Whether you’re starting your private medical practice from scratch, or growing an existing service, it may be a bit of a surprise to learn that getting the word out about your offering is not as straightforward as you initially envisaged.
You may well have plenty of satisfied NHS patients and a glowing reputation amongst your peers. Your clinic premises are all set up and you have even advertised in the local press and media. So why is your appointments diary not as busy as you know it should be?
Bob Davidson of Synaptic medical communications comments:
Successful marketing always starts with your positioning and working out what you stand for. Your next challenge is to understand where your clients are looking and how they like to communicate.
He adds: ‘Seek a detailed consultation with a chartered marketer who has medical communications experience. Test your thoughts and review different ideas.'
With this in mind, here are 15 tips to ensure you get the best results out of your marketing campaign.
1. Build the best website with the right architecture
Your website is your most powerful marketing tool and is at the heart of your communication strategy. Ensuring it is a welcoming place that funnels visitors into making appointments is key. Make sure your site designer gets the correct balance in producing a site that’s up-to-date and modern, as well as ensuring the user experience is seamless. All website systems are not equal. Look for website builders with the right SEO architecture, designed to bring the contents of the sites to search engine spiders.
2. Use inbound marketing
Here’s a question … are you more likely to make an expensive purchase if you see a flashy advert? Or are you more likely to go off and do your research – usually online – before buying? Even if you’re buying a coffee machine, most of us will do our homework. When it is something as precious as health, potential patients are more inclined to trust third-party sources. In-bound marketing refers to the process of helping potential patients find your practice and is an umbrella terms for content marketing, blogs, events, search engine optimisation (SEO), social media, all designed to create brand awareness.
3. Make sure the visuals are right
It’s worth investing in some professional shots both of yourself and your practice. Make sure you use a professional photographer who will ensure your brand stands out for all of the right reasons. Head shots that work well for the NHS, may not be appropriate for wooing private patients, so consider the message and image you are trying to convey.
4. Understand the power of SEO
Everyone wants their website to be on the first few pages of Google. The magic that makes this happen is SEO – search engine optimisation. It’s all about making sure your website can be easily found by the people who need it. There are tips and tricks for ensuring great SEO – but it’s a fast-moving field and Google’s algorithms can alter. Expert input can keep you ahead of the curve.
5. Do social media – but do it right
Using social media to create an excitement and a buzz around brands can be a cost-effective way of getting straight to consumers you wish to reach. It’s worth taking time to consider which platform is right for you and carefully selecting the right content. Consider getting some expert input when it comes to manoeuvring the ever-changing algorithms and rules of Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and LinkedIn.
6. Consider paid social media
If you want to harness the power of social media for your business, paid social media adverts can be part of a highly-targeted campaign that will give you the competitive edge to succeed. Make sure you are creating the right advert to get the maximum out of your money.
7. Stay in touch with newsletters
An e-newsletter is a great way to keep in touch with patients and potential referrers However, there are a few pitfalls which you may wish to swerve – the legal implications of databases and GDPR being a prime example. Do your research, or find an experienced marketeer to get the word out.
8. Influencers may work
No doubt you have already come across influencers in your practice – those satisfied patients who have waxed lyrical about your skills and bedside manner to friends and family. They seem to be brilliant at sending people to your waiting room. Third-party blogs, celebrity endorsements and articles perform this function on a larger scale.
9. Testimonials are powerful
Using satisfied patients’ experiences is a great way to signal the world about what you can do to help them. Google reviews are very helpful – but many patients will not be happy to broadcast their medical history so publicly. Ask patients if they are willing to share anonymised testimonials on your site.
10. Use blogs and RSS feeds
Sharing and your knowledge and authority on your site is brilliant for your SEO and potential patients will be delighted to hear your insights
11. Share your knowledge
General practitioners are a vital part of the private health ecosystem. Offering free information and professional development in the form of events or webinars help position you as an authority and keep you foremost in their minds.
12. Network, network, network
Those CPD events will help, but attending other business events will ensure you get to know potential patients and other potentially businesses you can develop a positive and reciprocal relationship with.
13. Find a way to connect to journalists
If you have a treatment that attracts the positive attention of the mainstream media, you have struck gold. Journalists for print, online, and TV regularly seek out medical professionals to provide expert comment. This increases your authoritative standing and will also give you and SEO boost.
14. If budget allows, consider podcasts and videos
Not the cheapest option, but investing in this will enable you to boost your presence and authority.
15. Convert leads into conversions
Most physicians are acutely aware that their appointments team is an important part of the engine of their practice. Their role becomes ever more key when it comes unlocking the potential of inbound marketing. Digital marketing can throw up many leads. But it’s important that an email asking for more information is followed up with a friendly phone call to ensure it is converted into a booked appointment.
Get in touch for a free initial consultation on medical marketing firstname.lastname@example.org