Did you know medical professionals who market their medical practice, REGARDLESS OF THEIR PRACTICE AREA earn 30 -60% MORE in revenue than their non-marketing colleagues?
Do you have a strategic marketing plan for your medical practice?
Do you even know how to create one?
If you own or manage a medical practice (whether you’re a dentist, doctor, physician or a practice manager), you must develop and implement medical marketing strategies if your practice is to reach its maximum profit potential.
To market your medical practice effectively you need specialized skill and knowledge. Done incorrectly, you can harm your professional image much more than you will help it. Armed with the proper information and tools, you can easily create and implement an affordable, ethical and effective strategic marketing plan for your medical practice.
Physicians, doctors, and dentists have many choices when it comes to finding professional assistance with developing a marketing plan. But, when it comes to laying the foundation for your image and brand, no one will have a better understanding of what is the best fit for your practice but you. Having a strategic plan for your medical practice is important because it will allow you to map out who you want to target, when you want to target them, how you’re going to reach your target market, and whether or not your tactics are working based on trackable results. If you are not tracking your results, you could be throwing good money right down the drain.
Your medical practice’s strategic marketing plan should layout clear, concise, and realistic goals. To establish realistic goals, you need to identify your target market. Begin identifying your target market by considering your practice type. Which demographics will most likely use your services? Where are they located? Do you offer a service that people would be willing to drive some distance for? This might be the case for a specialty doctor like a cosmetic surgeon or dermatologist. Or will the people who use your services be more interested in convenience? For example, people looking for a family doctor will be more inclined to look for a physician that they can access quick and easy. Advertising your medical practice will only be effective if you know who you are targeting.
Once you’ve identified your target market, you need to look at your competitors. Look at the location of your competitors in relation to the services both of you offer. For example, a family practice won’t view another practice two hours away as a competitor, but a plastic surgeon might.
Conduct Internet research to find information related to your competitor and visit their website if they have one. Being familiar with your competition’s marketing efforts will help you differentiate yourself from them and shape the goals of your own activities. Whatever you do, don’t copy your competitors! In many cases, medical practices do the wrong things. For instance, many practices create ineffective ads and leave out the major components of compelling advertising. So, gather information, but use professional and knowledgeable resources to create your promotional materials.
Once you have clearly identified your target market and completed your market research, you need to develop a strategy to implement effective tactics. Your strategy will be your big picture road map for attracting patients to your medical practice. Your tactics will be the specific actions you carry out to bring new patients through the doors of your medical practice.
Integrated strategies are hands down the most effective way to sustain and grow your medical practice. Look for ways to use multiple mediums to communicate your message to your target audience. The tactics you use will be dictated by your budget as well how your target audience will best receive and respond to your message. Some tactics may include medical advertising in different forms of media, or the development of a grassroots marketing campaign to generate word-of-mouth advertising.
Once you’ve settled on a strategy and tactics, you will need to develop a method for tracking the effectiveness of your plan. Tracking your results is essential to determining whether or not your plan is helping you realize your goals. Tracking can be difficult if your tactics aren’t supported by turn-key, so invest in your marketing vehicles wisely and look for built in tracking systems.
The most important thing you can do to improve the revenues of your medical practice is to develop a strategic plan. Without a plan you are at the mercy of the marketplace. Even if you don’t take the time to develop a professional plan simply write down a mini plan to get yourself started.
Here’s an example of a mini medical marketing plan to get you started:
Goal: To increase the number of patients visiting the practice by 25% in the next year. Here, you have a clear goal and a definite time frame for your activities.
Strategy: Make sure your existing and new patients have a positive experience with your practice, and will in turn, refer family and friends. Develop a system for generating referrals using a “Care to Share” program. This shows that you’ve chosen to use the word-of-mouth strategy for your achieving your goal.
Tactics: Regular customer service training for staff, incentives for staff based on word-of-mouth referrals; continually entertain new ways to improve the patient’s experience at the practice. Promote your “care to share” program within your practice. These tactics can be a starting point and may change depending on their effectiveness. The important thing is to have an initial direction for your activities.
Tracking: Keep an excel spreadsheet of all your patients who refer new patients using your “Care to Share” program, and also track all patients who make appointments as a result of those referrals.
This example is as basic as it gets when it comes to developing a marketing plan for your medical practice. Setting goals, developing a strategy, implementing tactics, and measuring success are the four core elements of your medical marketing plan. Your plan should provide a clear direction for you and your staff to follow to achieve success. Keep in mind, aspects of the plan are prone to change as some methods prove more effective than others or new ones are brought forward. Include your staff in your marketing activities and garner their support to implement your tactics. It is essential that your staff understand and participate in activities to ensure a greater chance of success.
When selecting methods for communicating your message, make sure that your money is used to promote your practice in the most efficient way. A family doctor looking for local patients might try advertising in a community newspaper, and not in a paper distributed some distance away from their office. A plastic surgeon, on the other hand, may want more extensive coverage and would be smart to consider advertising in all forms of print media within a certain distance.
Web marketing is also a cost-effective and efficient method for communicating with your current and prospective patients. All medical practices in all practice areas, big or small, benefit from a website. People are increasingly web savvy and turn to the Internet for information; so develop a professional and informative online presence that reflects well on your medical practice.
No two medical practices are the same so you will not find a cookie-cutter plan to implement in your practice with perfect results. Your plan should be a well-thought out, clear document that meets the specific needs of your particular medical practice. You must uncover what will work for you and help you reach your personal and professional goals.