Building Your Practice

Building Your Practice

Jay R. Levine

PBHS Inc., Santa Rosa, CA, USA

Practice growth can be achieved in many ways, but one thing is certain: successful practices consistently allocate time and resources to a marketing strategy. They pay close attention to how they are perceived in their community and online and are proactive about protecting their reputation.

Practice marketing takes on many forms. While traditional styles such as postcards, mailers, and print ads are still important, the modern practice knows that its online presence should not be ignored, as the Internet presents a wonderful chance to connect with potential patients in the area.

7.1 Internet Marketing: What’s in it for you?

People no longer check the phone book when looking for health providers – they are more likely to “go online” to search for and evaluate potential professionals in the area. A search on Google will quickly deliver the business listings and practice websites of providers in the area … is yours on the list?

In Bright Local’s annual Local Consumer Review Survey, healthcare providers were second only to restaurants in terms of how important reputation is to online users when making a choice [1].

7.2 Promoting Your Practice: Formulating a Strategy

Before embarking on any marketing journey, it’s best to have a clear idea of what you want to get out of it. What are your goals and expected outcomes? Are you looking to attract new patients or expand reach into a new community? Or are you a busy practice that simply wants to stay in touch, educate, and promote to current patients?

Once you have these goals laid out, you are ready to begin your marketing journey. To get started, decide how much money you will allocate toward marketing. If you aren’t sure of what your marketing budget should be – 3–5% for more established practices, and up to 7% for a new practice can be considered.

When determining your marketing budget and researching consultants, keep in mind that even the most basic marketing plans today should incorporate these fundamentals:

  • Logo for brand recognition in print and digital materials
  • Educational Website promoting services, doctors, and contact information
  • Locally targeted online and print marketing campaigns
  • Up‐to‐date business listings on online platforms
  • Online review monitoring
  • Branded social media pages

7.3 Website Design Companies

When choosing providers of these services, keep in mind that inexpensive sometimes means inexperienced. By contrast, putting your brand in the hands of a highly experienced, professional firm that has focused on your specialty in your market will likely yield better results than can be expected of a freelance web designer, or a design company that normally works outside your industry. An experienced company will also help to avoid a costly branding mistake that could quickly turn into a public relations (PR) nightmare.

7.4 Building Your Brand

A brand is more than just a logo. It is the feeling people have about you, the experiences they have had with you, and those they expect to have when they walk through your door. It’s the relationship you have with your community, including other practices, existing patients, and potential ones. An effective marketing strategy accelerates the branding process through a variety of channels – print, digital, and social media to name a few – and it does so with strict consistency to further enhance recognition.

The first step in building your brand is a great logo. The logo should convey your values and give people a feel for your practice before they have even met you. Look for a reputable graphic designer or agency who understands your specialty and your location. It is the most important visual aspect of your marketing strategy, increasingly so as it becomes recognizable and, hopefully, sharable.

7.5 Print Marketing

With print marketing, it’s time to let your brand shine! Printing your logo on stationery, mugs, patient education materials, and signage will help to solidify your brand in the eyes of your community. In addition, mailers such as postcards, coupons, and newsletters are all still great ways to connect with existing patients as a reminder to come in, and new patients as an incentive to schedule an initial appointment.

7.6 Website Design: Choosing a Designer

When selecting a website design firm, you will want to make sure that they have adequate experience in designing websites for your specialty. Ask for examples and “test” those websites to see if they rank well on Google and Bing. Does the firm provide adequate, user‐friendly information for patients while meeting the search ranking needs of the client? A good website design company should be able to deliver on all of these requirements, and will provide the following benefits to your practice:

  • In‐depth, up‐to‐date use of design and technological trends, including search engine algorithms, mobile device access and aesthetic appeal. This knowledge should be applied regularly to your website for optimal performance.
  • Content management access. You should be given login information so that you can edit website content as needed.
  • Additional services such as secure email, patient registration, and scheduling forms.
  • Industry knowledge to provide adequate content and an understanding of your target audience.
  • An exquisite, engaging design that will capture the interest of potential patients.
  • Data on your audience and website performance.
  • Peace of mind. Knowing that this part of your marketing strategy is in the experienced hands of a company with a long history of happy clients eases the burden on a business owner.

7.6.1 Other Items to Consider when Choosing a Website Designer

How Much Input Do You Want to Have? Are you “hands‐off” when it comes to marketing, or do you want to be involved at every step, starting with the choosing of basic design elements?

Pricing: While it is always tempting to save money, creating a website that is responsive and ranks well in searches is not a “Do it yourself (DIY)” job for most people. It takes industry‐knowledge, experience, a thoughtful approach and time. Would your time be better spent seeing more patients or with your family? Often what seems like a good deal ends in a low‐quality website that cannot rank well by Google due poor technical design.

Website Content: Don’t forget about website content – the words that explain your services and methodologies and convey a sense of your “practice personality.” Without content, prospective patients (and search engines) will simply pass you by and look for information elsewhere. You have a few options when it comes to website content. Some designers offer fully custom content (the priciest option) or stock content (less expensive) that you can customize yourself. A third option is a website without any content at all. Be careful not to take content from elsewhere on the Internet, as this will quickly get you in trouble for copyright infringement.

When comparing prices between website designers, make sure to factor in the cost of content that you will need. A user‐friendly and search‐engine‐friendly website includes:

  • A home page with a great mission statement;
  • Doctor and staff bios;
  • One page for each service that you offer; and
  • Contact and registration information

Keep in mind that a lack of content and “keyword‐stuffing” are frowned upon by search engines, and can even result in penalties.

No matter which route you choose for obtaining website content, you will want to make sure to read through it thoroughly before taking the website live to ensure that it accurately represents your practice.

Portfolio: Take a look at the designer’s portfolio. Do you like the way the sites look on your desktop? What about on a mobile device? Do a quick search on Google for the key services you provide and your location to see how they rank.

Technicalities: Does your website designer get the technical details right? Very important for patient experience and search engine rankings is the accessibility of your website. Google expects your website to be user friendly, easy for users to navigate and with ample information about the services you offer. A good website designer can balance the needs of patients with the expectations of search engines without the user ever knowing it. Some of the most basic technical elements are:

  • Responsive design for various screen sizes
  • Phone number links for mobile use
  • Contact forms
  • Blog functionality
  • Meaningful content – avoid “keyword‐stuffing”
  • Social media and testimonial integration
  • Security

Member Associations: A great source for website design and other marketing recommendations is your national professional member association. Who do they endorse?

7.6.2 Designing Your Website

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Jul 24, 2020 | Posted by in Aesthetic plastic surgery | Comments Off on Building Your Practice

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