In previous years the conversation around marketing your medical practice centered on "Should I market my practice?" and "How much should I spend on marketing my practice?" Which then evolved into "Should I be online?" and "Is Facebook or social media really necessary to market my practice?"
The conversation is now "How much time and money should I invest in online marketing?" It is now accepted that online marketing is not just an option for practices any longer; it is something they must do to attract new patients and stay competitive.
When determining a budget for your online marketing, it is best to start with the end in mind. Begin by looking at what your goals are for your online marketing program. I think it's best to frame them within short-term and long-term scenarios.
Here are some examples to get your creative wheels turning:
In 90 days, I would like to see an established and engaged audience of X number of people.
In 120 days, I would like to see my audience at X number, and receive X new patients per month from online efforts.
Once you have your goals set, you can determine the cost to achieve them. There are a number of factors to consider when determining the cost:
• Where does your ideal patient hang out?
Hint: Almost all practices should start with a website and Facebook.
• Who is managing the online effort — in-house vs. an outside firm?
There are many different levels of service available; from assistance with in-house efforts to complete outside management.
• What is the cost to reach your ideal patients?
Do you want to reach the 22-year-old diabetic patient in Boise, Idaho? You can, and often times for pennies. If you want to make your message more specific, it may cost a little more or less depending on the characteristics you seek.
• How will you stay in touch?
All of these variables, and many more, factor into what kind of investment you will need to make to reach the patients you want to see.
Compare these figures to what a single patient is worth to your practice to calculate how much time and money you should invest in online marketing efforts.