Do you know where the target market for your patient base is? Who are your patients and how far do they travel to get to your OB/GYN office? Is your practice the only game in town or are there myriad medical choices? Because of the competition in the medical industry your practice may face challenges in its attempts to stay ahead of the competition. To remain viable your practice must not only retain current patients, but draw in new ones.
If you find that your patient base is dwindling, now is the time to step back and determine the reasons why. Is there more competition now that there was before? Has your patient base aged-out of your services? Is your office no longer in the business center of your community? Does your practice accept all of the health care plans and programs that it did in the past? After you’ve looked into the reasons your patient base might not be as strong as it once was you can address it and implement a marketing strategy.
Develop your brand as part of your marketing plan. Do you want to be known as “the preferred provider of women-centered services,” “do you offer a ‘one-stop’ practice for all health-related needs for women.” What does your practice do that sets it apart from the competition?
A well thought out marketing strategy not only helps you stand out from the competition but increase your medical practice’s viability. Here are a few tips to consider when putting together a marketing strategy:
What are your patients’ demographics? As soon as you know who your patient is, you will have a foundation for where to target your marketing strategies to best reach your particular patient.
How does your audience like to receive its marketing messages? If you cater to young audience, social media outlets such as Twitter or Facebook are likely the way to go. If your patient base is elderly, chances are you won’t find them on social media. Depending on the demographic of your ideal patient you might consider utilizing press releases, newspaper ads, postcard mailers, email marketing or social media platforms. If you begin offering a new service at your practice, send a press release to the local media. Email marketing can keep you in touch with both current and past patients. Use email marketing to offer informative medical tips, keep in touch on birthdays and holidays.
Have a budget in place for your marketing program. While social media marketing is free in and of itself, if you don’t have the expertise to implement and maintain it, you will have to hire a marketing professional to implement and maintain it for you.
Become involved in community events. If there are volunteer activities in which you, or your office staff, can become involved, it’s a great way to get to know your patients outside of the office. Are there school health fairs? Set up a booth and volunteer your time and expertise. Current and potential patients appreciate a doctor – and a practice – that is active in the community.
To gauge the effectiveness of your marketing program, ask patients how they heard about you. Track this information so you will know how to best target your marketing dollars.
Remember, keeping your current patients happy with your service is your best avenue for marketing. Implement patient satisfaction surveys. Work with your front office staff to work on strategies to engage your patients. Word-of-mouth advertising from “satisfied” patients is your best marketing plan.
If you (or the marketing professional that you hire) is on social media platforms spreading the word about what your practice does and offering information on recent medical breakthroughs and insights into medical topics, you will be seen as the go-to expert. Building an expertise in the public eye is a great way to build trust with potential patients.
The medical industry has undergone so many changes in recent years, you can no longer operate on the premise that patients will simply come to you. Patients are looking for medical practitioners who are proactive in seeking them out and drawing them in. Put a marketing plan in place for the upcoming year. It takes time to build momentum for any type of marketing program.