Marketing’s place in practice strategy
The role of marketing as a strategic driver in practices is too often overlooked. One reason for this may be an historical over-reliance on referrals from peer doctors. But this ignores the reality that patients in today’s digitally-connected world are increasingly searching for medical service providers themselves, effectively bypassing traditional referral networks.
This is particularly true in the case of specialities where patients are more easily able to find information about their condition and form strong opinions on the specialist medical service they seek. These patients research symptoms, remedies, providers and place a lot of stock in the feedback and opinion of others. They get fully engaged in the process, and increasingly seek out service providers that align with their own beliefs, values.
External marketing is however a little trickier than internal marketing
Unlike internal marketing (marketing activities focused on your current referrals and patient database), external marketing is more complex because it’s all about trying to reach new patients, people you haven’t yet had a chance to build a relationship with.
It includes marketing activities such as developing brochures, radio spots, guest speaking engagements, publishing articles, social media campaigns, etc. The aim is to build a relationship – and ultimately trust – with new patients.
This is not an easy feat and without a guiding plan on how to do this, precious energy and money can be filtered away on inconsistent strategies that have marginal effect.
Furthermore, external marketing demands focused resources and bears long-term fruits in patient growth – not always attractive to busy practice owners chasing short-term operational goals.
If you’re still on the fence in this regard, an old Chinese proverb may provide the impetus you need to get started – “The best time to plant a tree was 20 years ago. The second best time is now.”
Making a start
Here are some initial steps to take in building relationships with new patients:
- Embrace patient feedback
Like all relationships, the beginning step is to learn more about your patients. This can be achieved through patient satisfaction surveys and other forms of feedback to ask about their needs, their preferred communication channels, what they look for in a medical service provider, the information they search, how they rate the service your practice provides, etc.
- Conduct a “patient contact point” audit
Look at each point of contact a patient has with your practice like your practice rooms, website, admin staff, etc. and critically evaluate these for improvements based on your patient feedback and cohesiveness to your overall practice message.
- Identify ways to “become part of the conversation”
Identify ways your practice does and can add value to patients and the world you share with them and develop a plan to implement and communicate these.
Marketing forms an essential function in healthcare practices today and increasingly we see its resources being linked to strategic planning efforts.
If you’re in need of personalised and professional advice to help grow your practice marketing, get in touch with Vizibiliti Management Services today.
By Barbara Radomsky
Business Management Consultant
“There are many different factors that determine the success of your practice – but, as a busy healthcare professional focusing on the needs of your patients, you may not always have the time to focus on the many demanding, and often complex, facets of managing your business. Vizibiliti provides you with easy access to insightful, comprehensive practice and business management solutions and advice across all stages of your business journey – from establishing, growing or closing your practice.”