When trying to build your medical practice, the idea is to play to your niche. This is easy if you work in a highly focused field such as geriatrics or optometry, but when your target patient population grows, your approach needs to become more expansive. Branding that appeals to millennials is unlikely to hold the same draw for seniors, while pitching your practice to parents for their children is different from selling it to parents themselves. So what is the happy medium? To encompass the whole of your audience, your practice needs to think in a big picture way, structuring each public gesture to draw some segment of the community in closer. Here are 4 approaches that can help you grow your practice and increase patient retention across consumer groups.
Focus On Family
There’s a reason general practitioners who see patients of all ages are said to practice “family medicine.” In the past, people had a family doctor who everyone in the household might see from cradle to grave – or at least until their doctor retired. Now, though, we have so many sub-specialties that people see different doctors at every age and for every body system. Still, using the language of family medicine can strike the right chord. The one challenge with branding yourself as a family practice in the age of specialization is that patients don’t always understand what’s offered. The trick, then, is to break down even the individual family into niches. Family Braces, a Canadian dental practice, specifically highlights what they offer at every age, from interceptive orthodontics for young children to Invisalign for adults and teens. Traditional medical practices can do this too by emphasizing well-child visits for pediatric patients, sports physicals for teens, and annual blood pressure and cholesterol checks for adults. Patients need to be able to identify a specific service suited to their needs if they’re going to visit your practice.
Spot Trouble Points
One of the most powerful ways to approach multi-generation marketing within the medical field is to appeal to problem spots for specific populations. The fact is that, despite the nearly endless choices available to patients, many have had negative experiences in the healthcare system. Hearing that their experiences matter in your practice is sometimes all it takes. What does this look like in practice? Historically, many Black Americans have been experimented on and lied to by the medical establishment, resulting in generations of suspicion passed on through families. As a result, the NIH has committed $230 million of their annual budget to outreach in historically underserved communities. This includes going directly to those communities, advocating for personalized healthcare approaches, and actively seeking to build trust. Your practice can do this closer to home – and on a smaller budget. There are countless communities that feel less than well cared for by the current healthcare system, so think broadly. For example, millennials have taken a lot of flack in the press for just about everything, which doesn’t make them the most trusting population. Marketing to millennials, for example, and specifically to millennial parents can really benefit from an emphasis on trust. Millennial parents are under a lot of pressure to hit all the right marks because they’re parenting under the pressure of social media, circumstances entirely unlike prior generations. You can flip this model and make your practice’s online presence a counter-influence.
Most medical marketing strategies revolve around the pharmaceutical and medical device industries. However, medical practice marketing is equally important. Small practices face a number of challenges that large HMOs and drug companies don’t have to worry about, which need to be taken into consideration with their branding strategies. Staying current is a key part of building patient confidence, even among older patients who tend to be wary of change. That’s because we understand time and progress to be associated with better healthcare outcomes. It’s why patients want to see a modern waiting area, experience new technology, and hear about new research. And with younger patients, the same applies to your website. If your website looks out of date, the immediate assumption will be that your knowledge and care practices will be too.
Forget The Gimmicks
Ultimately, there’s one thing you can rely on in multi-generational marketing, no matter your healthcare niche – the power of service. So many doctors build their practices via word of mouth, based on how doctors treat their existing patients. Current patients do all the advertising. On your part, then, your focus should be on getting the little details right. Make sure you offer appointment reminders through various channels – phone calls for older patients, texts or emails for younger ones, send birthday cards or emails to patients, and make a point of welcoming new patients with care. These little details make patients feel like they matter and it bridges all of the points above. To build a multi-generational medical marketing, think about what you want for your own family and then play to those points. From diversification of services to building trust and confidence among your patients, healthcare is about connection as much as it is about medicine.