5 TIPS ON MARKETING YOUR PRACTICE AND WHY IT MATTERS

Marketing for a practice is just as important as a retail store or online business.  With patients having the ability to choose their general practitioners and their specialists alike, it's more important than ever to have a marketing strategy so you aren't lost in the mix.  Long gone are the days of there being only one doctor in town that everyone went to see with no questions asked.  Now, people have the opportunity to make their decision based on patient feedback, ratings, etc.

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2018 BUSINESS IMPERATIVE

Have you begun your business planning for 2018? If you’re looking for a few places to start, I’d like to offer some recommendations.  The process of putting together a detailed plan is what I refer to as The 2018 Business Imperative. There’s an old adage, “If you aim at nothing, you’ll hit it every time.” Quite frankly, we work too hard to let that be the case.

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DID FACEBOOK SELLOUT?

Over the past few years, many firms have realized the advantage of a well-planned social media strategy. The reach and pervasiveness of social media makes it a valuable component of an effective marketing campaign.  Facebook led the charge as individuals quickly adopted the platform.  Facebook literally changed the use of the word “friend” from a noun to a verb.  However, the question now being asked is critical for any small business, “Did Facebook sellout?”

….FULL ARTICLE

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JIM RAY

the patients and families who interact with you.


Many of us are aware that a happy patient may tell a few people. On the other hand, a dissatisfied patient will tell everybody.

The Internet has become a repository for information about anything and everything. It includes tools consumers can use to tell others about their experiences through ratings and online reviews. If you haven’t taken time in the last few months to research how the market is reporting about you, it may be time for you to do a dive deep. A few negative reviews can have a significant impact on your practice. If you have an office manager, discuss setting up a periodic review of various online properties to monitor comments.


Here’s a quick list of online rating and review sites that appeared on the first page of Google when I searched for my own internist:



When you think of yourself as a brand, your much more focused on the market, the value it attributes to you and how it positions you vis-à-vis your colleagues. Today’s consumers know they have access to information and they’re not afraid to use it. This fact provides an interesting opportunity for you.


If you’re in private practice, have a concierge practice, or may be thinking about transitioning back into a private practice, here are a few simple marketing tips to consider:


First, how easily can people find information about you and your practice?


While online directories are one component, you should give some thought to a professionally developed website. The advantage is that you control the content. A website provides you and your staff with the means to influence the market and attract new patients. More importantly, you may be able to outrank those ubiquitous online directories. This enables you to begin influencing your brand’s perception.


While some prospective patients are interested in your CV, many more will be interested in learning about what they should expect from you. Remember, it’s about the experience. A professionally developed website can convey the messages and images you intended.


Second, how current is the information about you, your location & contact information?


There are tools that can be used to standardize this information across various online properties. Interestingly, when that simple data (Name, Address and Phone) are consistent across the Internet, your website is usually rewarded with higher search rankings. This is especially important for new practices or physicians who have moved to different locations and/or groups.


Third, consider adding social media as a way for you and/or your staff to better connect with existing and prospective patients.


A well-designed and maintained Facebook page and result in massive exposure for your practice. Social media is a terrific tool for providing helpful information about your office, general information about conditions and/or treatments, new services or procedures, etc. Used effectively, it can reinforce your position as the subject matter expert. I’m not recommending you try to become pop-medicine’s next Dr. Oz or Dr. Phil. Consider, however, why major brands implement social media campaigns. They can have a positive impact on the bottom line.


Fourth, explore the option of starting a blog.


Blogging is an extremely effective way to provide information about your specialty. If done properly, blog posts can appear in Google search results, just like websites, directories and other sources of information. A blog enables you to demonstrate your expertise. For example, you might begin providing updates and answers to common patient questions. An office manager can easily upload a “Question of the Week” to your blog. That information can be disseminated to your social media properties and featured prominently on your website. The time needed to do this is surprisingly brief. The impact, however, can be significant.


Finally, for those of you who like to push the envelope, implement a video component to your marketing campaign.


The power of video is astonishing. The information in a video allows people to feel connected to you in ways plain text simply can’t match. Surprisingly, video content can show up in Google search results, can be included in blog posts and uploaded to your social media channels.


Here are some interesting facts about video:



Over the years, I’ve written many industry articles and provided seminars designed to help professionals with business development issues. I’ve spoken on a local, regional and national basis to audiences in highly- competitive environments. There are business fundamentals that some have been able to ignore up until now. The market is evolving and how professionals chose to adapt will determine their success rate. Thinking of yourself as a brand is a key step in developing a strategy to increase your exposure to new and prospective patients. It also puts into place processes that will help to protect and influence your reputation.

For years, the given way a physician grew a practice was through referrals from colleagues and associations with certain hospitals and/ or insurance plans. The environment is changing. While these traditional channels remain important, the consumer is more empowered to seek out information about a specific physician. That shift is impacting how physician groups and individual practioners grow their respective practices.


Today’s consumer is much more inclined to read online reviews, visit websites and even online physician directories. The need to establish and monitor information has become increasingly more important to a successful practice.


Rather than referring a patient to a colleague from medical school, physicians may be encouraged (even pressured) to refer that patient to another member of the hospital network. Overtime, this may erode the traditional flow of new patients to your practice.


I encourage professionals to begin thinking of themselves as brands. This may alter your perspective on how accessible you are to the general public.

Let’s consider a few of the implications. Brands such as GE, Apple, Starbucks and even Littmann (the company which may have made the stethoscope you use) all focus on producing great products. More importantly, these brands seek to instill a distinct image in your

BY JIM RAY

mind about the product and/or service offered. It’s about the “experience.”


The same applies to you and your practice. That’s why you’ve invested so heavily in your education and training. You’re providing a service and you want your patients and their families to be happy with the care they receive. Ultimately, you hope they were satisfied enough to recommend you to friends and family. This is simple brand positioning.


Consider how many times your patients are given the opportunity to complete surveys about their experience. While we want to know that the care provided was effective and met expectations, there’s another reason we ask those questions.


We want to know if there was a problem that needs to be addressed and/or resolved. This fact alone provides insight into an interesting fact. When it comes to effective branding, it’s the market, not the company (e.g. physician), that determines the brand’s value.


While we may have logos and color schemes those aren’t your brand. They’re merely representations of it. Your brand is based on the value attributed to it by

Jim Ray earned a BA in Business and his MBA. He managed two multi-million dollar businesses before transitioning into Internet consulting. He later launched his regional consulting practice to help professionals operate more effectively and more profitably. Jim presents an ongoing seminar series and contributes business development articles to a variety of professional publications. He has been invited to speak at national meetings for Internet marketing and has lead several, national webinars on various marketing topics. For more information, visit www.JimRayConsultingServices.com or connect with him on Linkedin.