Now that you have prepared your soil and planted your seeds in your garden of new patients, now is the time to start the maintenance to nurture your garden. This is often the most difficult task. Not because this step is difficult, but because of the lackluster nature involved.
Before we get to the specifics, let’s summarize what we did to get here: First, we prepared the soil, then we planted the seeds — this step involved focusing on what different types of patients you wanted in your practice.
The next step is more maintenance than anything else. Now that you have shown yourself and your services to your prospective new patients, now is the time to keep watering the garden to allow these new prospects to turn into new patients.
Notice that I used the word “allow” — that was intentional. Far too often medical practices make the mistake of trying too hard here — pushing and cajoling too much, which ends up being a turn off to prospective patients.
And while the notion of “if I build it, they will come” is not as easy as it sounds, that is the right idea. The distinction, I believe, is not in the building aspect, but in how you nurture it.
So let’s talk specifics: How do you nurture your practice and your new prospective patients at the same time?
Here is a tried and true method for doing just this:
1. Write a blog: Many of you are already doing this, but if not, now is the perfect time to start. When you set up your blog, try to send out posts at predictable times. For example three times a week or even once a week. Create a rhythm so that everyone reading your blog knows exactly what to expect.
2. Once you are writing a blog, you need to then create a sign-up space on the homepage of your website for patients and prospective patients to sign up with their e-mail address. The idea here is to create a list, an audience, for you to blog to. By having a sign-up space on your homepage, you are making this easy for them. Make sure you state in very clear language: Sign up for my blog. Sounds simple, but don’t leave it up to chance that people will know what to do.
3. Use a service like Aweber (that’s what I use) to maintain this list. There are plenty of other services such as Constant Contact and others that are similar. You want to use these services so that you can maintain your list of e-mail addresses and be able to send out information directly to these people who have signed up. You can also choose to configure the service so that your new blog post goes directly to each sign-up's e-mail inbox. That makes the blog more personal.
4. In addition to writing blog posts, I think it is a good idea to create auto-responders for each sign-up. You have complete control over the content and the frequency of the auto-responder. Choose to talk about what you are interested in or a new service you are offering. Having an auto-responder allows you to be in closer contact with all of your sign-ups from the get-go. Be careful not to push it too frequently, though, as no one likes being pestered. So use your best judgment, but know that the auto-responder is a great tool for you to tap into for your new prospects.
I have personally found the above steps to be very helpful in growing my practice. Not only does this process help me to keep blogging and keep writing, but it allows prospective patients to learn about who I am and how I practice medicine. This somewhat passive exchange seems to foster a connection so that when they do become a new patient, they already feel comfortable with my approach.
Find out more about Craig Koniver and our other Practice Notes bloggers.