Most physicians in a private practice setting do not have the time or background knowledge to efficiently manage their marketing campaigns. They often assign this task to a practice or office manager, who then develops and implements a plan with their approval.
Most physicians in a private practice setting do not have the time or background knowledge to efficiently manage their marketing campaigns. They often assign this task to a practice or office manager, who then develops and implements a plan with their approval. The effectiveness of these plans is dependent upon the abilities of the office manager, who may also be stressed for time.
Some larger clinics may be able to utilize the full complement of radio, print and television advertising as well as online options for their marketing choices, while smaller practices will be forced to decide which channel should receive their limited marketing budget. To assist those who are in the position of developing a strategy, here are five steps to a successful physician marketing plan:
- Assess and Compare: Think about your medical practice and list out its strengths and weaknesses as compared to your local competition. Try to find a “unique selling proposition” that you can use to make your practice stand out from the others. This can be the foundation for establishing your “brand” as a medical practice.
- Set Goals: Try to determine where you want the practice to be next year, in three years, and in five years. What type of patients do you want to attract. Which of your services do you want them to use the most? This will help in defining your target market. Once you know who you want to attract, you can determine how to find them.
- Set a Budget: There is an old adage that “you have got to spend money to make money.” This is true in physician marketing as well. Don’t just react to individual advertising opportunities and decide whether to spend the money. Your practice needs to have a dedicated marketing budget so you can develop a plan for the year and make decisions accordingly. If you are projecting an increase of several hundred thousand dollars, how much will you be willing to invest to attain that goal?
- Explore Your Opportunities: There are three opportunities for growing your practice – increasing services with current patients, obtaining referrals from current patients, and attracting new patients. Allocate your budget across these areas. Digital and online marketing can play an important role in communicating to these target groups, as more and more patients are now searching online for medical information. Out-of-pocket costs for search engine optimization (SEO) or pay-per click (PPC) strategies are not necessarily high, but they do require a time investment to be monitored and managed.
- Include Social Media: This is the newest form of communication and must be incorporated into any physician marketing plan. Be sure your plan includes the ability to reach out online, and to respond quickly to any inbound inquiries.
In this changing age of communication, it is difficult to just develop a marketing plan and set it in motion. Constantly monitor your marketing and be ready to make adjustments as your plan evolves.