Business is Business—Health Care is no Different. Many health care practices don’t believe they need to market their services simply because of the nature of the industry.
Regardless of the economy, buying trends and retail sales performance, health care is a steady, always needed, recession proof business.
While this is true, consumers still have a choice in whom and where they receive their health care, and that’s where marketing comes in.
A health practice, like any other small business is first and foremost a business. Sure you provide unique products and services, but without the necessary capitol to survive, you’re out of business. People in health care sometimes forget that they are in a business. Or worse, they think that making money somehow damages the purity of what they do. If you are to help people, you need to be profitable and to have your business survive.
So, like all other businesses, you need customers. In health care, we call them patients, but they still possess the same characteristics as consumers. That means you also need a plan for marketing your practice, just like any other business.
So, how do you get more patients? A good, solid marketing campaign is the cornerstone of your efforts.
Marketing is a science—in many ways it is more scientific than the various disciplines in health care. There are definite principles, and they work. Learning effective marketing is like learning to play chess; you can learn the basic moves in a few minutes but mastering it can take a lifetime. What we have done here is to provide you with ethical and proven methods to get patients into your office.
There is one concept that you should be familiar with before you begin. That concept is “The Rule of Five”. This rule states that a person must see something presented five different ways before he or she acts on it. What this means is that you should try to do as many of these things as possible at the same time. It will create a synergy that will fill your office with patients
#1. Make sure that you have a website that works
One of the truly great things that a website does for you is to allow people to check you out before they actually come into the office. Did you ever notice how new patients are usually early—they want to check you out. Also, people are reluctant to come into a new office—it represents a commitment. They will look up a website without any hesitation at all.
All of your marketing material should have your web address on it. You want to get people to go to your web address—they will learn about you and your practice there. You also want to have a website that has the following features:
Lots of content: Information is the currency of the internet. People go to health websites to learn and they will not return if you do not have fresh content for them. You need to be adding content regularly.
Interactive: People love to go to sites that give them something to do.
Easy to change and customize: All to often websites stay static because there is an expense involved with changing them— you have to pay a technical expert.
A newsletter that can be sent electronically: You need for visitors to your site to be able to sign up to receive your newsletter. This gives you a reservoir of potential patients to draw from. It also helps you to build relationships with people who have not been to your office yet.
People don’t go to vanity sites. If you only have the basics— your picture, your bio, directions to your practice—people will not return to your site. They need a reason to come back and they really don’t care about your bio. Your website is a reflection of you and your practice—don’t make it dull and void of information.
You can get a website that is customizable—it can be up and running in minutes. Go to www.wholehealthameria.com and for less than the cost of a daily cup of coffee you can have a website that fills all of these criteria. It will have hundreds of scientific articles, two full-length books, It even has a computerized health quiz. Patients take the quiz and show up in your office with questions.
The sites are easily customizable. You can easily add pages, pictures, links and content yourself—plus Whole Health America regularly adds content for you. You can even change the whole look of the site with a couple of clicks of the mouse.
The idea is to have a really good and interesting web site— then direct people to go there. Search engine optimization is important, and it will get you patients, but don’t rely solely on Google to market your website. Take the initiative and market the site in your area—and make sure that there is something worth seeing when your potential patients get to your website.
#2. Have something to give away.
If I am marketing a pizzeria, I would offer “Two for Tuesday”—get two pizzas for the price of one on Tuesday. Or, I may offer a free order of Buffalo wings with any order over $20. People love a bargain.
In health care, this is a difficult thing to do because you really can’t discount your services. It harms your reputation—and reputation is everything in health care. No one wants to go to a bargain basement doctor.
Unfortunately, the most effective marketing is direct marketing. That is to say, people are motivated by special offers, discounts and free stuff. The good news is that you can effectively market your practice and still keep your reputation intact.
In health care you can give away things that will help people. Your gift is a community service. You can give a report, a book or a CD about health.
Here is an example:
Looking for 810 Men & Women who Suffer from Chronic Sinus Pain & Pressure to participate in special nutritional relief study. Visit www.drvarnas.com to
Get Permanent Relief from Migraine Headaches Now! Visit www.drvarnas.com now to
download your FREE report on alleviating migraine headaches permanently, without drugs or surgery.
