If you own or operate a medical practice, your marketing strategies should be central to your overall strategy.
A properly designed and executed marketing strategy will allow you to dramatically outperform your competition AND deliver sustained, superior financial returns.
This 5-point plan provides you the structure and know-how to create and execute your medical practice marketing plan!
If you work in the medical field, either as a doctor or as an administrator, you need to have a well thought-out, and well executed, marketing strategy. Why is this? Because there are competing practices out there and the life blood of your organization is not only winning new patients, but keeping existing ones delighted so that they never want to leave you for another practice. In order to ensure that you win and keep your patients, your medical practice marketing strategy is crucial.
Arrow Northwest has helped create marketing strategies for medical practices over many years now. We know what works, and what doesn't. We understand that in order to attract and maintain an incredibly loyal patient base, it is not enough to simply tell people what you do. You need to get your existing patients and your patients-to-be excited about your medical practice. You also need to get your staff excited about your medical practice, as they are the ones who will ultimately deliver on the brand promise you want to offer.
In one of our other articles, Medical Practice Marketing: What You Need to Know, we provide a business case for why you need a well-planned and well-executed marketing strategy. This article also talks about what kind of a budget need should allocate to your marketing activities under different scenarios, as well as what kinds of financial results you could expect.
This article presupposes that you now understand that you need a marketing strategy for your medical practice, and are motivated to create a 5-point plan that will help you achieve your marketing objectives and overall financial performance goals.
Before we get to the 5-point plan, you first need to be aware that a problem exists, that this problem opens an opportunity for you, and the variety of results you can expect when you put this 5-point plan into place.
Without further ado, let's begin.
The Problem - Your Opportunity - Results
Very few medical practices, possibly including your own, understand the importance that a powerful brand narrative plays in your overall marketing and communications activities. After all, you are not in the business of understanding the intricacies of marketing and branding. You are in the business of providing outstanding healthcare.
Whatever the case, your practice is still a for-profit enterprise, where the profit motive is central to your overall goals as an organization, correct? If you do not have a structured approach to your marketing and communications plan as a part of your overall strategy, you’ll be underperforming with your overall financial results.
You’ll also allow an industry peer to outflank you at your expense. This not hard to imagine. Here at Arrow Northwest, more than a few of our medical practice clients initially came to us because they had lost patients to other practices that were putting out compelling and engaging messaging through a powerful brand narrative.
So, here's a rhetorical question for you: Would you prefer to win patients or lose them to other practices?
Again, very few medical practices understand that a powerful brand narrative is the cornerstone of all marketing and communications activities. This opens a significant opportunity for your medical practice to exploit for augmented strategic advantage over your competition.
Again, Arrow Northwest has worked with a wide variety of medical practices over the years. With this experience, we can tell you that if your medical practice has a powerful and compelling brand narrative firmly in place, and one that is communicated consistently, you will ultimately benefit from the following:
- A growing patient base
- Significantly enhanced (and positive) word-of-mouth referrals
- Increased likelihood that patients purchase elective services (if you offer them)
- A more deeply engaged and loyal staff (which cuts turnover costs and allows you to attract better talent)
- Increased efficiencies throughout your practice (which further cuts costs and adds to the bottom line)
- Dramatically increased goodwill in your community
- Enhanced PR opportunities
- Vast oceans of new growth potential
- Significantly increased revenues and overall bottom line
All of the above points ensure far better strategic positioning to grow your practice more quickly than your competition (if that’s your objective).
Or, if you are a more mature practice and simply want to maintain a manageable patient base, while maximizing revenues and ensuring loyalty to protect your position from more hungry competitors, all of the above points are crucial in helping you do so.
Finally, all of the above points ensure that a moderate investment in marketing activities, which includes the communication of your brand narrative, will ensure an enviably positive return on your investment.
Now, let's get into the nuts and bolts for how to create your world-class medical practice marketing strategy with our 5-point plan.
Step 1: Create Your Brand Identity
Before you start with any marketing activities, you need to have a clear grasp on who you are as a medical practice first. You need to think of your medical practice as a dynamic, living personality. As with individuals, some people have an "it" factor that ensures they attract people to them like powerful magnets. These feel nourishing and empowering on multiple levels and you want to know more about them. It’s almost as if they take the very best aspects that you hope to see in yourself and reflect them back to you.
