As a physician, you likely didn’t get into the medical field with a ton of marketing knowledge. However, in today’s tech-savvy world where people tend to look online first before choosing a physician or healthcare provider, establishing an online presence is more important than ever.
While your talents and expertise should speak for themselves, building a brand as a physician is a great way to let others see why they should visit your practice and trust your experience over your competition.
Yes, the healthcare industry is a business. With thousands of private practices across the country, it’s important to do whatever it takes to help you stand out and build relationships with your target audience and future patients.
With that in mind, let’s take a closer look at the need for effective marketing as a physician. We’ll also cover some tips you can use to build a marketing campaign that works for your practice.
Understanding the basics of marketing and the necessity of building a brand will make a big difference in your practice’s visibility and will, undoubtedly, end up bringing more patients through the door.
Why Is Marketing Important?
There will always be a need for medical professionals. So, why is it so important to market yourself if people will always need your services? Medical branding is essential for a few reasons.
First, it allows you to nurture your relationships with existing patients. Today’s average consumer wants to form relationships with the brands they trust.
While that knowledge is often associated with businesses that sell goods or services, it also applies to their medical care.
The more comfortable your patients feel with your practice, the more likely they are to keep coming back. Loyalty is incredibly important for any business.
Not only will your loyal patients leave things like positive reviews online for you, but they’ll also be your brand ambassadors.
They’ll tell friends and family members about you and encourage their loved ones to see you for all of their medical needs. Every marketer knows that word-of-mouth advertising is priceless, and that’s exactly what you can achieve with the right marketing.
Medical marketing is also important when it comes to bringing in new patients. When you establish an online presence, you’ll expand your reach.
If you live in a smaller community, reaching a wider audience can bring in people from neighboring towns who might not have otherwise heard about your practice.
Building a Brand
Medical marketing goes well beyond having a solid website and setting up social media platforms. It’s about building a brand people can trust.
When you think about McDonald’s, specific things likely come to mind. Maybe it’s the “golden arches” or a Big Mac.
Maybe you even associate the fast food chain with being unhealthy, or you focus on the Happy Meals you enjoyed as a kid. Whatever the case, it’s an example of brand association.
While you might not feel like comparing yourself to an international chain, the importance of building a brand remains the same.
Your branding goal is to build a reputation associated with good practices. You might want your brand to be associated with things like:
- Excellent customer service
- Superior patient care
A solid brand gives you a strong brand position. Brand positioning refers to the space your brand occupies in the minds of your existing patients and target audience.
It’s what makes you different from your competitors and how you stand out to your prospective patients. Building a brand positioning strategy is easier than you might think.
First, talk about your services. As a physician, you’re not really associated with a singular product.
Rather, you are the product and you have to “sell” your knowledge, skills, and experience in a way that makes your audience realize they should choose you over someone else.
From there, you can focus on your brand identity. What makes you different? What do you stand for? Do you have specific values and beliefs that would appeal to your target audience?
Focus on everything from your mission statement and core values to the colors, fonts, and business healthcare logo you’re using.
They are all important pieces of the puzzle that will not only get you recognized but will make it easier for people to associate your brand with certain things.
As you put your brand awareness strategy into practice, it shouldn’t take long to see how effective it is in helping you stand out while remaining consistent with all of your marketing messages.
Consistency is important both online and in person. The brand identity you create for yourself on your website and across social media should be the same way you present yourself when a patient comes for a visit.
Which Strategies To Use
There are ways you can effectively build your brand, boost your online presence, and pull away from the pack of competitors in your area. There are important strategies to put into place as soon as possible, as well as a few pitfalls to avoid.
When it comes to establishing a strong marketing strategy for your medical practice, start with the basics. Some of the best ways to get your practice’s name out there and to start engaging with your audience include:
- Building a website
- Utilizing social media platforms
- Starting a blog
- Sending out email newsletters
- Improving your SEO
Once you have the foundation of a strong online presence, you can start building upon it. For example, having accounts on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram is great. But, if you’re not using them to engage with people and boost the human nature of your brand, you’re missing out.
Having professional social media pages allows you to share helpful tips, provide interesting news, and connect with your audience on a regular basis so they don’t forget about your presence.
You can ask questions, share staff photos, talk about certain medical terms and procedures, and establish yourself as an expert in your field.
Speaking of standing out as an expert, find as many ways to promote your skills and experience as possible. Consider working with a local news outlet or paper to create a weekly segment or column.
Contribute to industry publications. Or, simply use your existing blog as a way to market yourself as a medical expert.
Finally, let your patients work for you. Consider having referral cards made that they can give to friends and family. When a patient leaves an online review, let them know how much you appreciate it.
Even if the review isn’t as positive as you think it should be, you can still respond and let them know you’re invested in their care and the type of service they receive at your practice.
You could end up changing their mind and your engagement will strike a positive chord with other potential patients.
Marketing Mishaps To Avoid
Having a solid marketing strategy is important. But, it’s just as crucial to make sure you’re avoiding some common missteps. If you do fall into some marketing mistakes, don’t beat yourself up over it.
Again, you likely didn’t get into the medical field because you were a marketing pro. It’s okay to learn from your marketing mistakes, as long as you fix them in the future.
Of course, it helps to educate yourself on some of those common pitfalls ahead of time.
So, what should you avoid as you’re building your digital presence and trying to establish your brand?
First, don’t be generic. Your goal is to stand out from your competitors, and the best way to do that is by finding your voice and letting your audience know what makes you unique.
Most people know the basics of what to expect from a physician. So, why should they choose you over someone else?
By building your strategy on what people can expect beyond basic care, you’ll set the stage before a patient even walks through the door.
Second, don’t focus on sales. It’s okay to talk about procedures you offer and why your brand is better than someone else’s, but if that’s the sole focus of your marketing strategy, you’re going to lose a layer of ethical and social connection that’s often necessary to form a relationship with prospective patients.
Instead, offer relevant information, open up channels of communication, and strive to create authentic relationships.
Finally, don’t confuse your audience. Some people can be hesitant to choose a healthcare provider because they’ve had bad experiences in the past. Or, they might be concerned that you’re just trying to sell them something.
Your digital content should be clear, concise, and transparent. Avoid using technical jargon and focus on patient-friendly terms. Personalize your marketing efforts as often as possible.
Make your current patients and your target audience feel like they’re talking to an old friend who also happens to be a medical expert, rather than someone who thinks too highly of themselves.
Hopefully, by now, you’ve noticed a pattern when it comes to effectively marketing yourself online. As long as your focus remains on fostering relationships and engaging with your audience, your marketing efforts are likely to be more successful.
Don’t be afraid to showcase your skills and expertise, but do so in a way that is warm, welcoming, and open to everyone.
About the Author!
Katie Brenneman is a passionate writer specializing in tech, education, and business-related content. When she isn’t writing, you can find her with her nose buried in a book or hiking with her dog, Charlie. To connect with Katie, you can follow her on Twitter.