You’re taking the big leap, you’ve chosen a community, a practice name, location and key staff you hope will help get you from ‘new kid on the block’ to thriving, established medical practice in as little time as possible. But patients aren’t just going to bang down the door; you have to attract them with solid marketing that works.
Getting off on the right foot can save thousands in wasted dollars for later re-dos and time lost to build your patient base. Here are five tips for getting it right from the get-go!
- Have a Plan: Before you can implement a good marketing plan, you need to make sure there is a market to be had! A thorough analysis of the community you’ve chosen will tell you if the area is under-served and if there is a place for you among the other specialists or PCPs. A strong marketing plan is multi-faceted, meaning it includes different angles to reach the identified target market and strategies to reach out to potential referral sources. Some examples might include developing a social media presence, hosting an event in your new facility, and finding ways to network with local colleagues.
- Develop a mission and image: In order to properly promote your practice you must know who you are as a provider and practice. Identify what you uniquely bring to your target market. For example, are you the sleek, contemporary practice bringing the most technologically advanced offerings to patients or perhaps your practice strength is a warm, casual atmosphere where patients and their families are remembered and engaged by staff. A strong mission statement will communicate in as few words as possible what you value most and how you deliver that to patients. Your mission and your image should go hand in hand. Pinpoint your strengths and capitalize on them, always being authentic. Don’t try to be all things to all types of patients; there is strength in focusing.
- Be Consistent: One of the most common errors new practices make in marketing is inconsistency. If McDonalds suddenly had a hostess waiting to seat you, you’d be confused. If Gieco commercials started starring a giraffe instead of a gecko, you’d wonder what was up. Big brands know that brand recognition is as important as the value customers (patients) assign to it. Hire a professional designer to partner with you in developing a patient-friendly, professional logo and color scheme that won’t scream "last year" next year. Along with strong, concise messaging about your practice, this theme should be carried throughout all your marketing ( i.e. website, social media, ads, etc.), polishing your “brand” and giving marketing efforts a cohesive boost.
- Reach Out: We’ve all heard the saying, ‘it’s who you know’. Relationships rule, and it’s no different in the business of medicine. If you’re new to the community you will have to work extra hard to develop relationships as quickly as possible. Take advantage of any opportunities your hospital provides to help you reach patients and meet colleagues while being sensitive not to “step on the toes” of established physicians in your specialty. Consistently work at getting to know and building trust among your potential referral sources. Find ways to let the community know you’re coming and what you offer far in advance to build anticipation. Reach out to supportive colleagues; they can be a gold mine of insight into your local market. Be open minded, respectful and patient while you build relationships – you never know what networking opportunities lie down the road!
- Roll it out, and don’t stop! Too often when a new practice begins to taste some success, they decide to try to save money by pulling back on marketing – the very thing that likely got them the success they are enjoying! In order to deepen loyalty among existing patients, consistently grow and maintain credibility with referral sources and reach new patients you must continue to communicate what you do and how well you do it. This requires continuously reaching out and communicating.
Be patient, building community relationships and a good reputation takes time. Potential patients and referral sources need to figure out who you are and the value of choosing you. A well-planned, consistent approach to marketing will expedite that process while building the patient base you want!
Discover more strategies for successfully launching a new practice in this helpful guide.