Why do some providers enjoy wildly successful practices while others struggle year in and year out ? Why do some practices do such a poor job of promoting their presence? Is it because they’ve been around for a while and just assume that everyone knows about them? Is it a money issue? Is it a knowledge issue?
The bottom line is this… the medical community can’t refer to you if they don’t know you exist… or more likely, remember you exist (key takeaway: staying top of mind is just as important as getting there in the first place).
So, to ensure that you become known and stay known, here are the top 10 ways to build awareness…
- Website: Everything starts with your website. It’s the first place a patient, or a patient’s family member, is likely to learn about your practice. It needs to be great! And it needs to show up when a prospect Googles relevant terms, so pay attention to Search Engine Optimization.
- Social media: There are two ways to build awareness on social media…
- Activity: Lots of activity – just make sure all those posts and tweets deliver some kind of value to potential readers and are not trying to sell something.
- Engagement: Social media marketing isn’t just about posting, it’s also about engagement… for example, starting or participating in a threaded conversation on a relevant topic inside of an on-line group. In addition to getting your name out there (i.e. building awareness), delivering good comments in the thread also positions you and you practice as a subject matter experts.
- Emails: Email marketing has been around for a long time… it’s cost-effective, measureable and gets results. Create and send a regularly-scheduled (start with monthly) e-newsletter that provides access to valuable information. Measure the “click through rate” each month to steadily improve your subject matter and patient interest.
- Networking: Nothing creates a connection with a prospective referral source quite like “pressing the flesh.” But like everything else, there’s a process, and you need to be respectful of others time…as well as your own. Field marketing reps are an ideal complement to your networking strategy. Done right they can reinforce your message and relationship while keeping your practice name “top of mind” in a positive way.
- Writing: Sharing your knowledge – on your website or blog or in an industry publication or blog – is a great way to build awareness for you and your practice. Fresh, relevant content is also a key factor in SEO. And there are extra benefits… by presenting useful information, you position yourself and your practice as experts in the area you’re writing about.
- Speaking: Like writing (#5), public speaking is another proven way of building awareness for you and your practice… and that’s not all. Speaking has the added benefit of giving your listeners the opportunity to get to know you a little, to get a sense of your personality. And if the presentation is in-person (like at a “Lunch and Learn”), they also have the chance to meet with you before or afterward, further enhancing the get-to-know-you facet.
- Exhibiting: Exhibiting at a conference or community health fair is the only place in our industry where the potential patients come to you. Exhibit at the right events, have a compelling booth presence and you can build awareness across a large targeted groups of attendees – even with those who might not stop by your booth. Your marketing rep can help staff the booth but be sure to pick your conferences wisely for the best ROI.
- Advertising/listings: Advertising can have such a broad reach that it can help you connect with potential clients that might not have heard of you otherwise… or that you might never have heard of. But make sure you advertise in the vehicles (magazines, e-newsletters, websites, directories, etc.) used by your target market. I’m not referring to the Yellow Pages here as they have long lost their value to internet search engines. Instead, take that money from phone book advertising and spend it on your web site, your marketing rep, even direct e-mail marketing.
- Get involved: A somewhat different way of building awareness is to get involved with local support groups or even community associations. Volunteer your time to help with conferences, member education or publications. Not only will you get to know others leaders in that association, you’ll build a reputation as a ‘doer’ and someone who gives of themselves. You’ll also gain the added benefit of a little “insider information” on things happening in the association.
- Consider contracting with a part time marketing rep. Very few practices justify the cost of a full time employee for this job but most can justify the part time cost of a professional who drives referrals while managing and implementing many of the strategies outlined here. This is a professional position, not one to be filled by inexperienced, low cost folks who seem nice and “should be able to do the job”. Take the time to recruit a part time employee with the specific skills and experience outlined here. Done right this position will prove to be a valuable investment for your practice!