Healthcare marketing strategies to attract your ideal patients.
Finding yourself in the right place at the right place at the right time is often chalked up to luck, but in the marketing world moments of perceived serendipity are the result of meticulous design. Coincidence, in fact, has nothing to do with a message about your practice that resonates with your target audience. It signifies the success of a carefully constructed plan.
When you enter the chiropractic industry with little advertising experience, your efforts to attract and retain patients can seem aimless and consequently be ineffective. To get on a productive path, you need a comprehensive strategy that’s measurable and tailored to your ideal patients.
You want your community to remember the name of your practice when a problem that you can solve arises. To be at the forefront of patients’ minds, people have to understand what you do and associate your practice with a positive experience, starting with their first call to your office.
Begin from within
If you’re facing stagnation or wish to increase your patient base, a good place to start is by auditing your current protocols. You want the structures of your practice maximized in value. This includes the procedures followed by your staff for first-time patients, follow- up calls, and etiquette across all types of communications.
Having these procedures working at their full potential will enhance one of your most powerful marketing sources—referrals. One bad patient experience can spread by word of mouth and exponentially via social media and review sites.
Put an end to any glitches in the matrix with a thorough evaluation of your internal operations. Get a bird’s- eye view of your systems by consulting an outside party to conduct the review and assist you with the necessary modifications.
Engineer community connections
No matter how strong your patient referral network is, your patient base can always be more robust if your goal is to help more people and increase profits. “If you’re telling me your practice is all referrals, then you’re telling me that you can’t handle any more new patients,” says Charles Webb, DC, and healthcare marketing consultant. “Referrals are part of it, but if you can handle more patients, then you’re going to have to go out and market yourself.”
Webb recommends building connections with other businesses in your community that align with your philosophy, such as organic grocers. But your approach in developing a partnership has to benefit them at the outset. “The mistake most doctors make is they go out just to promote themselves,” Webb says. “‘Here’s what I do; can you help me build my practice?’”
In comparison, you might first offer to educate customers about the benefits of healthy eating for free as they walk through the store. “You can come in and help these people understand the business,” Webb says. “And instead of buying 20 percent of their food goods here, they buy 50 percent. And you also get the opportunity to promote yourself.”
An educational focus should spill over into your other efforts so that you aren’t wasting time trying to convince people that your services are worth their money, Webb says. During their first visit, patients should already understand your values and what your care entails, whether it’s conservative treatment for low-back pain or counseling for an active lifestyle. This creates less work for you in the long run.
One way to deliver this pre-education is through direct mail, which allows you to target specific demographics and keep track of the results. In the healthcare industry, this can include outreach aimed at patients with specific health ailments, medication treatments, and lifestyles in addition to factors such as age and gender.
But it’s crucial that your mail campaigns communicate the right message. Webb indicates a postcard that promotes your degrees and how long you’ve been in practice will likely fail to attract patients. The copy and visuals should emphasize what you can offer to a specific group you’re trying to reach, such as athletes, the elderly, or health-conscious professionals and be crafted accordingly: “It has to be all about [the patient],” Webb says. “That way you don’t have to go through a dog- and-pony show to justify what you do.”
Always test the waters
With any marketing strategy, keep track of the time and money you’re putting in and evaluate the ROI. Consider the first time you try anything new to be a test period. If one strategy fails, revise your efforts based on metrics and analytics to perfect your target, timing, and message.
Webb also highlights the importance of your promotional materials standing out in the midst of everything your patients are bombarded with. So don’t let pride stand in the way of asking for help and ensure your marketing dollars don’t go to waste. “I’ve always sought out advice from people who know more than me in an area that I want to master,” Webb says.
With this mindset, you’re no longer at the mercy of hoping your optimal patients find out about you. Indeed, the newly found “luck” you discover in bringing patients through the door might closely reflect your professional marketing plan.
Caroline Feeney is the former associate editor of Chiropractic Economics. She can be reached at 904-567-1559 or firstname.lastname@example.org.