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Marketing is a Must for Small Practices


The days of relying solely on word of mouth and referrals to grow your business are over. You must put yourself out there.

When I first opened my office, it was not ethical to advertise your practice. You were only allowed a small picture of yourself with an announcement that you had opened a practice listing your training and office hours as a one-time write up in the local newspaper.

You were also permitted a listing in the Yellow Pages under physicians with your office phone number. I kept the billing sheet from my first days in practice showing that I saw six patients needing care. Your practice was built on word of mouth and referrals from other physicians. Those referrals turned out to be either difficult to deal with patients or those who just did not like to pay physician bills.

Years later the Justice Department and the AMA reached an agreement on permitting physicians to advertise without facing the ethical issues for doing so. As such, I've marketed my office to the public and taken advantage of these new rules. I have done radio and television commercials on a regular basis.  I have volunteered to be a speaker at dinner meeting for organizations interested in having a physician speak. I have large ads in phonebooks listing facts about the office and inviting "walk in" patients. I have an office webpage. I have advertised in the local high school books during football and basketball season, as it helps support the team in addition to letting people know I am still accepting new patients. I have even paid for billboards in the area if I am running a special rate on some service.

The point being I do everything possible to let the public know I am a physician in active practice willing to see new patients. My staff has supported me even if it means working past normal hours so that all ill patients are seen before close of business that working day. Medicine isn't just a profession, it's also a business. To stay in business, you have to market yourself.

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