For many, the grind of a day-to-day practice and the responsibilities of being the doctor, procurement officer, human resources specialist, sales trainer, staff trainer, janitor, and so on leave little time for important things like planning and analysis.
Previously, we discussed the need to have a business strategy (See January 2018). We now look at developing a strategic marketing plan. Marketing your practice can seem overwhelming, but with a plan in place you will find that it is much more effective and may even save you money in the long run.
Marketing is not always about “getting your name out there.” After conducting many years of research and asking the question, “How did you hear about us?” we found that most patients found our practice via their insurance provider and/or word-of-mouth.
Previously from Dr. Spear: Why ODs need a business strategy
Your marketing goal in the end is to create revenue.
Before you start spending marketing dollars trying to get people in your doors, be sure you have your office ready to provide exceptional service and maximize the revenue of each patient who is already there.
Internal marketing has several advantages:
• It will cost you significantly less than external marketing.
• It will create the word-of-mouth advantage you need—hopefully leading to a 5-star review.
• It will help you to create a true “brand” for your practice. Branding, is the marketing practice of creating a design that identifies and differentiates you.1
Social media marketing
Are the days of “traditional marketing” (radio, print, and television) gone? Not necessarily, but we certainly have more options with social media. Your traditional advertising platforms still exist and can certainly be beneficial, but the best, most cost-efficient marketing platform is social media.
If your practice does not have a presence on social media, you are missing out on thousands of potential patients—at no cost to you. Why is it important to take time to connect your practice to the outside world via social media? Your competition is.
There are now more than 50 million small businesses using Facebook Pages to connect with their customers and 80% of those indicated that their social media efforts helped increased traffic.2,3 Almost everyone in America is connected via a social media platform. It could be Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, LinkedIn, and so on. It is vital that your practice has a presence with high-quality content.
The rule of thumb for social media posting is that 50 percent should be content from other sources that are relevant to your audience, 30 percent should be content you've created, that's relevant to your audience and 20 percent should be personal, fun content that humanizes your brand to your audience.4 All social posts should include high-quality images or videos to engage your audience.