Plugging into a new patient explosion
Harness the power of online marketing to attract new business in a changing business environment.
By Derek Greenwood
The country is still in the middle of a financial downturn, which is causing people to spend less than they did just a few short years ago.
The result is fewer new patients. As a solution to lowered new patient volume and lowered income, many offices have cut back on expenses. Unfortunately, many offices have chosen to cut marketing first because it’s perceived to be too expensive, and if they cut back expenses far enough, they can just “ride out the storm.”
Dropping marketing is the wrong path to take!
No one can argue that if you have a strong string of new patients and the majority of your existing patients are on maintenance plans, the office will be in great shape financially.
So why do people drop out of care? What keeps new patients from coming into your office in droves? The answer is lack of effective marketing. Marketing is what can power you through the storm of an economic recession.
Marketing, however, is also one of the most misunderstood processes in all of business. What is marketing? Are marketing and advertising the same thing? There is so much confusion on the subject of marketing that many offices don’t do any marketing at all. They just put up a sign, hand out cards, and hope patients come in.
What is marketing?
Marketing is the strategy you use to get people to want your services. If you are going to convert acute care patients into preventive care patients, you need to pick a strategy which, when communicated to your patient, makes them want preventive care.
The same is true when marketing to new patients. You need a strategy for communicating to the general public where the communication creates a want or demand for your service.
To do this, survey your patients to find out what they want, not what you think they want. If that includes preventive care, then advertise preventive care. If it doesn’t, then find out what they do want and align preventive care with that.
When marketing to potential new patients, it can be a bit more complicated. First, determine what they want. This is not as simple as it may seem.
For example: An office installed a digital sign-in pad for patients at the front desk. They thought it would be easier to not have to deal with paper sign-in sheets. What they found out was that they got new patients from
Patients started to get the idea that the office was going high-tech. In their mind, this equated to better care. They started telling friends who also liked the concept, which led to new patients.
Budget your marketing
Now that you understand what you need to do to increase patient volume, have you determined if you have the budget to do the marketing?
The question becomes, how does an office market effectively without exorbitant costs? For existing patients, it can simply be a matter of changing what you communicate to them.
For example: Put up a few new posters on the wall or have patients watch a video or two.
But, what do you do to inexpensively market to potential new patients? One answer is online marketing.
Most doctors make the mistake of thinking that if they put up a website they are done. Unfortunately, many doctors’ websites are no more than a picture of the doctor, an address, and hours of operation with a phone number. Where is the marketing in that?
Your website should engage patients’ interest and communicate what you and your services are about. Remember, however, to tell the truth, because a lie will travel fast.
Market your marketing
Now that you have a website that communicates your marketing plan, how do you get people to the site? One way is by marketing your website. You can advertise to your existing patients to have them visit the website and send their friends. You can also run ads, sponsor events, and more.
You can also do targeted marketing. From your computerized billing system, you can create mailing lists of patients with specific problems or hobbies. Mail or e-mail those patients, pointing them to your website. On your website, have a special article for that type of patient with a gentle push to get them to get others to read the article.
There is so much you can do with marketing to boost your practice — these suggestions are just a start.
With proper, well surveyed marketing, the correct utilization of computer systems, and the communication power of the Internet, there is no reason you can’t flourish and prosper, even in an economic downturn.
With effective marketing, you have the ability to create an explosion of new patients. So what are you waiting for, start surveying!