Put an ad in the yellow pages and call it a day. That’s how my father used to advertise his pediatric practice. Alarmingly, some doctors today still do the same thing. This is the 21st century and we advocate a much more streamlined effort to get your practice into the mind of your community. Marketing a medical practice in 2012 is similar to selling tools at Home Depot. You are a retail business and the public needs to know that your practice exists.
To develop an overall marketing plan you first should decide what your goals are, how much you are willing to spend to promote your practice, and what methods to utilize. A rural practice with very little competition will obviously have a smaller budget than and urban area with hundreds of doctors.
Whether your practice is primary care or a specialty group makes no difference. Investing in advertising works and the first order of business is to develop display ads that include the physicians name, location, and hours. You may want to include services you offer and the insurance plans you accept.
Radio, Newspaper, Television
Ads for newspaper can be expensive. They cost between $150 to $800 per placement and is dependent on the size of the ad and the circulation of the paper. New practices should consider an ad in print publications in the first few months after opening. Sometimes these ads work and sometimes they don’t. For most small practices the cost for these ads is prohibitive. And television and radio fall into the same category of expense. But if your practice has special skills that can be promoted then many times this form of marketing can be a plus.
Yellow pages have always been a staple for doctors, but recently there are better ways to advertise on the Internet and get just as much bang for your buck. A display ad has shown to be more “patient generating” than a simple listing but, again, this is a big expense. Refer to my other posts and our marketing EBook to learn more about online advertising.
Even though a brochure is not considered an ad, it helps you communicate with potential patients and will assist in promoting a doctor’s specialized skills. A brochure should contain all the ingredients about your practice such as office hours, profiles, and pictures of your staff. Make sure and have email address and web site information too.
A well designed professional quality brochure can run from $500 to $2000 depending on the quality and color scheme. Hand the brochures to patients and make them available at health fairs and community centers.
On the form a patient fills out in your office; make a new area for how they found you. Was it a referral? How did you hear about our practice? This way you can track your progress and see what part of your marketing is effective.
There are other ways to get the job done. One doctor in told me when he opened his practice we went door to door to local churches, businesses, schools, and homes. He handed out brochures and talked face to face with people. He said he was able to get several new patients every day he did this. The doctor also sent a hand written note to thank every person who sent him a referral. The other things he did were simple. He had an open house in his clinic after 5pm so people could drop by after work. He did this once a month for an entire year and had snacks and handouts for all who attended. They also did free blood pressure checks and had new patient forms available.
A Web site is a standard Marketing tool for attracting new patients and having an internet presence is a must for doctors. The site should include all the information mentioned above but also have specified content on topics like disease prevention, nutrition, and weight loss tips.
We’ve just touched on a few things for you to think about in this post, but you have to get started somewhere. New patients are the lifeblood of all practices and you have to do more than put an ad in the Yellow Pages.
Iron Comet Consulting is a Mckesson Platinum certified reseller, medical IT firm and medical billing service based in Stockbridge, Georgia. Our products combine the clinical with the financial to improve workflow and revenue capture. Mckesson’s Medisoft Clinical EMR is a complete physician practice optimization solution. For more information, please visit ironcomet.com