Yair Ariel • April-4-2017
Understanding these three main client categories are must haves to effective marketing strategies for clinics
Recent polls by Gallup have shown that close to 33% of U.S adults are dissatisfied with the medical infrastructure of the country.
Even though that points to an approval rate of 66%, the scope is ample to go towards a better, more favorable perception of medical practices in general and waiting rooms in particular where patients may lose up to $43 in opportunities.
Doctors, physicians and healthcare providers all over the country are striving to offer the very best to their clients.
The only area where they lag behind is effective and modern marketing strategies for clinics that tries to empathize with patients, follows-up with them for better medication adherence and re-introduces the practice as a trusted brand that can bring tangible positive change into their lives.
Three Things Medical Practices & Clinics Must Get Right:
The Mind Set
A doctor’s practice is not something to be viewed with distaste or frustration. Most people do so because they do not have a habit of healthful living. They resort to medicines and just in time care to treat symptoms without digging deeper to find the root cause of their ailments or investing in preventive measures.
It is up to clinics and healthcare providers to streamline marketing. They need to truly understand the pain points of their clients and prospective patients. They must research and create buyer personas that give them an inkling of how their market lives and what is of import to them as individuals and as a collective.
Are they worried about certain aspects of their lifestyle like consumption of fried foods that impact the circulatory system and body agility? Under such circumstances they might be looking for ways to reinforce their ability to abstain from a high calorie diet and maintain an exercise regime.
Offering them consultations to manage the problem and giving them quality, actionable education is a sure fire way to go from being the “emergency” managers to reliable lifestyle partners.
Sources like Facebook Audience Insights can offer dozens of data points and add meat to the bare structure of clinic and medical practice personas. It is readily available information that is anonymously compiled and legal to use for any business.
Yes medical marketing has to tackle the complexity of being HIPAA compliant. Practices and clinics do not have the luxury of indulging in laser focused targeting. But the trick here is to know how you can approach prospects over different stages of the buyers’ journey.
You can send out general feelers with offers of free health check-ups and other giveaways that do not indicate the fact that you possess sensitive medical information about your prospective clients when you are trying to establish yourself as a reliable brand. One that should be approached even when imminent health issues are not knocking on the door.
When these individuals convert and become clients, then the power of email should be leveraged. Follow-up reminders and other one-on-one service perks are permitted by law.
As a rule of thumb steering clear of “claims” and instead using testimonials to speak for your practice and reputation should keep you fairly and squarely in “safe” marketing territory.
Medical marketing like most forms of marketing is not about either-or choices. If you are doing mailers, you don’t have to refrain from social. If emails are getting you returns then it doesn’t mandate that you exclude live events from the equation.
The key here is finding the right mix of marketing channels for the right approach.
Health concerns are quite unique in the way they evolve. When alarming symptoms aren’t there, people tend to treat their physical well being as something that will last for ever. But as soon as the smallest physiological function goes off track, they are nervous, scared and ready to make unwise decisions for temporary relief.
It is important to nurture and support people throughout their potential life cycle so that prevention becomes easier (and more appealing) than cure and you as a brand stay top of mind for being helpful yet discreet.
The Basics in Place:
There are some marketing basics that are a given in today’s Google dominated landscape. It doesn’t really matter what your medical practice is, if you want to get found it is likely that you require a robust online presence with some intelligent Search Engine Optimization (or SEO) thrown in for good measure.
Prospective clients head to a search engine (mostly Google) when they are in need of answers. And since their health is involved they quickly become dependent on the source that offers the first substantial bit of information to start off their journey towards resolution.
It is thus very important to ensure that you are associated with quality, actionable content on what keeps your ideal market awake at night.
Having expertise is not enough. You may possess the most extensive track record of success in a field but if your site is not tweaked to show up for keyword searches, you will not register on the radar of people trying to make up their mind about the physician or provider they will choose.
In fact, focus on Local SEO if your business is comprised of face to face visits, consultations and procedures.
- Set up a Google Business Page with a brief and credible description of what you do, the locations you can serve, contact information and available hours.
- Ensure that you have your clinic’s physical address on the footer of your website and on the Contact page. In short the more your brand name can show up with your physical location, the easier it will be for Google to connect you to the area that you want to serve.
- Add the physical address of your clinic to Google Maps. This is a brownie point for search engine dominance.
- Have feedback show up for your brand and business on review sites of local repute. Often prospects skim search results and positive ratings influence their decision to stop and read.
- List your practice in as many directories as possible. MediLine Plus and DoctorDirectory are popular platforms.
Specific Marketing Strategies for Three Types of Clients You Have:
A medical business has three types of clients it can engage with and assist to fill its service hours.
(i) Existing Clients
(ii) Referrals from Existing Clients
(iii) Cold, Potential Clients
Those who are already working with your brand are your existing clients. The ones they point to you because they are satisfied with your performance are referrals and the cold possible clients are the prospects who do not have any point of reference to gauge your effectiveness and they form their own conclusions.
- Existing clients benefit the most from coupons and discounts. They might already be contemplating a follow-up visit and anything to lower the barrier or ease resistance works wonders. This segment truly appreciates you shaving off a small percentage of the consultation cost.