You can think of your medical practice in the same way. You need to put out a personality that attracts people's attention, respect and admiration. As an medical practice, you need to feel nourishing and empowering to people on multiple levels, especially because it regards their health. This means your entire organizational body - your doctors administration and staff - must seamlessly internalize this nourishing and empowering identity you want to portray.
This is where your brand identity as a medical practice needs to be clarified, codified and repeated over and over again until all the individuals that represent you are on the same page as to who you are, and how they represent you when interfacing with your patients and community at large.
In addition, if your brand identity is truly compelling, your patients will see the best aspects of themselves through your medical practice's brand, which all but ensure that they will remain endlessly loyal, and tell all their friends about your virtues. This is truly the sweet spot you want to reach. It’s an artform in that it is abstract, yet will have a measurable result.
Finally, with regard to your staff, if you create a powerful brand identity that reflects their values as human beings, and then create communications that reflect that brand identity and those values on a consistent basis, your staff will be far more engaged, productive and loyal to your practice. This lowers costs and thus improves your profit margins.
If you would like a step-by-step guide to creating your medical practice's brand identity, we have an 8-step guide, complete with simple exercises and powerful insights, free for you to read and make use of. By using this guide, you'll create a compelling brand identity that give you a powerful advantage over your industry peers. Click on the image to the right to download your copy.
Step 2: Develop Your Patient Personas
Once you have gotten your brand identity solidified and exemplified through your brand identity manifesto, you are ready to begin defining how you want to deliver this message to existing and target patients. For this, you need to develop your patient personas.
The term "patient persona" can be defined as typical person, imagined or real, whom you want to target as a patient. This persona is based on market research and real data about your existing and target patients.
And why are patient personas important? Because whether you have a business education or not, you understand the need to define who you want to target as a patient, or in your case, as a target patient. Creating an array of patient personas will allow you to be far more successful with your medical practice marketing activities.
In addition, by building out your patient personas, you will be able to come up with messaging that attracts your ideal patients while harmonizing this communication with the language and general messaging you've derived in your brand identity manifesto.
Now, unless you have a significant budget and are able to hire a market research agency to create your patient personas for you, you'll have to do this on your own. But have no fear! You can get this information yourself with a little time and effort.
If you would like to check out our prescribed structure and methodology to help you build out your medical practice's patient personas, click here, or click on the image above.
Step 3: Create Your Medical Practice Marketing Strategy
Once you've created your brand identity manifesto (makes your practice amazing) and patient personas (the patients you want to target and attract), you're ready to create your medical practice marketing strategy.
The word "strategy" may seem intimidating and time consuming. You can always hire a marketing agency like ours to do the heavy lifting for you. Or, if you follow these simple steps, you can put together a strategy all by yourself.
If you decide to go the do-it-yourself route, there are several key aspects that you need to include in your medical practice marketing strategy:
- Conduct market research of the competing practices in your field. This is simply to:
- Ascertain best practices
- Figure out which communications areas may be left unattended, and therefore open for you to exploit.
- Get your own creative juices flowing
- Create messaging that is tailored to appeal to each of your patient personas, while reflecting your brand identity.
- Research which communication channels best reach your target patient personas (you should have at least five).
- Come up with a continuous stream of tailored, targeted content to keep things fresh, engaging and actual.
- Create paid advertising
- Conduct analyses of your analytics
Additional Helpful Tips
"Content is King!"
Have you every heard the phrase "content is king"? This simply means that producing and publishing a continuous stream and engaging content needs to be central to your marketing strategy. No matter which communications channels you choose, make sure to:
- Keep these channels refreshed with a steady supply of content.
- Keep your content compliant with your overall brand identity.
You Need to Have Digital Media Channels
We're sorry to say it, but print advertising is going to continue to decline in relevance. It is one-way engagement that does not allow you to build a two-way interaction with your target market. It also comes nowhere near the effectiveness and detail of measuring results.
With this said, your medical practice should have at least a few digital media channels as a part of your marketing strategy. After years of helping other medical practices with their marketing activities, Arrow Northwest has a clear understanding which channels are the most effective in creating fantastic connections with your existing patients and your patients-to-be via digital media. We have put together a list of these channels, as well as how your medical practice can use them.
One word of caution. If you are going to use digital medial channels to transmit your messaging, be aware that there are a ton of channels out there, with each of them fairly complex with their platforms. Unless you have a whiz kid at your practice who is not only proficient with a variety of digital media platforms, but has the time to focus on them as a part or your medical practice marketing strategy, it is simply best to outsource your digital marketing activities to a marketing agency. It is simply better for efficiency and overall return on the money you invest.
