If you own or operate a medical practice, your marketing activities should be central to your overall growth strategy.
A properly designed and executed marketing plan will allow you to dramatically outperform your competition AND deliver sustained, superior financial returns.
This 5-point guide provides you a simple structure for making your effective marketing activities a reality.
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 your practice for another. In order to ensure that you win and keep your patients, your medical practice's marketing strategy is crucial.
In one of our articles, Medical Practice Marketing: Why? How Much? Your Results? we provide a business case for why you need a well-planned and well-executed marketing strategy, what kind of budget you should allocate for marketing under different scenarios, and what kinds of financial results you should expect.
The article you are reading now presupposes that you 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.
Without further ado, let's begin constructing your marketing plan.
Step 1: Create Your Brand Identity
Before you put together a marketing strategy, 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. They feel nourishing and empowering on multiple levels and you want to know more about them. It is 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 a 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 that 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 ensures that they remain endlessly loyal to you, and tell all their friends about your virtues as well. This is truly the sweet spot you want to reach. It is 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 gives you a powerful advantage over your industry peers. To access this free article, click here.
Step 2: Develop Your Patient Personas
Once you have gotten your brand identity solidified, 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 whom you want to target as a patient. Creating an array of patient personas will allow you to be far more successful with your medical practice marketing activities in that you will have an idea what makes different personas tick, and to what they will respond more positively.
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 have derived in your brand identity.
Now, unless you have a significant budget and are able to hire a market research agency to create your patient personas for you, you will have to do this on your own. But have no fear! You can create your patient personas yourself with a little time and effort.
If you would like to check out our prescribed structure and methodology to help you create your medical practice's patient personas, click here.
Step 3: Create Your Medical Practice Marketing Strategy
Once you've created your brand identity and started creating your patient personas, you are now ready to create your medical practice marketing strategy.
The word "strategy" may seem intimidating and time consuming, but it need not be. Through the lens of your brand identity and patient personas, the following are the basic 6 tenants that are required when putting together your 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 (digital or traditional) to keep things fresh, engaging and actual.
- Use paid advertising to broaden your reach.
- Review analytics and make adjustments where necessary.
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 medical practice 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 and targeted to your patient personas.
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 ability to measure results so that you can make quick adjustments where/when necessary.
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 of which channels are the most effective in creating fantastic connections with your existing patients and your patients-to-be via digital media. If you would like to download a free copy of our publication, The Ultimate Digital Marketing Guide for Medical Practices, click here.
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, each of them being 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 use them as a part or your medical practice marketing strategy, it is far more efficient and cost-effective to outsource your digital marketing activities to a marketing agency. It will also deliver far better return on investment.
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 about the about the health provider themselves?
- Of the people searching for medical services, 90% of that traffic 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 you will deliver, 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, and targeted at your audiences of choice (based on your patient personas).
If you are 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, you will be able to use analytics to see which activities have been most effective and where you can make adjustments to be even more targeted with your efforts.
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 to chose your practice over another.
With digital media, you can be far more precise in not only who you target, but how effective that targeting is in driving people to your website or other digital media channels. This is why we recommend allocating the majority of your paid advertising budget towards digital media.
Again, if you choose to use digital media to transmit your message, make sure that you can do it effectively in-house before engaging with it altogether. If you do not have the staff or know-how to effectively run, measure or adjust your digital media activities, outsource it to a marketing agency.
One of the biggest mistakes you can make with your marketing activities is equating activity with results. For example, you might be getting tons of traffic to your website, or video views or likes/shares on Facebook etc, but this ultimately needs to get your more patients
Many vendors, more specifically advertisers, website developers, and search engine optimizers, talk about their ability to drive traffic to your website. It is fairly easy to throw a marketing budget towards digital media, for example, and then see growth in traffic, views and clicks to your channels. 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 then earn their referrals. If you hire a marketing agency, this is where your leadership and that agency need to work closely together.
If you own or operate a medical practice, it is highly recommended that you have a marketing budget. This is simply because competition exists and you need to stay relevant in the minds of your target market.
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.
The first step in putting together your 5-point marketing plan is to create a powerful and compelling brand identity. This asset is designed to give your practice a more personable and engaging appearance to your target audience. Since it is rare for medical practices in general to understand the importance of having a well structured brand identity, taking this step alone will put you light years ahead of competing practices.
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 to which they will ultimately respond positively.
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 points 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 have chosen.
Finally, you need to measure the results of your marketing activities so that you can define which activities have been the most successful, and which have not been. 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 plan that not only wins you new patients, but ensures that your existing patients are delighted by the overall experience that you provide. This will in turn all but guarantee that they stay loyal to your practice, and not drift to another. And most importantly, this will make certain that you achieve sustained, superior financial returns in the long-run.
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