- Existing clients are also receptive to targeted content coming from your bona fide email account. If you send them friendly reminders to replenish their stock of medicines or come in for a scheduled test, they will not feel uncomfortable or violated because they already trust you and the correspondence is taking place in the privacy of their inbox.
Use this opportunity to seed them content that keeps them prepared for emergencies and in pre-emptive action mode as opposed to the helplessness of being reactive to health risks.
- Existing clients also provide good ROI if they are offered the chance to participate in promotions. They do not view direct response tactics like mass mailers as “suspicious” because you are a known expert and it is easier to be reminded of availing a package deal if they can pin the flyer to the refrigerator where they are nudged by its very presence.
It is essential to keep in mind that repeat clients are desirable only when they frequent your clinic because they are making progress with their condition or have been convinced by your persuasive messages to embrace prevention.
If this sentiment comes through in your marketing then half the work is already done!
Referral from Existing Clients:
- Industry minglers and networking events are a must for physicians and clinics. This is where you can connect with potential partners who won’t mind referring patients your way based on your credentials and abilities. Look up attendees on LinkedIn before initiating contact or conversation.
They should not be competitors and must believe in a body of healing ideologies that resonates with your brand. It is best to ally with those who possess common interests and treatment practices because this eliminates misunderstandings later down the line.
Referring doctors must be absolutely certain of your ability to handle the patient’s expectations (and requests) because not being confident harms their reputation as well as yours.
- Tie ups with corporate brands prove to be fruitful. If you sign on long term discounted contracts with enterprises for monthly health camps or check-ups then you should be able to place your brochures and flyers around their office premises. This builds relationships with the families of the employees you treat as well as with fresh prospects from the company’s circle.
- Marketing doesn’t end with securing referrals. It also includes valuing channels that send in the business. It is essential to remember birthdays and anniversaries of star referrers and treat them to lunches or retreats once in a while. Using a CRM system to keep track of how hard they have been working for you is a wise idea.
Referrals are easy to get. But referred clients come with preconceived notions of the magic you can weave. Professionalism and the ability to over deliver are important in this regard.
Cold, Potential Clients:
Referrals and existing clients may invest in working together with little to no persuasion. But keeping the ability to turn cold, potentials into clients intact helps healthcare providers and physicians hone their skills.
They keep injecting the brand with fresh context and a chance to learn more about the myriad medical conditions that exist in the world.
- Blogging regularly and keeping SEO considerations in mind is the first step of marketing to cold potential clients. These individuals revert to your blog when they are trying to self diagnose (symptom aware) and when they are looking to choose a reliable provider (solution aware). Blogs are underrated in the medical community but they can work wonders for a business.
- The playing field has been leveled. Almost all physicians and healthcare providers have access to similar technologies and know-how. So what do prospects look to to seal the deal? General wait times, clinic ambience, post consultation survey results and follow-up systems all add to the desirability of a brand. It is important to describe these facilities on a Unique Value Proposition (UVP) page and project yourself as a distinctive, effective solution to pressing pain points.
- Fairs and charities can also bring in leads. If you can sponsor an event at a charity or donate your services for free where there are large gatherings of your ideal clients, then you come across as a giving and conscious brand – an impression that serves medical providers and physicians favorably. Fair and charity appearances not only foster good will, they also help people gauge your competence first hand.
- Turn your waiting room into a leverage. This is no secret. Patients do not warm up to the waiting room experience. They might be in discomfort and the austere decor with the uncertainty and the sense of claustrophobia that often plagues children in tow with parents make for uneasiness and often downright dread. Flip this equation. Turn your waiting area into a lounge that engages, brands and delights. Have a playpen for children complete with Virtual Reality (VR) based toys that are mess free and injury proof. You can borrow inspiration here.
This extra effort on your part causes leads debating the services of a physician to switch over to you. That’s how powerful a positive wait outside the chamber can be.
- Give Facebook a try. If you are in the beauty or aesthetics business where results are visual, a great way to pique interest is to set up Facebook carousel ads where each panel has images and testimonials from satisfied clients. A simple call-to-action for a “Free Consultation” always gets leads clicking.
- Use “mentions” and “press releases” to your advantage. You have heard that press releases are no longer as effective as they used to be. It may even be true. But press releases that are well distributed add to your site backlinks. And this in general helps your brand get found faster. Sign up for a service like Help.A.Reporter.Out (H.A.R.O) and you can be approached by journalists looking for quotes from subject matter experts. If you strike big, you can see your name on a publication of repute and add it to your “Press” section.
These recommendations might seem like a lot. But clinics and physicians do not need to invest resources in trying everything out. Focusing on a few strategies that work are enough to build momentum and tools are available to automate almost every aspect of a campaign.
Since the cost of healthcare is rising you could start thinking of marketing as a means to deliver pertinent information that saves lives. If it generates traction for your brand in the process, it is a big plus.
BEAM by EyeClick is an award winning, safe, customizable, stimulating, and mess free way to keep children engaged in the waiting room.
Contact us at 914-219-0279 to learn more about our Virtual Reality based selection of games that encourage exercise and lead to reduced white-coat hypertension in both parents and kids.