Promote your solutions, not simply that you provide services
Did you know that 8-out-of-10 people seek information and solutions, when conducting their Internet research on a provider, not the provider themselves? Also, over 90% of Internet search is centered around searching for information about a disease or condition.
Based on these simple facts, make sure that your marketing activities are more centered around the concrete results that your doctors and/or your medical services will yield, and not simply that you provide services.
Step 4: Implement Your Marketing Strategy
Once you have your medical practice marketing strategy ascertained, it is now time to put it into action! This means transmitting your messaging on the communications channels you have chosen, targeted at the audiences (based on your patient personas) that you have chosen.
If you're new at this, we highly recommend getting started slowly with your messaging in order to measure what works best, and then adjust where necessary.
If you use digital media channels to transmit your messaging (which we more than highly recommend), you'll be able to use analytics to see which activities have been most effective, which have not, and where you can make adjustments to be even more targeted with your efforts.
One note of caution if you are thinking of using
Step 5: Measure Results, Adjust Where Necessary
The last step in your medical practice marketing strategy is to measure the results of your marketing activities. With traditional media such as print, television, radio advertisements etc, this is a little harder to do. This is not to say that we do not recommend using these communications channels! In order to measure these results, you'll just need to be a more focused on getting data from your new patients. For example, when you receive a new patient, you can inquire as to how they heard of you, as well as what played a role in their decision making.
With digital media, which should by extension includes advertising on digital media channels, you can be far more precise not only with who you target, but how effective that targeting has been in driving people to your website or other digital media channels. This is why we cannot recommend allocating the majority of your paid advertising budget towards the digital media channels of your strategic choosing.
Again, if you choose to use digital media to transmit your message, make sure you can do it effectively in-house before engaging with it altogether. If you cannot engage effectively with digital media in-house, outsource it to a marketing agency.
One of the biggest mistakes you can make with your marketing activities is equating activity with results. You might be getting tons of traffic to your website, or video views or likes/shares on Facebook etc, but is this ultimately leading to enhanced financial results?
Many vendors, more specifically advertisers, website developers, and search engine optimizers, talk their ability to drive traffic. It's fairly easy to throw a marketing budget towards digital media, for example, and then see growth in traffic, views and clicks. While this is great to see, what you really want - and this is ultimately the most important part of your marketing strategy overall - is to capture and convert your traffic into patients, ensure their loyalty and to earn their referrals. This is where leadership and your marketing team / agency need to work together.
The only metric you need
Marketing activities / Cash generated = Return on Investment
If you own or operate a medical practice, it is highly recommend that your medical practice marketing strategy clearly ascertained. A reasonable budget allocated toward developing and implementing your medical practice marketing strategy, if done properly and professionally, will have a positive return on investment. Our 5-point plan above is a simple, yet effective way to accomplish your medical practice strategy goals.
First, if you create a powerful and compelling brand identity (through a your brand identity manifesto), your medical practice will attract attention and intrigue to your practice like a magnet. This alone will set you light years ahead of your competition.
Second, developing your patient personas will allow you to understand the deeper, more personal motivations of your target patients so that you can reach them with the messaging they want to hear, and will ultimately respond to.
Third, once you have your brand identity and patient personas ascertained, you can focus on creating a highly effective medical practice marketing strategy by following the 6 key aspects above.
Fourth, once you have your strategy clarified, you may begin your implementation plan by communicating what you want to communicate, through the channels that you've chosen.
Finally, you can measure the results of your marketing activities so that you can define which activities have been most successful, and which have not. This allows you to double down on your targeting where strategically relevant, and jettison activities that are not bearing the intended fruit.
By using this simple, 5-point structure, you will be able to create a medical practice marketing strategy that not only wins you new patients, but ensures that your existing patients are delighted by the brand identity and overall experience that you provide. This will ensure that they stay loyal to your practice, and not drift to another.
And let's not forget about your staff! If you create a powerful brand identity that reflects their values as human beings, and then create communications that reflect that brand identity and those values on a consistent basis, your staff will be far more engaged, productive and loyal to your practice. This lowers costs and thus improves your profit margins.
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Finally, if you feel you need any help in developing your marketing strategy, or creating advertisements that ultimately win your more patients, feel free to contact us today at 858.634.0859, or via email at firstname.lastname@example.org.