In the first of two parts, Francine Gaillour, MD, tells how to create a buzz over your practice. First, get the word out in print and in person.
Do the words "marketing" and "sales" conjure up unpleasant images of hucksters in ill-fitting suits? Don't despair - there are ways to promote yourself and your practice that are tasteful and consistent with the professional stature you've worked so hard to attain.
First, I'll describe two simple yet highly effective ways to create awareness of you and your expertise. In part two, published next month, we'll delve into the mystery of "charisma" - and examine how to nurture this quality in yourself and attract the attention and respect of patients and colleagues.
Get yourself in print
You'd be surprised how easy it is to be published. You'll have instant credibility in the community, more so than by buying a glossy print ad. Pick up the local parenting newspaper, business journal, or giveaway weekly, and see if submitting an article might be appropriate. You can contact the editor in advance or submit a completed article that fits in with other kinds of topics published there.
What can you write about? Think of the most common ailments your patients present, or that come up seasonally such as allergies or sports injuries. Choose a "hot" topic that's been in the news, or maybe a basic subject such as keeping a particular organ system healthy. Give it a catchy title that is upbeat. Examples: "The egg makes a comeback: What to eat to stay heart-healthy." Or, "Fifty may be the new 30, but what do I do about hot flashes?"
If you think you can't write well, but like the idea of being in print, have a friend, colleague, or family member interview you about a topic, and record the conversation; the interview transcript itself could be submitted as a Q&A piece. Don't forget your byline. Always include your credentials and contact information.
Get on the podium
Use those same article topics and develop a brief talk targeted to the community or to your peers. There are plenty of speaking forums out there: hospitals, churches, and other religious organizations, local colleges, the Rotary club, Chamber of Commerce, local chapters of professional organizations, lunchtime seminars at large corporations, health clubs. If most of your business comes from referring physicians, consider speaking at your hospital grand rounds, or to the local chapters of the medical societies. Depending on how much time you have, leave time for questions.
Consider investing some energy in sharpening your writing or speaking skills - they will help you create "buzz." That means people are talking about you; you've established trust and credibility.
Francine R. Gaillour, MD, MBA, FACPE, is president of The Gaillour Group, an executive coaching resource for physicians who want to develop their potential as leaders, entrepreneurs, and business professionals. Her transition into business management came after 10 years of practicing in internal medicine. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org, (888)562-7289, www.physicianleadership.com, or at email@example.com.
This article originally appeared in the June 2005 issue of Physicians Practice.