Authentic Marketing for Your Medical Practice

August 22, 2013

The more people you reach, the more patients you have the opportunity to help, and the more people you can serve.

We all know that if you are not marketing your medical practice, I am going to wag my finger at you about the reasons that you should. When I begin working with clients, there are many times when I ask what they do to market their practice. Sometimes I get blank stares and sometimes even a cricket or two chirping in the silence of their response. Medicine has been slow to jump on the advertising and marketing wagon for a number of reasons, some of the top reasons I hear are:

"I don’t want to look sales-y."

"I don’t have the budget."

"We don’t know where to start."

"We have a website, isn’t that good enough?"

"Professional doctors of my caliber don't need to market."

"I'd rather be treating patients."

Here is the deal: Marketing to your patients is serving your patients. How is that? The more people you reach, the more patients you have the opportunity to help, the more people you can serve. You don't have to look or sound "sales-y" if you market authentically. So here is where you start:

1. Form a marketing committee. This committee should include any partners in the business of the clinic, at least one provider (preferably all of them), the office manager, and someone in an ancillary staff position as well.  If you have a large clinic, you could utilize department heads and executives; at a smaller clinic (such as a single-provider clinic), you may utilize the entire practice staff.

2. Discuss and determine your ideal patient. This isn't to say that you will turn away patients who don’t fit this mold; it is simply about who you want to speak to in your marketing efforts. You should identify as many specific characteristics about your ideal patient as possible. In brainstorming these traits with my clients, we even name the ideal patients. Some factors to consider (in no particular order): financial situation, lifestyle, age, range of health insurance, conditions, seriousness of conditions, geographic location.

3. Determine your organization's philosophy. Your practice may already have a philosophy and mission statement in place. You are really looking for what part of your practice's core values makes you stand out as unique and relatable.

4. Put it out there. Once you have determined what you are speaking about with your practice's philosophy and whom you are speaking to in your ideal patient, you need to express it in every aspect of your practice.

What does this look like for a medical practice? Leadership. This won't be the case for every practice out there, but for many of my clients, after all of the meeting and discussing, they determine that they want to be the place people turn to for expert advice and treatment, that they want to communicate their elevated standards of service and care, and that they want to convince more people to take better care of themselves.

The next question becomes, "how do you communicate that to your patients and potential patients?"  Really there are a myriad of ways. Some to consider are:

1. Feature providers on educational websites and local news outlets (can be print, online, or both, depending on your ideal patient). 

2. Speak at seminars geared towards patients on health issues or topics you are particularly interested in related to your practice.

3. Blog on health topics your ideal patients would want to learn about.

4. Write a book or an e-book on living with a particular condition or disease process for your patients or families.

5. Get your social media focused on speaking to the patients you would like to serve.

6. Ignore traditional marketing tactics; there is no need to spend five digits to be featured in the local socialite magazine, UNLESS it caters to your ideal patient. 

7. Examine every aspect of your practice and ensure it speaks to your ideal patient and what he or she is looking for in a medical practice, your practice's philosophy, and your clinic's core values.

The bottom line is when you market authentically, you drive more patients to your practice. When more patients are driven to your clinic, you are able to serve more of the people that you serve the best. When you are consistently serving the people that you serve best, you may even remember why you got into medicine in the first place.