To continue my garden-medical practice analogy, now that you have the soil well established, it is time to start sprinkling and planting the seeds of your new garden. Before you get started, you must first ask yourself the key question: What type of garden (patients) do I want to grow?
For example, in our garden, we have a combination of many different vegetables (corn, onions, peppers, others) fruits (strawberries, blueberries, apples, melons, others) herbs (chamomile, stevia) and even some flowers.
Using this analogy, try to think about the different types of patients you would like to attract to your practice:
• Age: Do you want to focus on children, adolescents, or maybe the baby boomers?
• Condition: Do you want to see more acute problems or help patients with more chronic diseases or maybe both?
• Systems: Would you like more diabetics or heart disease patients or maybe patients who have autoimmune illness?
• Interest: Are you interested in athletics, nutrition, hormones, or maybe many interests?
You can certainly devise your own questions based upon your own interests and goals. The main idea here is that you are in charge of what types of patients you attract and having clear goals makes this process flow more easily and simply.
The next step in this phase is to figure out how best to reach your target audience. Unlike traditional advertising in which you broadcast what you want to whoever happens to be paying attention at the time, a more modern, focused approach allows you to seek out the audience that you specifically want to target.
For example, traditional advertising using TV commercials or radio relies on the principle that you will get your message shouted out to whoever happens to be listening or watching at that point in time. When you choose one of these methods, you are hoping that by chance your message will resonate with a listener and they will be motivated by your message. As most of us can tell from personal experience, this traditional type of advertising can only work when you have a large budget to spend on multiple ads over and over and over again.
It is far better to figure out who your audience is and then meet them there. The most classic example of this type of advertising is Google Ad Words. Choose keywords that you feel your “chosen” audience will type in and then create small text or visual ads to attract them to click to your link.
So if you are hoping to attract diabetic patients you might choose keywords related to diabetes (diabetes, diabetes management, diabetes therapies, etc.) and create your ads. With Google Ad Words you essentially bid for these keywords — the more you agree to pay per click, the higher visibility Google will provide you on the search result page.
Indeed there are many books and specific strategies that go into much greater depth on how to utilize Google Ad Word campaigns. And while I do not have the space to delve into that here, I mention it because it really is the most straightforward and simple way to meet your audience where they are.
Here are some other ways to go meet your audience where they are:
• Free classes/demonstrations/ talks: Seek out your potential audience and ask to be a speaker at one of their events
•Specialty interest conventions/ meetings: Sponsor a booth and hand out your print material as you talk to people about what you do and what you can offer them
•Advertise in local specialty print resources: Every community has a plethora of mailers that are sent out to various clubs and groups — find them and create a well-looking ad highlighting your services
• Become a guest blogger
• Write comments on other people’s blogs linking back to your website: For example, if you are looking to bring more athletes into your practice, seek out the various sporting clubs and sports teams in your area, read their blogs, and make comments
• Host an open house highlighting your list of services and your new approach
• Go out and support the businesses and people who you feel would make great additions as patients: If you like exercise, spend time at different gyms or athletic fields; if you like nutrition, spend time at your favorite healthy restaurants
There are no set rules for how best to grow your practice. The key is knowing what types of patients you want to bring in and then going to them to find them.
Google Ad Words makes this process fairly straightforward for you. But there are so many other directions you can travel as well.
Stay tuned as next week we will talk about how to water your garden and bet ways to nurture your new seedlings.
Find out more about Craig Koniver and our other Practice Notes bloggers.