Many medical practices don’t start thinking about marketing until it’s too late–when patient volume drops off, when a new practice moves into town, or when any other problem occurs that could interfere with the practice’s success.
It’s a very reactive approach to marketing, and it may not be serving your practice well. If you wait until there is a problem or an obstacle to overcome before you start marketing your practice, it’s going to be much more difficult, time-consuming, and costly to get the results you want.
Instead, we recommend taking a proactive approach to marketing. Proactive marketing helps your practice stay ahead of the curve, so that you can weather any changes or problems with greater ease.
Think of marketing as an insurance policy for your practice. You don’t wait until something bad happens to get insurance; you make sure you already have it in place to protect you when something does happen. Marketing can be that insurance policy for your practice’s reputation and position in your community, so that you don’t have to worry about loss of patient volume and other problems that can affect your practice.
There are many ways that marketing can help your practice stay ahead of the curve. In particular, proactive marketing can help you address four key points that can contribute to your practice’s success.
1. Establish and Maintain Your Brand
Branding has become extremely important for both medical practices and individual physicians. For medical practices, a brand isn’t quite the same as what you might expect from a retail store or other service-based business. For physicians and medical practices, your brand is essentially your reputation. With online review sites becoming increasing in popularity, establishing and maintaining your practice’s reputation is of the utmost importance.
Proactive marketing can help you establish and maintain your practice’s brand. You know what your practice is capable of, but sometimes that expertise doesn’t come across in online searches. By focusing on things like online reviews and a professional, informative website, you can create a consistent brand experience online that matches what patients can expect in your office. When local patients search for a practice, this type of marketing can help you stand out and earn the trust of these patients.
2. Keep Up or Grow Patient Volume
Patient volumes can drop for several reasons. Competing practices may move into the market, insurance coverages can change, or your referral sources may change. If you wait to address patient volume when it’s already dropping, it will be much more difficult to build it back up.
A proactive marketing strategy can help you maintain consistent patient volumes, or even grow your patient volumes if you’d like to expand your practice. A good marketing strategy helps to diversify the referral sources for your practice, so that if one referral source goes away, your practice can more easily make up the difference. More importantly, with an online marketing strategy, you can create your own referral source through your online presence.
More and more patients are turning to online sources to find a physician. Online marketing can help you gain control of those channels and turn them into effective referral sources. This will help you weather changes in other referral sources, or grow and expand your practice
3. Get the Right Patients
Most practices don’t just want more patients–they want more of the patients who are the best fit for their specialties. Specialists will, of course, help any patient that comes in the door, but some conditions are best handled by primary care. However, the right marketing strategy can help to ensure that your practice’s schedule is not only filled, but is filled with patients that can most benefit from what you have to offer.
This starts with good content on your website that details the kinds of cases your practice handles. This allows patients to decide whether or not your practice is the right fit and helps to free up your schedule for the patients that can benefit the most from your expertise. Well-written, informative content helps to build trust with patients, ensuring that you not only get more patients, but more of the right patients.
4. Attain Greater Visibility in Competitive Markets
If your practice is located in a larger area, there is a good chance that the local market is competitive, making it difficult for your practice to stand out from others. Even if you are a well-known and established practice, it can be difficult to compete with other practices, especially as more and more patients turn to online sources to find a physician. Your practice cannot simply rely on word of mouth anymore–you have to have a strong online presence that matches your reputation.
When your local market is saturated with similar practices or a larger health system, it becomes nearly impossible to compete without an effective marketing strategy. Many forward-thinking practices already have a solid online marketing strategy, and if your practice does not, you will eventually feel the effects of that. It may not happen overnight, but eventually your practice will be affected if you aren’t proactive about your marketing.
All of this is not meant to alarm you, but to show you how marketing can help to solve many of the problems practices are facing. Even if you are behind your competition on marketing right now, all is not lost. You can still get started now to head off future competition and catch up.
The medical landscape is changing, but practices with forward-thinking marketing strategies can weather these changes while helping patients get the care they need.