The CD can be produced for a few cents. You can put a label on it that has all of your practice information on it. Also, when someone contacts you for the information, you can collect their contact information. After time, you have a list of people who are interested in some aspect of health. MAKESURETHATYOUCOLLECTEMAILADDRESSES!
Now you can build a relationship with people who have not been to your office YET. When it comes time for them to seek care, guess who they will call.
Also, if you vary what is available. You can have reports on pain, weight loss, ADD, headaches. You can offer health books or booklets.
Don’t have anything to offer? Don’t worry, www.thebetterhealthnews.com has material for you to give to your patients, and a lot of it is free:
Natural Health Care and ADD/ADHD: audio CD, available as
a free MP3 download from
Natural Health Care and Pain: audio CD, available as free MP3 download from www.thebetterhealthnews.com
Practical Magic: This book covers many health topics and is available for about $3 per copy in bulk. Go to www.thebetterhealthnews.com for
You can write reports, put together recipe collections or do your own recordings. People love free stuff.
#3. Once you have some things to offer as a promotion, you can put cheap ads together.
Permanently End Chronic Pain Without Drugs or Surgery! No drugs, no surgery. Free CD tells you how. Call 555-555-5555 or e-mail to firstname.lastname@example.org. For more information go to www.drvarnas.com
Lose 10 pounds in Just 30 Days:
Read 50 Ways to Lose Your Blubber for free at www.drvarnas.com
Drug-free solutions for ADHD: Free CD tells you how. Call 555-555-5555 or e-mail to email@example.com. For more information go to www.drvarnas.com
You get the idea. Generally, you want them to contact you and get something free from your office. When they call (or email), you collect their contact information—especially their email address. You now have someone to send your newsletter to (if you are smart enough to have a high content website that has a newsletter that you can email to clients).
Placement of the ads is important. The daily newspaper is not always the best place. Some towns have specialty papers. In Chicago we have “Today’s Chicago Woman”— that would be a good place to offer reports on PMS or migraines (many of the newsletters available at
are themed—they have a single topic like PMS or headaches—you can offer them as reports). Some publications specialize in children—there you can offer reports on ADD or preventing colds. Small, free papers are best for these kinds of ads. The ads are very inexpensive and they will help you to grow your contact list and bring patients to your door.
Remember—collect the names and contact information and regularly send your electronic newsletter.
#4. Get involved with other businesses:
You distribute my marketing materials, and I will distribute yours. Leave your newsletter at the local beauty parlor, for example. In exchange, the local beauty parlor can leave literature in your office. You can set up a table in your reception area to display ads from other businesses. This technique is especially effective if you have a good newsletter. People throw away flyers—they keep newsletters. You can get a whole collection of customizable newsletters from
#5. Join a networking group:
Networking groups are groups of business people who meet regularly to tell each other about their businesses and to tell the group about their business. Generally people in the group put forth an effort to refer clients to other members in the group. This is an excellent and inexpensive way to get new patients. BNI is such a referral organization; you can reach them at www.bni.com.
#6. Farm the Farm:
It’s a funny thing, when most people think of marketing,
they think of going out into
the world and getting new patients. Most practitioners forget about the source of new patients that is sitting right in their office—existing patients. The people who come to you have friends and relatives who need your help; you simply have to ask them about these people.
Asking for referrals is difficult for some practitioners; it feels like begging. The instinct is correct—you do not want to appear desperate. You do, however, want to offer your services to people who need them. You don’t need to directly ask for new patients. You simply need to engage current patients in conversation. When a friend or relative with a health problem is mentioned, the very least you should do is to say, “I think I could help that person.” At the very least you want your patient to realize that referring friends and relatives to you is a good thing.
to come into your office, you can do one of two things (or even do both of them):
Give a report or newsletter that discusses the particular health problem that your patient’s friend has. Say, “Give this to your friend and have them give me a call.”
You can take it a step further, if you want. This is one situation where offering a free consult may be a good idea. Take a piece of stationary and write the potential patient’s name. Then write, “Free consultation” and put a time limit on it—a week or two. You want to express concern to your patient, and offer your services to help this person out. Write your web address and say, “There are plenty of articles about this condition on my website.”
