrals than those who neglect to ask. Just do it!

The most important thing to remember is to plan and execute. If you want to attract more patients, plan to market and then follow through by sticking to your marketing plan.

Shauna Smith Duty
has written and edited hundreds of websites, articles, advertisements, and blogs. Her work has been published by Dental Products Report, RDH Magazine, and noteworthy dental websites. She is President and Chief Operations Officer at Modern Dental Practice Marketing, an Internet marketing company that caters exclusively to the dental and medical communities. Learn more about Shauna and MDPM at www.ModernDentalMarketing.com.

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