Getting involved in your community and getting to know your local network of physicians helps get your name out there in a different way than more traditional marketing efforts. When you make a good impression on patients and colleagues, they are more likely to remember you when your services are needed. Just by making the effort to get out there and get to know people in your local area, you can bring in more referrals to your practice.
1. Ask local physicians for referrals to your practice.
Referrals are a great (and potentially free!) way to get the word out about your practice. Other marketing channels can vary with the amount of patients that come in, but a good referral partner can help you get more patients who are a good fit for your specialties. Connect with colleagues in different specialties to learn more about what they do and how you might be able to refer patients to one another. If you want to really improve your referral process and get a steady stream of referrals from colleagues, a paid referral service like Referral Pad will make it easier for key referring physicians to get appointments for their patients.
Unless your practice is large enough to have an in-house marketing team that handles graphic design, you’ll probably need to hire a company to help with your branding needs. You’ll also need to pass on any branding details to any team members or companies who help manage your various marketing efforts, including your website, social media, and print media.
It will take some effort to keep up with your colleagues and make sure their patients are able to get an appointment with your practice. A solution like Referral Pad can help streamline your efforts.
Simply asking your colleagues for referrals is free. Services like Referral Pad can start at around $99/month.
2. Claim your Doximity profile to connect with colleagues and build your referral base.
Doximity is often referred to as the “LinkedIn for doctors,” but it provides a lot of other benefits as well. You can share information about difficult or unusual cases with other doctors through a secure, HIPAA-compliant network, get referrals from other doctors, and help with remote consultations. See our blog post about Doximity to learn more about the benefits it offers.
Since you can’t really have anyone maintain a Doximity profile on your behalf, this will require some effort on your part, though not as much as more public social media profiles might.
Doximity is free to use.
3. Get involved in your community so patients can get to know you.
Getting out in your community helps patients recognize you for your positive work. It also helps you connect with patients outside of the office or hospital environment. Whether you participate in charity fundraising events, donate your time and services, or do public speaking engagements (see #’s 4-8 below for ideas), there’s a lot your practice can do to get involved.
This is a higher-effort marketing strategy, as you can’t outsource this work to a marketing company.
Costs can range–many community involvement efforts can be done for free or a relatively low cost, while others may require more of an expense.
4. Go to health fairs to connect with patients who may benefit from your services.
Health fairs can help you reach out to people who may have been unaware of your practice. Health fairs are another opportunity to offer free screenings and services to people in your community. Having a booth at a health fair can also help you to build brand awareness so that patients will remember you if they ever need help in the future.
Health fairs are a higher-effort strategy in terms of the time you’ll need to set aside to prepare and the time spent at the fair itself. However, you may only have a health fair in your area a few times a year at most, so it won’t be a frequent effort.
You can typically expect to pay at least a few hundred dollars (or more) to get a booth for your practice at a health fair. If you’re interested in going this route, we recommend trying it out and seeing what kind of turnout you get before committing to additional health fairs. If it’s not helping you bring in new patients, it’s not worth the expense and effort.
5. Offer free screenings or services to let patients “try out” your practice.
This gives new patients a chance to “sample” your care approach and services. It could be something as simple as free blood pressure screenings or a free flu shot to the first 10 patients who visit your flu clinic. This can help you attract patients who might have otherwise gone to a retail or pharmacy-based clinic.
This strategy will potentially require extra effort on your part if done outside of your normal clinic hours. You’ll also need to take some time to plan the logistics and terms of events like these.
Though you’re offering the service for free, this will cost you in services rendered. It is up to your practice to determine what is reasonable and possible from profitability standpoint.
6. Participate in public speaking events and seminars to show off your knowledge and expertise.
Speaking events and seminars are a way to help show off your expertise on a particular topic. Seminars and speaking events can help inform patients (to explain management of a chronic condition, for example), or to present new information or research studies to others in the healthcare community.
It will require effort on your part to put the presentation together, though the amount of effort you spend on an ongoing basis will depend on how often you plan on speaking publicly. You can also expect to put effort toward finding the right events where you can speak.
There may be some cost involved, if you speak at a conference or if your practice is holding the seminar.
7. Have an open house house so patients can learn more about your office and meet your staff.
This is very useful if you have a new office location or facility. Open houses allow potential patients to see facilities and meet your staff. It also gives patients the opportunity to discuss your care philosophy to determine whether your practice is the right fit. The American Academy of Family Physicians has some detailed tips on how to plan an open house that may be helpful if you decide to go this route.
An open house can require a considerable amount of effort in planning the event and getting the word out. However, open houses are typically a one-time or occasional event, so there is no ongoing effort involved after the event is over.
You’ll need to budget for any food, refreshments, and giveaway items you plan on offering. To get the word out about your event, you may also want to run some advertisements in local media.
8. Get involved with the local chamber of commerce to identify opportunities within your community.
Your local chamber of commerce can help you identify other opportunities to get involved with other businesses and the community. It’s a great resource to have at your disposal if you want to get your practice out there.
Joining the chamber of commerce is low-effort. Aside from that, it’s up to your practice on how involved you want to be.
You can expect to pay at least a few hundred dollars annually for a chamber of commerce membership. Check with your local chamber of commerce for membership rates.