You want to develop the skill of asking for the referral, without making it look like you are soliciting business. We knew one doctor who used to say, “Send him in and I will give you a free, warm soapy enema.” It was a joke, and people got a kick out of it. But they got the idea that referring was a good thing and this doctor got a lot of patients from it.
Practice management people often advise practitioners to do recalling. Recalling is the practice of phoning patients who have not been in for a while to get them to come back into the office. The staff hates it, the doctor hates it and if not done right it can make you look desperate. A smarter way to reach out to people who have not come in for a while is to have a report or a newsletter printed (centering around the symptom that the
www.wholehealthameria.com. individual was seeing you for).
If you really want to get people put a Post it Note that says
something like: “Thought you might be interested in this”.
#7. Find out how you appear to others:
Robert Burns wrote a poem about seeing a louse on the hat of a stylishly dressed woman in church. The woman thought she was a fashion plate, but clearly she was not clean. The face she thought she was presenting to the world did not match the reality of how people saw her. The following lines are in the last stanza:
O wad some Power the giftie gie us To see oursels as ithers see us!
You want to see yourself as others see you. Start by looking at your office with new eyes. Try to figure out how it looks to other people. Next think about what you say, and be critical of yourself. Then find someone who really likes you, but is capable of offering honest and constructive criticism. Talk to your long term patients, the ones you have a good relationship with. Have that person pick you apart, your appearance, your office’s appearance and how you deliver information. You want to know if you are turning people off and harming your practice.
I saw a dentist talking to a 10 year old boy in the waiting room. For some reason the subject of spiders came up and the dentist asked the boy if he ever took the legs off of spiders—talking like it was a very cool thing to do. Needless to say, we never came back. I have seen a chiropractor talk to his receptionist about money and cash flow—in the waiting room and in earshot of his patients.
Does your office look nice? How do you look? Are you harsh with people? Do you make people wait too long? Are you a lousy listener? Sometimes it is hard to look at yourself, but this is an important issue.
#8. Regularly send a newsletter:
Your website should have an electronic newsletter that can be sent with the click of a mouse. This will regularly remind people about you. Also, you have been collecting email addresses with your other marketing—haven’t you? The email newsletter tool available from
has a place for you to write a personal message or offer to the recipients.
Now that you have been marketing and accumulating a list of contacts, invite people to your office for a “Health Fair” or a “We Appreciate our Patients” day. Put the information about the event on the front page of your website. Advertise it as much as you can afford to— see the website for more information. Email and snail mail to your existing patient base. Tell you patients— especially those who have mentioned friends or relatives with health problems. “You should have your Aunt Edna come to the health fair—there will be a lot of information available to her”. The event should have things that appeal to a variety of people:
Free mini massage: many massage schools require students work on people before they graduate—and they will work on people for free. There may be a massage therapist who wants to participate your event and get some new clients.
Balloons for the kids: If you can afford it, you can put your contact info on the balloons. You can buy a small helium container at many party stores. If you know a clown or magician who wants to drum up business—have them come in.
Screenings: You can spot-check cholesterol, do posture screenings, have the computer set up with your computerized health questionnaire (and of course you will be available to discuss the results).
YOU will be there—tell people to come with their questions
The more components to your event, the better. Maybe you know a chef or a caterer that can demonstrate making a healthy dish. Maybe you own a diagnostic tool like an Asyra— you can offer to do an evaluation with it for free. You can take blood pressure, or do muscle testing.
#10. Make an action plan:
Albert Einstein said that nothing happens until something moves. Get moving; thinking about this stuff will not grow your practice. Write a plan, and put the dates down for implementation. How many businesses do you know to contact and place your newsletter? When will you do this? When will you get your website? When will you join the networking group? You have to massively do these activities.
In marketing, there is a concept called “The Rule of Five”. People have to see something five different ways before they will act. You need to get ALL of these tools working for you to ensure your success.
There are many more than 10 ways to grow your
Soon, we’ll be unveiling a brand new, cutting edge eBook that you can download for FREE from Ben Clark, president of Big Ben Media entitled “Success: What Direction are You Headed?” And learn many more ways to grow your practice.
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