Because an increasing number of patients pay for care out-of-pocket, marketing has become an essential part of any practice, said David Sprague, chief operating officer at Physicians’ Ally, Inc, Denver. In a presentation at the US Psychiatric and Mental Health Congress in Las Vegas, he provided tips to help physicians market their practice and avoid common pitfalls.
Because an increasing number of patients pay for care out-of-pocket, marketing has become an essential part of any practice, said David Sprague, chief operating officer at Physicians’ Ally, Inc, Denver. In a presentation at the US Psychiatric and Mental Health Congress in Las Vegas, he provided tips to help physicians market their practice and avoid common pitfalls.1
You need a a marketing campaign, said Sprague, which suggests that you remember to look for “riches in niches” when you choose a theme. Create a tag line for your business that distinguishes you from your competition. If you emphasize that you are a leader in your field, this will help others remember you.
Sprague also presented a “hot list” of effective advertising platforms that includes:
· Web sites and directories
· Bus stops/kiosks
· Mobile devices
· Hand-addressed envelopes
· Specialty magazines
Less effective advertising media include:
· Phone books
· Grocery carts
· Stationary billboards
· Newspaper inserts
· Direct mail
· Specialty print directories
The best way to market your practice is through the creation of a focused Web site. Sprague said that patients often find these sites and form their initial opinion of a provider, so it is important to keep the content up-to-date. Also, make the content valuable to the patient. Include educational materials and interactive tools to keep viewers engaged. Be sure to include the address of your Web site in all additional advertising materials. Other important online marketing methods include search engine optimization and e-mail marketing.
But don’t discount the value of print, said Sprague. Brochures are also helpful because they can serve multiple purposes. For example, they serve as sales tools for new and established patients by describing services your practice offers. Brochures can be distributed to other, referring physicians. Sprague also suggests placing ads in newspapers as well as contributing letters to the editor or guest columns.
In both online and print content, the greatest marketing pitfall is creating something and not knowing what to do with it. Avoid marketing plans that are costly and remain out of your budget. Be sure to create a campaign-not just an ad.
Finally, don’t overlook the value of your staff. Be sure they are courteous and make the patient feel welcome. Also, be sure they send the patient home with a take-away message.
1. Sprague D. Marketing your practice in the 21st century. Presented at: US Psychiatric and Mental Health Congress; November 2-5, 2009; Las Vegas.