For many new clinic owners, one of the questions uppermost on their minds is how to market a clinic effectively and increase revenues fast enough to assure survival. A clinic, like any other small business, needs to be effectively marketed to have even a chance of surviving and growing in an increasingly competitive market. In this article, we suggest 5 essential steps you need to take to market your clinic effectively and promote its growth.
How To Market A Clinic In 5 Steps
We will now proceed to identify 5 suggested steps you need to take as soon as possible in order to figure out how to market a clinic (or any other business for that matter) effectively. Although this article primarily focuses on healthcare marketing, the same considerations would be relevant to any other small business.
Identify & Develop Your Brand
The first step to understanding how to market a clinic effectively is identifying what it is about your healthcare practice that makes it stand out from all the others out there. This can then be used to help you develop a brand identity for your clinic – one that you can use as a consistent theme in all your marketing efforts.
Some examples of what might make your clinic stand out from its competitors are:
- Personalized service – you always answer calls in person and never have your callers deal with an automated service;
- Family friendly service – your clients can bring their children along with them on their visits and leave them in a special area where they can play under supervision;
- Pet friendly – clients can bring their pets with them and they will be supervised and taken care of during their therapy sessions.
Although this part of building your marketing strategy may take time, it is well worth the investment. One of the most counterproductive things in your marketing strategy is to have conflicting messages. If you have not thought out your strategy thoroughly from the get go and instead use inconsistent branding (or no branding at all), you cannot identify the correct target audience for your marketing efforts. This is likely to confuse potential clients who are trying to figure out if your clinic will offer them the patient experience they are looking for.
Once you have identified your unique brand, you need to develop plans to incorporate it in all the steps we outline below.
Invest In A High Quality Website
The the modern marketplace, this has become one of the most important steps to take in understanding how to market a clinic effectively. First, your online presence needs to be completely consistent with your brand. Potential patients who land on your site need to be able to identify within 10-15 seconds what it is about your clinic that makes it stand out from the crowd (i.e. your brand).
Together with your brand identity, does your website help a potential patient access the information he might need to contact you right away? This would include things like your practice’s location, phone and email contact information and primary services offered.
Significant thought needs to be given to what will make your website rank highly in the search results. The choice of keywords that you employ and where and how you use them is something that should be an integral part of your website from the very start.
Something that many practice owners probably omit to do is think about how the website performs on different platforms. Google has indicated that mobile performance (on phones and tablets) will become increasingly important in their overall evaluation of a website. Site speed is also an increasingly important ranking factor, and is an essential part of knowing how to market a clinic effectively.
Last but not least, you will need to have a plan to produce regular blog posts for your site to maintain fresh and up to date content.
To properly address these questions, you should consider hiring an SEO expert to advise on your website’s design and ensure it is optimized for search engines.
Manage Your Social Media Presence
This is another valuable medium (besides your website) to develop your brand online when learning how to market a clinic. Be sure to create pages on Facebook page and Twitter, at a minimum. Use them to promote the aspects of your practice that are consistent with the brand image you have identified in the first step.
For example, if you have decided that your brand image will be a family friendly one, be sure to regularly post images of the facilities at your medical practice that have been established for the benefit of your clients’ children and/or pets. If, on the other hand, you have decided that your brand image will be one of a socially conscious organization, your FaceBook page should contain regular updates about the organizations and causes you support. Don’t forget to also “follow” those organizations and causes and to forward news and posts that they send to you.
In addition to those aspects of your unique brand that you wish to promote, social media should also readily offer the type of information that should be readily available visitors to your website. Hours of business, services offered contact information should be visible to anyone within 15-20 seconds of visiting your pages on Twitter or Facebook.
Ask Patients For Reviews Of Your Healthcare Practice
It is important to develop a process for collecting reviews from a broad sample of the patients who use your practice. You can then feature their feedback on your website or social media to build credibility with potential patients.
One approach for collecting automated reviews is to set up a computer or tablet at your office and ask your patients to leave a simple rating of their service (using a 1-10 scale, for example) at the end of their visit. Those who leave highly positive review scores can then be asked to leave a more detailed review on your website or on social media.
This is one way to counter negative reviews that may be left elsewhere (on websites such as Google or Yelp, for example). This is a technique for reputation management, which is an important tool to use as you learn how to market a clinic. This can also be linked to your process for collecting patient referrals. Word of mouth is one of the most effective marketing tools at your disposal, especially when it comes to friends and family of satisfied patients.
However, it is not enough to try to counter negative review online by showcasing positive reviews elsewhere. You should also be on the lookout for negative reviews left at independent sites like Yelp. When they occur, try to reach out to the dissatisfied patient to resolve the issue. At a minimum, these negative reviews should be treated as opportunities to learn where your customer services or other procedures could be improved. Anyone learning how to market a clinic should view these opportunities as invaluable.
Don’t Forget Doctor Referrals
Physician referrals should be regarded as an absolutely critical way to attract new patients. To tap into this valuable source of new business, consider hiring a physician liaison agent who will be responsible for visiting hospitals, licensed caregivers and physician practices on a daily basis. The goal should be to develop a network of potential referral sources that will bring in an expanding flow of new patients as you nurture your brand and reputation.
How To Market A Clinic- Conclusion
In this article, we have suggested five key steps to take when learning how to market a clinic that you have just established. Although we have emphasized that these steps are best taken at the time when you are establishing your practice, they can also be of benefit to established clinics who are looking to freshen up their medical marketing strategies and take advantage of new technologies such as search engine optimization and social media marketing.